We have seen a whole lot of speculation (and a fair bit of desperation) surrounding Nvidia’s next-generation graphics cards—and for a few good reasons.The company’s existing 10-series “Pascal” architecture is pushing two years on the gaming market, and AMD seems unable, at least at the moment, to muscle the performance goalposts forward on the graphics high end, with its Radeon Vega 64 comparable with the GeForce GTX 1080, but not the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. So there's not a lot of competitive impetus to push next-gen cards on the market, when the current gen is doing just fine.
Plus, of course, there is no lack of demand. Thanks to the seemingly bottomless bank accounts of coin miners, it’s been nearly impossible to pick up any performance-focused graphics card for well over six months, without paying hundreds more than the MSRP. Case in point: the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It debuted just over a year ago at $699—and it was selling on Newegg as we wrote this for a starting in-stock price of $1,079.
All that said, those hoping that Nvidia’s next-gen cards are going to fix the current problems plaguing the enthusiast gaming space may be setting themselves up for disappointment. Let’s take a look at what we know (or what we think we know) about Nvidia’s ostensible GeForce GTX 2080 and GTX 2070 right now. Spoiler alert: it ain’t much. For starters, they may not even be called "GTX 2080" or "GTX 2070."
What We Know (and Don't Know) About Nvidia's Next Consumer Cards
Yep, we’re not even sure on that naming convention. Speculation about a so-called GTX 2080 and 2070 seems to initially have come from TweakTown, which in the same story speculated Nvidia could launch new cards at its GPU Technology Conference (GTC), which is coming up next week in San Jose. We’ll have personnel at the event, in case that happens. But a launch of a card that soon seems extremely unlikely at this point. In fact, our own sources tell us not to expect next-gen high-end Nvidia cards until the July timeframe, which puts a hard launch even at Computex 2018 out of the picture, as well.
That said, while we will likely have to wait a bit longer than many gamers would want, our sources also indicate that the next-gen top-end Nvidia consumer cards will skip Nvidia's Volta architecture. Volta found its way into the $3,000 Nvidia Titan V, but it otherwise has been absent in the consumer gaming space; the next-gen cards should jump straight to an architecture called “Turing” that we know almost nothing about. Hopefully that means, at the very least, that we’ll see more of a performance boost than we’d normally expect from one generation of cards to the next.
Regardless of what a potential GTX 2080 hides under its cooling apparatus, though, it may not matter much on a practical level for the vast majority of gamers. Given the existing price of GTX 1080 Ti cards, TweakTown is speculating that Nvidia’s next-gen card could be priced as high as $1,499. Again, we don’t know. But given the seemingly unyielding demand for high-end cards in the $1,000-plus price range, even if Nvidia doesn’t price its new cards obscenely high, they’re almost certainly going to sell for hundreds above the MSRP, anyway.
Our only hope for relief on that front (apart from a cryptocurrency-market meltdown) may be that new cards with more mining muscle might shift the focus away from existing Pascal-based chips (as well as AMD’s Vega offerings) and bring some high-end gaming cards back down into the realm of reasonable affordability.
How the Market Might Improve
There may soon be some relief to gamers’ coin-mining woes from elsewhere, as well. As we recently reported, profits seem to be stretching thin for Ethereum miners, and some (admittedly small) cities in the United States are banning coin mining in various ways. Wenatchee, Wash., which as of 2013 had the cheapest electricity in the country (thanks to dams on the Columbia River), banned at-home Bitcoin mining for a year in February. And across the country in New York State, Plattsburgh recently voted for an 18-month moratorium on commercial cryptomining, in an attempt to manage its own hydroelectric resources. In other words, some municipalities seem to be wising up to the fact that coin miners are flocking to areas to exploit cheap power.
If these trends continue, gamers looking for new high-end cards could see some price relief in the next few months. If this unwinds fast enough that millions of existing graphics cards get dumped onto eBay and Craigslist, that could keep the price of next-generation cards reasonable, as well. It’s a tenuous hope. But hey, in a world where RAM prices are triple what they were not long ago, graphics cards are selling at double their launch pricing, and even power supply prices are going up, it sometimes feels like hope—and credit card debt—are all that PC gamers and builders have these days.
What do you think? What would you like to see in Nvidia's next-generation graphics cards? Chime in with your take in the comments below.