2022 in GPUs: Shortages end, but high prices seem to remain

Zoom in / From left to right, largest to smallest: GeForce RTX 4080 (which is the same physical size as the RTX 4090), Radeon RX 7900 XTX, and Radeon RX 7900 XT.

Andrew Cunningham

In 2021, the biggest story about GPUs is that you often can’t buy them, not without paying inflated prices on eBay or learning to navigate a maze of stock-tracking sites or Discords.

The good news is that the stock position has improved a lot in 2022. The collapse of cryptocurrency and the decline in PC sales reduced the demand for GPUs, making them less profitable for speculators, which in turn improved the stock position. It is now possible to visit an online store and purchase several GPUs for an amount that is at least somewhat close to the original list price.

We’ve also seen a lot of new GPU launches in 2022. The year started less than stellar with the launch of 1080p and priced cards like Nvidia’s RTX 3050 and AMD’s inspired midrange RX 6500 XT. But by the end of the year, we received Nvidia’s expensive but very powerful RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 cards, the less brutal but still competitive RX 7900 series, and the flawed but price-conscious Intel A770 and A750 cards.

The bad news is that the after-effects of GPU shortages linger, especially in the form of inflated prices. We can hope these will drop in 2023, but so far, there is little sign of that happening.

Budget GPUs are in sad shape

You can still find GPUs for under $200 if you’re looking for better core performance than all-in-one on older, minimal games that you’ll be running mostly at 1080p or lower.

But performance in this category has moved on Extremely Over the past three or four years a little bit. Nvidia seems content to serve this lower segment of the gaming market with the same GeForce GTX 1650 GPU it introduced in 2019, a card that still hovers stubbornly in the $150-$200 price window despite its age. Both AMD and Intel have released new cards for the sub-$200 market in the past year, and these cards can sometimes outperform the GTX 1650. But these cards are also flawed in some ways that are hard to ignore.

AMD’s RX 6500 XT was originally a laptop GPU adapted for desktop computers, and as a result, it supports fewer displays than other GPUs in the RX 6000 series, lacks hardware video encoding support, and performs in Legacy PCI Express 3.0-capable PCs are weak because they only provide four lanes of PCIe bandwidth in the first place. Intel’s Arc A380 has great video codec support (including the AV1 video codec), but like other Arc cards, its drivers are rough around the edges, and performance in older games can be spotty.

If high-end GPUs like Nvidia’s RTX 3050 series and AMD’s RX 6600 series drop into the $200 range and below soon, we’ll feel a lot better about the state of budget GPUs (the RX 6600 approaches poorly, with prices falling in the $220-range). $250 for some models depending on sale). These GPUs still come with compromises, like mediocre ray-tracing performance and a more hit-or-miss experience at resolutions above 1080p, but it would be nice to put the GTX 1650 firmly in the back view.

For the best GPUs, $1,000 and up is the new normal

Nvidia's massive RTX 4090 GPU also has a hefty $1,600 price tag, and you'd pay more than that to actually buy a GPU right now.
Zoom in / Nvidia’s massive RTX 4090 GPU also has a hefty $1,600 price tag, and you’d pay more than that to actually buy a GPU right now.

Sam Machkovitch

Moving to the other end of the market, GPUs with four-digit price tags used to be mostly unignorable by regular folks. Halo products like Nvidia’s Titan GPUs do well, sure, but why pay all that money when cheaper xx80 and xx70-series GPUs can give you a huge chunk of that performance for a small percentage of the price?

The story of this generation’s mid-range cards is still yet to be written, but to date, the high-end cards in the RTX 4000 series and RX 7000 series have been listed for far more than their predecessors. The RTX 4080’s $1,200 price is a huge jump from the $700 Nvidia originally announced for the RTX 3080 and 2080. If the newly rebranded 4070 Ti launches at $900 as is currently rumored (and originally planned), it could Dubbed the “RTX 4080 12GB”), this would be a significant uptick over the launch prices of the $500 to $600 cards like the RTX 2070, RTX 3070, and RTX 3070 Ti.

All of those prices are made much worse by the fact that you can’t find RTX 4080 or 4090 cards anywhere near shooting MSRPs right now.

Things are looking marginally less prolific on AMD’s side, with the top-tier RX 7900 XTX launching at the same $999 price point as the last-generation, upper-tier RX 6900 XT did. But where the 6900 XT was accompanied by the RX 6800 XT that delivered most of the performance for $649, the 7900 XTX’s little brother is the $899 RX 7900 XT that really gives you less Performance for every dollar of XTX. Both cards still undercut Nvidia’s pricing for the RTX 4000 series, but that’s more about how expensive the 4090 and 4080 are than it is about the value offered by AMD.

These high prices are here to stay, said Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, thanks to the rising costs associated with designing and manufacturing these GPUs. Obviously, Huang isn’t a neutral observer here — he’s financially invested in keeping the prices of his GPUs high, especially since Nvidia’s finances have suffered. But there is some truth to what he says: High-end manufacturing processes are expensive, Nvidia AMD, Apple, and all sorts of other chip designers are fighting for TSMC’s production capacity, and giant monolithic chips like the RTX 4000 GPU will have less output from smaller, less complex processor dies.

#GPUs #Shortages #high #prices #remain

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