The 5 Top Strategies for Buying a Graphics Card in 2021 (Without Getting Gouged). How to get a gpu

To select one of them, you can monitor CPU temperature while gaming. If the temperature hits 55 degrees Celsius you’ll want to push the hot air out of the back of the case, but if you have a solid cooling system, using a non-reference cooler will keep your artwork running quieter.

How to Buy An Nvidia RTX 3000 Series GPU in 2021 (3060Ti, 3070, 3080 & 3090)

When it comes to buying a graphics card, 2021 is the best and worst of times.

The new Nvidia RTX 3000 series and AMD RX 6000 GPUs are some of the most exciting cards we’ve seen in generations. They offer tremendous gains in intergenerational performance and a huge leap in ray tracing and potential growth.

But thanks to a combination of a global semiconductor shortage and a huge interest in cards from both players and cryptocurrency miners, they are almost impossible to get hold of. Even if that is the case, you have to pay a huge premium for the price, no matter what model you choose. And if you dare to go aftermarket, the cost could be even higher.

The fact that it has been going on for months and looks like it will continue for the foreseeable future while the supply lines are rising and demand is stabilizing has left many players feeling depressed. If their current graphics card is already showing its age, or worse, kicking the bucket after many years of long use, how are they going to buy a new one? Is it better now to pay above the chances of something great, for the performance and features you want, or try to save some money and go for an older, still overpriced, used card instead?

It’s clear that getting the GPU in 2021 isn’t easy, but there are ways. In fact, if you want to upgrade to more than just your graphics card, there are ways to get all the next-gen performance you need without paying a huge premium for it.

Get Quick, Get Lucky, and Get Busy Waiting

Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU image with words

If you’re just looking for a graphics card, the best way to guarantee a good price is to buy direct from a reputable retailer. The downside to this, however, is that you will be competing with everyone else who tries to buy it.

This includes other games, cryptocurrency miners, scalpers, and bots that everyone is using to help them buy the card in front of you. It’s not uncommon for RTX 3000 and RX 6000 series cards to disappear from stock just seconds after they go on sale, so you need to be first and you need to be quick.

For that to happen, you can open GPU store pages to some of the most popular retailers who regularly receive drops in stocks of next-gen cards and refresh periodically. Though you do have to stick to it, as being late for the boat a few minutes may be enough to miss even the biggest arrival of new merchandise.

Stock Alert Services

There are inventory alert services such as NowInStock and Stock Informer that can help you spot when certain cards go on sale at different retailers. You can even set an alarm to go off when stock alerts are triggered.

There are also some dedicated hardware Twitter accounts worth keeping track of that provide their own inventory alerts. Alternatively, the Distil browser extension allows you to set up custom site change alerts which can be useful for keeping an eye on smaller sellers that some of the large inventory tracking services might not pick up on.

Stock Informer screenshot showing stock market results while searching for an Nvidia GTX 1080Ti graphics card

Retailer Lotteries

Some retailers even run sweepstakes to give casual customers a chance to buy cards before everyone else, so it might be a good idea to sign up for them – although you’ll be competing with potentially thousands of customers again.

Others run player certification programs that allow you to prove that you are not a scalper or a bot in various ways, which could also put you on the list for purchasing a card at some point if you are lucky.

The Option to Pre-Order

You can also consider pre-ordering the GPU from certain retailers. Keep in mind, though, that stock limits still apply, so even getting the option to pre-order a graphics card in 2021 isn’t easy. With so many models available, there is no guarantee that the selected model will be available again in the near future or at all.

You also usually have to pay up front in full, which is a hell of a liability for an expensive GPU that you may not get for a long time – some waiting times have been longer than six months. Some sellers even had to refund deposits for pre-orders where they weren’t able to fulfill orders at all, which could make you have to wait for a card that never arrives.

If this all sounds like too much luck, guesswork, and downtime with your thumbs up, there’s a much better way to guarantee a card at the right price and in no time…

The best graphics cards have been nearly impossible to find for almost a year, but things are starting to improve. Retailers’ inventories are improving, and while prices remain high, they are starting to decline. For those who have been waiting patiently – and don’t want to wait anymore – we’ll show you how to buy a graphics card.

Use Restock Notification Tools for Online Storefronts

You can’t buy a graphics card if you don’t know when it’s replenished, and some tools and channels can help you with that. It is easier for digital sellers to track inventory than in stationary stores, which we will get to in a moment. But actually, purchasing a new GPU using this method will require quite a bit of luck.

Of course, you can park on the product page of the graphics card at your favorite retailer and keep pressing F5 all day to refresh the browser. But it’s boring and ineffective. After all, each tab shows up on a separate page of the site, and you can’t keep track of, say, all the GeForce RTX 3070-based cards that a vendor has in their database all the time. These are some of the easiest ways to track an online retailer’s inventory without manually refreshing the website until you end up earning points (or snoring).

Discord and Telegram

Perhaps the easiest and least engaging way to monitor your online resources is to use Discord and Telegram. (For anyone who doesn’t know: Discord is basically Slack for gamers, and Telegram is a highly automated messaging service.) Fearless users of both services have set up various bots and communities with the goal of letting people know when a website seller finally has a card in stock graphic.

This method has several advantages: it is mostly passive, free, and completely legal. But there are also some downsides, the most important of which is the fact that any other person who uses these bots or joins these communities will also be looking for a new graphics card. Anyone who shop on Black Friday knows how quickly neighbors can become deadly rivals when the most coveted items are missing. (Our reporter Michael Kan, who experimented with bots and tried his best to buy an AMD Radeon card via conventional retailer stalking, ended up getting aces with a Discord Fixitfixitfixit Drops & Tech warning.)

YouTube and Twitch

The lack of graphics cards has led to the emergence of a new category of streamers: the supplement monitor. Several channels on YouTube and Twitch have started monitoring different websites to see when they are getting a new supply of GPUs. When they do, they play a sound so people who leave the channels running in the background know it’s time to switch cards and race other viewers through the erase process. Continue playing!

This method is fairly unobtrusive – all you have to do is listen for the replenishment chime – but it’s also less effective than using Discord or Telegram. These services can notify you on any device about GPU restocking; YouTube and Twitch channels are only useful on the device used to stream them. Anyone with a connection to metering should also be careful about the data that will be used to stream these videos around the clock.

Dedicated Inventory Trackers

Of course, you can always turn to the old reliable one instead of relying on those newfangled bots and servers and streaming channels. That’s right – it’s time to flash your email.

Services like CamelCamelCamel can automatically send you emails when the price of your graphics card drops (which is a core feature of the service) or reappears. People have been using these services for years to track items they want to buy online.

Unfortunately, this could be the worst way to try to find out about your new GPU’s inventory. CamelCamelCamel in particular is limited to Amazon, where replenished graphics cards sell out almost instantly, and you need to set up alerts on a per-product basis rather than checking for any modern graphics card. Other services such as and may host more storefronts or aggregate multiple versions of a given GPU on a single page, but restriction to a specific product is still quite common.

Keep Track of Inventory at Local Retailers

Physical storefronts have several advantages over their digital counterparts when it comes to finding an available graphics card. The basic one is limited competition. Anyone can shop on Amazon; not everyone can visit the local microcenter. (Pro tip: Micro Center, if you live where the chain has stores, is better than most retailers when it comes to nailing your GPU in person.) Why compete with cryptocurrency miners, scalpers, bots, and anyone else looking to buy a new one graphics card online can you find the same product on the store shelf?

Here are some tips for purchasing a new graphics card from your local electronics store:

Sometimes it works “nice”. Be polite to the store staff. They are not responsible for the chip shortage, they do not decide to replenish graphics cards, and in many cases have limited opportunities to help people get the products they want. But they will be more likely to use what they have to move around if you are kind to them than if you are rude. Practice the golden rule.

Please call to ask on which days of the week certain products are usually refilled. Stores often receive new shipments of certain types of equipment or equipment according to a predictable schedule. (Or at least as predictable as possible in the face of today’s global sourcing problems.) Picking up the phone, politely requesting a restocking of graphics cards, and scheduling a visit to that schedule can maximize your chances of getting your new GPU as-is it is on the shelves.

Use online tools to monitor your in-store inventory. Retailers often say they have the product in stock at a local store on their websites, and even if they don’t, services like BrickSeek can often find this information for you. These methods aren’t foolproof – we don’t think of any store whose inventory systems offer the latest updates – but they can be useful.

Overall, the GPU shortage in 2021 looks no better than in 2020 for most of the year. Nvidia has indicated that they believe the shortages could persist into at least the fourth quarter of 2021, if not 2022, and this is a similar story for AMD customers.

Method 2: Use a stock tracker

live tracking of your graphics card inventory.

If you want to get a new graphics card, you can use the inventory tracking tool. There are several inventory tracking tools available via YouTube Live Stream, Discord Servers, and Browser Extensions, but they all do the same thing: constantly check your graphics cards are available from retailers.

The fixitfixitfixit user has been broadcasting live on YouTube and Twitch for several months, and a Discord server is also connected to the broadcast. It tracks AMD and Nvidia graphics card inventory at Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy, and Antonline, as well as at several other retailers (including Office Depot and B&H Photo).

In addition, there are inventory tracking extensions such as Distill and HotStock that can check for you. Both have free and paid tiers depending on how often you want to check your sites and how many products you want to monitor. However, it is possible that sellers prohibit you from using these tools. Users are reporting closure of accounts at Newegg and Best Buy thanks to anti-bot measures at these retailers.

If you want to use this method, we recommend following your Twitter share tracking account. This way, you don’t have to constantly monitor the live stream or risk your account being blocked. Accounts like @stock_drops and @LeBlarstOfTimes send tweets when new cards are released. Keep an eye on these and similar accounts, and be sure to turn on tweet notifications. If you do, all you have to do is check when you get the notification.

Method 3: Buy a pre-built or a gaming laptop

Omen 30L desktop computer in front of the window.

If you need more than a graphics card or even a full system, you’re in luck. You can buy a ready-made gaming system or laptop at a reasonable price. Keep in mind that off-the-shelf systems are more expensive than buying individual components, so the final price reflects the high cost of graphics cards at the moment.

There are many options for pre-built desktops. HP, Dell, Origin PC, and Falcon Northwest top the list of the best gaming desktops, but there are dozens of manufacturers with tons of unique options. The benefit of using a pre-built computer is that you can customize your build beyond what you can conveniently do. There are options like the HP Omen 30L that include pre-made parts that are easy to upgrade, and machines like the Maingear Rush that include a custom water-cooling loop.

Another advantage of the pre-made card is that you can choose the card you want. Newegg Shuffle mainly includes Nvidia cards, while EVGA sells only Nvidia cards. Thanks to the ready-made version, you can also choose one of the latest AMD RDNA 2 graphics cards.

If you don’t need additional parts, you can buy ready-made, replace the graphics card and resell it as a unit. Or, you can unfold and sell everything individually. While getting rid of the extra parts is a hassle if you only need your graphics card, taking this route can save you some money depending on your system configuration.

The second option is a gaming laptop. The GPU price crisis really only affected full-size graphics cards. Popular gaming laptops with the latest mobile cards like the Razer Blade 14 are still priced in line with the rest of the laptop market. The obvious downside to this tour is that you can’t pull out the graphics card and put it in another computer, as well as the normal heat and noise issues that occur with most gaming laptops.

If you know how you can handle each of the above factors, you should have no problem finding the right graphics card for your computer. Spend some time in the forums reading about each card’s performance in your preferred games. Check out the benchmarking sites. Decide how much you want to pay.

Solution 2: Buy A Prebuilt PC

It may physically hurt for PC building enthusiasts (like us), but precompilation can be one of the best options these days. Companies like iBuyPower or CyberpowerPC buy their GPUs in bulk from vendors, so they are less affected by the GPU shortage and associated price increases, although it is still to be expected that some will emerge. This is a reversal of the norm – were it not for the lack of a GPU, buying a finished computer would be a little more expensive than building it yourself from the same / equivalent components.

If you are going to buy a prefabricated online gaming PC, we advise you to stick to specialized retailers such as iBuyPower or CyberpowerPC or possibly Origin. They offer the best performance for your money. Alienware and the like may look great, but tend to be overpriced for the components they ship with iBuyPower and Cyberpower should offer the best PC precompilations you can get on the market, both in terms of build quality and price.

Micro Center is almost the last major retailer of desktop hardware in the United States and remains relevant in helping deal with the GPU shortage. The way they do this is to lower GPU prices for those who buy a full PC from the Microcenter store. If you are buying a brand new computer and not just upgrading your existing computer, this is probably the safest way to save the biggest money. MicroCenter’s rebates in these situations tend to be about as close to the suggested retail price as possible. Just remember to call in advance and make sure that the microcenter you choose actually has the equipment you need in stock and is ready to discount it.

In addition to these PC gaming specialists, you can of course also buy ready-made gaming PCs straight from Amazon and Best Buy.

The alternative GPUs in the market you are using, listed below, should provide a rough equivalent (give or take ~ 10 percent more or less) to these GPUs on your system. Try to buy as late as possible to avoid GPU end-of-life and to get better support for the latest games.

Reference vs. Non-Reference Coolers

If you’re not a graphics card enthusiast, you’ve probably never heard of “reference” or “non-reference” coolers. Before we explain the difference, however, you need to understand how graphics cards are sold.

Manufacturers such as AMD and Nvidia make the cards themselves and sell them directly to consumers, but also sell them to other companies that modify and sell their own versions of the cards. The manufacturer’s cards are called “reference” cards and any modifications make them “non-reference.”

You may also see those cards sold under names such as Founder’s Edition. In the picture below you can see the Nvidia RTX 3070 Founders Edition (reference version) along with the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3070 (non-reference version).

One aspect that is frequently modified is the cooling system. Reference cooling systems typically have a single fan shifted to one side that sends hot air away from the back of the computer case.

Non-reference cooling systems are more likely to have two (or even three) fans mounted to blow hot air directly from the graphics card and into the computer case. This means that the computer’s cooling system will have a higher load to prevent overheating, but non-reference coolers are usually quieter and more effective.

To select one of them, you can monitor CPU temperature while gaming. If the temperature hits 55 degrees Celsius you’ll want to push the hot air out of the back of the case, but if you have a solid cooling system, using a non-reference cooler will keep your artwork running quieter.

Check Your GPU Compatibility

There is always a risk of compatibility issues with any graphics card. Common problems include things like the power source (input type, power requirement, etc.) and the size of the card itself (can it fit in the computer case?).

Your motherboard will require 16 PCIe slots and you will need to measure the distance from that slot to anything that may be interfering with your graphics card. Compare this to the length and width of the card (available online or from the manufacturer) and make sure you have a little more space around it.

You also need to find out if the card will need to be drawn from an external power source. Some low-end cards get enough power from the PCI port on the motherboard, but you should also plan to power up the card. If it needs more power, your power supply will have to use the appropriate cables or you will need to find an adapter.

You will also need to connect the GPU to the power supply. Most modern GPUs use either a six-pin or eight-pin connector, depending on their power requirements, although some very power-hungry devices may use multiple inputs. For example, the Nvidia RTX 3080 requires a 12-pin connector, while the AMD 6800 XT requires three eight-pin connectors, as does the enormous power consumption required for these graphics cards.

In addition, you need to make sure that the power supply is sufficient to keep everything on the computer working. Determining what PSU you need isn’t always obvious, so you should use an online power calculator to help streamline the process.

The EVGA queue system is more forgiving. Instead of a lottery, EVGA allows users to buy cards on a first come, first served basis as stocks become available. Unlike Newegg Shuffle and many other methods of purchasing a graphics card, EVGA sells its cards at a list price. Yes, you can buy the RTX 3080 for $ 699.

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The hard truth about graphics cards is that if you want the best performance, you’ll have to pay the highest price. And the highest performance cards are very expensive. You can easily pay up to $ 600, $ 800, or even $ 150,000 to get a world-class graphics setup.

The Scalper Problem

Market scalpers are another important factor contributing to this problem. Scalpers buy items close to the retail price and then resell them at huge margins on websites like eBay. Every time manufacturers replenish new cards in the retail market, many are immediately redeemed by scalpers and resold at multiple of their original price. Many modern scalpers have bots that track new GPU inventories and can make a purchase before a human opens the product page.

Some retail stores have tried to limit scalping behavior by enforcing inventory limits of one item per person. If you can, you may even want to check out a physical retail store instead, as they are less likely to have stocks and be affected by scalping.

What’s Next for GPUs?

According to The Verge, Nvidia has stated that GPU shortages are likely to continue throughout 2021. As of May 2021, Nvidia and AMD have only recently returned to pre-pandemic levels, and even then, demand is at its highest level.

If you want to build a PC soon, it makes sense to do a used market research rather than buying a new one. You can also use the slower, integrated GPU that comes with the chipset, such as the Intel UHD or AMD Radeon Vega, until you can purchase a dedicated GPU at the normal price. Lastly, if you have an older model, you can hold back on getting a high-end upgrade until prices normalize.

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Vanna Vincente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, focusing on translators targeting the average consumer. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce site. He has invested in internet culture, social media and the way people interact with the web.
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