Buying a complete gaming PC (opens in new tab) is about the only way to get a graphics card without grossly overpaying for the GPU alone, but even then, you might find yourself waiting for weeks, or even months, for a custom configured system to arrive. That had also been the case at NZXT, however, the company says it has returned to a snappy 48-hour turnaround time on its custom BLD service.
It's been a few years since we formally reviewed an NZXT BLD system (opens in new tab), but we were impressed at the time, in part due to the extremely short wait time. But like every other system builder, the graphics card shortage affected NZXT's ability to ship out systems expeditiously. Not anymore.
"Fortunately, things have leveled out and, with overnight shipping, it means you can now have your custom PC in well under a week," NZXT says. "That makes NZXT the fastest SI [system integrator] and the only one who can get a custom build PC (with a 3000 series graphics card) to gamers within that time frame."
I asked NZXT what allowed this return to a 48-hour window. Was it some kind of voodoo magic? A ritual sacrifice to the PC gods? I also inquired if this is a sign that the GPU shortage is waning, or if the company somehow managed to get its hands on a mountain of GPUs just waiting for a forever home.
NZXT neither confirmed nor denied any voodoo magic, but it did address my other inquiry. Well, sort of.
"Though demand for GPU’s exceeds current supply as a whole, we have worked closely with our worldwide partners to secure supply whenever available. We have also increased our capacity and improved our build processes so we can ship systems out quickly to match our original lead times," NZXT said.
"We all hope that GPU supply will continue to increase so gamers can easily get one without the need to purchase on the secondary market," the company added.
That's close to a canned response, as it does not sufficiently explain how NZXT can suddenly have enough GPUs to meet demand. Perhaps it is a trickle down effect of China's crackdown on cryptocurrency mining. In addition, Ethereum will soon switch to a different type of system (opens in new tab) that could severely dampen the demand for GPUs (opens in new tab) among crypto enthusiasts. It's possible we're already seeing the effects of that upcoming change.
Whatever the reason, it's nice to see some kind of return to normalcy, at least in terms of availability. I asked NZXT if it anticipates being able to stick to its 48-hour window for good, or at least a long time, and was told, "We do see our 48-hour turnaround time holding."
As I discovered with poking around the BLD configurator, the caveat for having a custom build shipped out so quickly is premium pricing on the available GPUs.
Here's a look at an AMD build that comes out to around $1,900, with NZXT's pricing breakdown:
- NZXT H510i White—$109.99
- AMD Ryzen 5 5600X—$299.99
- Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Gaming OC Pro—$629.99
- Asus TUF Gaming X570-Plus Wi-Fi—$229.99
- 16GB Team T-Force Delta RGB DDR4-3200—$89.99
- 500GB Western Digital SN550—$149.99
- NZXT Kraken X63—$149.99
- XPG Core Reactor 750W PSU—$109.99
- Windows 10 Home—$119.99
- Build service—$99
Let's shelve the GPU for a moment and just look at the other specs. For the sake of convenience, I priced out the same remaining parts (including Windows 10 Home) on Newegg. After applying a coupon code for one of the parts (the cooler), the pre-tax price came to $1,119.91, versus $1,259.92 for NZXT's pricing. That's a $140.01 difference, plus another $99 for the build fee, which is fair.
I don't find that particularly egregious—sure, you can save some coin by buying parts yourself and then putting it all together, but there's value in having a system builder supply all the components and assemble them.
The GPU is the potential buzzkill in all this. NZXT may have solved the availability problem, but is either not able to procure graphics cards at prices closer to their MSRP, or is charging a premium. The GeForce RTX 3060 Ti (opens in new tab) launched at $399. You can tack on another $50 or even $100 to account for the custom status of a factory overclocked variant, but $629.99 for a 3060 Ti is still a tough pill to swallow.
Of course, the flip side to this argument is that buying a 3060 Ti by itself is even more expensive, provided you can even find one. At the time of this writing, there is exactly one model in stock at Newegg, from a marketplace seller—a Gigabyte GeForce RTX 3060 Ti Vision OC card priced at $1,156.99. Yeah, no thanks.
Here's how NZXT's pricing breaks down for the other available GPUs:
- EVGA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming—$959.99
- Gigabytge GeForce RTX 3080 Gaming OC—$1,229.99
- EVGA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti FTW3 Ultra Gaming—$1,649.99
Those are all well above Nvidia's launch prices, and way north of whatever extra should be expected for a custom variant. However, they're also a few hundred bucks below what these cards are fetching on eBay, save for the RTX 3070 Ti (opens in new tab), which is priced fairly close to recently sold listings.
Anyway, if you're desperate for a GPU and could also use an entirely new PC, NZXT's BLD service is now the quickest option for a custom config. You'll just pay a bit more for the parts.