With the RTX 4080 on the horizon, should you buy an older, cheaper GPU?

With the RTX 4080 on the horizon, should you buy an older, cheaper GPU?

As we stand on the brink of a new generation of graphics cards from Nvidia and AMD, a familiar discussion has taken root online: is it worth buying the previous generation of GPUs when something newer, shinier, and more powerful is coming your way? horizon?

I can clarify: eh, yes.

The argument remains the same as for the last generation versions: that there is no point in buying a product that is about to become "obsolete" and that prices often do not drop enough to make it worthwhile. There's logic to this argument, but it misses a big problem: the GPU market hasn't followed logic for a long time.

At least not in the way that matters. Yes, in years past you could go to your local computer store and buy a new graphics card relatively easily, whether it was a brand new model at MSRP or the previous generation it replaced at a great price, but the last few years have shown that you simply cannot predict the future of any market, GPU or otherwise.

When GPUs like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 were first released, many PC gamers and computer enthusiasts thought that an upgrade from the previous generation couldn't be justified by the incredibly high price, and to wait for the series' downfall. 3000 was the most sensible. option - and then all hell broke loose.

history could repeat itself

Rare Gundam-themed RTX 3080 GPUs are built into a mining rig

Rare Gundam-themed RTX 3080 GPUs built into a mining rig have caused a stir online. (Image credit: I_Leak_VN)

The Ampere series of cards like the GeForce RTX 3060 had a divisive price tag – some finding it reasonable, while others lamented the apparent death of affordable graphics cards – but a terrible cocktail of word problems also made them nearly impossible to encounter.

The crypto market saw a boom in Ethereum, making the cards very attractive to miners who were collecting them in bulk for use in crypto mining farms, while the Covid-19 pandemic caused supply chain issues and a shortage. of chips that has affected almost everything in the technological world. , from computer components to automobiles and home appliances.

All this shortage has inflated the price of GPUs to exorbitant levels, with the GeForce RTX 3080 reaching an average resale price of almost three times its original MSRP at the height of the great GPU shortage. AMD fared slightly better, though even Team Red was still plagued by shortages and resellers.

One of the differences between the way the two companies approached the situation was crypto mining, with Nvidia finally relaunching updated models of almost all of its Ampere series equipped with anti-mining preventatives.

These LHR (low hash rate) cards weren't completely unbreakable, but they may have helped deter people from taking mountains of RTX 3060. On the other hand, AMD acknowledged the situation and said that once a customer buys a GPU, they are for free. to do what they want with it.

A big problem, however, is that this shortage has not only affected this generation of graphics cards, but has also inflated the price of almost all GPUs on the market. The argument of waiting for the next generation of graphics cards to come out and buying a cheaper old model or a reasonably priced new version completely disappeared almost overnight.

It is your money, your requirements and your choice.

PC gamer looking happy

Why is he so happy? Who knows but I bet your GPU does exactly what you need. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Will this happen again? It's hard to say.

The shortage was caused by a variety of issues occurring at the same time, but if Covid-19 causes further stress on the supply chain, it is likely that Lovelace and RDNA3 GPUs could see their prices start to skyrocket due to demand. The crypto market also has every chance to recover given its volatility, so you shouldn't feel like we're out of the woods just yet.

However, I have a simpler argument in all of this: it's worth buying a new GPU if it's worth it to you.

Older GPUs still have a place in the market right now. Just check Steam's hardware survey to see how many gamers are still using previous-gen cards right now, and depending on the games you're playing, you probably don't need a particularly powerful graphics card. Most first-person shooters and battle royale-style games intentionally lower the system requirements to attract more players, for example.

I wrote an article several months ago about the back of the RTX 3070 Ti and got bad reviews. It stood out for price and performance, but the joy it gave me is worth nothing. I won't feel bad about my choices under the circumstances since graphics cards were harder to come by than gold dust. Would you have preferred an RTX 3090? Of course, but did he need it? Absolutely not.

With the cost of living rising in many countries around the world, it just doesn't make sense to move on to the "next big thing" just because, and Ampere and RDNA2 GPUs will always be relevant and capable for years to come.

If you see a particularly good deal on a cheap graphics card in the coming weeks, don't let early adopters try to convince you to wait for Lovelace or RDNA3 unless you're happy to do so. the market will look when they are launched.