If you’re in the market for a new graphics card this holiday season, it can be pretty tough to discern a deal from a dud. The latest Nvidia RTX cards are brand new and often selling for more than the entry-level MSRP. So don’t expect many--if any--deals on an RTX 2070, 2080, or 2080 Ti in 2018.
Older and more mainstream cards, meanwhile, have finally come down off of year-long highs due to fading interest (and falling prices) of cryptocurrencies. But retailers will often use those previously extreme prices to make a card seem like it’s a steal when, in fact, it may just be selling at its initial 2016-era launch price.
How, then, do you tell if the sale price on a specific card is a good deal or not? A good place to start is to look up that original selling price/MSRP, which you can always find in our graphics card reviews. That at least will give you a baseline and let you know whether or not the current price is inflated. But that doesn’t mean you won’t see plenty of cards these days that are still selling above their two-year-old suggested price points.
The next step is to check the specific card or cards you’re considering on a price-tracking site like camelcamelcamel. While this site is focused on Amazon, knowing the history of Amazon pricing is also a useful baseline.
Taking an MSI-made AMD RX 580 Armor 8G OC as an example, we can see that the card was briefly available in 2017 for about $230 in the first half of 2017 before spiking as high as $466 in March of this year and then plummeting back below $300 sometime in June. And the $225 asking price when we wrote this is the lowest price the card has ever sold for--though still not much lower than when it launched back in April of 2017.
You can find similarly useful data on Nvidia cards, though you’ll mostly find pricing info on third-party cards, since Amazon generally doesn’t sell Founders Edition models (except from third-party sellers who often inflate prices).
Armed with the MSRP and a detailed history of pricing, you’re in a pretty good place to tell whether a “sale price” is a legit deal or just a slight dip down from an inflated price. But what cards / GPUs do we specifically expect to see deals on this holiday season?
For starters, as we said up top, don’t expect any major (or even minor) price slashes on RTX cards as the year draws to a close. Despite high prices, stock seems to be light--at least on 2080s and 2080 Tis. These cards are still very new, and early adopters appear to be buying them about as fast as Nvidia and its partners can churn them out.
You may see some deals on older 10-series Nvidia-based cards, but that all depends on how long the stock remains robust now that the GPU maker is shifting to a new architecture. There is a new variant of the GTX 1060 with faster GDDR5X memory. But again, that card is brand-new and so unlikely to see a heavy discount in 2018.
If you are, though, looking for a card in the same performance range as the 1060 at a bargain price, we’d suggest keeping an eye on AMD’s RX 580 cards. The company’s recent earnings call indicated that the crypto crash has left its partners overstocked with graphics card inventory. And now that AMD’s Radeon RX 590 is official (and officially power-hungry), the prices of the now previous-gen RX 580 cards have started to drop significantly, with some cards already selling for well under $200. Given that we now know (from our testing) that the RX 590 adds just a few percentage points of gaming performance over the RX 580 while using significantly more power, the RX 580 is looking more and more like a good buy this holiday season for those looking to game at 1080p—particularly if you see it priced at or near $150.
We intended in this story to offer up a chart with all current cards, their original MSRPs and a baseline price at or below which we’d consider a given card a good deal. But as 2018 winds down, it seems that the stock of many cards--even older mainstream models--continues to fluctuate wildly. Prices are changing accordingly, jumping up and down through even a given day. Because of this, any deal price suggestions we make today would effectively be out-of-date by the time you’re likely to read this story.
So instead, we’ll leave you below with a list of current gaming-centric cards and their launch MSRPs. Keep in mind that for many cards--even models that have now been out for well over two years, real-world pricing is often still higher than the original suggested price.
So while the crypto craze may be over, we’re likely still feeling its effects this holiday season, as card makers juggle existing stock after decreasing demand, and preparing for new and upcoming cards, while attempting to keep their profit margins under control.
We generally don’t recommend paying more than the suggested price, particularly if you’re after a deal. But even if a card’s current street price is consistently higher than than the 2016-era launch pricing, it could still be considered a “deal.” We hate to be a GPU grinch. But It looks like the 2018 holiday season will again be disappointing for those of us who’ve come to expect the passing of time to bring better gaming performance at lower prices.
|Radeon RX 570||$169|
|Radeon RX 580||$229|
|Radeon RX Vega 56||$399|
|Radeon RX Vega 64||$499|
|GeForce GTX 1050||$109|
|GeForce GTX 1050 Ti||$139|
|GeForce GTX 1060 3GB||$199|
|GeForce GTX 1060 6GB||$299|
|GeForce GTX 1070||$449|
|GeForce GTX 1070 Ti||$449|
|GeForce GTX 1080||$599|
|GeForce GTX 1080 Ti||$699|
|GeForce RTX 2070||$499|
|GeForce RTX 2080||$699|
|GeForce RTX 2080 Ti||$999|
If you’re still not sure exactly which card you want to shop for, or current prices have thrown a wrench in your original upgrade plans, you should check out our graphics card buying guide, GPU Performance Hierarchy and Best Graphics Cards pages for help narrowing down your options.