Rising metal prices could mean more expensive laptops, PC parts, and other electronics in the near future

Prices of precious metals used in electronics manufacturing have drastically jumped in the past five years. This is especially true of copper, which cost $5,000 per metric ton in 2020 but now sits at $8,300. Because of these price increases, Digitimes reports that several Chinese semiconductor companies are raising their prices.

Some companies, including battery circuit protection firm ICM and circuit design, packaging, and testing firm Yaxin Microelectronics, have informed their customers in writing that they’re increasing their prices by 10-20% across the board with immediate effect. Reports indicate that most of these companies noted the continuous price hikes in precious metal materials as the reason for their higher prices, with further price increases expected down the line.

Aside from these two companies, other businesses that will increase their prices include HaloChip, Chiplink, TG-Star Electronics Technology, Sanliansheng, and Kangqiang Electronics. While many of us haven’t heard of these companies, they all supply crucial parts that most modern computers, smartphones, and other electronic accessories rely on.

Even though these semiconductor firms are based in China, they supply companies worldwide. For example, Smart Chiplink lists Broadcom, Texas Instruments, Intel/Altera, and Analog Devices as some of their customers. So, we expect these price increases to reach the final product and impact consumers eventually.

While we don’t expect a return of the insane GPU prices during the 2020 pandemic or the skyrocketing prices of RTX 4090s in China, the increasing costs of raw materials will eventually hit other manufacturers as well. After all, almost all electronic devices — from the humble SD card to a high-end gaming PC worth thousands of dollars — use precious metals like gold and copper.

These will also impact products outside the realm of consumer electronics. After all, appliances like induction cookers and even EVs use hundreds, if not thousands, of electronic components. TSMC even reported that the lack of chips from some smaller semiconductor suppliers could affect its production plans.

As precious metal prices are expected to go even higher, more semiconductor companies—in China and elsewhere—could increase their prices even further. And if that happens, expect everything with a chip in it to follow suit.