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The Great Graphics Card Shortage

2020 saw some remarkable events, one of which saw it become the year of the scalper. Or to be more precise, the scalper bot.

Scalper
Someone who purchases large quantities of goods (usually tickets) early with the sole intention of re-selling them at a higher price at a later date (closer to the event).
A scalper bot will buy up hundreds of newly launched graphics cards (GPUs) resulting in demand outstripping supply, with the scalper later asking insanely inflated prices. The Nvidia 3000 series of GPUs is a case in point and the shortages from last year have continued into 2021. But it’s not only scumbag scalpers causing the problem but the rise in the value of Bitcoins, where miners have been buying up most of the high-end GPU stock, so these two factors have had a knock-on effect on the consumer market– i.e., you and me.
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This crazy situation has affected both Nvidia and AMD cards pretty much across the board with Nvidia RTX 3000 and the newly launched AMD 6000 series being almost impossible to come by on Amazon, Newegg, and other online outlets.
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A quick search on Newegg for all high-end Nvidia and AMD cards shows us that there’s no stock whatsoever. It’s a similar story on Amazon and most other outlets. Scan UK for example, shows the cards on their website, but with no indication of either price or availability except on their delivery schedule page.
Oddly enough, in Argentina, there appears to be plenty of stock, but the problems here are high import taxes and the fact that scalping is integrated into the Argentine DNA at conception.
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The prices shown in the above image are Argentine pesos which equate to around US$5000 on average– a ridiculous price to pay for a graphics card by anyone’s standards.
For example, in December I bought a new Asus ROG Strix RX 5700 XT GPU for around US$450 and I’m glad I did because that card is no longer available new, with only used examples being available in my local market– Mercadolibre. Unfortunately, the prices are mouth-watering, at five times what I paid less than three months ago for a brand new card.
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The Trump 25% tax hasn’t helped either and this has added yet another level of uncertainty to the situation with no indication yet as to whether the Biden administration will roll back on at least some of the China trade war tariffs imposed by his predecessor.
The latest news is that Nvidia has been taking steps to tackle the crypto mining situation by limiting the hash rate on certain cards and even producing GPUs specifically for that market. I’m not aware of AMD following suit and the general consensus seems to be that the GPU shortage is set to last until at least the middle of 2021, if not longer.
The irony here is that Nvidia has posted record revenue for its fourth quarter, up 61% from last year. AMD has posted similarly impressive results:
  • $3.2 billion in revenue this quarter, up 53 percent from $2.1 billion last quarter
  • $1.78 billion in profit this quarter, up 948 percent from $170 million last quarter
  • $9.76 billion in revenue this past year, up 45 percent from $6.7 billion in 2019
  • $2.49 billion in profit this past year, up 630 percent from $341 million in 2019

That’s not a dig at either Nvidia or AMD because they are in the business of making a profit. However, some reassurance from both companies on how they are going to solve these shortages wouldn’t go amiss, especially since gamers make up a huge part of the profits they are making.

4 thoughts on “The Great Graphics Card Shortage”

  1. This thing is horrible. I didn’t mind mining until I wanted to get a graphic card in 2017 and the prices were absurd. Now I have the money but I am not encouraging their behavior by buying with the high prices. Glad my friend sold me his computer(Ryzen 5 1600X, 16 Gigs of RAM, GTX 1080, 512 Gig SSD) for $1000, knowing that the current prices for each item combined might equal to over $2000…and I only wanted the RTX 3060 in the first place, hehe.
    On related news. I sent over my friend the RX 560 I had sitting in my room and put the value of $20, but the import station was charging him 11,000P for the item(I’ll admit that I did place an SSD and 8 Gigs of DDR3 RAM for his computer, assuming they found those and if they even happen to deliver them in the shipment. I won’t be doing that again, if that is the problem). The value in Pesos for the graphics card is 38,000 from one of the offers in Mercado Libre, so it’s not a problem but now it’s a chance he still might not get it despite paying the fee. If you know any other methods, I am willing to try. I am waiting for an RTX 4050 next year to send him. I heard about the carrier services where we send things to Florida towards their stations and the services can deliver to the country of choice slightly more securely, assuming they do business in said country. Mercado Libre’s prices are an insult, as you have said. Anything else, let me know. Thanks.

    1. Megaman
      A friend of mine bought a motherboard through AliExpress and used Aerobox as her shipping agent and although it took a long time for it to arrive, they dealt with all the usual Argentine customs nonsense.
      It may be worth contacting them for future deliveries:
      https://aerobox.com.ar

  2. It is indeed a horrible situation. I was broke for the longest time, not able to upgrade PC for a few years. I was planning to build a new PC this year in the mid-range, so likely an AMD 6-core or 8-core and something along a RTX 2060/70. Sadly the shortage means that the few pieces of 2070 available in Germany right now cost around 1100€.
    Problem is that my GTX 780 which I had until recently had a failure and now I am stuck with a 7300Se, which luckily I still had lying around. Still I cannot play anything on that card and even Youtube stutters. My only option now is to buy a used card below the 10xx spectrum as even those prices skyrocketed.
    I’m actually considering to buy an AMD APU this time around and wait until the market gets somewhat normal.

    1. Many of the PC builder companies are still able to get GPUs, so with prices so inflated it even makes sense to buy a new high-end gaming PC off the shelf, just for the components.

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