Built back in 2015, my gaming rig is getting a little long in the tooth and in need of an upgrade, so it was time to take a look at the options on new components. Like many gamers, I was stunned to find the top-of-the-line graphics cards these days will cost more than an entire bare-bones computer system, if they are even in stock at all.
RAM and graphics cards alike have seen huge spikes in pricing over the last two years, especially seeing as crypto-miners have heavily relied on gaming hardware to strike it rich. While RAM pricing isn't expected to go down any time soon, there may be a light on the horizon for those in the market for a new graphics card.
Several factors have been driving the price spikes, like new smart phones using higher-end hardware and edging out home computer buyers with their large-scale orders. Cryptocurrency data mining operations placing orders for very large quantities of hardware has further kept the prices high, but hopefully, that's coming to an end.
With the volatility of cryptocurrency spiking and prices plummeting -- and with big names like John Oliver covering crypto in segments warning people against throwing all their money into a potentially hazardous situation -- love for these oddball currencies is waning. That isn't immediately going to fully solve the problem, however, as scalpers move in and buy the remaining stock when the costs are low, then list them as third-party sellers at inflated prices.
Pricing on graphics cards has risen so far above the suggested retail prices that NVIDIA released a statement asking their trading partners to prioritize gamers building new rigs over big mining operations. Essentially, they want sites to limit the number of graphics cards sold in single orders, or drop the prices altogether.
While the effectiveness of that plea is up in the air, prices are going to go down naturally either way. Fewer people are now buying graphics cards in bulk, so inventories are finally going up, which means prices have to eventually be slashed to move product.
1080s have already seen big drops from a normal cost of around $900 down to $600 in just a handful of weeks. The lower-end cards remain at higher-than-normal price points but are expected to drop in the coming months.
Here's the big issue, though -- prices may spike again, particularly if currencies like BitCoin and Ethereum see a sudden surge in value and the large mining operations ramp up activity again.
That's why you need to stay on top of all the best methods for finding the lowest price if you have any intention of building a new gaming computer or upgrading your existing machine this year. Here are all the tools you need to find the best price:
Read on for an in-depth look at each of these tools that can help you find a reasonable price on graphics cards.
Essentially, Camel Camel Camel cuts out the time and effort of constantly checking to see if a price on anything -- from blockbuster summer DVDs to blenders -- has dropped through Amazon.
Sign up for an account, search for something specific, like a GTX 1080 graphics card, and then Camel Camel Camel will notify you automatically whenever the price goes down.
It's bargain hunting made easy since you will always know the best price as soon as it happens instead of relying on luck.
If you are looking to build your own rig and not sure where to start, PCPartPicker puts everything all in one location and makes it simple to see what you need and what it's all going to cost.
Best of all for those looking for a bargain, though, the site includes a "price drops" section to let you know what deals are available so you don't pay full price while choosing any of your components.
Just click "Video Card" on the left side to automatically see any recent price drops across the main hardware selling sites, like Newegg, B&H, OutletPC, and SuperBiiz.
While you may still want to shop around to see if a lower price exists, at the very least, you will have a good idea of what specific cards are going down in price to get started finding the best deal.
Coupon code- and discount-searching browser extensions are a dime a dozen these days, and there are plenty worth checking out. One of the biggest and most reliable is Honey, which automatically searches any given site for coupons to get a better deal at checkout.
Honey tends to have plenty of coupons for sites like Newegg, so you can get bigger price reductions over already-reduced sale prices if you check back frequently on any part, from RAM to video cards.
The codes aren't always still valid, but having the option available means you never pay full price if a code is available.
While Camel Camel Camel will tell you when a price on a specific product drops, it won't always notify you of Amazon's daily deals and other price-saving measures for similar video cards.
With the Amazon Assistant, you can stay up-to-date on daily Lightning Deals in hardware to find that elusive sale on a graphics card, as well as view similar products while searching to add new video cards to your wish list (and then add 'em to your Camel Camel Camel notifications).
While the point of the various tools in the previous slides is to have a program do the work for you, they aren't always perfect and don't catch everything. Sometimes a little legwork is necessary, and you can't always beat just setting the "price: low to high" option on the gaming graphics cards section of Newegg.
They remain one of the most well-known hardware retailers for a reason, and with regular sales and offers, you can find new video cards for as cheap as $100 on the low end, with occasional big dips in prices on the higher-end cards if you check back regularly.
While prices for both the latest, bleeding-edge cards and the mid tier of gaming hardware remain high, all indications point to a drop coming soon. Stay on top of all the possible sales so you don't miss out on the deal of a lifetime!
Which of these video card price-checking tools do you use most often, and did we miss any great free services that should be added to the list? Let us know how you find cheap graphics cards with websites, browser extensions, and coupon codes in the comments below!