Within picoseconds of news landing of the US government's impending ban on RTX 4090 sales to China, prices of the world's fastest gaming graphics card ticked up sharply. Now come reports that traders-come-scalpers are buying up 4090s en masse with intentions to ship the cards into China.
We can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the images or the claim that the GPUs are China-bound. But it is all pretty believable. Moreover, what is undeniable is the spike in RTX prices since the China ban was announced.
On Newegg, currently, the cheapest 4090 SKU is the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 4090 for $1,999. The next cheapest is $2,249, and the prices simply go up from there. Before the China ban, it was easy enough to find RTX 4090s for the official $1,599 MSRP, including on Nvidia's own online store.
But now Nvidia.com is sold out of 4090s and you won't find any on the usual online retailers for anywhere near MSRP. It's pretty much undeniable that's a consequence of a mad rush to snap up RTX 4090s in China before the ban hit.
From here, the big question is how much longer all this nonsense will keep pushing 4090 prices up. Chinese demand for RTX 4090s for actual gaming presumably hasn't gone up, so you'd think that aspect will amount to a blip.
However, the impact the broader ban on Nvidia AI chips to China may have is harder to gauge. If, let's say, it's easier to stockpile and smuggle 4090s into China, maybe they'll continue to be snapped up as alternatives for Nvidia's AI-specific H100 monster GPU.
In which case, this RTX 4090 price spike could carry on indefinitely. Yet another non-gaming GPU price distortion would be extremely annoying. But it wouldn't be hugely surprising.