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Why do graphics cards cost so much?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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September 16, 2012 11:38:46 PM

I am wondering why video cards cost so much. To me, they are essentially a computer inside a computer. They have their own motherboard, cpu, and ram. I dont know how gpu processors are designed but to my knowledge they do not have multiple cores. So Considering the fact that I could get a dual core cpu for ~$100, a motherboard for ~$70, 4gb of ram for ~$20, a aftermarket cooler for ~$25, and give maybe ~$50 for labor and drivers. I would have myself all the components of a gpu for ~$265. And yet we have single gpu cards going for over $600. Why? This does not make sense to me at all. I understand they want to make money, but this stuff just makes no sense to me beyond greed.

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a c 198 U Graphics card
September 16, 2012 11:41:44 PM

Well, we also have processors that retail for over $1000.

Video cards in fact to have multiple cores in a sense. They are either called CUDA cores or Stream processors. The processor made to process video also is more expensive and higher quality.
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a b U Graphics card
September 16, 2012 11:57:27 PM

eric4277 said:
I am wondering why video cards cost so much. To me, they are essentially a computer inside a computer. They have their own motherboard, cpu, and ram. I dont know how gpu processors are designed but to my knowledge they do not have multiple cores. So Considering the fact that I could get a dual core cpu for ~$100, a motherboard for ~$70, 4gb of ram for ~$20, a aftermarket cooler for ~$25, and give maybe ~$50 for labor and drivers. I would have myself all the components of a gpu for ~$265. And yet we have single gpu cards going for over $600. Why? This does not make sense to me at all. I understand they want to make money, but this stuff just makes no sense to me beyond greed.


If you were going to spend $265 on your other components, why would you spend $600 on a GPU that is going to be bottlenecked by a dual core CPU?
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a c 87 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:02:45 AM

eric4277 said:
I am wondering why video cards cost so much. To me, they are essentially a computer inside a computer. They have their own motherboard, cpu, and ram. I dont know how gpu processors are designed but to my knowledge they do not have multiple cores. So Considering the fact that I could get a dual core cpu for ~$100, a motherboard for ~$70, 4gb of ram for ~$20, a aftermarket cooler for ~$25, and give maybe ~$50 for labor and drivers. I would have myself all the components of a gpu for ~$265. And yet we have single gpu cards going for over $600. Why? This does not make sense to me at all. I understand they want to make money, but this stuff just makes no sense to me beyond greed.


i7-3930K has six cores and HTT at about $600. A Radeon 6670 graphics card for $60 or so has 480 VLIW5 cores. GPUs have more cores than any modern CPU, although they are not the same types of cores. High-end graphics cards have high-end prices whereas low-end graphics cards have low-end prices (with a few exceptions in both, but these are general rules). Cards are usually priced at least loosely based on their performance.
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September 17, 2012 12:06:08 AM

iknowhowtofixit said:
If you were going to spend $265 on your other components, why would you spend $600 on a GPU that is going to be bottlenecked by a dual core CPU?

I was basing that off my knowledge of a gpu's processor. I was trying to relate the price of components of a gpu to what it would cost me to "build my own" gpu physically.
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a c 87 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:13:12 AM

eric4277 said:
I was basing that off my knowledge of a gpu's processor. I was trying to relate the price of components of a gpu to what it would cost me to "build my own" gpu physically.


That's not how it works. You're not building your own GPU by doing that. Using a computer like that as a graphics card would have very poor performance compared to even the most low end $30 video cards. You'd also have to write your own graphics drivers and such to make it work, it would be a huge project that would be nearly impossible to do in a reasonable amount of time.

Also, modern GPUs can have over one thousand cores, not that that is directly indicative of performance by itself.
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:17:48 AM

eric4277 said:
I was basing that off my knowledge of a gpu's processor. I was trying to relate the price of components of a gpu to what it would cost me to "build my own" gpu physically.


This thread is pointless. You can't build your own GPU as you are describing in this thread.
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a c 198 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:19:37 AM

Build your own GPU?

Have fun with that.
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:21:54 AM

This thread goes beyond pointless. Do some research and get to know the differences between a GPU and a CPU. Even then you may be still scratching your head.
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:37:39 AM

eric4277 said:
I am wondering why video cards cost so much. To me, they are essentially a computer inside a computer. They have their own motherboard, cpu, and ram. I dont know how gpu processors are designed but to my knowledge they do not have multiple cores. So Considering the fact that I could get a dual core cpu for ~$100, a motherboard for ~$70, 4gb of ram for ~$20, a aftermarket cooler for ~$25, and give maybe ~$50 for labor and drivers. I would have myself all the components of a gpu for ~$265. And yet we have single gpu cards going for over $600. Why? This does not make sense to me at all. I understand they want to make money, but this stuff just makes no sense to me beyond greed.


It is not the core count that matters in GPUs. It is the number of transistors. The number of transistors times the area per transistor (smaller at smaller nm processes) gives you the size of the silicon die. The silicon wafer is only so big, and only so many dies can fit on a wafer, the edge wafers are obviously partial and are not usable, and bigger the silicon die, the less usable GPU dies per wafer. As well, as GPU transistor counts go up, the probability that one die on a wafer at current manufacturing maturity levels is bad goes up. So in some cases, sources around the web puts functional dies per wafer on some current generation Nvidia GPUs initially (not sure now) at 10% or so. Nvidia used to pay per working die, now they pay per wafer same as AMD. The point is that most of the GPU cost lies in the silicon die, which is a function of manufacturing and design. TSMC and others have been pushing to get smaller and smaller processes, but the problem here is diminishing returns as we approach closer to the limits of what is physically possible, hence the high costs of manufacturing.

For reference, Ivy Bridge (full fat, i7 series) has 1.4 billion transistors, while the top of the line HD7970 has a whopping 4.3 billion transistors.

Other things like the PCB also costs money. The more intricated the GPU layout due to additional memory channels, non-standard ports, etc, etc, the more layers the PCB needs to be. This drives up the cost a lot for high end GPUs with wide 256 bit buses, multiple RAM chips, complicated VRM designs and multiple signal routes for multi-GPU configs.

Beyond those, rest everything is relatively cheap in comparison, and the remaining is purely market realities. There is only 2 suppliers of GPUs, AMD or Nvidia when it comes to aftermarket, so there might be some lack of competition going on in this respect. Beyond this, there are only a handful of companies out there fabricating the PCB and assembling the end products for everyone (ASUS, Gigabyte, EVGA, XFX, etc, etc), so there is some stark reality there too for limited market competition.

Lastly, GPUs are not essential computer equipments, like high-end CPUs. Most users won't fork over money to buy even low end GPUs that are very much capable like the HD7000 series and rely on integrated graphics. This is what made Intel graphics so successful. Preying on this, powerful GPUs (as well as CPUs) are considered somewhat luxury computing items for only those who have the WANT/OBSESSION and TIME to play and appreciate it.

Also, this generation of GPUs highlights the disparity of launch time and its effects on the pricing. AMD has been able to launch (due to their faster pace of RnD and maybe their extensive experience in GPU and CPU design) their 7000 series WAY ahead of Nvidia. So in effect, they were able to jack up the prices and enjoy additional income. Nvidia not being competitive in a timely fashion screwed a lot of consumers.

PS. As an additional interesting consideration, AMD's finances overall are vastly helped by their graphics division and Nvidia's finances must benefit from their GPUs as well. I suspect both companies rely on these profit sources to fund their other areas of blunder/research/marketing (AMD - CPU, Nvidia - Tegra Series).
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a c 104 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 12:44:40 AM

eric4277 said:
I was basing that off my knowledge of a gpu's processor. I was trying to relate the price of components of a gpu to what it would cost me to "build my own" gpu physically.



:lol:  This is obviously a joke right ? Good one mate ! :lol: 
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a c 87 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:01:52 AM

GreenDutchAlien said:
:lol:  This is obviously a joke right ? Good one mate ! :lol: 


Alright guys, lay off a little. Maybe OP didn't know this before it was said and we're getting a little offensive either way.
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September 17, 2012 1:07:33 AM

OP is trolling y'all
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:09:53 AM

You identified why they cost so much when you said that they are a computer within a computer. And they are computers that do trillions of operations per second.
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a c 104 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:10:29 AM

He must be ; take a look at a gpu and you'll understand pretty soon that if you would make such thing yourself it would be a monstrous thing, big as a shoe box or something. :ouch: 
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September 17, 2012 1:20:13 AM

Wow, to be talking so much sh** about me being stupid you guys are really stupid. I was trying to make a comparison between the cost of the parts of a computer to how much a video card costs, with the video card sharing similarities of having a cpu, motherboard, and ram. If you still cant realize that is what I meant and that I never said I was intent on building my own gpu, then you are the one with the issue. Stop being elitist pricks.

Anyhow, thanks maxx_power. You cleared that up for me
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September 17, 2012 1:20:43 AM

Best answer selected by eric4277.
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:39:32 AM

eric4277 said:
Wow, to be talking so much sh** about me being stupid you guys are really stupid. I was trying to make a comparison between the cost of the parts of a computer to how much a video card costs, with the video card sharing similarities of having a cpu, motherboard, and ram. If you still cant realize that is what I meant and that I never said I was intent on building my own gpu, then you are the one with the issue. Stop being elitist pricks.

Anyhow, thanks maxx_power. You cleared that up for me


No problem! Cheers!
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a c 104 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:41:24 AM

Sorry Eric. :ange: 
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:45:22 AM

Wouldnt apologize to him. And I wasnt even being mean.
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a c 104 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 1:48:37 AM

It's only half meant, but he is a bit right ; he never said he was actually gonna make one. I came in late, didn't read the whole thread and maybe jumped the conclusion a bit. :non:  :lol: 
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a c 185 U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 2:43:57 AM

It's because nvidia and amd got us by the balls they know we will pay up so they can rip us off all they want :ouch:  :(  i didn't read whole thread just tittle
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a b U Graphics card
September 17, 2012 6:59:22 AM

This topic has been closed by The_Prophecy
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