RAM prices will continue to climb – last year’s rock-bottom prices will probably never return – ExtremeTech
Two months ago, a fire at a Hynix factory created a shortage in DRAM inventory and exacerbated the gradual climb in DRAM prices. While the fire wasn’t all that severe — Hynix has sworn that its memory capacity will ramp back to full in fairly short order — its impact on the market has been significant. In early September, the price of 8GB of Corsair memory was sitting at $72. Today, it’s jumped up to $93. Other components show similar increases — Kingston 8GB packs have gone from $66 to $79, and Corsair’s 16GB RAM packs are up to $150, from $130.
A year ago, 16GB of DDR3-1600 from Corsair was $67, which gives you some idea of just how much prices have already risen. And now, there’s evidence they could be headed higher. Spot prices have jumped more than 5% this week, as OEMs begin to rebuild inventory. Historically, jumps in DRAM spot pricing are often reflected in channel pricing, much as the price of gasoline responds to the price of oil.
Incidentally, if you ever wanted proof of how retailers distort the market, compare the graph above with Amazon’s claim that the actual RAM is actually on sale, down from $142.99. If this SKU ever cost that much, it was over two years ago, when 4GB modules were the common largest size. You aren’t saving anything on this RAM — it bottomed out at $35.99 last year, which means the cost has increased by more than 2.5x.
But will prices ever drop?
This is hard to call. In theory, DDR3 prices should swing back down slowly, much the same way that hard drive prices did. The difference, however, is that the decline of the PC market and the shift to NAND flash means less DRAM is being produced and therefore commands a higher price. Oversupply could drive prices downwards, but that would require based on low power DDR designs.
By next year, DDR4 production should be ramping up, and it’ll command its own significant premium when it finally debuts. That’s not necessarily good news for DDR3 prices either, because prices on older RAM tend to rise over time. At Newegg, the cheapest 4GB DDR2-800 is a $58 Mushkin kit. That works out to $14.50 per GB. DDR3-1600 from Corsair, even at the new, higher price, is still just $11.60 per GB.
It’s not a great idea to buy RAM now unless you absolutely have to — but the rock-bottom prices we saw last year are likely gone, never to return.