Nvidia Corp. and Intel Corp. threw down Wednesday as the two chip makers released new gaming cards with the GPU leader targeting elite, high-performance gamers, while Intel sought to appeal to budget gamers looking for slightly better performance than Nvidia’s last generation of cards.
On Wednesday, Nvidia’s
flagship RTX 4090 gaming card went on sale at a suggested retail price of $1,599, a $100 premium to Nvidia’s then top-of-the-line RTX 3090 card when it was released in 2020.
For gamers used to the predictability of Moore’s Law and the convention that gaming cards be similarly priced to the models they were replacing, that bump in price came as a bit of an unpleasant surprise. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang explained that Moore’s law no longer applied to gaming cards and that silicon was “a ton more expensive.”
At the end of September, the week after Nvidia announced its next-generation RTX 4000-series of cards using the “Ada Lovelace” chip architecture, succeeding the RTX 3000-series of cards that used Ampere architecture, Intel
announced it would be releasing its Arc A770 gaming card starting at $329 on Oct. 12, the same day Nvidia had said it would release the RTX 4090.
While Nvidia is catering to the bleeding-edge gamer, Intel is appealing to the more mainstream gamer with claims the A770 outperforms Nvidia’s previous generation RTX 3060 card.
Intel’s — years-ago-unthinkable — David-versus-Goliath approach to the company that invented the graphics-processing unit, or GPU, comes at a time when Nvidia is trying to siphon off some market share from Intel, the company now headed by Pat Gelsinger, who literally helped create x86 architecture central processing units, which has been standard for decades. Nvidia’s latest inroads into someone else’s turf is its Grace line of CPUs, built on Arm Ltd.’s architecture rather than x86.
Meanwhile, the head of Advanced Micro Devices Inc.’s
Radeon product division teased in a tweet that the company is scheduled to announce its new line of RX 7000 gaming cards Nov. 3, right after earnings are release on Nov. 1.
Unlike the release of Nvidia’s RTX-3000 cards in 2020, the demand situation for gaming cards in late 2022 is the polar opposite. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was practically impossible to find a RTX-3000 card, much less one that was even close to an unscalped list price. Even with lower demand compared with 2020, both cards proved difficult to find on Wednesday.
On Newegg, Nvidia RTX 4090 cards for $1,599 were already listed as out of stock, while those in stock were selling for up to $2,845, and the A770 was on backorder, selling for $349. As for the RTX 3060 card the A770 is meant to outperform, those were selling for $399 at Best Buy.
As the cards went on sale, Twitter lit up in response. One tweet put the price of the 4090 in perspective compared with other gaming options, noting that one could potentially buy a Sony
One gamer even showed off his beast of a 4090 being safely transported home.
And “beast” is correct as one tweet illustrated, showing the 4090 “card” alongside a complete Xbox or PS5.
Meanwhile, others found that Intel’s A770 sold out almost immediuately.
Apparently, the limit of five per customer was not that limiting.
With Nvidia, AMD, and Intel all releasing gaming cards this fall, those prices may come down a bit, especially if PC sales continue to crater for their worst declines since the 1990s.
Intel shares — also under scrutiny due to a report the chip maker might lay off thousands near when it reports earnings this month — rose 1.2% to close at $25.33, while Nvidia shares declined 0.8%, finishing at $115.00. AMD shares finished up 0.4% at $57.85, while Meta shares declined 0.8% to close at $127.50.
In comparison, the PHLX Semiconductor Index
fell 0.9% Wednesday, the S&P 500 index declined 0.3%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index finished down less than 0.1%.
For the year, both Nvidia and AMD shares are down 60% while Intel shares are off 50%, compared with a 44% decline on the SOX index. Meta shares are down 62% for the year, while the S&P 500 index
is off 25% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index
is down 33%.