Throughout 2021, graphics cards have remained almost impossible to find for the average consumer, sometimes being the subject of a long treasure hunt for the most determined among them. For a few weeks, these precious cards intended for computers “gamer” are resurfacing in electronics stores. ” We see a return to normal “says Laurent de La Clergerie, owner of the LDLC, Materiel.net and Top Achat shops. ” We no longer have difficulty sourcing these products. »
At major online retailers, all ranges of Nvidia and AMD cards are now easy to find, even if the entry-level models are not always available, according to the findings of the World.
Rates also seem to be gradually returning to normal. In 2021, the prices of graphics cards had soared spectacularly, rising, for certain models, to double that recommended by Nvidia and AMD. This spiral has since reversed, with their prices now only about 20% higher than expected. The gap is ” largely due to the rise of the dollar against the euro “argues Laurent de La Clergerie, who thinks that the decline has come to an end. ” The prices have been falling for two months, but, in my opinion, we have reached a plateau. For our part, we have returned to quite traditional margin rates on sales of 10%, against 20% at the height of the peak. »
Collapse of cryptocurrencies
This landing in the graphics card market owes a lot to the sharp drop in cryptocurrency prices. Indeed, to “mine” (that is to say manufacture by a complex calculation process) these electronic currencies, individuals and large companies need a great deal of computing power, which can be provided by graphics cards. With currencies plummeting, mining revenues have plummeted, making investment in production hardware much longer to pay off, and discouraging most new entrants. The demand for graphics cards has been reduced.
Another key factor came into play: the easing of measures aimed at containing the pandemic, which had several consequences. First, sales of laptops for teleworkers have plummeted, “ freeing up production capacity at chip foundries “As explained by Alan Priestley, who deals, among other things, with studies on semiconductors at the consulting firm Gartner.
Moreover, freed from their isolation, some players have lost their desire for new graphics cards. ” In our stores, compared to last year, sales fell by 25%observes Laurent de La Clergerie. But beware, their volumes remain very high: compared to 2019, we are currently selling twice as many cards. This strong demand, the market manages to absorb it, because “the production of chips intended for cards has increased”according to Alan Priestley.
Finally, logistics, deeply disrupted by the Covid-19 epidemic, is improving. Some bottlenecks, which prevented smelters from producing at their maximum capacity, have been lifted. At the same time, global transportation works better. As summarized by Alan Priestley, logistics is now “better aligned with consumer demand”.
In the future, the slump in demand could continue due to inflation, which eats away at players’ budgets. According to Wall Street Journal, the graphics card maker Nvidia has, in anticipation, reduced its hiring. The action of the American company lost 48% in the first half. Another high-end chip giant, Intel, has also temporarily reduced hiring in its PC department.
If these semiconductor brands and their suppliers fail to adjust production quickly enough, prices could perhaps drop further before the next generation of graphics cards are launched, expected in 2023. According to Alan Priestley, however, forecasts remain “hard to do” in an uncertain economic context, and in a climate of competition and exacerbated innovation for chip brands such as Nvidia and AMD and the three major founders of high-end electronic circuits, Samsung, Intel and TSMC.
New consoles remain hard to find
The latest generation consoles are powered by the same type of high-end electronic chips as recent graphics cards: the fineness of engraving of their electronic circuits drops below 10 micrometers. However, despite the return of graphics cards to the market, next-generation game consoles are still unavailable on the shelves of the main online stores… unless you trust very small sellers who officiate on the online marketplaces. Amazon, Fnac or Darty, for example. These “partner sellers” make it their specialty to buy the consoles very quickly, before consumers have been able to get their hands on them, to resell them well above the official price. The additional cost remains particularly high today in the case of the Playstation 5, which is difficult to find at the beginning of July at less than 70% above the official price, according to the findings of the World.