If you’ve been keeping a pensive eye on the hardware market, you’ve probably noticed the price of graphics cards has been absolutely skyrocketing in some territories. At the time of writing, the cheapest GeForce GTX 1060 6GB on NewEgg in the US is a frankly insane $529.99. The cheapest GTX 1070 is the MSI GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X 8G, an absolute snip at $939.89. And don’t even get me started on GeForce GTX 1080 Ti’s or Radeon RX Vega 64’s.
The blame for this lies squarely at the foot of cryptocurrency mining. Which of course isn’t any one entity, but a collective mindset that has transformed nothing into something through sheer willpower alone. The belief in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, etc, is the only thing that keeps them going, and their rising (yet volatile) value is causing anyone and everyone to try mine their own cryptocurrency. In turn, this has driven the costs of graphics cards sky-high. GeForce GTX 1060’s are selling for $500, yet if we saw one for the MSRP of $299 it would look like great value. The GeForce GTX 960 launched at $199. Within the span of a single GPU generation, the prices have nearly tripled due to demand, and a 50% jump actually feels like a bargain.
It's down to coin miners wanting the best graphics cards with the best hash rates, resulting in rising costs for everybody else. Cryptocurrency has got a lot to answer for, and the issue is only inflamed when combined with skyrocketing RAM prices and the steady increase of SSD costs.
It’s left us in a curious position where it can actually be beneficial to your wallet to buy a pre-built PC or gaming laptop thanks to the deals some stores have inked up with hardware suppliers, rather than paying out for the individual components and putting it together yourself.
The market has flipped upside down and there’s arguably never been a worse time to upgrade or do a new build. Try it for yourself. Go on PC Specs, or NewEgg, or PCPartsPicker and try to piece together the same specs as a pre-build. I’ve done it, several times, and depending on what country you’re living in, it’s generally cheaper to buy a machine that someone’s had to spend time putting together for you. In the case of the higher-end Vega and GeForce GTX 1070+ graphics cards, it’s actually feasible to buy a pre-build with the GPU included for less than the cost of buying the graphics card on its own.
Is there any end in sight? I can’t honestly say. Every day there’s a new type of cryptocurrency waiting to be mined, whether that be KodakCoin or the new IRON, a minable currency that can be used to buy games that you’re going to struggle to run because you can’t afford the hardware needed as everyone’s mining. The current price crash of several leading cryptocurrencies is at least a glimmer of light at the end of a very, very dark tunnel.
What are your thoughts on the rising prices of PC gaming hardware? Would you currently recommend someone buy a pre-build rather than build their own? Let us know your thoughts!