GPU prices are still falling – but AMD has a clear advantage over Nvidia

Nvidia RTX 3080 Graphics Card
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Graphics card prices continued to fall last month, although AMD is doing far better in the battle to get under MSRP than Nvidia.

This is the situation going by the regular figures compiled by Tom’s Hardware on the pricing of GPUs both at retail and in the second-hand market for the US.

The headline figure is that current-gen GPU retail price tags dropped by 7% on average across the course of July, although once again, many of Nvidia’s graphics cards still remain stubbornly above their MSRP (manufacturer’s recommended pricing).

It’s the same story as with the previous month in that respect, with just the RTX 3090 Ti, RTX 3090 and RTX 3080 Ti under their MSRPs, although they are considerably below that recommended level at 30%, 20% and 21% under respectively.

Nvidia’s RTX 3070 is the next best performer, and while over MSRP, it is at least close (ish), with a 10% premium currently applied. The RTX 3070 Ti and RTX 3080 aren’t too far off that either, being 12% and 14% above MSRP respectively.

The lower-end Nvidia graphics cards are where prices are considerably above the recommended level, with the RTX 3060 and 3060 Ti variant both subject to an 18% hike, and the RTX 3050 suffering from a 20% premium as of the start of August.

As for AMD’s RX 6000 models, the better news is that they are all at or below MSRP save for one exception – the RX 6800 XT, which is only 3% above its recommended price, so hardly represents much of a bitter pricing pill to swallow as such.

The RX 6800 is bang on its MSRP now, and the other RDNA 2 graphics cards are all below MSRP, with the RX 6900 XT leading the way at 25% under. All the RX 6000 graphics cards below the RX 6700 XT are now between 13% and 18% below MSRP, so that’s a decent chunk of a reduction below recommended levels.

As mentioned, this all works out to an average price drop of 7% as of the start of August, and eBay pricing saw a very similar reduction to the tune of 6% on average.

Analysis: Bigger reductions are surely in the pipeline for Nvidia

While it’s disappointing to see that only the top three Nvidia RTX 3000 GPUs are below MSRP still – just the same as was the case a month ago – at least they are considerably lower compared to the recommended price now. In fact, the RTX 3090 Ti, 3090 and 3080 Ti have dropped a further 13%, 17% and 11% respectively over the past month, which is a sizeable decrease.

The stubborn refusal to drop below MSRP seen elsewhere in the Ampere range is somewhat frustrating, although things are going in the right direction, with the RTX 3070 hitting 10% over MSRP (after being 16% over last month). And while the RTX 3050 might still be 20% in excess of its MSRP – and the worst performer overall in that respect – recall that a month ago it was 31% over.

So, while that’s at least something, we were expecting a bit more than this in terms of price reductions, given all we’ve been hearing on the rumor mill lately about reportedly serious excess levels of RTX 3000 stock which will need to be shifted before the next-gen RTX 4000 launch – and the timeframe to do that is rapidly ticking away. Plus the Chinese market has shown some big drops in retail pricing recently, with all of Nvidia’s graphics cards dropping below MSRP in that region, which is a fairly clear sign of the prevailing pricing winds.

What this means, in a nutshell, is that we’re certainly expecting some bigger price drops for Team Green’s GPUs away from the top-tier models, so it’s still worth waiting to see if those are realized in the near future, at least in our books.

As for AMD graphics cards, they’ve exhibited a steadier rate of downward movement, with some GPUs dropping a lot – like the RX 6900 XT which is now 25% under MSRP as opposed to 15% a month ago, and the RX 6400 (now 13% under, compared to the same as MSRP last month), plus the RX 6600 XT (now 18% under, compared to 5%).

There are definitely some reasonable prices to be had, and even some relative bargains for higher-end graphics cards – though that’s to be expected, as folks are less likely to splash out with a huge outlay for a GPU when the next generation (of doubtless much more powerful cards) is not far away.

The used market is still something of a minefield – thanks to auctions flogging off ex-mining GPUs which should be regarded with extreme caution, due to their past heavy workloads – and at any rate, price drops are calming down on that front. The 6% drop in eBay pricing observed this month is not nearly the same as the 14% average decrease recorded a month ago, but for now, we’d be steering clear of the second-hand market for reasons we’ve discussed in plenty of depth in recent articles.

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).