There’s a general consensus doing the rounds that Nvidia’s domination in the graphics card market has effectively lead to untethered pricing. Is this really true though? It’s easy to get distracted by the skyrocketing prices, yet the finger of blame must inevitably point to cryptocurrency miners. In fact, looking at Nvidia’s historical GPU pricing strategy, where we’re at right now is pretty much a flat pricing strategy for the last few years.
The general issue with pricing often comes up with any new graphics card release. The recently unveiled Nvidia Titan V is an outlier though, the Titan range not really at all indicative of the pricing of Nvidia’s main GeForce gaming graphics cards. When the likes of the GeForce GTX 10 Series came out though, there was a general outcry about Nvidia’s harsh pricing. The truth of the matter is - graphics cards are at the forefront of technology. If you want the latest and greatest, it is of course exorbitantly expensive. It’s easy to look at the $700 price point of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and gasp in shock. Yet this is the exact same price point as the GeForce GTX 780 Ti launched for in 2013, making the 1080 Ti some $30 cheaper in real terms.
A lot of what we think of Nvidia’s pricing comes down to perspective. If you’re buying your first new graphics card in a while then yes, the price has gone up. Around the turn of the current decade, GPU pricing hit a low point. The (at the time) top of the range GeForce GTX 480, Geforce GTX 580 and GeForce GTX 680 all launched at $500. If you’re used to spending $500 on a top-of-the-range GPU then sure, the $600 GeForce GTX 1080 begins to look expensive. Spare a thought for those of us who lived through 2007 though. The GeForce 8800 Ultra cost an astonishing $850 at launch, which as HardOCP contributor ‘Zarathustra’ discovered is equivalent to $992.61 today.
Naturally, actually getting graphics cards for their advertised MSRP is easier said than done. There’s little Nvidia can do about spiraling demand from crypto miners and the subsequent price gouging from third-party resellers. Nor is there much Nvidia can do about fluctuating currency valuations, an issue which has whacked a considerable premium on GPUs here in the UK since the Brexit referendum.
All Team Green can do is keep bringing out graphics cards covering the entire range of price points, from the $70 GeForce GT 1020 all the way up to the $700 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. The one remaining wrinkle is, of course, AMD, who must provide decent competition in order to keep Nvidia’s pricing strategy in check. Down at the lower end, AMD has most definitely done that. Getting hold of a high-end Vega GPU for a reasonable price is a different story though. It can be done, but you’ll need your wits about you.
At the end of the day, graphics cards are a premium product. If you want the absolute best, you’re going to have to fork out a wedge of cash. There is an argument to be made that Nvidia has helped shift the so-called ‘sweet spot’ up with the GeForce GTX 10 Series, effectively shunting the GeForce GTX 1060 up to the previous x70 pricing, yet the lower down the pecking order you get, the better value your purchase will be.
Do you agree that prices of graphics cards have remained much the same? Or do you believe Nvidia has been price gouging in recent generations due to the lack of competition? Let us know your thoughts below!