When we naively previewed 2021, still in the warm afterglow of the impressive GeForce RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT releases, this year looks like the year of affordable PC gaming hardware. The golden year of low-cost drilling rigs is also the golden year of the latest game consoles. It turns out that 2021 is the worst year for PC gaming. why? Because of the hard work of hobbies, mainstream and budget markets have been implemented hastily.
PC games mean different things to different people. This alone can bring out the benefits of this hobby, and why no other platform can match it. On the one hand, it is true that sometimes the early adopters of elitism have cash to burn; those who will make big purchases as soon as new components are introduced, just to claim the latest and greatest equipment known to mankind.
This is great. The sheer power of roaring in the highest performance gaming PC will always be unmatched by anything our gaming cousins can dream of. The scalability of PC games means that large games look absolutely best on our devices when they reach their full potential.
But it is this scalability that makes PC gaming truly special to me. Because on the other hand, you have budget builders, dedicated gamers who work hard to extract as much performance as possible from the most affordable parts of the exact same game.
When you have a fat wallet, it’s easy to play 4K games at a silky smooth frame rate, but when your budget is very tight, you have to spend time researching parts, compromise some, and finally optimize to mess up your game and system. This is a challenge, but it is also a very useful challenge, especially when you might end up with a budget gaming PC that offers frame rates, making Xbox One blush.
This has been the case in the past, as a general rule, I would say that entering the second year of a new generation of game consoles, you can expect to assemble a game PC with the same cash, compared to current game boxes with similar or better performance. Prices have fallen, and new mainstream and budget components are released, making PC building easier.
Not applicable to this generation, not applicable to Series X or PS5. If you want a 4K game for $500, it’s still a wise choice.
As the overall demand for components and PCs begins to increase in 2020, this trend continues until this year, and it looks like it will become the new normal throughout 2022—and possibly 2023. Coupled with limited manufacturing capacity, supply chain disruption, and the relentless rise of cryptocurrencies-again——This means that key components such as graphics cards are sold out as soon as they are launched, and then they are as rare as donkey eggs.
This then became fertile ground for robots and eBay distributors to drastically increase the price tag on our favorite components, which made it a nightmare to try to upgrade or build a new PC in the past few years.
These are common sense, and as a PC gamer, you are probably enduring this kind of pain now. However, a little-known side effect of chip shortages, strong demand, and the ongoing pandemic is that it has an impact on manufacturers’ choices for their production and the actual appearance of their product lines.
When all the products you produce are sold out immediately when they are shipped, and your manufacturing capacity and chip supply are limited, there is no incentive to create cheaper, traditionally high-volume products. If there are as many $1,000 GPUs as there are $400 options, why lower the potential performance stack?
Usually, we have now seen cards under $200 for budget gamers, those with the latest architecture, with some crevices and folds here and there, offering impressive value for money. But the math no longer adds up. The traditional understanding is that you make a lot of GPUs for $200, aiming to sell a complete set of GPUs because you will sell fewer high-priced options. But in this possibly darkest timeline, when you can make the same number of more expensive chips and still sell the same number but with much higher returns, there is no need to “waste” production capacity on cheaper products. .
The fact that it is economically understandable does not make it less sad or maddening. Capitalism, she is a severe mistress.
If you want some raw data to support this: About a year after the introduction of the GeForce RTX 2080, Nvidia released five GPUs for less than $300, each one step higher than its related predecessors. If you count the price of the RTX 2060 at the beginning of 2020 and drop to $299, you can even do these six.
On the AMD side, due in part to the lower flagship price, it released seven GPUs of less than US$300 within a year after the release of the Radeon RX 5700 XT. If you count the various OEM versions of its first-generation RDNA card, then Yes.
About a year after the introduction of GeForce RTX 3080 and Radeon RX 6800 XT, where is this number? In a big fat zero. Nada. Zilch. There is no GPU under $300 in this generation.
And there is no choice.The boom-bust-boom cycle of crypto mining actually caused any GPUs are used by enterprising Ethereum miners, which means that eBay, the last resort for budget gamers, is also a barren wasteland in terms of affordable previous-generation graphics cards.
This makes it almost impossible to build budget gaming equipment that is worth the money. Is there any hope on the horizon? Yes. Although let me leave a quiet “potential” in the air…
Next year, there may be new Nvidia and AMD GPUs launched at lower prices and actual availability, and Intel will eventually join the competition of its own discrete GPU series. This will provide us with opportunities for three affordable and competitive graphics cards, and with the decline in SSD prices, DDR4’s current reasonable prices, and Intel’s budget CPUs with excellent value, there is great potential for the revival of budget games in 2022. .
With CES held in January, AMD traditionally likes to talk about mobile chips and new APUs, and there are rumors that Rembrandt APU designs use RDNA 2 GPU cores. This can provide a low-cost setup that does not require a discrete graphics card to provide 1080p gaming performance, and provides another economical and affordable way to hobby.
We are also preparing to release the Steam platform in February, the price of which is equivalent to the host level, and the potential for handheld and docking PC games through a SteamOS-based system.
Although these plans can alleviate our budget PC gaming dilemma, there is still a real specter of supply shortage. The Steam Deck has been postponed from December to February, and Valve listed “global supply chain issues” as the cause. The initial inventory has also been taken up, so if you have not purchased tickets for the Deck launch day entertainment, you will not pack your Steamy handheld device soon.
Whether we are talking about GPUs or APUs, AMD is still completely dependent on TSMC’s manufacturing (just like Valve uses AMD APUs on the deck), which means that it is competing with almost every other company on the planet for chip manufacturing capacity in Taiwan’s foundry. This means limited supply, which means figuring out how to manage these cheaper components and its high-end GPU and CPU, as well as AMD supplying PS5 and Xbox Series X with all the chips/S consoles required by Sony and Microsoft.
Despite its extensive manufacturing capabilities, Intel is also adopting TSMC’s contract manufacturing services for its upcoming Xe-based Alchemist graphics card series.
This is a multi-manufacturer juggling behavior that may eventually result in the blue and red teams providing theoretically excellent budget graphics cards and APUs, but the number of any of them is not important.
Then there is NVIDIA, which is not attributed to TSMC, but to Samsung’s manufacturing efforts. So far, rumors have meant that you are more likely to find a new GeForce GPU in the wild than AMD’s GPU, and the same is true for budget cards. Although the supply is still tight, it will be a battle to find a supplier on MSRP throughout 2022.
Therefore, the budget gaming PC market is expected to return in the future with the potential to provide key components at a reasonable price tag. This is important because it is not just a super enthusiast world about monster equipment, PC games are also inclusive. This is about giving everyone with a PC the opportunity to participate in this hobby, whether they want to play Warzone or Wildermyth, whether they can afford to spend $1,000 on a graphics card every 12 months, or whether they can’t Don’t worry about whether the price can be reduced by 50 dollars and worry about the new gaming headset.
I certainly got more fun from carefully calculating and building a budget gear that exceeds its weight class, rather than combining several high-power components together and calling it a day. I am very eager to go back to the day when it will be possible again.