As we stand on the cusp of a new generation of graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, a familiar discussion has taken root online – are the previous generation of GPUs still worth buying when something newer, brighter and more powerful is on the horizon?
I can clear this up for you: uh, yes.
The argument remains the same as the last generation releases – that it’s pointless to buy a product on the verge of becoming ‘out of date’ and prices often don’t drop far enough to be worth the money. There It is logic to this argument, but it doesn’t take into account one big problem: the GPU market hasn’t followed logic for a long time.
At least not in the way that matters. Yes, in years gone by you could go to your local computer store and buy a new graphics card with relative ease, whether it’s an all-new model on the MSRP or the previous generation it was replacing at a tasty discount, but the last few years have proven that you just can’t predict the future of one market, GPU or another.
When GPUs like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 were first released, many PC gamers and computing enthusiasts believed that an upgrade from the previous generation couldn’t be justified by the insanely high prices, and that waiting for the 3000 series to drop was the most sensible option – and then all hell broke loose.
history can repeat itself
The Ampere series of cards, like the GeForce RTX 3060, were divisively priced – some found it reasonable, while others bemoaned the apparent demise of affordable graphics cards – but a terrible cocktail of word problems also made them nearly impossible to find.
Cryptomarket saw a boom in Ethereum, which made the cards very attractive to miners who bought them in bulk for use on crypto mining farms, while the Covid-19 pandemic caused supply chain problems and a chip shortage that affected almost everything in the tech world, from computing components to cars and appliances.
All this shortage has inflated the price of GPUs to wild levels, with the GeForce RTX 3080 hitting an average resale price of almost x3 times its original MSRP during the height of the Great GPU Shortage. AMD fared a little better, though even Team Red was still hampered by shortages and scalpers.
One difference between how the two companies approached the situation was in regards to cryptomining, with Nvidia eventually re-releasing updated models of nearly its entire Ampere series equipped with anti-mining preventatives.
These LHR (low-hashrate) cards weren’t completely indecipherable, but they may have helped to dissuade people from buying mountains of RTX 3060s. On the other hand, AMD acknowledged the situation and stated that once a customer buys a GPU, they are free to do whatever they want with it.
One big problem, however, is that this shortage hasn’t just affected this generation of graphics cards – it has also inflated the price of nearly every GPU on the market. The argument of waiting until the next generation of graphics cards is released to buy a cheaper, older model or a fair priced new release has completely disappeared almost overnight.
It’s your money, your needs and your choice
Will this happen again? It’s hard to say.
The shortage was caused by a variety of issues that occurred at the same time, but if Covid-19 causes more restrictions on the supply chain, it is likely that Lovelace and RDNA3 GPUs could see their prices soar due to demand. The cryptocurrency market also has every chance of bouncing back due to its volatility, so you shouldn’t feel like we’re out of the woods just yet.
I have a simpler argument in all of this: is it worth buying a new GPU if it’s worth it for you.
Older GPUs still have a place in the market right now. You just need to look at the Steam Hardware Survey to see how many players are still using multi-generational cards at this point, and depending on the games you play, chances are you don’t need an especially powerful graphics card. Most first-person shooters and battle-royale-style games intentionally keep system requirements low to attract more players, for example.
I wrote an article several months ago on the RTX 3070 Ti getting bad reviews. It was downgraded for its price and performance, but the joy it brought me is beyond value. I won’t feel bad about my choices, given the circumstances, graphics cards were harder to come by than gold dust. Would I have preferred an RTX 3090? Sure, but did I need one? Absolutely not.
As the cost of living is becoming higher and higher in many countries around the world, it just doesn’t make sense to upgrade to the ‘next big thing’ just for doing it, and the Ampere and RDNA2 GPUs will still be relevant and capable for years to come. that will come.
If you see an especially good deal on a cheap graphics card in the coming weeks, don’t let early adopters try to talk you into waiting for Lovelace or RDNA3 unless you’re happy to do so – we just don’t know what. the market will be when they are released.