Skip to main content

U.S. Lifts Chinese Import Tariffs Hitting GPUs, Motherboards

Motherboard under a teal filter.
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Office of the United States Trade Representative has reinstated 352 products into its exclusion list, which governs the Chinese imports subject to increased, punitive tariffs as part of the US-China trade war. The revised listing now once again excludes Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) from the added duties. PCBs are used to manufacture motherboards, GPUs, and a range of other electronic components. 

The development means PCBs coming from China are now free from the 7.5%-25% additional import duties levied at them, which went into effect in January 2021 when the provisions excluding these products expired. This could, in theory, translate into lower prices for some of the best motherboards and graphics cards. Of course, that's the best case scenario that assumes companies will be passing these savings on to consumers.

But that is more likely to happen with motherboards than graphics cards. Virtually all semiconductor products are faced with added materials costs from the (still normalizing) supply shock that followed the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the current Russian invasion of Ukraine. While this is true for motherboards as well, demand for these products didn't explode nearly as much as graphics cards, which were also targeted by scalpers and cryptocurrency miners. Ultimately, the reduction in import taxes could mean cheaper motherboards - or at the very least, help offset the increased materials costs.

Graphics cards are, however, another beast. Even as GPU prices keep steadily falling towards MSRP, that particular market was devastated by the demand shock and has been that way ever since the introduction of Nvidia's RTX 3000-series. While the falling prices indicate a gradual return to supply and stock normalcy, retailers have built up their supply on products that have been sold at a mark-up already.

This could put a dent into the effect the tariff exemptions could have for end-user pricing, as retailers will be simultaneously trying to move graphics cards they acquired at high and low prices. Retailers are thus likely to increase their margins on more recent, cheaper stocks as a way to compensate for the reduced margins on GPUs they previously bought at a significant mark-up, but can't shift due to crashing consumer demand for graphics cards at inflated prices. The bottom line here, then, is that effects on graphics card pricing are harder to predict - but it's likely that the lower taxes won't translate into a corresponding price action any time soon.

Francisco Pires
Francisco Pires

Francisco Pires is a freelance news writer for Tom's Hardware with a soft side for quantum computing.

  • bigdragon
    I don't think we're going to see much in terms of GPU price drops until Intel enters the market. Some of the less well known brands will likely pass along some of the savings. I can't see mainstream companies with huge marketing budgets, like A$U$, doing the same though...not with a war raging on and the constant potential for natural disasters.

    Motherboards are a different beast. I expect prices to drop there rather rapidly. That's a market that needs a correction, ASAP.
    Reply
  • tennis2
    Better late than never I guess...
    Reply
  • hotaru251
    companies: "no more tariff? woot more profit we can pocket!"
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    As I posted here a week or two ago, GPU shortages will continue due to be among us it appears (with CPU and console APUs possibly as well) due to one crucial factor: neon gas used for laser machines.

    Silicon chip manufacture (and therefore graphics card supply) requires Neon gas in order to power the lasers necessary for cutting designs into computer chips. The majority of Neon, which is a rare material, is produced as a byproduct of the steel manufacturing process in Ukraine and then purified for use. According to the Financial Times, Ukraine produces over 90% of the world’s semiconductor-grade Neon, most of this comes from the port cities of Odesa and Mariupol.

    https://www.wepc.com/news/gpu-shortage-2022-ukraine-war-neon-gas-silicon-shortage-2022/
    Reply
  • tennis2
    I do recall when these tariffs hit, the affected items almost immediately went up 25% in cost. Since then, we've incurred an even more extreme stock shortage, so I presume the rollback will be slower an less pronounced.
    Reply
  • wifiburger
    tariffs on GPU and Motherboards were a stupid idea to begin with; it didn't accomplish a single thing & China gave 0 F about the whole thing
    Reply
  • sprizz324
    Admin said:
    The U.S. has removed 352 products from the "Section 301" tariff applied on Chinese imports. The exclusions from the additional duties include printed circuit boards commonly used in motherboards and graphics cards.

    U.S. Lifts Chinese Import Tariffs Hitting GPUs, Motherboards : Read more
    When will our corporate grifters come to their collective senses? Leaving our technology in the hands of foreign entities is tantamount to surrender! Bring our businesses back along with the jobs required to run them.
    Reply
  • escksu
    sprizz324 said:
    When will our corporate grifters come to their collective senses? Leaving our technology in the hands of foreign entities is tantamount to surrender! Bring our businesses back along with the jobs required to run them.

    Its entirely possible to move manufacturing back to USA. However, are you sure you will be willing to pay for the increased in prices? We are talking about an increase of 2x or more here. I think iphone 13 now is USD899? It will easily cost 1699 or even 2099 if its made in USA.
    Reply
  • kep55
    With so much of the manufacturing is computerised, why are builders still buying their kit from overseas? Between shipping costs, tariffs, QC oversight etc. I fail to see how it makes economic sense. Well, it does give an extra two bits to throw at Wall Street and the C-Levels back pockets.
    Reply
  • escksu
    10tacle said:
    As I posted here a week or two ago, GPU shortages will continue due to be among us it appears (with CPU and console APUs possibly as well) due to one crucial factor: neon gas used for laser machines.



    https://www.wepc.com/news/gpu-shortage-2022-ukraine-war-neon-gas-silicon-shortage-2022/

    Its going to get really really bad for the world and it will be more than just semiconductor. Batteries too will more expensive (esp. for EV!). Russia supply 20% of the world's class 1 grade nickel which is used for batteries. Yes, even lithium ion batteries contains quite a lot of nickel (see the link below).

    Of course, with rising oil and gas prices, power will become more expensive as well. So, you will have to pay more for power when gaming. Even mining will be affected too.

    https://nickelinstitute.org/about-nickel-and-its-applications/nickel-in-batteries/
    Reply