2017 saw GPU pricing becoming a pain in the neck with AMD's Vega graphic cards and it looks like 2018 is all set to make last year's pricing look positively cute. AMD's Vega 64, which has an MSRP of $499 was easily available at the $599-$799 mark in the months following release and is now floating at roughly $2100 whereas the NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti (specifically the EVGA FTW3) is going for as much as $1600 which is significantly over the price of $799-$899 that we have seen it sold at in the past.
Mining performance, lack of competition and memory supply driving prices of Radeon and GeForce graphics cards to all time high premiums
Interestingly, the reason behind the price gouging of both products is different. AMD's Vega 64 is simply a beast at XMR mining. If you remember our XMR mining article on Vega 64, it can actually outperform the Volta powered Titan, at 2100 H/s. This means that pricing of $800, you will be able to make the card pay for itself (and the electricity it consumes) in just over 4 months. That's an insanely good deal for miners all over the world so the retail price was bound to go upwards till it reached a more industry standard metric of roughly 1.5 years of ROI.At $1800-$2100 it will take you roughly over a year to break even.
NVIDIA high end graphics cards on the other hand are up right now because of lack of competition. They aren't that profitable at mining (but mine ETH quite well) but the 1080 Ti currently doesn't have a real competitor from AMD's side. Vega 64 is MIA and rarely available and this in return is causing GeForce GPUs to spike in price as well. Even if V64 was available, the card can at best, trade blows with the 1080 Ti, which makes the 1080 Ti the go-to card for a balls to the wall gaming build. This is why desirable custom variants like the EVGA FTW3 GeForce 1080 Ti are currently selling for upwards of $1600.
Another reason for the spike is that memory saw a spike recently which was expected to trickle down to customers eventually. But this is something that has more to do with the mining boom then anything else (and the cascade effect it has on the rest of the ecosystem). Heres the problem though, even if AIBs and IHVs introduce more supply to control prices, this isn't something that can come down easily until mining itself becomes unprofitable.
Its even possible that the days where cards sold for MSRP are over and market equilibrium will decide the selling prices from now on. The fact that Radeon will not be introducing any higher end card in 2018 doesn't really help with the entire situation, putting even more pressure on the current lineup of GPUs. We should see temporary alleviation in prices at regular intervals as manufacturers increase supply, and if you are on the market to buy a GPU, snag them up as fast as you can.