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So, when will I be able to buy a new graphics card?

Future
(Image credit: Future)

We aren't exaggerating when we are saying that the best graphics cards are super hard to find right now. Things have even gotten so bad that thieves have committed GTA-level heists of RTX 3090 cards from a factory in China, even.

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It also doesn't help that sophisticated reseller bots can simultaneously scoop a ton of stock in nanoseconds from numerous retail sites. We've all seen and felt the tragedy of adding something to a cart only to have it vanish as soon as you try to check out. This leads to a common question: When will I be able to buy a graphics card?

So, why is it so hard to get a graphics card these days? The simple answer is that demand is just so high. Both Nvidia's latest graphics cards have received largely positive reviews in large part thanks to their considerable leap in performance from last generation cards, while keeping costs competitive. The same can be said with AMD's new RX 6000 series, which, while not quite as great value as Nvidia's offering in the uber-enthusiast tiers, still represent a huge leap forward. Affordable 4K gaming is within reach, and fancy features like ray tracing are showcasing what these GPUs are capable of. 

Combine this with a new console generation, and it makes everyone crave the latest shiny tech, especially for games like Cyberpunk 2077. 

Suppose you're looking for an RTX 3080, our best guess is that we probably won't see any reliable stock until late February or early March, as different manufacturers all over the world ramp up production for the new year. We've been seeing cheaper RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3070 models show up more frequently online (once or twice a week) but are often sold out only moments later, once the internet at large finds out about them. AMD cards are receiving a similar treatment, and are perhaps even harder to find. 

A stock update for an Asus graphics card from retailer B&H

(Image credit: BH)

There will be pockets of retailers opening up sales of RTX cards in batches only to see them sold out in seconds, mostly thanks to those reseller bots we mentioned earlier. It's frustrating to always feel just a beat too late to score a card. As much as we like these GPUs, we are still recommending against paying ridiculous mark-up prices that some sellers ask for online auction sites. 

A card going up on eBay for $60,000? Just don't do it. Even a far more reasonable price tag is still overpaying for already pricey gear. 

If you're still compelled to go the auction route, you shouldn't be paying more than 5% above asking for your maximum bid. As more and more cards show, it should drive down prices folks are asking for. 

So what can you do in the meantime? Websites like Newegg can notify you via email when out of stock or backordered items come back on sale, and hopefully, you're around to place the order. However, we've also gotten emails still reminding us that cards are out of stock, which is another level of heart-breaking. EVGA currently offers a queue-based notification system, which has seen success in getting cards out to customers. So make sure to cover all your bases.

You also might consider pulling the trigger on picking up a prebuilt gaming PC from numerous boutique PC builders, like Alienware or Velocity Micro, who seem to be the only businesses with GPUs in stock. We'll admit that this is an expensive way of securing a new graphics card, mainly if there's nothing wrong with your existing PC, but if you want the latest tech, it's an option.

Santa holding a list

(Image credit: Future)

I've also seen some success with retailers like Best Buy and Micro Center occasionally restocking in-store even when their online retail arms are sold out. This does require you to venture out into the world with the hope of snagging a card as they are stocking the shelves, though—a risky manoeuvre.

Just don't forget to be patient, and obviously don't take out any frustrations on retail workers as it's not their fault for the super high demand of these cards. There's no miracle internet life hack to guarantee success at procuring a new video card, but with some patience and a little bit of luck you should be able to secure a card as 2021 starts winding up.

Jorge Jimenez is a Hardware Writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, you can find Jorge streaming bad games with his dog or binge-watching an irresponsible amount of superhero TV shows.