You might have heard there’s a global semiconductor shortage going on, and that PC graphics cards in particular are nearly impossible to find. What you probably haven’t heard is that the situation has steadily been growing worse — to the point some GPUs are worth triple their MSRP.
Above, you’ll see a photo of two graphics cards, the $499 Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 and the $579 AMD Radeon RX 6800. In December, I calculated that the true street price of these cards had reached $819 and $841, respectively, or $1,660 for the pair.
That very same photo now contains $2,570 worth of GPUs. That’s not the asking price, mind you; people are actually paying over $1,200 on the open market, on average, for each of these graphics cards. And that isn’t even as bad as it gets.
This past week, I ran the PS5, Xbox Series X, and each of Nvidia’s and AMD’s new graphics cards through an open-source eBay scraper tool to figure out how much they’re worth on average over a seven-day period (big thanks to data analyst Michael Driscoll), then spent a handful of hours validating the results and weeding out fakes.
Frankly, I’m not sure which numbers are the most staggering here. Is it that the supposedly $329 RTX 3060 fetches over $800 on average, or that the RTX 3090 and 3080 are each worth $900 more than they were just three months ago? Or maybe is it that my own 3060 Ti, which I finally managed to snap up for its retail price of $399 after months of trying, could sell for $1,200 now?
I also looked at just how many of these items are actually getting sold on eBay, which can give you an idea of just how skewed the supply / demand equation is. For instance: over a seven-day period, eBay moved 5,284 PS5 consoles, and yet plenty of PS5s that were listed didn’t sell. PS5 scalping is becoming less profitable, eBay’s getting flooded, and things are slowing down.
Yet on the PC GPU side of things, it’s the opposite. Every single GPU seems to be selling unless they’re listed well above the average sale price, and there are precious few of them to go around — just 83 of AMD’s RX 6800 and 141 of Nvidia’s RTX 3060 Ti changed hands during the same seven-day period as far as I can tell. There’s nothing here to suggest scalping will slow anytime soon.
It doesn’t help that the actual retail prices of these graphics cards have been edging northward, too. Whether it’s a reaction to the Trump tariffs or a blatant attempt to get a piece of the action, the GPUs that I actually do briefly see for sale at Amazon, Best Buy, and the Neweggs of the world are often far, far above the prices that AMD and Nvidia suggest, like an $840 RTX 3070 or a $900 RX 6800. The average list price for a $329.99 RTX 3060 was $471 on launch day. And while Newegg’s raffle originally seemed like a potentially fair way to pay retail, it’s almost become a parody now:
And yet when that $330 video card that you buy for $540 might get scalped for $830, it’s hard to be surprised when MSI and Newegg decide they want to extract a couple hundred dollars of that for themselves.
The question, as always, is when AMD and Nvidia are going to be able to produce more than a trickle of new graphics cards to address this pent-up demand, and I’m afraid the tea leaves aren’t looking particularly good. AMD’s promise of making “significantly more GPUs available” and regularly refreshing stock at its own website haven’t made a meaningful dent so far. And while Nvidia previously warned that it might take until late April for things to turn around, Digitimes now says sources at graphics card manufacturers expect Nvidia’s 30-series GPUs to stay in short supply through the third quarter of 2021.