If there’s one thing that applies to almost every person who purchased an RTX 30-series GPU, it’s they paid an inflated price for it. Nvidia’s Ampere series of GPUs have literally been sold out since launch, as bots and scalpers sucked up every card available the second they went on sale. The situation got so bad that Nvidia had to stop selling cards on its own website, as it couldn’t handle the traffic.
Sadly, the situation never changed throughout the cards’ lifecycle. Most gamers who wanted a 30-series GPU had to pay the piper one way or another. It’s been a painful process for a lot of gamers. But how painful was it? According to Nvidia, gamers have paid an extra $300 to upgrade to an Ampere architecture GPU.
The semi-shocking “upgrade tax” was revealed in the company’s recent investor call (PDF warning). In a slide describing the popularity of its gaming products, it noted that its customers are paying more than they ever have ever for GPUs. “GeForce DT (desktop) Gamers who Upgrade to Ampere architecture SPEND $300 MORE Than on Prior Graphics Card,” the slide states. Yes, that line with the dollar value is in all-caps. Sure, that is good news for investors, but obviously not the best news for gamers.
The slide also tells us what the RTX adoption rate has been too. According to Nvidia, 29 percent of its customers have upgraded to RTX, with the rest sticking with GTX for now. That leaves a massive pool of people who will want to upgrade to a card that can do ray tracing and DLSS. You might note in the slide above Nvidia also crows about its Average Selling Price (ASP) being up 13 percent compared to what it was in 2017. Yeah Nvidia, we know.
Sadly, this pandemic-based GPU shortage seems to have taught Nvidia a valuable lesson: people will pay almost anything for its high-end GPUs. Proof of this is the fact that it originally released the RTX 3080 FE with an MSRP of $699. After watching that card sell for $2,000 on eBay, it re-released a version recently with an extra 2GB of RAM and other upgrades for almost double the price. And even that ridiculously-priced card can’t even be found in-stock anywhere. Nvidia is so cognizant of how bad this situation is for gamers that it’s seemingly doing silent GPU launches. We say that because new GPUs have launched, so to speak, with no reviews at all. This has been the case for the RTX 2060 12GB, the RTX 3080 12Gb, and will probably be the case for RTX 3090 Ti. Why bother getting press when every single card will be sold-out instantly anyway?
All of these developments have driven speculation about pricing for its next-gen products. Over the past five years, prices were already starting to creep up a bit. When the pandemic arrived alongside purchasing bots and crypto mining, it made for a perfect storm of insanely priced GPUs. Even the upcoming RTX 3090 Ti is rumored to cost more than a used car at around $4,000. With Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs rumored to offer almost double the performance of Ampere, will pricing follow suit? It is unthinkable that Nvidia could launch an RTX 4080 GPU for $1,500, for example. But when the RTX 3090 launched at that price, it sold out immediately. Heck, it’s still sold out, two years later. All we can hope is that Intel’s new Arc GPUs put some pressure on Nvidia. The same goes for AMD’s RDNA3 GPUs as well, which are also rumored to be beastly GPUs. Nvidia’s next-gen Ada Lovelace cards are expected to launch in September of this year.