Why are gaming PCs extremely expensive

Expensive fun: why you shouldn't buy a gaming PC now

While there will be plenty of interesting games this year, these are not the best times for PC gamers. The reason: Hardware such as graphics cards and RAM are very overpriced and current processors are affected by a performance-reducing gap. If you still want to buy or assemble a PC, you have to expect long delivery times and high prices.

Hype about cryptocurrencies

The reason for the price increase for graphics cards is the hype about cryptocurrencies. Graphics cards are particularly suitable for mining for Bitcoin alternatives such as Ethereum, Expanse or Pirl. Simply put, the chips of the graphics cards perform specialized calculations for their network and the owner subsequently receives cryptocurrency shares as a reward.

Mining still profitable

In view of the high price of Ether & Co., this prospecting is profitable. However, it can be the case at any time that the value of the currencies falls sharply and thus the mining becomes loss-making. In addition, the calculations are becoming more and more complicated, which is why this method will no longer be really lucrative in the long term, as you have to switch to stronger hardware on a regular basis.

AMD and Nvidia affected

At the moment, mining with graphics cards is still a worthwhile business for many, which is why the hardware is sold out almost everywhere or is only offered at a hefty premium. The top models from Nvidia have cost 20 percent more since they were released. With AMD it's more than 60 percent - if you get a graphics card. If you want one of the few cards that are still in stock at some retailers, the surcharge is noticeably higher.

Older models also expensive

But older models are also affected by the rapid rise in prices. It is usually the case that the previous generation of graphics cards is offered at significantly lower prices. At the moment, however, exactly the opposite is the case: some of the older models are more expensive than they were at the start of sales.

Usury for memory

But you also have to dig deep into your pockets when it comes to RAM. While a year ago you paid 40-50 euros for eight gigabytes of DDR4 memory, today it is around 80. If you want to install 16 gigabytes of RAM, you only had to pay around 70 euros around a year ago; today it is almost 200.

Smartphone manufacturer to blame

It is not cryptocurrencies that are to blame for this price increase, but smartphone manufacturers. These are building up more and more memory in mobile devices, which leads to scarcity in the resource supply chain and the production capacities of the manufacturers. The RAM manufacturers do not want to increase production, they just want to optimize it. This means that here, too, an early relaxation is not to be expected.

Performance losses due to gaps

Finally, there are CPU weaknesses with Specter and Meltdown that do not have a negative impact on the wallet, but on the performance of the computer. To eliminate the gaps, security fixes have already been delivered for some systems. This can reduce the performance of current Intel CPUs by up to ten percent. Systems with an SSD are particularly affected. Errors in the patches provided by Intel, which in some systems can cause the computer to restart suddenly, cause additional problems.

Improvement only in the next generation

By the way, AMD processors are not affected by the meltdown vulnerability. However, the manufacturer wants to protect its customers against Specter by means of an optional patch - here, too, a drop in performance is to be expected, although this is likely to be less. Since Specter is a bug in current processor designs, only the next generation of CPUs will be exempt from it "ex works".

A small consolation remains

Probably the only consolation in this misery for PC gamers is that flash memory and thus SSDs are becoming cheaper and cheaper. The prices for this have fallen significantly in recent years - the trend should continue in 2018 and provide even cheaper SSDs. (Daniel Koller, January 28, 2018)