Hunting for an RTX 30-series GPU feels like having a second job

Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards
(Image credit: Nvidia)

September looked to be the highlight for PC hardware fans with Nvidia's next-gen Ampere upgrades set to mark a huge leap in performance. The RTX 3080 leaves the previous 2080 Ti behemoth in the dust with its impressive specs and almost affordable price tag, and the RTX 3090 is currently the fastest graphics card on the market. 

The 3080 FE isn't easy to track down

Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards

(Image credit: Nvidia)

I'm specifically trying to get my hands on an FE, which is something of a nightmare because Nvidia gives no warning of new stock (or even if there will be new stock at all) and clearly has no way to pre-order.

I saw a Reddit thread saying that they restocked a couple of weeks ago at like 5am in the morning, and it was quickly all sold out, which gives you an idea of how bad things are.

I've set up an extension that pings me of changes to the Nvidia order page (ie, if they remove the out of stock button), but so far it just shows that they're constantly making small tweaks to elements of the page to prevent that kind of nonsense—Phil Savage

The buzz around these GPUs has been non-stop, but it's a mixture of excitement surrounding the cards as much as it is people still clamoring for opportunities to pre-order.

I made a huge mistake when Nvidia's new Ampere GPUs were announced. I convinced myself that I needed all the bells and whistles that the RTX 3090 offered. In recent years, I've always stuck with the x80 GPUs, from the GTX 980 up to the RTX 2080, but this year I was excited by the prospect of owning the most beastly card on offer. 

I'm also a massive RGB fan and especially fancied EVGA's FTW3 design—yes, the one with the red lipstick accent. Scrolling through Reddit threads comparing each of the third party designs filled me with hope that I'd be able to snag a pre-order on September 24, even though stock was rumoured to be very low.

The 3080 benchmarks and reviews trickled in ahead of its chunky big brother, and they were just as impressive as everyone had expected. It was a solid choice for those hoping to upgrade, but competition to snag a pre-order was going to be incredibly fierce. 

I didn't envy those who were preparing to pick one up, and held onto hope that fewer people would want the RTX 3090, hopefully deterred by its steep price tag.

(Image credit: Future)

The RTX 3080's launch was disappointing, to say the least. I watched our team's Slack as the preorder window neared closer. A few were ready to pounce on Nvidia's website as soon as the preorders went live, but it was all over in just a few minutes.

Those that had signed up for stock alerts didn't receive a notification until over an hour after the store pages were supposed to go live, and it soon became apparent that bots and resellers had mopped up pre-orders before those with human reactions could click 'buy'. I hoped that things would be different for the RTX 3090, but as the benchmarks rolled in I realised my error—I actually wanted the RTX 3080, and I felt like I'd missed the boat.

Recently, my free-time has been swallowed up hunting for one of these GPUs, and it's starting to get me down. Time I usually set aside for gaming is now spent on retailers' websites mashing refresh, and scouring Twitter for updates on when new stock may emerge. Everyday I log on in hopes that I'll stumble onto a website just as they're replenishing their stock, but I'm still struggling to find any. There are retailers that are continuing to accept pre-orders, but there's still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding when those orders will actually be fulfilled.

(Image credit: Future)
Wait for the RTX 3070?

(Image credit: EVGA)

I was going to go for the 3070 as the value option, but recently I've been tempted by the 3080.

I'm still on 1080p at the moment, so it seems a shame when there's due to be such a generational jump that I'd only be moving to 1440p, and not 4k. But, then again, you'd really want a 4k monitor to get the most from the 3080, so the cost of all the peripherals and components that make sense alongside the 3080 is giving me pause... if I can actually get one, anyway!—Harry Shepherd

The worst part is I'm not even unhappy with my current rig. I only bought my RTX 2080 just over a year ago, and I was chuffed to pick it up around the launch of Nvidia's Super line at a slight discount. My PC is capable of running most games at High settings, and it's not like I was desperate for an upgrade when Nvidia was ready to show off its next generation of GPUs. Seeing the new lineup at the launch presentation was enough to make me want to dip into my savings though, and I was really excited to play the upcoming releases scheduled for the rest of this year on a 30 series card.

The current situation is frustrating for those interested in getting their hands on the RTX 3080 and 3090. We're slowly seeing improvements to help tackle pre-orders get gobbled up by bots instantly, and EVGA has just announced a new virtual queuing system that'll let people in the US auto-reserve their RTX 3080. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be improving as quickly as we'd hoped in the UK. Then there's talk that AMD is determined for Big Navi not to be a paper launch, though stock issues have dogged most of recent Radeon launches too. Admittedly, I usually pay little attention to AMD's GPUs, but as we creep closer to the RX 6000-series reveal at the end of October, I'm finding that my interest in them is beginning to grow.

Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.