CPU and GPU Availability and Pricing Replace: April 2021

With the ongoing CPU and graphics card inventory shortage, it is time to update the market to see what the current situation is and whether buyers will ease themselves off in the coming weeks. A previous article on the subject was well received when we published it about a month ago. Since then we have received numerous insights and information. So let's start …

GPU Market Update

The toughest part of the PC market has been a month since our last update, and the situation still exists where you can't buy a graphics card at the MSRP, which I don't think should come as a surprise. There is really no end in sight for this edition. Many large companies, including TSMC and Nvidia, are warning that demand will exceed supply for much of 2021.

While companies are quick to point this out, I think it's important to note that these statements do not mean that the current low availability and ridiculous pricing situation will remain that way year round. Nvidia and AMD both expect improvements in the second half of the year, which will likely mean prices return to normal, and some products with good availability. These comments are more about the product lines as a whole. It is almost certain that some products will be available by the end of 2021 and others will not, as demand and manufacturing constraints vary by product.

In most regions, not much has changed in actual GPU availability. At Newegg, the cheapest GPU available near MSRP is Nvidia's GeForce GT 1030, which you can get for around $ 120. Current generation cards are all out of stock, and previous generation cards such as the RTX 2060 are massively expensive. No real changes there.

In other parts of the world we see what we talked about last time: some GPUs are in stock and can be bought, only at grossly inflated prices. It depends on the region and the business. At Australia's PC Case Gear, for example, it's actually harder to find an Nvidia GPU than it was a month ago, while AMD RX 6900 XT and RX 6700 XT graphics cards are available. Many retailers prefer to use sweepstakes or early access deals to sell these products rather than just listing them. It depends on your local business, but again, high prices and low availability remain a reality.

What's happening?

A number of industry representatives have gone out of their way over the past few weeks to provide more information on why exactly the situation is as it is, and it can be broken down into three main areas:

# 1: AIBs keep raising prices

Card manufacturers (AIBs) themselves continue to raise prices for their products or maintain high prices. While Nvidia and AMD can set a reference price (MSRP) for a specific range of GPUs – say the RTX 3070 with an MSRP of $ 500 – the actual board makers essentially have their own list price for their custom board partners Versions. With demand still very high, AIBs are not interested in profits flowing into the scalper market and so gradually increase their MSRP over time.

We're not going to name specific AIBs, but we've heard from several retailers that some brands are more aggressive at raising MSRPs than others, and often the prices you see on retailer websites aren't crazy retailer inflated prices. but the actual official prices for these cards in that region as set by the AIB. You can check again a week later to see if prices have gone up. Well, that's almost certainly because the AIBs raise the MSRP one more time for the newest batch.

Often these price increases only apply to high-end models within a family. For example, let's take an Asus Strix OC versus an Asus Dual model, where some cards stay cheaper because the lower tier cards don't experience the same increases. For example, if you're looking for PCCG, the Dual is out of stock at $ 1239 while the Strix OC is $ 1659 – a massive price difference. However, when it comes to actually delivering the GPUs, AIBs would only produce the higher-end, higher-margin cards at the new, inflated prices, not supplying low-end models.

From the AIB's point of view, this makes perfect sense. They want to maximize profits and only produce the more expensive variants that they can sell at the highest price. This is likely to continue as demand significantly outstrips supply. In fact, some "vanilla" card models have basically been completely discontinued because AIBs have stated that they don't make them, which has created chaos for retailers offering pre-orders. If a ton of people pre-orders a card and then it gets discontinued, the retailer is in trouble, which is why pre-orders for these products are not available at the vast majority of retailers – the risk is simply too high that the card may not be there or more expensive to buy is when it really is time to get supplies.

# 2: retailers screw retailers (and you)

The second problem concerns the distribution level. While merchants may not necessarily increase the prices of AIB cards themselves, they do cause retailers problems through a system called bundling. When a retailer wants to buy a GPU from a distributor, the distributor only makes this GPU available if he buys more difficult-to-transport components in other segments.

One thing we've heard from several retailers frequently is that if they want to buy a single new graphics card, they may also need to buy 50 budgets AMD A520 motherboards in a bundle. Then, being unable to sell these motherboards puts a strain on retailers and can lead them to raise the GPU price to offset the potential losses they face from accepting other components as part of the bundle deal.

This is also why you see many deals at retailers where you can buy a graphics card bundled with another component like a motherboard, memory, power supply, or cooler. This is because retailers need to purchase these components in order to get the graphics card. This is a naughty way for the merchants to pass unwanted inventory to retailers and make money, which puts a strain on the retailers. This problem alone is the source of immense frustration for every retailer we've spoken to.

These bundle deals can take different forms depending on the distributor. Some bundle graphics cards exclusively with their own pre-built PC options that retailers would then resell as entire systems under their own brand. Others offer a mix of bundle deals and standalone products, but raise the prices for standalone cards significantly. Some offer fair, no-bundle pricing, but extremely limited odds, although this is less common than the other methods of providing GPU stock. One retailer even told us that these bundle offers are getting more and more extravagant over time and that retailers are trying to pack increasingly expensive motherboards or hard drives for months to come.

One person we spoke to shared their disappointment that GPU buyers pay ridiculous retail prices, but those inflated prices don't fall on the actual GPU designers who do the hardest work and invest in next generation products could.

Unfortunately, we still couldn't find anyone at a distributor who would like to talk to us about GPU supply so we don't have the side of the story. The situation we hear from multiple parties – whether retailers, AIBs, or even the GPU companies themselves – is that retailers play a role in making these tactics more difficult and profitable for everyday consumers to purchase a GPU. One person we spoke to shared their disappointment that GPU buyers pay ridiculous retail prices, but those inflated prices don't fall on the actual GPU designers who do the hardest work and invest in next generation products could.

# 3: supply chain problems

In addition to the AIB price cut and merchant bundling, there is a third problem and these are the real supply chain problems that affect the entire chip industry.

We addressed this briefly in the previous article and have been reporting chip bottlenecks at various levels for weeks, with everyone in the room only having a limited supply. When we say that supply is unable to meet demand, it does not mean that supply is below normal in a normal market, as products are flying off the shelves at record rates and sales are at an all-time high . Rather, the supply is limited and this demand is prevented from being met.

In summary, Fabs can only deliver a limited number of chips. TSMC supplies AMD and Samsung supplies Nvidia and cannot produce more GPUs than it currently does. Additionally, there are persistent issues with raw material supplies, substrates, DDDR memory, and other components, all of which are part of the graphics card manufacturing process.

In short, graphics cards are more complex and require more components than a CPU. As a result, they are more prone to problems in the supply chain. Graphics card makers continue to tell us that the supply of components is slowly improving, but it's still not where it needs to be, and this is compounded by logistical issues like increased freight costs and tariffs depending on the region.

What about miners?

Now you may be wondering, we've talked about three problems, but none of these problems affect mining. How do these pesky miners take this equation into account? Can't we just get angry with the miners?

This is partly true, but mining is still only part of a complex situation. The reality is that mining is driving demand, which puts pressure on every other part of the supply chain and provokes reactions like inflated AIB prices and dealer gimmicks.

Despite all of these considerations and concerns, the overall GPU market has actually improved slightly compared to a month ago. It might not seem like it at first glance – you still can't get a reasonable price tag GPU, which is what everyone is waiting for – but in general there are small signs that we are on the recovery path. So let's work through them.

Scalper pricing / market price

The last time we checked in to the scalper market – this is where we can get an accurate picture of current GPU prices and willingness to pay – prices were relatively constant over a period of one month. This also coincided with a relatively flat period in cryptocurrency growth. Hence, it was believed that if crypto prices don't go up, it won't increase GPU demand or prices.

In this article, we looked at last week's GPU prices and compared them to a similar period from the previous month for all current generation GPUs. The data was collected from completed eBay listings for brand new graphics cards in the US market. We are again seeing a trend that is relatively flat from month to month. For about two months now, we've been basically at the peak of GPU prices in the scalper market.

The good news is that GPU prices are not rising and are not yet in a constant period of time.

The good news is that GPU prices are not rising and are not yet in a constant period of time. This is proof that buyers have reached the limit of willingness to pay for a new GPU. And the premium buyers are willing to pay for a GPU varies between models.

RRP eBay average price March eBay average price April Price inflation in March Current price inflation Price increase from March to April
GeForce RTX 3090 $ 1,500 $ 3,083 $ 3,126 106% 108% 1%
GeForce RTX 3080 $ 700 $ 2,256 $ 2,175 222% 211% -4%
GeForce RTX 3070 $ 500 $ 1,374 $ 1,400 175% 180% 2%
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 400 dollars $ 1,297 $ 1,405 224% 251% 8th%
GeForce RTX 3060 $ 330 $ 905 $ 884 174% 168% -2%
Radeon RX 6900 XT $ 1,000 $ 1,870 $ 1,814 87% 81% -3%
Radeon RX 6800 XT $ 650 $ 1,560 $ 1,480 140% 128% -5%
Radeon RX 6800 $ 580 $ 1,340 $ 1,330 131% 129% -1%
Radeon RX 6700 XT $ 480 $ 1,165 $ 967 143% 101% -17%
Average 156% 151% -2%

Nvidia GeForce GPUs are significantly more inflated than AMDs. The RTX 3070 is currently selling 180% above MSRP, or 2.8 times its MSRP of $ 500, averaging $ 1,400. For cards with the weakest offering, the RTX 3080 and RTX 3060 Ti, you want to pay at least three times their regular price, but that number hasn't changed in the last few months (aside from the practically unavailable 3060 Ti).

Meanwhile, AMD Radeon GPUs range from 2 to about 2.3 times their MSRP. The 6700 XT is even down 17% compared to the period immediately after its launch, a by-product of a decent 6700 XT offering, while the 6900 XT has a relatively modest price inflation of 81%, which is lower than any other current generation GPU .

This means that buyers who are actually willing to pay a higher price will buy a Radeon GPU far better than a GeForce. The 6700 XT is currently much better value for money than the RTX 3070, not just in the scalper market but also retailing a number of cards. The average price for the 6700 XT is $ 967 compared to $ 1,400 for the RTX 3070, making the 3070 45% more expensive as our games are on average ~ 5% better based on our performance tests.

Other comparisons also speak in favor of AMD, as the prices are less high. The RX 6800 is currently slightly cheaper than the RTX 3070, although it offers an average of 13% higher frame rates at 1440p. The same applies to the RX 6800 XT compared to the RTX 3080. The average scalper price for the Nvidia GPU is 47% higher despite almost identical performance. So not in mining games where I don't know how these cards work and I honestly don't care.

Now, I'm not saying to pay those crazy GPU prices on eBay, but it's an interesting look at what people are paying for GPUs right now.

We've heard that AMD's offering is slowly improving and it appears to be affecting the impact in this market where Radeon offers significantly better value for those desperate and willing to overpay. The price increases on GeForce GPUs are absolutely disgusting, and while I don't recommend paying those prices on Radeon GPUs as well, you definitely shouldn't be paying three times the MSRP for a GeForce card.

The promising thing about this is that GPU prices have remained stable despite the monthly growth in the crypto market. I'm not a crypto expert so I had to do more than the null research I usually do in the crypto market, but the trends seem clear. While Bitcoin was relatively flat from month to month in the period I considered, Ethereum – a very popular coin for mining on GPUs – is up 24%. And via CoinDesk 20, which they refer to as the “Top 20 Assets” in the crypto market with “approximately 99% of the market volume”, the average increase in these coins from the previous month was 41%. Some coins remained unchanged, others fell slightly, and others saw significant growth but averaging 41%. Of course, this will change over time due to the high volatility of the crypto market, but this was the snapshot I took over the same period of time that I used for the GPU sales information.

It's not the big drop in GPU prices people want, but it's a positive sign.

This doesn't give us any insight into when GPU prices will return to normal, but right now we're mostly interested in short-term trends: are GPU prices flat, rising or falling? We are looking for flat or downward trends while an increase would be catastrophic. And here is the GPU market.

CPU market update

The CPU market has had a simpler history and there have been many improvements compared to when we talked about it last month.

A big change in this market was the introduction of Intel's 11th generation Rocket Lake processors. While not all of these processors have been well received – the Core i9-11900K is not a good one – Intel offers a lot of value and performance in the lower end of the market. Chips like the Core i5-11400F and the previous generation Core i5-10400F are still the most affordable processors on the market for gamers. Both are available from major retailers.

According to discussions with retailers, the demand for Intel 11th generation parts is low. This means that after the product launch, we didn't see the usual increase in sales that usually increases prices and decreases availability. Instead, most 11th generation parts can be picked up right away at the MSRP or, in some cases, at a discount. The Core i7-11700K has already dropped from $ 420 to $ 400, and you'll see similar minor discounts on a few other CPUs in the freshly released lineup.

10th generation Comet Lake processors are no longer offered, but are still reasonably available. The Core i9-10850K, Core i7-10700KF, and Core i5-10400F, to name a few, are all available at reasonable prices or discounts. A part like the eight-core 10700KF costs $ 300, as does the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X's six-core. That kind of value and competition makes the CPU market pretty strong right now, with good availability on the Intel side.

The only exception seems surprisingly to be the Core i9-11900K, which is difficult to find despite its poor reception and is sold at inflated prices. On the other hand, the CPUs you might actually want to buy and the CPUs you should buy are all available. So it might be a good time to think about upgrading your CPU.

On the AMD side, it depends a lot on your region whether the offer has improved. Not much has changed in the US: the Ryzen 7 5800X is available for $ 450 while the cheaper Ryzen 5 5600X is available for $ 300. They're available at this price from Microcenter, for example, but you see a price premium for Newegg and Amazon, so it depends. Older CPUs in the AMD lineup like the Ryzen 5 3600 and Ryzen 7 2700X continue to sell at roughly their original starting price or sometimes a higher price, which makes them poor value compared to Intel. That situation won't change until the 5600X stabilizes or AMD releases a newer, cheaper Zen 3 part in the sub-$ 300 price range.

In the US, you may find it difficult to buy one of AMD's Ryzen 9 processors, the 5900X or 5950X, as most retailers don't have enough inventory. However, we hear that the supply for these parts is improving significantly and should be decent within a few months. In Australia, for example, you can pre-order a 5900X with an ETA of just one week while in the last month the orders for the last launch day were fulfilled.

In other regions, the Ryzen 9 5950X is no longer available last month, but is available. UK overclockers are currently running low on inventory, while Mindfactory can supply you with any Ryzen 5000 processor from AMD, including a tray version of the 5600X. On that basis, it shouldn't take long for the CPU market to fully stabilize and I would expect the stock update next month to see us have a relatively healthy CPU market compared to what we've covered over time have see last month.

This could affect other products too, especially on the AMD side. If they are able to meet the demand for Ryzen 5000 desktop processors, over time they should be able to reallocate excess 7nm supply from TSMC to other lower-inventory products, whether or not it is are graphics cards or APUs. It could also open the door to a Ryzen 5 5600-type product if AMD is to step down that path and question Intel's current lead in the budget CPU market.

It's honestly very refreshing to talk about CPUs this way as the availability for new products like Ryzen 5000 has been terrible for months. The market isn't great, but it seems to be recovering and that's good news for people looking to upgrade their systems. Unfortunately, it doesn't help GPU buyers too much, but that's the next issue to be addressed.

We will continue to monitor CPU and GPU prices and keep you updated. Also, don't forget that you can view price history in our Product Finder and create email notifications so that you can be notified when a price drop occurs.

Purchasing links:
  • Intel Core i5-11400F at Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 7 5800X on Amazon
  • AMD Ryzen 5 5600X on Amazon
  • Intel Core i5-11600K on Amazon
  • Intel Core i7-10700KF on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT on Amazon
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800 on Amazon
  • AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT on Amazon

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