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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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  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I think they would if they could, but they can't, leading to a supply shortage capable of sustaining MSRP. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Nope, AMD isn't seeing any additional profits from these price hikes, retailers are. This has been confirmed by multiple sources, including Anandtech. Reply
  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Great, please provide 1 source where AMD says they're not gaining from this. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    What? You don't trust Anandtech? Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    ... but you would trust AMD? What are you, some kind of a fanboy? ... oh wait. Reply
  • chizow - Saturday, February 15, 2014 - link

    Ryan's a smart guy but it is just his informed opinion and he has been wrong before (see Mantle & DX link), but yes an official denial from AMD would be great.

    AMD has admitted to jacking up the price after the fact in the past, so this really wouldn't be anything new (see 5850/5870). The story wasn't broadly advertised of course, people just chalked it up to greedy retailers etc back then too, until AMD was pressed and finally fessed up to it.

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/graphics/display/2009...
    Reply
  • anandreader106 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    JDG1980 - I see where you are coming from but I slightly disagree with your conclusion.

    As long as AMD continues to sell the silicon they make at amazing rates, it's good for their business regardless of a missed opportunity to further mark up their products. They are selling everything they make with margins they deemed appropriate. Trust me as a buyer in the retail industry, what's happening to AMD's graphics division is what most vendors would kill for.

    Secondly, AMD has ensured that they will remain relevant in the minds of gamers for the next generation of gaming. XB1, PS4, Wii-U (i debated about adding that one) are all AMD. As long as game developers are developing and optimizing for AMD GPUs, Nvidia doesn't have much ground to gain.

    Third point to consider: The ~$200 price point is all important like you said, but let's remember to who. It's important to the hardcore gamer on a budget. The casual PC gamers, which represent a much bigger market actually shop in the price range of the 250 and 260 Radeon series.

    I'd love if Ryan and Anand could weigh in on their opinion on whether this is good or bad for AMD. Obviously there are points to both sides and we don't know which is right, but it's fun to debate :)
    Reply
  • anandreader106 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I'd like to clarify my comment above about "Nvidia doesn't have much ground gain"

    Nvidia is clearly the top dog in the PC gaming house. Developers know that the majority of PC gamers (not using integrated graphics) are using Nvidia GPUs. So when I say Nvidia doesn't have much to gain, it's because they are already ahead.
    Reply
  • Will Robinson - Sunday, February 16, 2014 - link

    Yup I agree.
    Your product is selling out and demand is booming.
    Good for AMD.
    Reply
  • chizow - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I just don't buy the notion AMD isn't getting a cut of this cryptocoin price rush. They could easily cut supply to retailers looking to gouge without their consent by cutting supply to those who sell above MSRP, but they have no incentive to do so if they are getting a cut of the extra margins.

    Also, you could buy any 290/290X you wanted at the original gauged prices of $500-550 for a 290 and 630-700 for a 290X for quite awhile, but only recently has everything been selling out and prices going even higher.

    I think there's a supply issue with AMD chips/cards as well playing a part in this. Launch 290/290X were near impossible to get and then they were never really restocked as everyone waited for custom cooled cards. Those only started appearing last month but in small quanties and came with the first set of markups...and now we have this huge shortage of cards leading to insane markups.

    We will see the results in AMD's Q1 financials, but their Q4 FY2014 financials didn't really indicate them selling everything out, as they saw higher ASP but reduced GPU revenue. Meanwhile, Nvidia's GeForce business absolutely cleaned house.
    Reply

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