Micro Center released a customer advisory saying that it has raised its GPU prices to be competitive with major online retailers, such as Amazon, but it will be offering bundle discounts in-store to DIY builders to mitigate the price increase.
By now, every prospective GPU buyer knows that we are currently in the grip of cryptocurrency-induced GPU shortages. Although the huge demand will benefit GPU makers in the short term, there are worries that it will compromise the long-term market by driving gamers to other platforms.
AMD, whose GPUs were more affected in the early days of the current wave, was the first to directly address this issue by releasing its RX Vega series of GPUs in bundles. This was to compensate for the inevitable difference between retail prices and MSRP, the company said. Nvidia was quiet on the issue until earlier this year, when it reportedly told ComputerBase.de that it was directing its retail partners to make arrangements to prioritize gamers over miners.
AMD and Nvidia might be doing more with retailers behind the scenes, as some retailers have begun introducing strategies to mitigate the price hikes. Micro Center is only the latest to do so. Some websites reported seeing Newegg bundle monitors and external GPU enclosures with select GPUs, but we can no longer find evidence of this. Even though Micro Center isn’t restricting its bundles to specific products, many reddit users have reported that the discounts won’t return card prices to MSRP. Canadian retailer Memory Express disabled online orders of GPUs entirely, forcing customers to go in-store. It also said that inventory would be allocated to DIY builders, but it didn’t say how it would enforce that policy.
The situation was different in mid-2017, before the full brunt of the current wave hit. The power and performance advantage of Nvidia’s high-end GPUs was only compounded by AMD’s GPU shortages. The time period correlated to a growing lead in Nvidia’s gaming market share. The meteoric rise of Ethereum changed the pricing situation for Nvidia, and the prices of its previously unaffected high-end GPUs soared, as well. Our own research revealed that medium- to high-end GPUs are currently either above MSRP or unavailable. Prospective DIY builders can currently save money in some cases by buying a pre-built system from a boutique builder compared to building their own.
Higher GPU prices may seem like a positive for retailers, but those exorbitant costs will likely keep consumers from being able to spend money on building new systems and in some cases upgrading others. Thus, retailers will see less sales of other hardware, such as CPUs and motherboards, suffer.