After a full eternity of waiting (two years), GPU prices have returned to something that closely resembles sanity.
In-stock, decently priced, current-generation graphics cards are once again linked in almost every tier of our PC building chart!
The GPU Market is Finally Back! Yes, Really!
From the crazy 300% prices at the height of the supply glut, to 50% over MSRP back in September, to the current 25% increase over MSRP. Tom’s Hardware has a great article here, with graphs, where you can dive into the reasons. Long story short: less restrictions, less sanctions/tariffs, ethereum prices falling.
But the good news doesn’t end there. Even that lingering 25% markup is likely to be mitigated within just the next couple of weeks. Following cuts to import tariffs, last week Asus announced that they would be cutting prices on models from the low-end to the high-end. When those price cuts hit retail, the other major manufacturers are very likely to follow suit.
The clouds are parting. It’s a beautiful new day for PC building, and our build chart greets this new day with joy!
Updates in the Wake of the Return of Graphics Cards
The drop in GPU prices is a welcome bit of good news, particularly when 99% of all other news in the last two years has been… well, you are not living under a rock, you know what is going on. So let us focus on whatever good news we can find, shall we?
Along with lower GPU prices, Intel’s new CPUs have been rolling out, and they are quite good. In fact, maybe too good? The i3-12100F and i5-12400F may have lagged behind the other 12th-gen releases in reaching wide availability, but the performance and price are both so good that they now dominate our charts.
The competition between AMD and Intel has brought us to the point where $120 will get you fantastic single-threaded (read: gaming) performance, so budget gamers can rejoice. When buying these, please make sure that you are getting compatible HSFs, as the new LGA 1700 socket is not compatible with CPU coolers for older Intel sockets.
AMD fans, wondering where AMD is? Fret not: AMD is readying up a response.
What about DDR5, you might ask? Unfortunately, DDR5 is still priced twice as high as DDR4, so we will not be recommending it for a while. DDR5 performance? In games, the performance difference is less than 1%. Luckily, you can still buy the new CPUs, as there are DDR4-compatible motherboards which we recommend.
As a reminder: at launch, DDR5 was three times as expensive as DDR4, and that was only 3-4 months ago. Prices for DDR5 have already fallen dramatically, and in time DDR5 will hit price parity with DDR4, so we can switch to it.
A Summary of the Changes Coming to Our Main Chart
- With better availability and better prices, more GPU recommendations are from the current gen, less are from a previous gen
- Vega 7 (R5 5600G’s iGPU) added to Minimum
- RTX 3090 Ti has been added to the Monstrous tier
- Athlon 200GE added to Destitute
- Athlon 3000G added to Poor (replacing R3 2200G, R3 3200G)
- R5 5600G added to Minimum (replacing R5 3400G)
- i3-12100F added to Entry/Modest/Fair (replacing R3 3100, i5-10400, i5-11400)
- i5-12400F added to Good/Very Good/Great (replacing i5-11400F, i5-11600K)
- i5-12600K added Superb/Excellent (replacing R5 5600X, i5-11600K)
- Stock HSF for the i3-12100F and i5-12400F is the new Intel RM1 stock HSF
- All LGA 1700 CPU HSFs are options where the manufacturers provide the 1700 bracket for free or for a nominal fee
- Entry -> Great mobos are all compatible with the new CPUs
- SSD in Excellent is now 1TB as default
Overall, PC building is in its best shape since the global catastrophe hit in early 2020. With hardware launches promised by AMD (and Nvidia) this year, 2022 is shaping up to be a good year for all of us.