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Even with lower prices, you shouldn’t buy a GPU right now

In February, graphics card prices dropped by an average of 11%. It’s a significant positive movement in the midst of GPU shortage, which has locked PC builders out of buying a graphics card for more than a year and a half. Don’t be tempted, though. Now is the worst time to buy a graphics card.

The idea of waiting a little longer isn’t appealing at a time when waiting is all most PC gamers have done. Waiting until the middle of the year will pay off, though — you’ll get a better graphics card at a cheaper price, and it’s hard to argue with that.

Prices are dropping

Listings for the RTX 3080 on eBay.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The main reason to wait is that prices are dropping. We have some concrete evidence here and some speculation. Between January and February 2022, graphics card prices dropped by an average of 11%. Some cards had even higher price reductions — the RTX 3070 Ti dropped by over 15%.

We’ve seen an ebb and flow of prices during the GPU shortage, but never such a stark trend downward. And never across basically every viable option for gaming. That’s the hard evidence. On top of that, leakers point to even more significant drops in the months ahead.

Well-known leaker Greymon55 says that “GPU prices are going to drop dramatically” in March. German outfit 3DCenter also charted prices for last month, showing prices nearing levels from January 2021.

It looks like GPU prices are going to drop dramatically next month. I hope that's true.👀

— Greymon55 (@greymon55) February 20, 2022

The GPU shortage has to end at some point, and all signs are pointing to that happening soon. You can buy a graphics card right now, but it’s almost guaranteed that there will be a better deal a few months down the road. You may not get a card at list price, but we expect cards to be much closer to that in the coming months.

New generations are on the way

The AMD RX 6500 XT stacked up against other graphics cards.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Prices are dropping, which is partly because of a bolstered supply chain and partly because of interest. Ethereum prices are down from their peak in the middle of 2021, and that has been a fairly consistent indicator of GPU prices. Beyond a drop, though, AMD and Nvidia have new generations of graphics cards coming.

Out of all the cards that dropped in price last month, previous-generation options fell the most. That’s a good sign for AMD RX 6000 and Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics cards. We currently expect AMD’s RX 7000 graphics cards to launch in the second half of 2022. That could be Computex 2022, but it could be later.

For Nvidia, we have a good idea about when RTX 40-series graphics cards will arrive. Nvidia has released new generations every two years in either September or October for the last several generations. Leakers point to October, but the specifics don’t matter right now. We’ll likely see these cards in the fall.

A render of an Intel Arc Alchemist graphics card.
Image credit: Wccftech Image used with permission by copyright holder

Before either of those arrive, Intel is set to release its Arc Alchemist GPUs and the company is promising increased supply. Even if prices stay high, new graphics cards will push down the price of previous-generation options. It’s not a bad idea to shop last-gen, but it’s a terrible idea to do so right before a new generation.

Writing on the wall

An RTX graphics card lit by PC fans.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

With new graphics card generations on the way and a clear decline in prices, now is the worst time to buy a graphics card. If you need more convincing, look no further than Nvidia’s 12GB RTX 3080 and Best Buy’s egregious $200 paywall for GPUs. Prices are getting back to normal, and retailers and manufacturers are already trying to get ahead of that.

There’s no reason you can’t get ahead of that, either. It may be a couple of months, or it might not be until the second half of the year. One thing is for sure, though: A little more patience will pay off big-time.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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