Skip to main content

The RTX 4080 unlaunch is the worst news for GPU prices since crypto

Nvidia is “unlaunching” the 12GB RTX 4080, which is such a strange move that Nvidia made up a whole new word to mark the occasion. On one hand, it’s a positive development for a card that most of us thought was a very bad idea. On the other hand, it’s also a very worrying sign for already rising GPU prices.

At $900, the 12GB RTX 4080 looked like a slight price increase over the previous generation — about $200. It’s a price hike, but one that Nvidia could easily defend. Nvidia is on the record saying that the cost of manufacturing GPUs is going up, and the RTX 4090 (which has already proved very popular) saw a similar $100 price increase over the previous generation.

Related Videos
A hand grabbing MSI's RTX 4090 Suprim X.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

It’s hard to defend the price hikes now, though. The 16GB RTX 4080 is just the RTX 4080 now, which means we can truly compare prices one-to-one. At $1,200, the RTX 4080 is a full $500 more expensive than the RTX 3080. The cost of manufacturing may be going up, but a $100 to $200 price increase is much different than a $500 price hike.

When Nvidia announced the RTX 4080 models originally, the community saw the 16GB model as being the “true” RTX 4080 and the 12GB model as being a rebranded RTX 4070. Nvidia didn’t see the two models that way. In briefings with press, Nvidia described the 12GB version as the base RTX 4080, while the 16GB model was an “enhanced” version — maybe something similar to the $1,200 RTX 3080 Ti that launched in the previous generation.

Nvidia’s backpedaling tells a different story. It’s impossible to say if Nvidia actually saw the 16GB version as a true successor to the RTX 3080 or it shifted stances following the overwhelmingly positive reception of the RTX 4090. But it doesn’t matter. With the 12GB model officially in the can, Nvidia is sending a clear message: GPUs in this class should sell above $1,000.

There has been speculation that Nvidia planned to cement this class of GPU above $1,000 for a while. The $1,200 price tag on the RTX 3080 Ti came as a shock — it was a $200 increase over the RTX 2080 Ti — and the 12GB RTX 3080 never received an official list price, but sold above $1,000 at launch.

RTX 3080 graphics cards among other GPUs.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends.

We just came out of a GPU shortage, which skyrocketed prices on the back of increased demand from cryptocurrency miners and limited supply. In many cases, gamers were spending two times the list price for a GPU, even for cards available at retailers. List prices remained in act, though, and now that the GPU shortage is over, cards have slipped and settled back in toward their list prices. Most RTX 3080 models, for example, are available around $700.

That demonstrates the power of list price. Although supply and demand ultimately dictate how much graphics cards cost, the list price sets the goal post — when supply and demand are in balance, GPUs should sell for their list price. Nvidia is moving that goal post with the RTX 4080.

Similarly, GPU classifications have power. Although Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is on the record as saying “it’s just a number” in reference to the two RTX 4080 models, Nvidia clearly understands how segmenting two GPUs under that name is misleading. It’s good that Nvidia is finally recognizing that fact, but it shouldn’t distract from the $500 price increase that the RTX 4080 now carries.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in speculation about Nvidia (and AMD, for that matter) increasing list prices to match scalper prices. Up to this point, though, that’s all it has been: speculation. We now have a clear sign of rising GPU prices, not due to demand or supply or scalpers, but simply due to charging more generation over generation.

Editors' Recommendations

No surprise — graphics cards have gotten twice as expensive since 2020
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 GPU.

The latest scoop on GPU prices paints a pretty grim picture. It appears that the average prices of graphics cards have doubled between 2020 and 2023, and they show no signs of stopping.

We all knew that GPUs are on the expensive side, but did anyone really expect that the prices had skyrocketed so much? More importantly, when will it end?

Read more
No one is buying the RTX 4080 — will Nvidia finally slash its insane price?
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 lays on a pink surface.

Most of Nvidia's best graphics cards are currently readily available for sale, but that's not a good thing. No one is buying Nvidia's ill-fated RTX 4080, and a price cut might be on the way.

Will this situation give an edge to AMD, which is currently seeing an uptick in GPU sales?

Read more
AI is coming for your PC games, but you should be excited, not worried
how ai can change destory pc gaming games respec featured

The tech community has been oversaturated with AI this past week, from ChatGPT to Google Bard, but not without reason. We see fads like NFTs and web3 come and go, but AI is here to stay -- even in your PC games.

It's not all doom and gloom, though. AI and machine learning has already proven itself wildly useful in PC gaming, and it has far-reaching implications for how games are made and experienced. I'm not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here -- and if you stick with me, you'll see why.
How it's being used now

Read more