The entry cards: the worst segment is worse than ever

At the request of our members, today we are going to dive into the entry-level graphics card segment.

Today is the day to address the content chosen by our Full HD / 60fps plan members on the YouTube channel. The guys chose us to investigate the following topic: entry-level video cards and their evolution:

And it’s no wonder people asked for this theme. Even with the recent improvement in prices, one of the segments least benefited by the new values ​​is the price range below R$ 1 thousand. It remains equally bad in last year’s article and this year’s article, both of which we recommend the Radeon RX 550.

Let’s then investigate the – lack of – evolution in the input segment. Do we put the gear in reverse in the world of cheap plates?

Price

The entry-level video card market, on the part of Nvidia, is essentially composed of models ranging from line 30:

Board Price Launch
GeForce GT 730 $59 2014
GeForceGT 1030 $79 2017
GeForce GTX 1630 $170 2022

And line 50:

Board Price Launch
GeForce GTX 750 $120 2014
GeForce GTX 950 $160 2015
GeForce GTX 1050 $110 2016
GeForce GTX 1650 $150 2019
GeForce RTX 3050 $250 2022

And AMD? What do you have to offer us? Taking this clipping from 2014, the situation is as follows:

Board Price Launch
Radeon R7 250 $90 2013
Radeon R7 350 $90 2016
Radeon RX 460 $80 2016
Radeon RX 550 $80 2017
Radeon RX 5500 XT $170 2019
Radeon RX 6400 $160 2022

And the options just above the input ones:

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Board Price Launch
Radeon R7 260X $150 2013
Radeon R7 360/370 US$ 110/150 2015
Radeon RX 560 $100 2017
Radeon RX 6500 XT $200 2022
Radeon RX 6600 $330 2021

Just by looking at the official launch data, not even taking into account that the prices charged at many times were much higher in the window between 2019 and 2022. The Nvidia 30 series card went from 80 to 170 dollars, while AMD was from 90 to 160 dollars.

It’s also curious to see Nvidia’s 50 line no longer being an entry-level card to go up to the “RTX” level and double the price. Interestingly, this phenomenon is not exclusive to video cards, with models with the Gol no longer being Volkswagen’s entry-level car, or the Moto G no longer being Motorola’s entry-level cell phone.

performance

But if on the one hand we have an increase in price, the most expected of a new generation of video cards is that it introduces new levels of performance, taking advantage of new technologies.

Let’s reference the UL Solutions database and its consolidated testing tool, 3DMark. More specifically, Fire Strike. And here we have the only encouraging graphic from this entire article:

We have an evolution of 2x or even 3x depending on the time period range analyzed. In a 9-year window, entry-level Radeons and GeForce jumped 5x. So we have in a scenario a setback in prices, but an advance in performance – something totally expected. But what if we cross these two data?.

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the face of throwback

Let’s make a fairer comparison. We try to put all the relevant elements to compare the evolution of input cards, if there was such a thing, in recent years. For that, let’s start with what’s available today.

On the part of AMD we go with the Radeon RX 6400, found today at around R$ 1,200. On the part of Nvidia, the GT 1630 is not yet available for purchase in Brazil, but using its dollar price as a reference, it should also cost close to R$ 1,200, if it maintains the trend presented in Radeon.

So let’s rewind in time, but let’s put a very important element in the balance: inflation. Let’s use the Broad Consumer Index and Prices, the IPCA, calculated by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) to measure how much the value of previous years reflects in 2022. After all, a real in 2016 is worth much more than a real in 2022 .

Using the IPCA, we have the following values ​​corrected from 1,200 reais in 2022, in approximate values:

Year 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Value BRL 710 BRL 760 BRL 840 BRL 890 BRL 920 BRL 950 BRL 990 BRL 1,040 BRL 1,200

With these values, we can make a fairer dispute about how much we are getting for our money, in the entry segment. Let’s use some price records from different platforms as a reference, and compare what 2022 and other years had to offer us.

Going back to 2019 and with a budget of 950 reais, we had two options. With performance similar to the GTX 1630 and slightly behind the RX 6500 XT, we have the GTX 1050 Ti often costing around R$700. But you could go further and pay for a 3GB GTX 1060 with that price. Putting these guys in a performance graph, we have:

We’ll need to go back more, so let’s go to 2016. Then we have the following reality. With 800 reais you can go with a Radeon RX 470, again a card that delivers almost the performance that the RX 6500 XT, and no wonder it was the card of our 2016 Ideal Gamer PC.

I tried to go back a little further, but really the year 2016 is the moment of inflection of our comparison. The card with performance similar to the RX 6400, at least using 3DMark Fire Strike as a reference, is the GTX 970, and at best I found it for R$ 1,200, back in 2015, the same nominal value but a unfair comparison by ignoring inflation. The Radeon R9 290 would also be in the same performance club, but it also exceeds R$ 1,600 in 2014, which in the current value converts to almost R$ 2,900, considering the IPCA as a reference.

So we were able to go back an impressive 6 years and find better options than the entry cards today. It is a clear sign of how much this segment has declined in terms of relevant options, and that it should be avoided as much as possible. It is always complicated in a country like Brazil to ask people to spend more, especially in a country so unequal and with inflation clearly taking away purchasing power, but if possible, invest in more powerful cards. To make this clearer, let’s use the same logic but with a more modern board.

The RTX 3050 is currently priced at R$2,000. If we rewind to 2019, again using the benchmark IPCA, this is roughly R$1,650. What could you buy with that price three years ago? Using our article on the price spikes of the pandemic, which uses data from the GPU Observatory (RIP) as a reference, at the end of 2019 the best option up to BRL 1,600 was the GTX 1660 Super/1660 Ti, and eventually the RTX 2060. And in a graph versus the current RTX 3050 and the RTX 2060 that is still available, we have the following situation:

The RTX 3050 doesn’t represent a great advance, but at least the RTX 2060 kept up with the IPCA and is keeping the ratio balanced. But this is far from ideal, after all over time we expect an evolution in this relationship, not stability.

But going even higher, we already have performance gains. If we jump to the price range of the RX 6700 XT and RTX 3070 (about R$ 3,700) and convert to 2019, which using the IPCA reference is about 2,900 reais, we would have a maximum budget for an RTX 2070 Super. And the differences are more noticeable.

When will it get better?

Adrenaline’s futurology department was fired which, interestingly, was something they didn’t anticipate. I’m not a fan of risking that sort of thing either, because the best possible outcome is not to make a mistake, and the most likely is to make a bad mistake. But let’s go.

Complex relationships between multiple agents are… complex. But fortunately, when everyone acts rationally, you can predict their actions. All this bullshit of mine is to get into the discussion about how companies treat inbound products. Not only on video cards, but on almost every consumer good.

Priority goes to the products with the most profit margin, and the recent shortage has made the entry market forgotten

The priority and biggest effort of the companies is to sell the premium product. It has higher profit margins, so it gets more attention. It is already normal for entry-level products to receive little spotlight, being released much later than the high-end and mid-range, with little or no fuss, as was the launch of the RX 6400 and, especially now, the GTX 1630.

But apply a context of pandemic and shortages, with parts missing to manufacture high-end products, and it is obvious that products with low profit margins, which will be directed only to those who will not buy the most interesting boards for the manufacturers. And if there are no components for them, they won’t even be launched, as was clear in this vacuum of products in this segment, which happened in several lines.

The entry-level segment remains abysmal, and this is where AMD and Nvidia offer next to nothing for their money.

Companies are not “evil” and ignore the poorest. They only act, if managed competently, rationally in the market logic, which is to maximize profit.. Today’s situation is one of abandonment of the entry segment. With high-end and mid-range cards coming back to have more availability and better prices, eventually the higher competition can bring the entry-level segment back to the radar of AMD and Nvidia, who are definitely not interested in them with such better opportunities in cards. more expensive. Today, as much as possible, avoid this segment. Here there is only setback and little use of your hard-earned money.

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