Nothing is sacred when it comes to the quest for the almighty dollar. The scalpers have become a common foe for all those looking to expand into hobbies in 2021. Even in 2020. things looked desperate. Global fears around the ongoing pandemic fueled a surge in demand in many markets. As people were stuck inside for months on end, people turned to PC gaming as a hobby.
Anyone trying to build a gaming or enthusiast PC in 2021 is well aware of all this. And it’s only going to get worse. The release of any new PC part prompts fears over scalping, the release of DDR5 RAM was no exception. DDR5 memory kits have almost disappeared from the retail market as a result of this surge in pricing. And the few you can find in retailers online are increasingly overpriced.
Of course, it’s not just RAM that’s being scalped to high heaven. GPUs have been getting scalped for more than two years now. Board partners, system integrators and anyone looking to build a new system are scrambling. Video card makers have tried to limit mining impact with various measures—like LHR cards—but to very limited impact. It will likely remain near-impossible to find some video cards until well into next year.
With the launch of Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake processors and the accompanying Z690 motherboards, memory manufacturers began to focus on producing DDR5 RAM to support these systems. With the first wave of DDR5 memory, there has been unprecedented demand for these kits; and people are already panicking. especially as scalpers start to charge incredible markups.
Thanks to the technology being so new, there are only a handful of DDR5 kits out in the market. The typical MSRP for these kits ranges from $100 to $300 in most instances. And most are being scalped, so good luck finding them at the aforementioned MSRP. Ebay only has a few dozen listings for the products at any one time. The shortages are so acute that even scalpers aren’t able to find many DDR5 kits to sell. But that hasn’t stopped prices from peaking at over $2,500 USD at one point.
Terapeak, a market research tool for the platform, confirms this:
Once again, the culprit is supply constraints. The much more advanced Power management integrated circuits (PMIC) in the new RAM are much harder to produce. This has also led to a massive jump in costs per unit. Some sources estimate that PMIC chips for DDR5 are ten times more costly to make compared to DDR4 equivalent chips. These chips are integral to the revamped power control on the RAM itself, and a shortage here is causing major issues.