I was a Boy Scout in my youth. The motto was very succinct and powerful - "Be prepared". Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the GPU market lunacy, however, along with millions of other IT enthusiasts who had planned to upgrade their GTX 970 or GTX 1080 around two years ago. The lifecycle of a GPU is usually around 3-5 years, which falls in line with the manufacturer production timeline. Nvidia, for example, my GTX 970 was released in 2014, and at the end of 2019 I was planning on making the leap to RTX, aiming for a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, expecting to pay around £699. As it turned out, the price was around £1100 in the UK, which was more expensive than my original gaming PC build cost in its entirety. The prices continued to go crazy, and miners became the most hated creatures on the internet. Now it seems the tables are finally turning, and the future is looking brighter.
So, in the spirit of being prepared, this article is devoted to my fellow IT enthusiasts who received the great news that GPU prices were finally going to drop in 2022, looking at the logical reasons why, but - perhaps more importantly - what you should do next to prepare for the new gaming revolution.
But I Already Bought A GPU - Now What?
Sadly, for a lot of gamers, there seemed to be no end in sight, and if you were building a PC between October 2019 and November 2021, you probably had to go above and beyond your budget to get the GPU of your dreams.
If you were in this unlucky position, then there is little hope of you recouping the money you paid over the MSRP. The Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3080 GAMING OC 10GB V2 LHR is currently priced at around £1700 on Amazon, which is almost triple the MSRP. However, smarter IT hobbyists than me have come up with a few clever ways to make use of that card well beyond the next upgrade, so all is not lost. When the new graphics cards release in 2022, you want to have a plan for that over-inflated GPU that you purchased, right? Here are your options:
Option 1: Build An E-GPU For A Laptop
An E-GPU is an awesome way to turn a bog standard laptop into a gaming machine, and is more simple than upgrading a PC. The video below shows you how to build a chassis that will house your GPU, a PSU and hook it up to your laptop for fun times.
Option 3: Build A DIY Arcade Cabinet
Using the above method to turn a laptop into a gaming machine, you could put that bad boy inside of a prefabricated arcade cabinet (or a DIY arcade cabinet), and turn your spare room into an arcade!
Option 3: Become A Cryptocurrency Miner
Just kidding. That'd be a bad idea considering what's happening in 2022.
The Gaming Revolution Begins In 2022
I'm not using that phrasing lightly. Experts genuinely believe that 2022 will see not only the pricing of GPUs return to a stable baseline, but also the new graphics cards that are launching will take gaming to the next level.
The End Of GPU Cryptomining
So the big news is that GPU mining is coming to an end. With Ethereum accounting for 95% of GPU mining, it is the main reason we're seeing mining farms all over YouTube and Reddit, with graphics cards being stacked high and wide in warehouses churning out coins. However, the difficulty of this mining has been increasing whenever new GPUs are released, to keep the value of Ethereum somewhat stable. This has been rendering mining almost unprofitable in the long term for newbies, at around $3.00/24hrs for an RTX 3070, because it only takes one problem to cost you your original £1500+ investment and swallow any profit.
Ethereum Network Difficulty Chart - Source: etherscan.io
As you can see from the chart above, the difficulty of mining falls roughly in line with Nvidia GPU release dates. As the difficulty increases, the less ROI miners are getting. It's not just Nvidia cards, either. AMD's RX cards have also been used for mining, and there had been rumblings of AMD limiting the scope for cryptomining. When asked outright if they would actively seek to limit the mining capabilities of AMD cards, they responded - "The short answer is no,".
However, Nish Neelalojanan, a product manager at AMD went on to say "RDNA was designed from the ground up for gaming and RDNA 2 doubles up on this. And what I mean by this is, Infinity Cache and a smaller bus width were carefully chosen to hit a very specific gaming hit rate. However, mining specifically enjoys, or scales with, higher bandwidth and bus width so there are going to be limitations from an architectural level for mining itself."
In 2022, Ethereum will no longer be mined using GPUs. This is known as The Merge - where the Ethereum architecture will swap from a Proof of Work to a Proof of Stake system around June 2022.
Here is where the plot thickens, however. Experts are predicting that with the release of Intel's new GPUs, Nvidia's new cards late in 2022 and AMD's new line of GPUs all hitting the shelves in a relatively short timeframe, this will create a buoyant market for gamers - meaning more product & more availability, which translates to lower pricing. Couple this with the Ethereum announcement, and mining experts such as Sebs FinTech Channel showing the daily mining profits dropping 66%, you have everything pointing to the GPU market recouping massively.
As Ethereum represents 95% of the GPU mining arena, that means when The Merge happens, they will all be fighting over the 5% of the market that remains Proof of Work (GPU mining).
What You Should Do Next
Looking to build a gaming PC for the first time, or ready for your next big rig build? Your next move as a gaming PC builder should be to sit tight and wait until June 2022. If you are looking to get the best value for money in your next build, that's the best advice anyone can give right now, because there are so many unknowns.
That said, there is a lot to be said for prepping the rest of your gaming PC build by purchasing the parts ahead of time. Buying a motherboard bundle in preparation for your new GPU next summer is also a good idea (especially if it has integrated graphics).
You might not have to wait too long if you're looking at buying an Intel GPU, because they should ship around March 2022. If you're waiting for AMD or Nvidia, then you'll be waiting until October 2022, according to murmurs and rumour mills across the internet.
If you are looking to upgrade to an RTX card that is currently overpriced, however, then June 2022 should be your target month, which will see a huge swing in favour of the gamers according to experts. This will mean retailers can finally access and sell cards at closer to MSRP, and the availability of cards will increase slowly following the Ethereum Merge.
A word of caution: Don't be tempted to buy used GPUs, however, when all the disgruntled miners are trying to offload their sizzled graphics cards. The lifespan of these units will be significantly reduced, when compared with regular gaming workload. If it looks too good to be true, it usually is.