In brief: We've all grown accustomed to the grim image of graphics cards selling for two to three times their MSRP. The most optimistic among industry leaders believe we still have six months before we'll see prices trending downward, and the most current data suggests they'll plateau at around 90 to 100 percent over MSRP until then.
GPU pricing and availability was bleak in 2021, as we've noted in each one of our monthly reports. People who have been trying to upgrade their systems with one of Nvidia's RTX 3000 series or AMD's RX 6000 series graphics cards were faced with scalpers and cryptocurrency enthusiasts grabbing much of the available stock. Used GPU pricing has also been a nightmare, as it followed a similar trend as brand new GPUs.
As we ease into 2022, there's no sign of the situation improving in any significant way, but there are some reasons to keep hoping for it.
For one, both AMD and Nvidia believe the supply of graphics cards will gradually improve this year. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is less optimistic in this regard, as Team Blue is readying its first wave of Alchemist GPUs which will intensify competition in the space but depend on limited foundry capacity just like current generation GPUs from the other two companies.
According to German publication 3DCenter, GPU retail pricing seems to have plateaued. After reaching 91 to 92 percent above MSRP in December, it has now returned to November levels, with Nvidia's RTX 3000 series cards sitting at 89 percent above MSRP. AMD's RX 6000 series have seen a slightly higher dip to 85 percent above MSRP levels thanks to better availability.
A Jon Peddie Research report last year highlighted a peculiar fact --- graphics card shipments actually increased towards the end of 2021, which should have pushed prices down, at least in theory. Ethereum mining profitability has taken a small hit in December, but that doesn't seem to have made any dent in the number of GPUs that are at work hashing transactions on the network.
All in all, GPUs are still ridiculously expensive and will likely remain like that until Ethereum begins its major shift to a proof of stake model, which will render GPU mining obsolete or, at the very least, unprofitable. The protocol developers expect this to happen in June, but there's always a possibility for further delays.