Everyone chill, GPUs and motherboards aren't about to be walloped with a massive tariff after all

Zotac RTX 4080 Super Amp Extreme Airo
(Image credit: Future)

Last week we reported on the supposed application of a 25% import tariff into the US on Chinese-made GPUs, motherboards, cases and more which was due to come into force this June and cause a spike in prices. Turns out, that's not happening after all.

To our best understanding, it all goes something like this. PC Mag picked up on a Federal Trade document announcing that the Biden administration would further extend certain Trump-era tariffs for another year and took that to mean graphics cards, motherboards and other PC-relevant assemblies made in China were about to be walloped with a 25% tariff upon landing in the US.

This could have been big news even outside of the US. Pricing in other territories tends to mirror that of the US, regardless of local tariff regimes. More expensive PC parts in the US could very well have been reflected elsewhere, even without equivalent tariffs.

However, what the notice actually does is confirm that the current status quo will be maintained for another year. The tariffs in the notice are already in place. Critically, those tariffs include certain exemptions which include, yup, GPUs, motherboards and other classes of devices.

"The US Trade Representative has found that extending these exclusions will support efforts to shift sourcing out of China, or provide additional time where, despite efforts to source products from alternative sources, availability of the product outside of China remains limited,” the notice says.

The bottom line then, and what still isn't entirely clear from PC Mag's updated story, is that this Federal Trade notice simply kicks the current can down the road for a year. The tariffs in question were already in place, but so were the exemptions for our precious PC parts. The notice announces, in effect, that nothing is changing for a year.

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Nvidia RTX 4070 and RTX 3080 Founders Edition graphics cards

(Image credit: Future)

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Best gaming motherboard: The right boards.
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What happens after that is anyone's guess. The tariffs could be dropped. Both the tariffs and the exemptions could be rolled over again. Or the tariffs could be renewed and the exemptions dropped, at which point we would then be in the feared situation where prices of PC parts suddenly spiked by 25%, or probably more given the way that bill of material costs tend to hit final retail pricing.

Without getting at all political, much will likely depend on the outcome of the coming election. Trump has always been hawkish on China trade and indeed the current tariff regime began under his tenure. But equally, the Biden administration has essentially adopted that tariff structure wholesale.

Long story short, we'll have to wait and see. But if Nvidia's Jen-Hsun Huang was giving PC gamers advice regarding import tariffs and buying PC components, we suspect we know what he'd say. The more you buy early, the more you save in tariffs. Maybe.

Jeremy Laird
Hardware writer

Jeremy has been writing about technology and PCs since the 90nm Netburst era (Google it!) and enjoys nothing more than a serious dissertation on the finer points of monitor input lag and overshoot followed by a forensic examination of advanced lithography. Or maybe he just likes machines that go “ping!” He also has a thing for tennis and cars.