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The price of obsolete, 10-15 year old nVidia graphics cards started to suddenly skyrocket in Europe. As its a wide known phenomenon, the new generations of graphics cards became pretty expensive last year, and the prices barely adjusted afterwards. The second hand market followed the phenomenon, making few-year old video cards even more expensive on second hand markets than they were as new items. In the past weeks, the prices even of older, almost dinosauric cards became to steelpy rise. The phenomenon currently affects the European Union, and mostly happened in the past week.
The GeForce 8800 series of cards were released about 15 years ago. The 8800GTX card is the first video card of nVidia with unified shaders. The card supports DirectX10, and it was initially released in 2006 with 384 and 768 MByte memory, with 192 or 384 bit memory bus. Later on, new models followed with 512 and 256 MByte memory and lower manufacturing process (called the 8800GT), and 1 GByte models were also released. 8800 GTS cards were also released. These newer cards using 256 bit memory interface. They offer approx 40-60 GByte memory/sec bandwidth, and the cards feature about 92 to 112 unified shader units, and 56 to 64 texturing units inside the chip. The cards were initially designed for fluid gaming in 1360x768. The full HD resolution is also supported, but in practice only usable on the cards with 512 MByte video RAM, or more.
illustratuion: an ASUS branded nVidia GeForce 8800 GT with 512 MByte memory
The 8800 cards were very fast in 2006, and they pushed down ATi from the throne for a while. As the first cards with unified shaders and wide memory interface, they were able to run modern gaming payloads at the time more than twice as fast as any competitors. The card was supported by nVidia from the drivers for almost a decade, as the card had a long life-span. The new generation of the 8800 cards were called 9800, which is basically the stronger clone of the 8800 on newer manufacturing process. This line of the cards were followed by the new GTX 2xx cards, such as the GTX 260 / 275 / 285 / 295, which have more than 200 shader units, and have a 448 or 512 bit memory interface.
Of course, these are 10-15 year old cards. The performance of these video cards are quite small in modern standards. The price of these cards slowly decreased, and after 2016, when nVidia stopped supporting these older cards, the prices rapidly fell on second-hand webshops to the 3-5$ range. These prices stayed low till the past weeks, when suddenly the prices begin a massive rise, despite these cards have little to no retro value (as there are no special games which will run properly on these, but not on the newer cards).
When the 8800 and 9800 cards are being used in relatively modern video games, they can achieve 25-30 fps in 720p resolution in lowest settings typically, meanwhile the newest flagships from nVidia and AMD, such as the 3080GTX or RX6800 cards can do the same titles at 300-400 fps easily.
The problem is, the newest flagship cards are not able to reach the european market in proper quantities, and when they do, they are too expensive, prices above $2000 can be easily expected. This means that regular people, who want to play games, are not able to afford these video cards. The logical choice would be to buy low-end models from the modern cards. The problem is, nVidia made no low-end cards from the last GeForce 30xx video card line. In fact, nVidia didn't bothered to create low end cards from the GeForce 20xx product line either. This means that nVidia skipped two generations without making a low-end video card with the focus for 3D performance.
In the past years, nVidia offered the 1030 video card line for low-end gaming. The 1030 was available aroud $70 as a brand new card, and its faster than the 15 year old 8800GT by two times, the performance is approximately identical to the 12 year old GTX 275. In the recent months, however, the price of the 1030 slowly rised above $100, and its currently reaching almost $200 with VAT, tax, shipment fees and postage fees calculated. Which means even the low-end cards of the new flagship modens are too expensive.
The younger flagship cards and mid-range cards from the past decade slowly disappeared from the markets, the video cards two-three generation older Radeon and GeForce video cards rised in price on second-hand markets from $200 to above $400 last year. People had to turn the attention to the earlyest high-end video cards with unified shaders, such as the GeForce 8800, 9800, 2xx, and the high-end versions of the Radeon 3xxx family.
The price of a 8800GT was about $5 until this summer, a Radeon 3870 was about $10. After the general video card shortage first removed the high-end model cards from the market, later, it came for the mid-range models. Now, the market seems to succumbed up all the 10-15 year old video cards as well, except the models which were not designed for gaming. The market is going crazy, and its hard to predict when the prices will stabilize.
After carefully looking around on Hungarian and German second hand shops, it seems that the 8800, 9800 video cards, alongside with the stronger models of the GeForce 2xx family, and also the stronger models of the Radeon 3xxx line, dreid up on both market in the past weeks. There was plenty of these cards available at summer for prices around $5-10, but at the end of summer, the cards reached $10. Another steep increase of prices are happened in the past one or two weeks as we entered September.
The dual slot variations of the 8800 and 9800 cards are cheaper. These cards have larger coolers, which covers the next PCI-E or PCI slot to the video card. On cheap motherboards, you have only two or three PCI-E or PCI slots to use. A dual slot video card will cover out an extra place below the card, so it makes impossible to use multiple controller cards, such as sound cards, usb cards, 10 gigabit ethernet controllers, capture cards, and so on, in these cheaper motherboards.
(picture: the Asus 8800GT from my dual core cpu test)
This makes these super old dual slot cards to be available currently for $20 plus postage, which is already too high for these cards, but the real deal is with the single slot cards, which are typically available for $40-$90 on the market, and the sellers are able to sell them actually for a good $50 dollars plus postage. These cards were all available for an approx $5 before this summer, which means a steep 10 times increase of these 15 year old video cards on the european second hand market just within a few months.
The reasons of this surreal price rise roots in multiple causes. European Union descended to trade war with USA and China despite of not having a chip and hardware industry for at least 30 years. European Union introduced a new taxation system, that introduces an extra tax for foreigner goods. Another reason is due to the ongoing health-related events on the world, which made long-term lockups in the economy, created great inflation, and made long lasting problems in logistics. Its hard to predict when the situation will normalize, so good luck with your 15 year graphics card.
This is the reality, this is our life, deal with it. To preserve the life of a 8800 card, its recommended to underclock the card. To do this, get a 10 year old version of nvflash and the program nibitor nvidia bios editor. Dump the video bios from the card. Downclock the GPU by 20% and the chip by 10%. If you can, downvolt the video card by 10%, but some PCB designs don't have this feature, and they will always feed the full power to the chip. This will help the card to output less heat, and the electronic pads of the chip will not degrade, preserving your card for more and more years to come.