The midrange graphics-card market may finally be cooling off


— 6:37 PM on September 29, 2017

As any PC enthusiast knows, it's been infuriatingly difficult to purchase a midrange graphics card over the past few months. The insane demand for cryptocurrency mining power has swept up every GeForce GTX 1060, Radeon RX 570, and Radeon RX 580 that Nvidia and AMD can turn out, and the black hole of demand has even warped GeForce GTX 1070 prices. Time after time this year, we've crossed our fingers hoping that one event or another in the cryptocurrency world would be the one to make midrange graphics card prices sane again, but those hopes have been repeatedly dashed.

Recent regulatory changes in China have shut down cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, though, and that move appears to have been the needle sharp enough to finally hole the Bitcoin and Ethereum balloons. (Ed. postscript: turns out a difficulty bomb for Ethereum isn't helping, either.) After some deep plunges from their peaks this year, both currencies seem to have found a new level, albeit at prices far below their record highs.

Whether this is a long-lasting plateau can perhaps be gauged by current prices of the two graphics cards we recommend for midrange builders: the Radeon RX 580 8GB and GeForce GTX 1060 6GB. Recall that the GTX 1060 6GB carries a suggested price of $259.99, while the Radeon RX 580 8GB was meant to go for $229 and up. Until recently, though, the EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB SC that we like exceeded $300 at retail, and Radeon RX 580 8GB cards have commanded $400 or more. It's impossible to recommend those cards for gamers when a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080 offers far better performance for not much more money. Folks without the scratch for a GTX 1080 have been shut out of the graphics card market for months, though, and that sucks. 


EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB SC

As of this week, though, it seems that prices for midrange cards are on a road back to regularity. On the GTX 1060 6GB front, Newegg has one card in stock for its suggested price, and our EVGA favorite is just $15 more.


Asus RX 580 Dual 8G

Radeon RX 580 8GB cards are not much more expensive. You can get this nice-looking dual-fan Asus model for $289.99, and similar versions from MSI, Gigabyte, and Aorus are all $309.99. Yes, $60 to $80 over AMD's suggested pricing for those cards is still a big ask, but at least they're in the same ballpark as competitive Nvidia products. We're still waiting for the taming of RX 570 prices, though. Those cards are impossible to recommend for the $260 or so they're commanding right now.


Radeon RX Vega 56 (and RX Vega 64)

The slight easing of tensions may be extending to AMD's higher-end cards, too. Although Newegg still isn't selling standalone Radeon RX Vega 56 and RX Vega 64 cards yet, the Radeon Black Pack versions of both cards are not far off their official prices. One can actually pick up an MSI RX Vega 56 Black Pack for the suggested $499.99 right now, and the RX Vega 64 Black Pack from Sapphire is $619.99 (or $20 over AMD's suggested price for the combo). Whether those are good values in light of the fact that you can still pick up a GTX 1080 for $500 to $550 is debatable, but they are at least not pants-on-head stupid.

All told, we can only hope that graphics card prices continue to cool off. Once again, we've got our fingers crossed. If you need a midrange card today, though, now is the best time to buy one that we've seen in months.

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