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Though we keep track of video card pricing regularly on an internal basis, it’s not something we normally publish outside of our semi-regular buyer’s guides. More often than not video card pricing is slow to move (if it moves at all), as big price shifts come in concert with either scheduled price cuts or new product introductions. But in a process that has defied our expectations for more than a month now, even we can’t fail to notice what Radeon prices are quite literally up to.

In a sign of the daffy times we live in, Radeon R9 290X prices have hit $900 this week at Newegg. Every card, from the reference models to the water block model, is now at $899, with Newegg apparently doing brisk enough business to be sold out of more than half of their different 290X SKUs. This of course is some $350 over the 290X’s original launch price of $550, a 64% price bump. Meanwhile the Radeon R9 290 has been similarly affected, with 290 cards starting at $600, $200 (50%) over MSRP.

The culprit, as has been the case since the start, continues to be the strong demand for the cards from cryptocoin miners, who are willing to pay a premium for the cards in anticipation of still being able to turn a profit off of them in the long run. Interestingly this also comes right as Chinese New Year comes to a close. Chinese New Year doesn’t typically affect video card prices for cards that are already released and on shelves, but the lack of production for the roughly 2 week span certainly isn’t doing the 290X market any favors given the strong demand for the cards. In the meantime however this does mean that 290X cards are unfortunately priced out of the hands of gamers more than ever before; at $900, we’d be just $10 short of a GTX 780 Ti and a Core i5-4670K to go with it.

Finally, it’s interesting to note that this phenomena remains almost entirely limited to North America. Our own Ian Cutress quickly checked a couple of UK retailers, Scan.co.uk and Overclockers.co.uk, and found that both of them had 290 series cards in stock at pre-VAT prices that were only marginally above the North American MSRPs. A PowerColor R9 290 OC can be found for £275 (~$460 USD) and an XFX R9 290X for £334 (~$560 USD). The European market of course has its own idiosyncrasies, but ultimately it’s clear that UK pricing has gone largely unaffected by the forces that have driven up North American pricing, making this one of those rare occasions where hardware is more expensive in North America than in Europe, even after taxes.

Radeon R9 290 Series Prices
  North America UK (excluding VAT)
Radeon R9 290X $899 £334 (~$560 USD)
Radeon R9 290 $599 £275 (~$460 USD)

Update (11:30 PM): It’s interesting just how greatly things can shift in only half a day. This morning 290X prices were $899 with Newegg having 5 models in stock. But as of late this evening prices have dropped rather quickly by $200, bringing them down to $699 (just $150 over MSRP). All the while however, Newegg’s selection has dwindled to just two models, showcasing just how high the demand for these cards is and how quickly buyers will snatch them up even when they’re still well over MSRP.

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  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Seriously? Could you provide a source for that? I love it when some random guy from eastern Europe says it's 'only happening in the US', as though the US isn't the largest market for components/electronics in the world, and certainly a far larger market than where ever they're from. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Because it's only in the US that electricity became so cheap again due to fracking. *coin mining is significantly less profitable in most of the remaining world. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    He's not talking about the financial viability of mining. He's talking about relevance (or lack thereof) of the elevated card prices in the US. Reply
  • anubis44 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Nah, there's plenty of people who can't stand nVidia or who have too much to gain from Mantle's performance enhancements. I'll stick with my bios-overclocked Windforce 7950 until I can get an R9 290 for under $400.

    The increased demand for AMD video cards will ultimately be met with increased supply. After all, AMD is still making the same profit off of each card sold, so it stands to reason they will ramp up production as fast as they can, and eventually, the equilibrium in the system will be restored, and AMD's graphics card market share will likely outstrip nVidia's again.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I sure hope AMD is getting at least some of that additional profit. From my point of view they could shift all Hawaii stock to the US and sell them for whatever for works there. Order more from TSMC and once the dust settles give them to the rest of the world at prices as planned. Reply
  • JDG1980 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Up until a few weeks ago, when the increases over MSRP were fairly modest and limited to just Tahiti and Hawaii, AMD was probably coming out ahead. After all, they were selling out of all their silicon, even though Tahiti is a 2-year-old design that hadn't exactly been moving like hotcakes prior to December.

    But things have gotten way out of control now. The price increases have spread to Pitcairn (270/270X) with Newegg hiking these to a minimum of $229.99, and hurting AMD's competitiveness with gamers at the important ~$200 price point. And retailers are now gouging *hundreds* of extra dollars on Tahiti and Hawaii cards, of which AMD sees nothing. Either AMD needs to recapture these extra profits or they need to do something to ensure that MSRP is honored by AIB vendors and e-tailers. Right now Newegg is getting the gold mine (windfall profits) and AMD is getting the shaft (bad publicity).
    Reply
  • hpglow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    You are assuming that none of this inflation is comming from AMD or it's board partners. I would surprised if everyone just let Newegg throw their biscuits into the free gravy. Sales are sales and any plublicity is good plublicity to most companies. But I don't think that inflated prices look that bad to anyone other than gamers. To investors and company big-shots it just looks like an eago boost and lost proffits. Reply
  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Yep I'd tend to agree, I think AMD is getting a cut of this too, there's no way they'd let retailers gouge and not get a taste of it when it ultimately hurts their image.

    The solution is easy is simple if they wanted to hold retailers to MSRP: only distribute/authorize retailers who are selling at MSRP and withhold shipments from retailers that are gouging.
    Reply
  • anubis44 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    There's an even simpler solution: increase Radeon graphics chip production until you can supply all the cards the market wants at the MSRP prices. Reply
  • buttgx - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Wow, we're all amazed by your brilliant comment. Thanks for being obvious and so worldly. Reply

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