Millions of people worldwide have been doing everything possible to secure a next-gen GPU, and retailers have in turn been trying to figure out ways to beat the bots that have been scooping up all their inventory. Newegg uses a lottery system called Newegg Shuffle, where buyers can apply to win an opportunity to purchase an RTX 30-series GPU. And like most other lotteries, not many folks have had success going this route. But for a blissful moment, one Florida boy (with the help of his dad) found a way to bypass the lottery system and get his hands on a new EVGA RTX 3090.
Sadly none of us can take advantage of this neat little trick: Newegg has closed the loophole, which involved building a custom made-to-order PC.
Using the "Build your PC" feature on the site, you can cherry pick components (like GPUs) for a custom system; the parts show up as individual items in your shopping cart, letting you skip past the lottery system for hot items that were otherwise unavailable. Before Newegg closed the loophole, you could delete the items you didn't want and check out with just the GPU instead of a full PC build.
PCMag replicated the workaround and added an RTX 3090 to a cart on mobile before it was fixed.
According to Newegg senior brand manager Andrew Choi, the "vulnerability only sold a small number of graphics cards. We stopped all subsequent orders." He even thanked the 11-year-old for discovering the exploit. Newegg says that over 100,000 people on average enter the lotteries for popular items.
Ricardo Santana, the boy's father, explains how they resisted the temptation to buy multiple cards and some of the luck they've had with Newegg's lottery system:
"I thought about purchasing more but don’t want to abuse it and would like to give other people the opportunity," he told PCMag. "I’m thinking that they (Newegg) are prioritizing selling custom builds with the inventory they have for the Shuffle. I’m not sure exactly how many people are winning the Shuffle, but I tried the Shuffle so many times and never won."
The ongoing chip shortages have led to some truly desperate measures, though in the grand scheme of things, finding a loophole in Newegg's PC building app is a lot less dramatic than trying to smuggle hundreds of CPUs across the Hong Kong border by cling-wrapping them to your legs.