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, and, 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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  • Mr Perfect - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    If all these altcoins do the same thing Bitcoin did, the miners will all have to move to ASICs as GPUs become to slow to mine profitably. At that point the world of GPUS will come crashing back to reality. There will also be a glut of heavily used cards on sale for peanuts.
  • JDG1980 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately/fortunately (depending on your point of view), this is unlikely to happen. There are already alternative cryptocoins out there (Vertcoin most notably) which use different algorithms designed so that they can still be GPU-mined, but will be resistant to at least the current round of ASICs. Sure, if Vertcoin becomes the next big thing, there may eventually be ASICs for that too, but by that time the GPU miners will have invented another altcoin. There are a lot of people with massive racks of GCN GPUs and a vested interest in keeping that hashing power valuable.
  • Mil0 - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    How do you see that happen? It doesn't seem likely for the time being. I'd say well beyond the regular lifetime of the 290X
  • bountygiver - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Or if you can't beat them, join them, I bought r9 290 at $500 and I have almost mined enough to break even the difference from its suggested price in the past 2 weeks, also power cost is not really that much as I actually turned down my heater while mining. (I still mine while gaming as they uses different operations, a low intensity mining does not impact gaming performance much)
  • Anonymous Blowhard - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Well, someone's angry they missed the boat.
  • 1Angelreloaded - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Not Gunna lie this is bad news for ATI fans, in fact like the SodaAnt posted this will ultimately drive people into NVidias top end single card solution the 780 Ti. Even getting 2 780's in SLI for 1k is going to be better and post higher frame rates. This is for Gaming not others aka the miners driving up GPU prices.
  • Drumsticks - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    As long as AMD cards are always seen and reviewed as gaming kit and do well, they will stay in the minds ofgamers. And as long as that is happening, I doubt AMD will complain about selling nearly every high margin card they can.
  • Drumsticks - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Psuedo-edit: Although it is a good point that AMD doesn't really see any of these benefits from the price increase, so it's not all good.
  • twtech - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    What it does mean for AMD is that if people are willing to pay $900 for their cards, they can sell as many as they can produce at $550.
  • Mondozai - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    "Even getting 2 780's in SLI for 1k is going to be better and post higher frame rates"

    This is a US/NA-centric phenomenom.

    Apparently a lot of people don't get this, so you need to bash it into their heads on a repeated time schedule. The vast majority of sales of GPU cards is outside NA.

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