GPU Manufacturers Want Budget Gamers Back

The chatter in the GPU market, and potentially its landscape, is changing as supply loosens and the three main manufacturers pivot toward upcoming launches.  Between AMD’s latest attempt to needle Nvidia and rumors of Nvidia resurrecting the GTX line, the neglected budget segment may finally be getting its moment.
AMD Wants to Talk Affordability
Frank Azor, AMD’s chief architect of Gaming Solutions and Marketing, took a shot at Nvidia with a tweet highlighting better performance/price and performance/watt across both companies’ product stacks. It’s not the first time that AMD has tried to shift the narrative away from performance-at-any-cost to performance/cost.

  • Nvidia won the race to hardware-accelerated raytracing
  • Its RTX cards have been a hit, regardless of the “RTX tax” and questionable supply

Setting aside the obvious caveats – handpicked benchmarks and how much consumers care about power efficiency past knock-on costs, for example – there is no question that AMD and Nvidia (and newcomer Intel) are giving budget consumers some consideration after years of neglect.
It’s also a marketing strategy that makes sense in the runup to Nvidia and AMD’s upcoming launches toward year’s end.

  • Nvidia is expected to launch first
  • Historically launches with flagship ultra-premiums first
  • There’s a very real chance that Nvidia’s “budget” (effectively midrange) cards don’t arrive until 2023

If AMD isn’t going to be first or leading in performance, price/performance is its best marketing strategy. Expect more messaging on affordability, and potentially AMD to shift its launch strategy this year to favor more affordable SKUs sooner. While the market is trending away from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market, gamers under pressure from inflation after years of being unable to buy cards at MSRP may ironically be all the more interested in budget GPUs.
Nvidia Takes a Detour/Trip Down Memory Lane
It’s a one-two punch of nostalgia from Nvidia, which is rumored to not only be on a GTX-branded card, but a 30 series card no less, according to a repor from VideocardzIf the GTX 1630 pans out, it would be Nvidia’s first GTX launch since November 2020 and its first “-30” card launch since the halcyon days of March 2018. 
A GTX 1630 would be a deviation from Nvidia’s normal M.O. of premium cards, with a little love for more price-minded gamers here and now.

  • Nvidia’s entry-level RTX 3050 took the better part of 2 years to arrive
  • More premium cards tend to have higher margins as those customers are there for performance at any cost

While Nvidia is not about to abandon the premium segment of the market, there is logic behind this rumored product.

  • Nvidia’s most popular cards are still budget-minded ones
    • 4 of the top 5 cards are GTX
    • All are -50 and -60 GPUs
  • A GTX 1630 priced under $200 would eat into Intel’s hope to enter the GPU market through more affordable segments
  • A less power-hungry and smaller form factor GPU would be an appealing alternative to integrated graphics cards for OEMs and customers interested only in light gaming or media work/streaming
  • Easier to manufacturer while potentially not using RTX 3000 & 4000 production lines

This rediscovered interest in gamers on a budget is a positive development for a market that’s become increasingly harder to buy into for gamers. The real test of this, however, will come when we find out if Nvidia has plans for an honest-to-goodness launch or merely a small paper launch.