GPU prices are crashing – will the Nvidia RTX 3080 finally be affordable?

Falling Nvidia GPUs
(Image credit: Future)

Graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia have been steadily stabilizing over the last few months, with prices plummeting yet again during April – though progress has been notably slower for Nvidia GPUs.

According to German retailer 3D Center, GPU prices have declined by an average of 13%, though if we look at the data provided, Nvidia only manages an improvement of around 6%. Still, prices are consistently falling across the board, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series sitting at around 19% over MSRP, while the AMD's Radeon RX 6000 series is now just 12% over MSRP.

Is this still expensive? Well yes, but relative to the massive inflation we were seeing just after both Ampere and RDNA 2 were released to the market back in 2020, this is a significant improvement, and not out of the realms of affordability. According to additional data from 3D Center, AMD and Nvidia GPUs were sitting at 83% and 87% respectively over their official retail prices just a few months ago in December 2021.

3D Center notes in its report that the recently released Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti was purposefully omitted from the data as it was so widely expensive that it was purchasable at its official MSRP from its launch date, and this would unnecessarily falsify the average results.

Data provided by 3D Center that shows decling GPU prices over the last 6 months

Data provided by 3D Center that shows decling GPU prices over the last 6 months (Image credit: 3D Center)

Snapping up a new GPU from either Team Red or Team Green has been almost impossible for the entire lifespan of each card so far, with a mixture of the chip shortage and competition from cryptominers causing almost the entire market to wildly inflate.

These results certainly feel like the news we've all been waiting to hear, but it does come with some salt being rubbed into our wounds. For one, as these prices are based on the German market, they don't necessarily reflect the worldwide market with the same accuracy, so while prices do appear to be falling in other regions across the rest of Europe and the USA, the percentages we're seeing won't be applicable.

3D Center does note that this works both ways though, as the fluctuations between the US Dollar and Euro have caused the fall of graphics card pricing to slow in Germany. We're also seeing that cards are becoming easier to find on shelves, which should decrease demand and keep the prices falling. Who knows, perhaps by the time the GeForce RTX 40 and RDNA 3 series are released, the current generation of GPUs might finally slip below their launch prices.

Analysis: It's not all good news

It's not all good news, at least if we look at historical graphics card pricing and market fluctuations. Tom's Hardware mentions in its own reporting that GPU prices should be around 10-20% lower than their original list price by now as both Nvidia and AMD prepare to announce the next generation of hardware.

Computex is also just around the corner, starting on May 24, so we're running out of time to see the same market affordability as years gone by, and if we see similar inflation with the release of cards like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 and AMD RX 7900 XT, there's nothing to prevent prices spiking again for the current generation of GPUs.

Truly 'cheap' graphics cards are a long way off, and may even be a thing of the past entirely depending on what you believe to be a budget GPU, but at least the situation is improving. Who knows, maybe you'll soon be able to get your hands on your dream card without having to sell all of your prized possessions to finance it.

Intel could also help to stabilize the market with the release of its desktop Arc Alchemist graphics cards. Pricing and a release date have yet to be confirmed, but with early benchmarks showing some promise for gamers targeting high frames at a 1080p resolution, they could help to reduce the cost of GPUs like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and AMD Radeon 6600 XT

This could make for a great first GPU, especially if you're planning to run low-demand games and applications, which should take some pressure off the wider market. Only time will tell though, and if the last two years have taught us anything, it's to make the most of a good thing. 

There's no way of knowing if prices will skyrocket across the board again in the coming months, but if you've been holding out to buy a new graphics card, now might be your chance to do so at a 'reasonable' price.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.