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Why it's safe to buy GPUs today

by Staff Writer
23 Jul 2019 at 17:13hrs | Views
From December of 2017 until February of 2018, GPU prices were way above the average MSRP. This was largely due to Cryptocurrency miners hoarding all the graphics cards they could get their hands on to mine Bitcoin.
 
The Bitcoin bubble led the graphics card market to collapse and prices went out of control. It was also during this time that it was actually more economical to -- for the first time in history -- buy prebuilt computers instead of building your own.
 
Luckily, now, in 2019, GPU prices have largely returned to normal. In fact, some of the prices are even dropping way below their original MSRP because of the ensuing release of the next gen of GPUs: NVIDIA's upcoming RTX Super cards (release date unannounced) and AMD's upcoming Navi GPUs (set to release on July 7th this year).
 
If you're still worried about buying a new GPU, though, then maybe it's best that we show you how high prices went and how low are they now instead of just telling you. Then we'll go over whether it is smarter to buy the latest gen GPUs, or best to wait until the Super and Navi cards are released.

Price History Before, During, and After the Bitcoin Fever
For some perspective on just how out of control GPU prices went there for a while, let's look at how much they cost just a few weeks prior to the Bitcoin mining explosion.
 

 
As seen in the image above, the price of the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card went from its average price of $160 to a whopping $240 during the bitcoin fever. After reaching this peak in February, you can see the prices gradually trail off over the next few months to finally settle down around $170 to $190. It is worth noting that this is 1) more expensive than when this mess started and 2) this extra expense is worse if you factor in the tech being older. Still, things have largely quieted down. Let's look at another example.
 

 
The image above also shows that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition cost around $555 at the December 28th mark in the middle. However, only a couple of weeks later it hit its all-time high of $988.88 on January 11th. That's a 78.2% increase in about half a month.
 
According to the latest data, these cards cost around $440-- which is way below the average price of $555 from before the prices went crazy high. Compare this to any new-gen Turing architecture GPU-- all of which perform on-par, if not better, than the GTX 1070 card-- which only cost about $280 on average, and it's likely you'll see even lower prices in the coming weeks.
 

 
Even AMD cards were no exception. During the same time frame, the price of the XFX Radeon RX 580 also went as high as $800 from its average price of $300-$400. That's double the price in just a few weeks!
 
Currently, they cost around $190, which is basically half as cheap as how much it initially cost before the bitcoin season and a fourth as much as it cost at its peak (yay fractions!).

How Will the Upcoming Cards Affect GPU Prices Today?
With the recent release of RTX graphics cards by Nvidia and the upcoming Navi and Super RTX cards by AMD and Nvidia, respectively, how will prices shift in the next few months? Should you buy a GPU now or wait until later?
 
Nvidia's RTX and Vega cards will definitely go down in price. But whether or not you should buy the current-gen RTX/Vega cards or wait until later for the upcoming Super and Navi cards is a matter of personal preference.
 
There are a few things you should keep in mind if you're torn between buying now or waiting until later.
 
Let's talk about Nvidia's RTX cards first because of its real-time ray tracing technology and the DLSS or Deep Learning Super Sampling feature it boasts.
 
The ray tracing technology basically makes the game look more realistic by reflecting light from explosions, gunshots, or anything else really. This has actually been around for a while (you've seen it in action if you've watched a Pixar movie), but only now have we reached the point where we can make those calculations in real-time.
 
The DLSS or Deep Learning Super Sampling feature provides a better looking overall image without using as much of the card's main processing capabilities as AA (Anti-Aliasing). This means you get 5-15 frames more just by turning it on compared to leaving it off (on top of the RTX feature turned on) without sacrificing any graphics quality at all.
 
On the other hand, AMD cards don't have any sort of ray tracing or DLSS feature. But AMD's new Navi-based cards include support for FreeSync 2 HDR, as well as Radeon Image Sharpening and Fidelity FX feature, a post-processing technique that improves parts of a game scene, making supposedly-blurry textures appear smooth.
 
It also comes with a higher base clock and a higher boost clock compared to RTX cards, which is great considering it's significantly cheaper than RTX cards. Not to mention it works in tandem with a very responsive drive.
 
Overall, if you want the best right now, the RTX gives you more than just performance because of its ray tracing technology. But if you could wait a bit longer, the Navi cards are a good choice, especially if you just want pure, raw performance. If you're really wanting to get the best out of the new ray tracing tech (we see you, early adopters), then the RTX Super cards will push ray tracing to its fullest when gaming.

Conclusion
At the end of the day, it's not just safe to invest in cards for gaming this 2019 but it's better than ever. And you won't go wrong either way; both cards are great regardless of their differences. But it's best to buy according to what really matters to you.
 
To date, there aren't many game titles that support the RTX feature. Moreover, the games that do support it take a large performance drop in the FPS department to make up for those pretty graphics (although this can be somewhat addressed by turning the DLSS feature on). But if you're looking to play games and take advantage of the ray tracing technology or the DLSS feature, get the RTX cards now, or wait for the RTX Super cards, which is rumored to be released in July this year. We can even say it's as safe as buying an HD display for your PC.
 
On the other hand, get the Navi cards if performance matters to you over the RTX feature. It should not only perform better, but it's also cheaper than RTX cards.


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