Hardware, it’s a big deal around here. Console upgrades only come around once every decade or so. It's a pretty simple calculation to get your head around. A new console will last around 8-10 years for gaming, for a few hundred dollars? Yes, no, not yet?
But of course the fun and flexibility provided by a new PC hardware upgrade can be fraught with doubt. Which (often expensive) component will deliver the best value for money? Will it deliver performance for an adequate amount of time, before something replaces it? The graphics card is normally one of the biggest hitting and singularly most expensive units in a gaming PC, this makes it a key priority to get your graphics card purchase right.
So naturally, Nvidia’s recent RTX 30 series has gotten a lot of people hyped, not only did we get a reveal of the world’s first 8K consumer graphics card (though still aimed more towards creatives and studio work rather than gaming), but we’ve also been promised a massive performance improvement over the previous-gen RTX 20 series cards.
This was to be expected. These sorts of graphics card announcements have to have a hefty performance boost to really get the masses pumped. But if we take a little look back at the 20 Series announcement, the price hike of the cards was a big one as well. We were told that the 20 Series price was to pay for this new, dazzling RTX tech they were loaded with. The problem was, no games existed that would make use of this tech and it felt like Nvidia were manufacturing a new “desire” for gamers, to help inflate graphics card prices. Nvidia stock prices took a hit and the RTX launch was a “failure”. Or was it?
Roll on just two years, to today, and the 30 Series announcement we saw a couple of days ago has everyone excited. Very excited. But this new graphics card range is the same price as that expensive outgoing range and the ray tracing tech is still questionable. It feels a little bit like 3D movies at the cinema. A novelty - nice enough, sure, but I don't really care enough to pay for it.
|Card||Base Clock (GHz)||Boost Clock (GHz)||CUDA Cores||RT Cores||Memory Type||Memory GB||TDP W||Price USD|
Of course, you can say it in a different way, like this: the new RTX 3070 - a GPU that we are told will be faster than the current top-end RTX 2080 Ti - is available to order for half of its price. And then there is the RTX 3080, which promises 2x the performance over the original RTX 2080, for the same price of $699. No price increase, but lots of extra performance.
That’s quite a steal in comparison right? When compared to those Turing-based RTX 20 series cards? But unfortunately that also means that some of us, understandably, feel a bit betrayed by our RTX 20 series purchases this year. Perhaps you bought your new 20 series a week or two ago, and it's Nvidia’s job to not give us any indication or advanced warning about this price/performance shift. Of course, they want people to keep buying the 20 Series for as long as possible, but they cut a fine line to maximise their profits.
|Card||Base Clock (MHz)||Boost Clock (MHz)||CUDA Cores||RT Cores||Memory Type||Memory GB|| |
|RTX 2080 Ti||1350||1545||4352||68||GDDR6||11||250||999|
|RTX 2080 Super||1650||1815||3072||48||GDDR6||8||250||699|
|RTX 2070 Super||1605||1770||2560||40||GDDR6||8||215||499|
Gamers often rely on the resale of their hardware to fund their next upgrades. But it seems the R&D premium that Nvidia added to the 20 Series has cost anyone who bought into that range, especially if they bought a 20 series card this year.
For instance, someone who bought the $1000+ top of the line RTX 2080 Ti has just seen their graphics card resale value get slashed down to, at best, 40%. The ebay listings for these cards are going up faster than you can say “RTX 3070 for $499”. A lot of the second hand prices are already around the $600 mark for the RTX 2080 Ti, which a few weeks ago would have been an amazing bargain, but even those prices will drop soon, once the 3070 October launch arrives and people just buy those.
And it got me thinking. Nvidia is a business, with a long term strategy. They don't just pull this stuff out their ass. They plan, they prepare the market, and put together a launch and pricing roadmap. They likely already have the 40 and 50 series sat on their R&D work benches, waiting for the perfect time to pump us for the optimum amount of cash. It's up to competition to stop a business from defining market prices exactly how they want to.
Obviously that last sentence leads us on to a bigger debate for another time, about AMD and what they are doing to keep Nvidia in check, but whatever is happening it doesn't seem like it has been enough to stop Nvidia laughing all the way to the bank with our money and hearts.
This next bit I find particularly telling about how we dance to their tune, and how they are marketing masters.
They, and I will say it again, THEY have reminded us of the 20 series’ exorbitant costs. And in reminding us, they have made us think the same-priced new 30 Series is cheap, and a good deal. You can order a new 30 Series card soon and it will arrive in a matter of days. Don’t get me wrong, there is no argument, now is the time to upgrade your graphics card. Two weeks ago was the worst time.
And so we watch as Nvidia launches this new 30 Series, 1 year after the Super range, for the same big prices that we were all enraged about paying for a GPU back then. Only this time we're very grateful instead.
Unless you recently bought the 20 Series of course.
The RTX 30 series cards are looking great for anyone who wants to upgrade… but how do you feel about the shape of the market, the launch of the 30 Series, especially if you recently bought a 20 Series? Do you own an RTX 20 series card? Which one? And how does the RTX 30 series make you feel about your purchase? Let’s debate!