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Why is it so Hard to Buy a Graphics Card Right Now? The 2021 GPU Shortage

If you’ve been in the market for a gaming pc for the past half-year to a year, you might be asking yourself where the heck all of the graphics cards are. And that’s because no matter what budget of PC you’re building or class of GPU you are looking to get your hands on, they are all a part of a graphics card shortage.

And by now you most likely have heard a few different reasons, so let’s dive a little bit into what those are.

First and foremost, if you can find a graphics card to buy at all you might have noticed that really basic cards like a very basic GTX 1650 are selling for over 300-500% more than what they’re worth.

Well, this simply boils down to basic economics of supply and demand: high demand = low quantities.

But the real question is what’s actually driving the demand for graphics cards right now? And if we looked at the GPU or PC hardware enthusiasts market over a year ago, it was almost a niche market of it’s full of PC nerds, enthusiasts, Newbs, and the likes.

Well, first we have the scalpers.

If you’ve been paying any ounce of attention to what’s been going on you most likely have heard “ohhh the scalpers”, “ef the scalpers” etc. etc.

That’s because there are literally large groups of coordinated people who literally scalp for a living. This isn’t specific to GPU’s or the PC market specifically. And while there are always the guys who try to upsell on your local Facebook buy and sale, I’m actually talking about large groups of individuals who see an opportunity to profit, buy large quantities of such product and drive that market up.

It’s estimated that scalpers have actually raked in an estimated $61.5 million in sales ($15.2 million in profit), according to analysis from data engineer Michael Driscoll in this PCMag article.

Remember Yeezies? Or other expensive sneakers I know nothing about in the hot sneaker market.

With Yeezies, they were initially released in limited quantities to ensure high demand and more hype. Then scalpers caught wind that they could snag a cool profit, and groups started buying them up forcing their cost up even further.

The exact same thing is happening with GPU’s, and other recent console releases like the PS5, but what sparked the initial hype?

GPU’s Are Now Money Making Machines

You’ve got scalpers and crypto miners, gamers, and plain ol’ stay-at-home workers and learners. However, gamers and enthusiasts are not the ones driving the demand right now. A strange duality.

Graphics cards at the moment are money-making machines. And money-making machines are going to attract eager beavers to the party until they are no longer money-making machines.

Enter Crypto mining. Bitcoin has hit all time highs in early 2021, and with the Crypto Boom 2.0 so to speak, comes more profits to be has my said miners.

And now that individuals can simply use their current gaming pc rigs to crypto mine for a small profit using their higher-end GPUs, comes easy mining rigs. But that’s not even the tip of this demand, as there are again groups of people buying up huge amounts of these GPUs as soon as they come into stock and literally filling warehouses with them.

See this image of 78 RTX 3080’s garnering more than 20 grand USD a month in early 2021. I mean why would anyone purchase this many RGB GPUs at a premium if it wasn’t worth it?

78 RTX 3080’s GPUs Earning 20 Grand a month in the start of 2021. Source: wccftech

In February of 2018 Bitcoin fell by more than 65% (the first Crypto bubble burst?) and in the crypto world, right now we could speculatively say we are in a bubble and this bubble is eventually going to pop.

What this means, who knows. And when….who knows. However, it will collapse at some point and until then there’s not much we can do but sit and wait.

When crypto peaked before the 2018 crash, there were companies making dedicated crypto mining machines called ASCIC Miners, which were dedicated mining machines that were much more efficient than using GPU’s/ However, a lot of the companies stopped making them after the last crash, and there are very little of those to purchase right now too. So again…demand and low supply.

AntMiner ASIC Bitcoin Miner

The Proposed Solution – Nvidia Tried Limiting Hash Rated on Their Graphics Cards

So then NVidia steps up like the green knights they are and announces they are going to limit hash rates on their (at the time) newly released RTX 3060 GPUs and I actually had a glimpse of hope. And they did do this.

And everyone was screaming, oh no someone is going to hack this anyhow and it won’t affect anything! Well, before it was hacked (I believe) Nvidia lets slip a driver update accidentally unlocking RTX 3060 Etherium mining. Oops.

So there goes that.

Now NVidia has announced they are releasing CMP HX Dedicated GPUs for ‘professional mining’, whatever that means. However, they do would be the economical choice should your goal be to mine, but this doesn’t exactly solve the GPU scalping bubble in my opinion as people will buy as many GPUs as they can while it remains profitable.

Further, There is a Worldwide Semiconductor Shortage

There is also a worldwide semiconductor shortage, which is affecting all similar markets, including the auto market. Se this Washington Post article on “What you need to know about the global chip shortage“. And while that article speaks directly to cars, it’s all computers.

Long story short, there is also a silicon shortage to make the raw materials to also make computer parts. Things may not normalize this year, and in fact may take longer, who knows.

So how do you get your Hands on a GPU?

Patience my grasshopper.

So how are people getting their hands on GPU’s at all these days? Well, people have started using automated bots that check supply levels at stores and notify you exactly when they come into stock. There are many discord groups etc. And just plain luck. It really is the sad reality right now.

I’ve heard of theories that you must sign on to Best Buy at certain hours and you must

Tips to getting your GPU:

What not tyo do — buy your GPU from the scalpers, because principles, and it’s just not worth it!

Have any tips on getting your hands on a decent GPU these days, then shoot them in the comments below.


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