GPU price drops are coming bigger and faster – but be careful

A couple dozen RTX 3050 graphics cards spaced out and arranged against a black backdrop
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Graphics card prices are continuing to fall, and in more cases they’re dropping below their recommended pricing (MSRP), with prices on the second-hand market positively plunging downwards in some cases – thanks to something of a perfect storm around crypto-mining (we’ll return to that point later).

First off, let’s look at the raw stats as published by Tom’s Hardware, which has been regularly keeping tabs on average prices for current-gen GPUs (RTX 3000 and RX 6000) in the US, for both retail and eBay (used) sales, and just aired a fresh bunch of numbers as of mid-June.

So, what we’ve seen in the past two weeks, since the start of June, is that retail prices for graphics cards have dropped by 2% overall, but that average is somewhat skewed by an outlier in the form of a 9% hike for the Nvidia RTX 3080 12GB model.

There are some big dips witnessed including a 7% drop in the asking price for both the RTX 3070 and RTX 3070 Ti, and a 6% dip where the RTX 3050 is concerned. Nvidia’s flagship RTX 3090 Ti has dropped by 5%, too.

The movement with AMD graphics cards at retail has been more modest, but there was a 3% drop for the RX 6900 XT and 6800 XT, as well as the 6600 XT and vanilla RX 6600.

Nvidia’s graphics cards are seeing more of a decline partly because they have further to go to normalize back to MSRP – whereas many of AMD’s RX 6000 series have already dipped below MSRP, that’s not true with any of Nvidia’s core RTX 3000 offerings.

In Nvidia’s case, just the highest-end GPUs – the RTX 3090 Ti, RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti – have dropped below their recommended price (well, the 3090 is level with its MSRP in actual fact). All the other Ampere GPUs, from the RTX 3050 up to and including the vanilla RTX 3080, are still priced over MSRP at retailers. Whereas for AMD, only the 6800 XT and 6800 remain above their MSRP.

As for the used market, average eBay sold prices have witnessed some huge drops – remember, this is just over the course of two weeks – such as Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti plunging by 19%, and the RTX 3080 by 17%, with the RTX 3070 not far off that on a 15% decrease.

The biggest drop on eBay, though, is AMD’s RX 6950 XT which fell by 21%, and the 6800 XT dropped by 17%, as did the 6500 XT, with some other Big Navi GPUs seeing 12% to 14% drops.

Ignoring AMD’s new graphics cards – which are basically not available on eBay, or hardly – the overall average eBay sold price has dropped by a rather staggering 12%, and to emphasize this once more, that’s over a fortnight.

Analysis: Crypto storm rages, with major caveats on used GPUs

A mix of factors are now contributing to produce these price drops, particularly in the second-hand market – with a lot of this tying into the crypto market. We’ve just seen a big crypto crash, of course, and rapidly rising electricity prices mean that crypto-mining has been hit simultaneously by major cost increases, and big chunks being torn out of profitability.

The predictable result is that folks are looking at giving up on their mining endeavors, and rushing to get GPUs onto auction sites to sell them off. Mainly because they realize others will have the same idea, and they want to beat the rush and get a better price, before a flood of second-hand graphics cards coming onto the market depresses asking prices even further (which we can see is already happening).

On top of this, there are next-gen GPUs from both AMD and Nvidia on the horizon, and these could go on sale as early as September (we’ve even heard one rumor that Nvidia might shoot for August, but we’re doubtful on that score – though a paper launch could come around then).

At any rate, it won’t be too long before we start at least hearing about RTX 4000 and RX 7000 GPUs, and that’s going to make people think twice about buying current-gen GPUs – why grab one of those, when you can wait for what are apparently much more powerful models around the corner? And that will put even more downward pressure on pricing.

For that reason, even though prices are falling with some momentum now, it’s probably a good idea to wait it out further, particularly for Nvidia graphics cards which are, in the main, still above MSRP. That situation will rapidly change, no doubt, when next-gen Lovelace is announced…

The second-hand market is a rather different proposition, and while there are some pretty hefty price drops coming through now, which may be exciting – you should exercise caution about buying a used GPU that’s been in a mining rig. These are graphics cards which have been run around the clock and pushed hard, and a bit like a car which has been driven hard and thrashed by its owner, they have many more proverbial miles on the clock than their age would indicate – and potentially much more chance of going wrong in the future as a result.

The second-hand market is complicated because sellers will likely avoid declaring that a graphics card has been used for mining – precisely because they don’t want to put buyers off due to the aforementioned concerns – and so picking up a used GPU in a time of crypto-miner sell-offs is a bit of a minefield in that respect.

We’d very much urge caution here, and suggest that rather than pulling the trigger on eBay now, you’d be better off waiting for the prices of new graphics cards to fall much further – which, in all likelihood, is what’s going to happen as this year rolls on.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).