Looking for a New Graphics Card to Play the Latest Games? Here’s How to Track One Down

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Courtesy of GameStop
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For what seems like forever and a day, computer graphics cards have always been in high demand by PC gamers but also in short supply. No matter how much the industry braces for impact, hardware makers can’t seem to keep up with consumers’ appetite for these cards, which can cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. As a result, tracking down one of the best graphics cards is pretty damn difficult.

Take a stroll through any online retailer that sells computer components and you’re going to repeatedly see the same phrase in the graphics card section: Sold Out.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not available. On the contrary, retailers are constantly offering up whatever stock they have as they get it, resulting in flash sales where people scramble to get their hands on one of the best graphics cards before they sell out.

  

Why Are the Best Graphics Cards Constantly Sold Out?

Even though we’re used to gaming consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X being sold out for months after launch, it’s still pretty weird for something like a graphics card to be continually out of stock for close to a decade. While it may seem like gamers are the only people who have a need for a wildly overpowered graphics card, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • There are creatives, such as illustrators, animators, video editors, 3D artists and designers who require the power of the best graphics cards in their day-to-day work.
  • Likewise, physicists, scientists and engineers also have a great need for video cards as they can help with prototype modeling and complicated simulations.
  • PC makers also claim a large amount of the available GPU supply for their own pre-built Gaming PCs.
  • And finally, there are the Bitcoin miners, and they might be the biggest reason for the GPU squeeze over the last decade. It has always taken an insane amount of processing power to mine a single bitcoin to stick in your bitcoin wallet. As a result Bitcoin miners, along with other crypto miners, have taken to building their own custom mining rigs that are chock full of power and often contain multiple graphics cards.

With all of these different growing segments of computer users vying for the best graphics card they can get their hands on, it shouldn’t be a surprise that chip makers are struggling to keep up with demand. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

  

So Then, How Do I Actually Get My Hands On One of These?

OK, you’re at the point where you’re serious about buying one, huh? So here’s the deal: You basically have three main options for buying a new Graphics Card in 2021.

Option #1: Enter a lottery system from a retailer. Newegg is currently the main computer retailer who is offering a lottery for a handful of the best graphics cards. Dubbed the Newegg Shuffle, you can sign up for an advanced alert when a new event is upcoming and you can then enter your name for any of the products you are interested in. If you’re lucky enough to have your name drawn, you’ll be notified and given a set amount of time to complete the transaction. While this may not end with you getting the exact graphics card you want, beggars can’t be choosers at this point.

Option #2: Buy a pre-built gaming PC. As mentioned before, PC makers eat up a large amount of the GPU supply for their own machines. The quickest, easiest way to get a new RTX 3070 in your gamer cave is to just buy a whole new computer. Unlike individual GPUs, pre-built gaming PCs with the best graphics cards are readily available. Even better, brands such as Razer, Dell’s Alienware and HP’s Omen have a whole array of configurations, which means you can pretty much pick the exact GPU you’re looking for. While this may end with you spending more than you bargained for, there’s a pretty good chance you were already in the market for more than just one of the best graphics cards. And if you’re looking for top-shelf components, opting for a pre-built machine can be more cost-effective than building your own in many cases.

Option #3: Remain vigilant. We get it. You’re a hardcore gamer, so you’d never be caught dead with a pre-built gaming PC or gaming laptop. And you’re also not about to leave this all up to fate. In this case, if you want one of the best graphics cards, you’re going to have to grind through the pages of online retailers the same way you do a dungeon in Diablo. Retailers often give you the option to sign up for notifications when they’ve restocked the GPUs you’re looking for, and if you’re paying close attention, you might be able to beat everyone to the punch.

It’s also important not to give up after a few minutes. Retailers will often stagger the release of their drop over an hour so that people aren’t flooding the system all at once, and a sniper bot can’t buy up all the supply in one fell swoop. So if you aren’t offered the chance to check out right away, just keep refreshing. 

Furthermore, frequently running a Twitter search for a phrase such as “GPU restock” can potentially give you a head start on an upcoming sale if you manage to check at the right time. This definitely requires a bit of luck, but the more diligent you are, the greater your chances.

With all of this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the retailers who frequently have fresh batches of the best graphics cards, and who will give you the best chance of taking your gaming into the next generation.

  

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 might be the entry-level model of NVIDIA’s latest generation of GPUs, but that doesn’t mean its a slouch. If you’re not planning on doing heavy gaming in 4K or with ray tracing turned on, this card will have plenty of graphical power to handle your favorite games at 60 frames per second. And as a baseline, the price for a stock GeForce RTX 3060 starts at $329, third-party models can cost as much as $700 if they’re overclocked, have extra cooling components built-in or are the 3060 Ti variant (which is better equipped for 1440p gaming).

nvidia geforce rtx 3060 - best graphics cards Courtesy of GameStop

WHERE TO BUY

GameStop | BUY

B&H | BUY

Best Buy | BUY

Newegg | BUY

  

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is probably the graphics card that hits the sweetest spot between price and performance. For less than $500, the stock NVIDIA version of this graphics card is more than capable of 4K gaming. But it’s probably more realistic to expect to spend between $600 and $700 if you end up finding a third-party card that’s in stock. Still, this is an amazing value considering that the previous-gen RTX 2080 was the cheapest card that was truly capable of 4K gaming and it cost nearly $1200.

nvidia geforce rtx 3070 - best graphics cards Courtesy of Amazon

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon | BUY

GameStop | BUY

B&H | BUY

Best Buy | BUY

Newegg | BUY

  

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080

While the RTX 3070 is the best graphics card for most serious PC gamers, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 is the choice for people who are mostly going to play games in 4K resolution. Despite the jump in horsepower, the stock RTX 3080 only costs $699 if you’re lucky enough to find it. And while third-party options can cost more than $1200, chances are anyone considering the 3080 is not afraid to spend extra in the name of performance.

nvidia geforce rtx 3080 - best graphics cards Courtesy of Amazon

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon | BUY

GameStop | BUY

B&H | BUY

Best Buy | BUY

Newegg | BUY

  

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090

Costing more than most actual computers, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3090 is downright opulent when it comes to the best graphics cards. Sure, it’s capable of running games in 4K at high frame rates, and even games at 8K resolutions. But despite a jaw-dropping amount of power, most people probably won’t be able to take advantage of the RTX3090 unless they’re buying nothing but the best components for a new PC build. While the base RTX 3090 model will run you $1199, you can expect to pay upwards of $2400 if you’re really trying to buy one of these.

nvidia geforce rtx 3090 - best graphics cards Courtesy of Amazon

WHERE TO BUY

Amazon | BUY

GameStop | BUY

B&H | BUY

Best Buy | BUY

Newegg | BUY

  

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