For at least a year and a half, gamer graphics card prices have been going crazy. Series released during this time, such as Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3000 and AMD’s Radeon RX 6000, already carried proud price tags of well over 1000 euros ex works. But not even for that you could always buy the tickets. The boom in cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum led to huge demand for the powerful accelerators, which were then used for crypto mining. Scalpers bought up entire stocks in order to offer them on second-hand platforms such as eBay at a horrendous premium.
In the meantime, the Ethereum price has collapsed to around a quarter of its high, and the digital lead currency Bitcoin is not doing any better. As a result, the reward systems for miners have run aground because mining is hardly worthwhile, even in low-energy countries. The shelves of the dealers are now full of new graphics cards and at the same time discarded copies of the miners are flooding the used market.
And although there are only two major graphics chip manufacturers, the game of supply and demand works here. Since January, for example, the price of the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3070 Gaming OC 8G has fallen from around 1200 to 640 euros and thus by almost 50 percent. The percentage is similar for other cards like the 3080 Ti or the 3060. AMD’s Radeon cards have also become significantly cheaper. The cheapest Radeon RX 6900 XT now costs 45 percent less than at the beginning of the year and this trend is also continuing in the segments below. The Radeon RX 6500 XT entry-level card, which we attested in c’t 6/2022 to be far too expensive at 265 to 370 euros, is now available from 170 euros.
To buy second hand?
The used market is currently well stocked, but primarily with discarded cards from crypto mining farms. These can be completely normal graphics cards with only a few months of operation, which were indeed under constant load, but were often operated with a component-friendly reduced voltage (undervolted).
On the other hand, these can also be completely worn-out cards whose lifespan is coming to an end and which were specially developed for mining without display outputs, or which only have a mining BIOS that reduces performance in games or does not run stable there. With the constantly changing providers, these many imponderables can hardly be ruled out with certainty, often with shipping from the Far East. We therefore advise against buying used unless you are sure that you can get your money back, for example from a reputable provider based in the EU.
What for whom?
Now if you are thinking about buying a new graphics card for the gaming PC, here is a quick summary. The current models come from the Radeon RX 6000 and GeForce RTX 3000 series. In conventional raster graphics, the Radeon cards are not inferior to their GeForce counterparts, and some are even noticeably faster. If games with ray tracing optics are on the wish list, Nvidia cards (usually significantly) pull away.
The top cards RX 6900 XT/6950 XT and RTX 3080 Ti/3090/3090 Ti are one thing above all at 950 to over 1900 euros: Still far too expensive and above all suitable for those who only want the best of the best. The GeForce RTX 3080 (from 850 euros) and the Radeon RX 6800 XT (from 760 euros) achieve very good performance values even when used with 4K monitors, with the Radeon having more memory ready for high resolutions. Below that, the RX 6800 (650 euros) competes with the RTX 3070 Ti (700 euros), the RX 6750 XT (580 euros) is squeezed by the RTX 3070 (600 euros) and the RX 6700 XT (500 euros). taken. With these cards, smooth games up to 2560 × 1440 pixels are possible.
Price-conscious buyers tend to look in the range between 300 and 400 euros, in which the cards with the best price-performance ratio can also be found. With 12 GB, the RTX 3060 brings plenty of memory and good ray tracing performance for the 400 euro class, but has to admit defeat to the Radeon RX 6600 XT for 400 euros in terms of performance in conventional games with raster graphics. For around 300 euros, the RX 6600 offers a good entry into the current world of gamer graphics cards and is faster than the RTX 3050, which is about the same price. However, its performance is only sufficient for demanding games for Full HD resolution.
(Image: Source: Geizhals.de)
Despite the low price, we only recommend the RX 6500 XT and RX 6400 to absolute bargain hunters – not only is their PCIe interface very narrow and is used more frequently due to the small local memory of 4 GB. AMD has also dispensed with dedicated video encoders and limited the decoders to the older H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) codecs.
Still too expensive
However, many prices, especially those of the GeForce cards, are still above the recommended retail price more than 18 months after their market launch. And to top it all off, the new generation is also coming up this year for both AMD and Nvidia. The cards expected for the fourth quarter are likely to improve performance, especially in the high-end segment – rumors speak of a factor of 2 to 3 – but at the same time set new records in terms of prices and power consumption (up to 800 watts are expected in the Conversation). The extent to which this will have a dampening effect on the price structure is currently difficult to predict.
In c’t 16/2022 we explain how data dealers screen you while surfing, process your data and turn it into money. You will learn how to defend yourself against tracking and protect your privacy. In addition to USB sticks and SSDs up to 1 TB, A3 multifunction printers and the new MacBook Pro 13″ with M2 CPU also hold their ground on the test bench. We also present a number of useful tools for security research.
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