Monday, January 11th 2021

We're Changing How we Handle Pricing in Graphics Card Reviews

The major GPU releases in 2020 are all plagued by the same problem: good product, not enough stock. This has led to a perverse situation on the market: you can't just walk into your favorite store and purchase the product you want. This is a consequence of NVIDIA and AMD going to market with tiny volumes, and extremely optimistic MSRPs which opened up the market to the phenomenon of scalping. Scalpers are individuals, or groups, who buy up whatever little volume is available, often using sophisticated online shopping bots, and resell them at exorbitant premiums on marketplaces like eBay, for profit.

This system only works because there is zero retail stock available anywhere on the planet, and whatever volume comes in, is so low that it evaporates, often before hitting retailer shelves. The only way scalping can be defeated is for manufacturers to flood the market with large volumes of product that the scalpers cannot scale their purchases up to, and possibly for crypto-currency mining to become not worth it on the latest generations of graphics cards. Until these happen, marked-up pricing is an inescapable reality for consumers.
We believe that exposing readers to MSRP pricing alone in our graphics card reviews, would be doing them disservice. That's why I've decided to consider the pricing of the lowest valid eBay.com listing in my graphics card reviews, too, in cases where none are available on our main retail pricing source, Newegg.com. We do not condone the practice of scalping, but at the same time, it's just not right to report and discuss prices that you can't actually buy the product at.

How We Reported Graphics Card Prices in Our Reviews Until Now
If a price is available on Newegg for the tested product, use that. If not available, possibly because day-one review, for which no other source of information exists, use the MSRP. For the huge list of "reference" comparison cards in reviews, the cheapest Newegg price of the series is used. For older cards, which are no longer in production, the Newegg price can often be too high, because 3rd party sellers are trying to profit. In that case the last available reasonable price point is considered.

How We Intend to Report Pricing Now
I'll try to determine pricing by first looking it up on Newegg, and only use the Newegg price if the product is available (ready to purchase and ship) at the time of writing. For older products nothing changes. If a product is completely sold out on Newegg, like all GeForce RTX 30 and Radeon RX 6800/6900 Series currently, I will look it up on eBay, which is one of the leading marketplaces where people resell their graphics cards.

The search uses the following parameters:
  • Brand new
  • Ships to the USA
  • Sort pricing by "lowest first" (price+shipping)
  • Manually inspect and filter out individual listings that look "fake"
  • The listing must be ready to purchase ("Buy it Now"), and must ship within 7 days of receipt of payment (ensures that the scalper physically possesses the merchandise they're trying to sell)
Obviously this creates a problem for new graphics card launches, where there is no scalper volume on eBay, and MSRP is the only source for pricing. For these reviews I will estimate an expected scalper price based on current market conditions and mention that, clearly marked as estimate, in addition to the MSRP.

For example, for a hypothetical RX 6700 XT, which is 15% slower than the RX 6800 non-XT (currently going for $850 on eBay, MSRP was $580), I would estimate $700 ($850, minus 15%, minus some premium for lower absolute performance). Obviously this isn't going to be 100% perfect, but I feel that will be more useful than simply parroting back "the MSRP is $400, super affordable, just buy it".

In the review's conclusion I will discuss MSRP, supply situation, the current market price and how that compares to other alternatives on the market. The Performance per Dollar charts will now have the price for calculation appended after the product name. When the MSRP is used, a pink bar with price/performance at MSRP gets added. Comparison cards (gray bars) will be shown at their street price only, MSRP won't be listed. The chart below should illustrate this sufficiently.
We welcome your comments and constructive feedback.
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56 Comments on We're Changing How we Handle Pricing in Graphics Card Reviews

#1
Durvelle27
Honestly I think this would hurt readers as when they see the price they will believe that the price is right and push them to pay scalpers fee. Seeing the MSRP will deter a lot of users from overpaying for products that they are interested in. A Lot would wait for MSRP versus wanting to pay over.

It was perfect the way it was
Posted on Reply
#2
RandallFlagg
This is really useful, at least it gives a reasonable ballpark for the cost.

You might also try looking at Stock X. It doesn't have as much variety in brands, though that has expanded a lot in the last month. However two big advantages is that it does give price trends and you can see the depth of the market (how many buy offers there are vs bids, and at what price point). It works a lot like buying and selling stock with a decent stock application. This helps prevent taking a momentary 'blip' in price as reflective of the market.
Posted on Reply
#3
Toothless
Tech, Games, and TPU!
Durvelle27Honestly I think this would hurt readers as when they see the price they will believe that the price is right and push them to pay scalpers fee. Seeing the MSRP will deter a lot of users from overpaying for products that they are interested in. A Lot would wait for MSRP versus wanting to pay over.

It was perfect the way it was
There can always be a little warning with the ebay pricing. "This is not MSRP per manufacturer, but what is available."
Posted on Reply
#4
Anymal
Durvelle27Honestly I think this would hurt readers as when they see the price they will believe that the price is right and push them to pay scalpers fee. Seeing the MSRP will deter a lot of users from overpaying for products that they are interested in. A Lot would wait for MSRP versus wanting to pay over.

It was perfect the way it was
You didnt think it trough, W1zz did.
Posted on Reply
#5
Dsirius
Great idea and most important very helpful so we can relate to reality and not to paper launches, or fake MSRP for which Nvidia and AMD are to blame.
Posted on Reply
#6
Durvelle27
ToothlessThere can always be a little warning with the ebay pricing. "This is not MSRP per manufacturer, but what is available."
Yea
Posted on Reply
#7
RandallFlagg
Durvelle27Honestly I think this would hurt readers as when they see the price they will believe that the price is right and push them to pay scalpers fee. Seeing the MSRP will deter a lot of users from overpaying for products that they are interested in. A Lot would wait for MSRP versus wanting to pay over.

It was perfect the way it was
What hurts readers is reading a review on a product that is not actually available with a price that is incorrect.

Not everyone is completely aware of what is going on with these CPU/GPU markets. Someone who is just visiting specifically to read a review on a particular product, and maybe buy the product, is likely to get mad there is even a review up and hence wasting their time.

I mean, take it out of the PC space for a moment. If you read a review on say a washing machine that said it was fantastic and way better than anything before, and only cost $500 - then went to buy it and found it was actually $800... would you trust or go back to that review site anymore?

How about a car? Say a $30,000 car that ticks all the check boxes but the dealers all have them marked up to $50,000? That does sometimes happen and people will dump entire brands for those kinds of things.
Posted on Reply
#8
Durvelle27
RandallFlaggWhat hurts readers is reading a review on a product that is not actually available with a price that is incorrect.

Not everyone is completely aware of what is going on with these CPU/GPU markets. Someone who is just visiting specifically to read a review on a particular product, and maybe buy the product, is likely to get mad there is even a review up and hence wasting their time.

I mean, take it out of the PC space for a moment. If you read a review on say a washing machine that said it was fantastic and way better than anything before, and only cost $500 - then went to buy it and found it was actually $800... would you trust or go back to that review site anymore?
I see your point

I guess like above listing both prices with notes is very helpful
Posted on Reply
#9
EarthDog
I made it 11 days.... lol...


You should list both MSRP and current pricing in all reviews in your charts (on launch, it's only MSRP, but subsequent reviews with that card should list MSRP and actual). No need to play reindeer games with pricing. You're not going to be able to please everyone as some will be taxed more, some less. Some available more, some less. Also, the writing becomes stale when you use current pricing and availability. Your GPU and CPU reviews are, hands down, the best on the net to me, but the way you list pricing was always off-putting and confusing. Don't make it worse. I would stick with Newegg or Amazon for current pricing as those sites are the most used globally, it seems, and you likely get kickback from each.

And using Ebay for pricing? No... jesus, no, please do not do that. Yikes. Availability and pricing is not your issue (at least in RE to listing pricing) and varies so wildly this may confuse people more with how it's laid out. I don't want to read a review and see a link to ebay with scalper pricing... no way.

The fact that these are vaporware on store shelves is not TPU's (or any reviewer's) issue. You report the MSRP and a link to Newegg/Amazon where you get a kickback. What pricing is and availability has nothing to do with reviewers and how they list the price. Each country is going to have different pricing and availability. Comparing MSRP of one to 'street' price on another feels confusing at best to misleading at worst.

Reviewers need to stick to parroting for price/listing MSRP since it is different for each country and region (among other variables that effect price).
1Someone who is just visiting specifically to read a review on a particular product, and maybe buy the product, is likely to get mad there is even a review up and hence wasting their time.
that sounds like the reader's personal issue than it is anyone else's responsibility. Availability is most certainly worth a mention in the review, but basing prices off ebay and such.....scary.. yikes....fake news yikes.
then went to buy it and found it was actually $800... would you trust or go back to that review site anymore?
Absolutely. I'm conscious enough to understand that reviewers have no responsibility in this space. If you're a consumer that reads a review, sees MSRP listed and flips out when you get to the store it isn't MSRP..........that is more so a personal issue than it is a reviewer not sharing pricing. YMMV was ALWAYS a disclaimer on pricing. I was utterly shocked to hear how pricing changes to 'actual' with each subsequent review already...




A simple statement about pricing and availability where applicable along with MSRP pricing listed (and a generic link to NE/Amazon) is the way to go IMO. Don't make a curious process even worse. This process will look really off once prices settle...listing ebay when these are on store shelves doesn't sound like the way to go. MSRP.... K.I.S.S... :)
Posted on Reply
#10
Dsirius
RandallFlaggWhat hurts readers is reading a review on a product that is not actually available with a price that is incorrect.

Not everyone is completely aware of what is going on with these CPU/GPU markets. Someone who is just visiting specifically to read a review on a particular product, and maybe buy the product, is likely to get mad there is even a review up and hence wasting their time.

I mean, take it out of the PC space for a moment. If you read a review on say a washing machine that said it was fantastic and way better than anything before, and only cost $500 - then went to buy it and found it was actually $800... would you trust or go back to that review site anymore?

How about a car? Say a $30,000 car that ticks all the check boxes but the dealers all have them marked up to $50,000? That does sometimes happen and people will dump entire brands for those kinds of things.
Indeed. I saw reviews and watched YouTube reviewers showing cpu or video cards and none of them are actually available. After more than 1 or 2 months when we can find them they have an inflated price. All the hard work of reviewers is wasted because of this discrepancy.
Posted on Reply
#11
mobiuus
both prices is what i think also is best....
Posted on Reply
#12
Ravenas
W1zzard I agree that the pricing should reflect both retail and resellers to give people an actual market picture. However, I disagree with the following statement:
This system only works because there is zero retail stock available anywhere on the planet, and whatever volume comes in, is so low that it evaporates, often before hitting retailer shelves. The only way scalping can be defeated is for manufacturers to flood the market with large volumes of product that the scalpers cannot scale their purchases up to, and possibly for crypto-currency mining to become not worth it on the latest generations of graphics cards. Until these happen, marked-up pricing is an inescapable reality for consumers.
You are taking the consumer out of the equation by stating this. The consumer is also responsible for the situation, due to the wiliness to purchase from scalpers at marked up pricing. I have seen many users on this forum which have claimed that they decided to purchase at marked up pricing from scalpers. This is a right of anyone, but it also enables the problem.

Retailers like Newegg state that they are combating bots, but they really aren't doing much to that effect. They still haven't placed a verification which bots couldn't do to purchase. The IP bans are easily circumvented by using VPN.
Posted on Reply
#13
Unregistered
Hate to burst all these nerd's bubbles but there is nothing wrong with scalping on non commodity goods.

stick to msrp, you dont need to re-invent the wheel.
Posted on Edit | Reply
#14
mobiuus
newegg...

350eur over initial price... meh
Posted on Reply
#15
trog100
i am pretty sure the (too good to be true) price is deliberate..

for example the current UK ebay (actual going price) is around £1200 quid for an nvidia 3080 card..

the manufacturers are running a scam.. good stuff wiz at least you now wont be part of the scam..

trog
Posted on Reply
#16
RandallFlagg
EarthDog...
that sounds like the reader's personal issue than it is anyone else's responsibility. Availability is most certainly worth a mention in the review, but basing prices off ebay and such.....scary.. yikes....fake news yikes.

...
Absolutely. I'm conscious enough to understand that reviewers have no responsibility in this space. If you're a consumer that reads a review, sees MSRP listed and flips out when you get to the store it isn't MSRP..........that is more so a personal issue than it is a reviewer not sharing pricing. YMMY was ALWAYS a disclaimer on pricing.
I think the 'personal issue' you keep mentioning is somewhere else... I expect a review to tell me what something actually costs, that is a major purchasing factor and in many cases is the #1 factor.

I think a fair assumption would be these big traffic site, the 1000 or so people who post regularly to forums are not the norm. TPU gets millions of hits per month. For most of those folks, they are trying to plan an actual purchase.

On other items outside of PCs I may not be aware of the actual costs, just like those millions of clicks mentioned above. I expect the review to tell me that. If it doesn't tell me that then the review is fairly useless and I'm not likely to go back in the future. If I look at a comparison of food processors and the #1 rated food processor is $150 in the review but it's $300 when I go to find int, I'm not going to give that review site many new chances. This is not a 'personal problem' it is me deciding on the service I want to get and acting on that.

Your approach seems to be to attack the readers, it's a good thing W1zzard trys to cater to the needs of the readers because your approach would be a real good way to wind up with only a handful of hard-core techies as readers. Hardly something one could make a living at.
Posted on Reply
#17
Vayra86
vanishs14Hate to burst all these nerd's bubbles but there is nothing wrong with scalping on non commodity goods.

stick to msrp, you dont need to re-invent the wheel.
This. Anyone who thinks this will fix anything is deluded. The market is without emotions.

More info is not always more useful. Being presented with a higher than MSRP price when there is an intent to purchase, is going to be a harder sell than being well aware of the deviation from MSRP and having factored it in during a review.

Or put simply, this gives more visibility and credibility to the presence of pricing over MSRP. I doubt it will deter anyone or 'get things straight' from the review. The MSRP is what it is. If availability is good, MSRP is likely to be reached, if there is no stock, the price will be inflated. Its a basic principle of trade and if you fail to grasp that, this 'GPU crisis' (lmao) is the best way to get that rammed into a skull.

As for the data itself though... I question the usefulness of it. Prices fluctuate and are influenced locally as well. Its not even just different tax regimes, but also general availability, trade tariffs / deals, local law, etc. There are tons of considerations and the best piece of info is what each individual can locally get his hands on. Using Ebay for anything is just reinforcing free-for-all marketplaces at the expense of normal businesses. And if normal businesses 'scalp' or 'increase price'... its up to CUSTOMERS to do the walking away. On each personal motivation for each personal consideration.

I don't know, I just resent the inability for people to google something themselves I guess. Not a big fan of this change. It harms customer due diligence, a typical less is more situation. Or, rather: review the product and not the market, its so much safer and probably gets the same results.
Posted on Reply
#18
EarthDog
RandallFlaggexpect a review to tell me what something actually costs, that is a major purchasing factor and in many cases is the #1 factor.
I don't. Not at all. I expect to see the MSRP and a link to the product. I don't expect a five month old review to tell me anything accurate about pricing. Ambiguiity is built into the damn name... Manufacturers SUGGESTED Retail Price.
RandallFlaggFor most of those folks, they are trying to plan an actual purchase.
Yep... and if they look at an old review expecting accurate pricing... what then? Why not list MSRP and for those who rely on reviews for accurate pricing and availability info (who are these people? Seriously?) click on the buy link to see. this is reinventing the wheel for no good reason.
RandallFlaggYour approach seems to be to attack the readers, it's a good thing W1zzard trys to cater to the needs of the readers because your approach would be a real good way to wind up with only a handful of hard-core techies as readers. Hardly something one could make a living at.
Attacking? Naaaa... I do think it is a reader's responsibility to be conscious of the scope of reviews they are reading. Is someone going to go back and update pricing on old reviews? I'd assume not so almost as soon as the review goes up with 'actual' pricing, chances are it's already wrong (especially with people in other countries)... or will be shortly as actual pricing changes. This isn't PCPartpicker/Pricewatch, bud... it's a technical review site. I don't see how blurring the lines is beneficial.

If you simply list the MSRP and a link to NE/Amazon, that doesn't happen and the data doesn't become stale. ;)
Posted on Reply
#19
the54thvoid
I think this is a no win situation for the end user. Nvidia and AMD, knowingly released minimal supply for greatly anticipated products. With modern greed based on the reality of 'have capital, will profit', it was inevitable the sparse availability of cards would result in scalping, mining purchases, and zero retail supply.
Posted on Reply
#20
Vayra86
RandallFlaggI think the 'personal issue' you keep mentioning is somewhere else... I expect a review to tell me what something actually costs, that is a major purchasing factor and in many cases is the #1 factor.

I think a fair assumption would be these big traffic site, the 1000 or so people who post regularly to forums are not the norm. TPU gets millions of hits per month. For most of those folks, they are trying to plan an actual purchase.

On other items outside of PCs I may not be aware of the actual costs, just like those millions of clicks mentioned above. I expect the review to tell me that. If it doesn't tell me that then the review is fairly useless and I'm not likely to go back in the future. If I look at a comparison of food processors and the #1 rated food processor is $150 in the review but it's $300 when I go to find int, I'm not going to give that review site many new chances. This is not a 'personal problem' it is me deciding on the service I want to get and acting on that.

Your approach seems to be to attack the readers, it's a good thing W1zzard trys to cater to the needs of the readers because your approach would be a real good way to wind up with only a handful of hard-core techies as readers. Hardly something one could make a living at.
You get your price quotes from reviews now? That's... new. What I do recall from reviews is a mention of MSRP, and if there is local pricing, those are in fact usually direct ads or links to said product in some sort of price watch or comparison site - that way the pricing can actually be served correctly as it can localize where you are.

So its either live and accurate, or its not there at all. And if its live and accurate, it was never integrated into the review, but just an addon box they stick under anything related.

EXAMPLE

Conclusion page of GPU review:
The models under review are lined up with the lowest found price at a retailer - which is a link to the Pricewatch, a local database of all products with constant, live updates.
MSRP is mentioned in the text itself, along with some notes on how stuff is screwed up right now. What more can you expect from a review, I really wonder.

RandallFlaggWhat hurts readers is reading a review on a product that is not actually available with a price that is incorrect.
Its a reality check, you are correct that in Snowflake land this is a capital sin. Can't tell it how it is, might hurt someone's feelings.

What really needs reflection is how we've come to that point that feelings get hurt when seeing a higher price for something people want. That's what you're saying here should be avoided. Maybe repeat that sentence a few times, to grasp the idiocy of it. You're saying W1zzard is indirectly responsible for your feelings when reading a review he wrote.
Posted on Reply
#21
the54thvoid
Of course, using historical precedent and performance uplift, you could say, "I wouldn't spend more than 'x' on that piece of shit'.
Posted on Reply
#22
Unregistered
Essentially what youre doing is confusing people by providing too much non-pertinent information. MSRP is literally all that is needed. It takes a person 30 seconds tops to research the product's price, price history, and availability after the fact. MSRP allows the consumer to gauge pricing and decide for themselves whether a price presented to them is a good deal or not, this process takes the brain seconds.

Beyond that, I do not need and will always dismiss someone who lives in Europe telling me what things cost in the US and vice versa; apply this logic to other situations, it doesnt make any sense.
Posted on Edit | Reply
#23
RH92
I don't understand the negativity expressed by some members here . As long as both MSRP and current market princing are taken into account ( wich seems to be the case for the Strix 6800 example ) then there is no place for confusion .

This is much better for all readers especially those who care about ''perf per dollar'' metrics knowing that they will have a clear picture of what the market should had been and what it factually is !
Posted on Reply
#24
EarthDog
RH92I don't understand the negativity expressed by some members here . As long as both MSRP and current market princing are taken into account ( wich seems to be the case for the Strix 6800 example ) then there is no place for confusion .

This is much better for all readers especialy those who care about ''perf per dollar'' metrics knowing that they will have a clear picture of what the market should had been be and what it factualy is !
Or... to keep it easy, you just state in the review... price to performance ratio based on MSRP (YMMV due to several reasons). Hell, if he wants to play in the minutia and empower readers, maybe link the equation for the Price to performance charts so users can plug in the MSRP and see if it still works in their part of the world......(though that won't work if it isn't based on their money type...exchange rates, etc).

But again, we're adding scope to a review which (IMNSHO) doesn't remotely need to be there. If people don't understand that when a review lists MSRP it is just that, a SUGGESTED price from the MFG that changes with the times, We can't help those people. THIS, isn't helping those people, but sends them to a place to potentially get ripped off (their choice of course, but that is what an ebay link accomplishes).
Posted on Reply
#25
bug
I believe the reasoning here is sound. I have seen reviews listing MSRP and street prices together (often the street price is linked live directly to a reputable seller, but in this particular case, it's the lack of reputable sellers that is being addressed).

That said, I have couple of things I don't like:
1. Newegg as a reference. Newegg is a marketplace now. It still has great search so you can actually find stuff over there, but I don;t think it's the great store that it was 15 years ago. Maybe consider getting the price from the manufacturer directly, if the manufacturer has stock or otherwise directs you to a reseller that does.
2. Ebay as a reference. I believe many people tend to avoid ebay (strong buyer protection makes sellers keep some distance), I'm not sure that is the best reference these days. Unfortunately I'm not using ebay and I'm not US based, so I can't suggest a better reference.
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