How hard is it to find an RTX graphics card?


Nvidia graphics card appearing out of stock on a website

Peter Vasquez, Staff Reporter

On September 1st, 2020, computer game company Nvidia unveiled their next-generation of RTX graphics cards. They released the RTX 3080 on September 17th, following the RTX 3090 on September 24th, and at a later date, the 3070 was scheduled for release in October. 

Buying an RTX card between September 17th and October 29th secured buyers a free copy of Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs Legion. It was speculated that upon the launch of these next-generation cards, issues would arise with how much stock is available, as Nvidia’s website wasn’t accepting pre-orders of Founders Edition Cards. Industry sources also suggest that the 3080 and RTX family will be in short supply until the end of the year. 

The cost for each member of the RTX 30 series starts with the 3070 at $499 and moves to the RTX 3080 at $699, which is the same price as the starting RTX 2080 Super. The 3070 is impressive, having near similar performance to the RTX 2080 Ti as well as being the same price that Nvidia launched the RTX 2070 Super at last year. 

As for third-party cards from other manufacturers such as MSI, Asus, Zotac, Palit, Gigabyte EVGA, and others, they are likely to be more expensive than the Nvidia Founders Edition cards depending on how much they are overclocked. The only confirmed price is for the Asus TUF 3080 and 3090 cards, set at identical prices to the Nvidia Founders edition cards. 

For a graphics card that only came out a couple of months ago, the RTX 3080 is very hard to find assuming the buyer is not ready to drop double the retail price for one. Back in November of 2020, Nvidia CFO Collete Kress announced that it would take a few months for Nvidia Ampere availability to catch up with demand, which means we are looking at February 2021 before the cards are widely available. 

Crypto miners are also rumored to be moving away from dedicated ASIC cards and back to graphics cards meant for gamers, which could throw a wrench into the availability question. Given that Nvidia is hinting at a bunch of other graphic card launches, including leaks of both mobile Ampere GPUs and the RTX 3080 Ti rumor, it is safe to assume Nvidia has plans for the future.

In recent news, on December 7th, 2020, RTX availability hit a slight bump when 40 cargo boxes of RTX 3090’s were stolen from MSI’s factory in China. This amounted to $336,500 worth of stolen graphics cards. MSI believes from video surveillance and frequent inspections of the trucks that come in and out of campus that an insider stole the cards. 

Unfortunately, it makes a lot of sense for criminals to target Nvidia’s graphics cards right now. Nvidia 3090’s are still incredibly rare and are still being sold far above MSRP. In fact, the medium selling price of an RTX 3090 aftermarket is currently estimated at $2,250. That makes RTX 3090s and other current-generation GPUs super valuable as they can be flipped for crazy prices due to customer desperation. 

Luckily, it should not upset the market too much as, after some quick math, only around 220 units of 3090’s went missing, which is not a lot. However, that means there will be a deficit in MSI 3090 SKUs. Thankfully, only one batch was stolen.

The story so far has been the same for the last couple of months: graphics cards are sold out and we will not know when more stock is coming. Hopefully, everyone that wants to buy an RTX 3080 will be able to get one without breaking the bank to pay aftermarket prices for one.