We can say, without fear of being wrong, that the shortage of graphics cards that we are currently experiencing in the general consumer market it’s even worse than the one we lived in about three years ago, when the cryptocurrency bubble reached its peak.
At that time, it was practically impossible to buy a graphics card at a reasonable price, but at least there was some stock, especially in the low and mid-range range (GTX 1060, GTX 1070 series and, to a lesser extent, RX 570 and RX 580). Now however it is impossible to buy a graphics card, Unless we are willing to purchase a model from the GTX 1050 Ti, Radeon RX 550 and lower series, and assume a ridiculous asking price.
Stock has been completely drained of the GeForce RTX 20 series, RTX 30 series and the Radeon RX 560 and above, RX 5000 and RX 6000 graphics cards, and unfortunately both AMD and NVIDIA have confirmed the worst forecasts: the stock will remain practically nil for the entire first Quarter 2021. This means that we will not see signs of improvement until the second quarter of 2021, and we should not be optimistic, as availability may remain very limited by then.
Why is there such a huge shortage of graphics cards?
There is no single culprit, although both Colette Kress, NVIDIA’s EVP and CFO, and Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, coincide on some important causes:
The demand has been higher than expected. Productive inability to offer a supply to match this enormous demand. Supply shortage issues for such critical components as silicon wafers and substrates.
These three keys could explain, by themselves, a situation like the one we currently live in, but if we limit ourselves to accepting them we will have been left alone on the surface, and we will miss an important part of the story.
The high demand for graphics cards is not limited to the general consumer market, that is, the normal user. The new bubble in which Bitcoin is immersed has affected other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, and this has generated a new fever for the mining of this type of assets, which, obviously, has triggered the demand for graphics cards to mount mining farms.
This has had a huge impact on the graphics card market, so much so that, in fact, is the only thing that can explain that the stock of almost all the graphics cards of the generations that are currently marketed has disappeared in such a short time.
The miners are doing their thing again, and it will be very interesting to see what happens in the coming months. If Bitcoin punctures again, which will happen sooner or later, and there is a major plunge, it is likely that we will end up seeing a flood of graphics cards on the second-hand market, all coming from cryptocurrency mining teams and farms.
Both NVIDIA and AMD are working to improve production, but with the current situation we will have to arm ourselves with patience. We will also have to be very attentive to possible stock replenishments, since these will last less than a candy at the door of a school.
Five tips to overcome the graphics card shortage
I understand that each user is in a different situation, and that is why we wanted to shape five generic tips that can be of help to practically any type of consumer. Keep in mind that current circumstances are very changing, and that therefore it is possible that some of these tips will cease to be applicable in the short term.
If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comments, we will help you solve it.
1.-Avoid buying graphics cards, it is not a good time
I know some of you are thinking “tell me something I don’t know.” I want you to understand this advice broadly, and it is not a good time to buy in a broad sense, not even in the second-hand market, except for very specific cases of relatively old graphics cards that are not profitable in mining, and that have a really interesting sale price.
This is not a good time to buy because the prices are inflated, even in the second-hand market, and because both NVIDIA and AMD They have pending the launch of their new mid-range graphics cards, the GeForce RTX 3060 and the RX 6700 and RX 6700 XT. Those three graphics cards are expected to hit the market in late February, although they don’t have an official date yet.
From what I have seen in the latest information, the RTX 3060 will have a similar performance to that of the RTX 2070 Super, which means that it will be a very interesting graphic solution within the mid-range (its price will be 329 euros). As for the Radeon RX 6700 and 6700 XT, the latter should perform, more or less at the level of the RTX 3060, and the first should be closer to a hypothetical RTX 3050 Ti.
2.-Beware of false bargains
Seeing inflated prices can easily confuse us, and lead us to believe that those graphics cards that cost 200 or 300 euros more than the recommended price they are a good deal. No, they are not, they are just an attempt to take advantage of the current market situation to make cash.
Analyze carefully the price of a graphics card before launching to buy it, even if you may feel the “craving” when you see that you have caught a replacement of stock. For example, an RTX 3080 has a recommended price, in its FE version, of 719 euros. The Founders Edition version has superb build quality, so it has nothing to envy of the custom designs of the leading assemblers. Paying 900 euros for it may seem like a good buy because there is no stock, and because the prices in many cases exceed 1,000 euros, but in reality is throwing money away.
With this I do not mean that you cannot buy an RTX 3080 that costs more than 719 euros, nothing is further from the truth. There are some models that justify a higher price with interesting additions, such as a premium cooling system and a more striking aesthetic finish, but even in these cases, it is not worth paying more than 50 or 100 euros for them. This applies to that price range obviously. In the case of the RTX 3060, for example, you would not pay more than 50 euros extra.
3.-Nor is it a good time to sell graphics cards
It may surprise you, but it is totally true, and I will explain why. If you wanted to sell your graphics card right now, you would have no problem doing it, provided that it has been released in the last four years, and that it falls within the mid-range of its generation. For example, selling a 6GB GTX 1060 or an 8GB RX 580 on the second-hand market is, despite the time they have, extremely easy.
However, we must bear in mind that, although the prices are inflated, in the second-hand market it is much more difficult to obtain, in the short term, a high sale price by trusted sellers. You may end up selling it, but you probably won’t get the money you had in mind.
Remember that once you have sold your graphics card, you will have to buy a new one, and that is where your real odyssey will begin. With the current shortage of graphics cards, you’ll be lucky to find the model you’re looking for, and you’ll need even more luck to be able to buy it at a price that’s not ridiculously inflated.
On the other hand, remember that if you sell your graphics card and don’t have a replacement, or if your CPU doesn’t have an integrated GPU, you will not be able to continue using your PC.
4.-Extend the useful life of your current PC to the maximum
But without falling into risks. By this I mean that you do a set-up of your equipment to improve its performance a bit and thus extend its useful life.
You can do many things that, in the end, will make a considerable difference, such as overclocking your processor, if it allows it; increase the working frequencies of your graphics card (GPU and memory), reinstall the operating system, optimize the storage units, overclock the RAM, clean the interior of the PC and change the thermal paste to your processor and your graphics card. You should also consider a change of the thermal pads of the latter, which make contact with the graphic memory and with the power system, if they are several years old and are worn out.
Be very careful with overclocking and with the thermal paste change processes, since you always run the risk of breaking something if you are not clear about what you are doing.
5.-Evaluate all the options you have
Sometimes it’s easy to get blinded by a specific idea and not realize that you are actually we have alternatives very interesting that can help us overcome a specific problem.
The graphics card shortage isn’t going to be overcome any time soon, but think for a moment if you really need to buy a new graphics card. Can’t hold out a little longer with the model you have? Wouldn’t it be a good idea to postpone the enjoyment of that game that you were so eagerly awaiting so as not to have to spend a crazy sum to renew your PC?
Those are just a couple of options that, in the end, we all have. We could also accept a drop in graphics settings to continue using our graphics card while the situation normalizes, or even do a minor update in extreme cases. For example, if we have a GTX 650 and we can no longer play practically anything, or if our graphics card has broken down, we could upgrade to one of the models we saw in this article to “get out of the way”.