With the launch of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 just over a month away, lots of people are evidently deciding to build new PCs or upgrade their existing machines. Nvidia's new line of high-performance, (relatively) low-price graphics cards are helping make that a popular option, but the limited availability is also a bummer for lots of would-be PC players. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang says he expects stock on the RTX 3080 and 3090 to remain limited through the rest of the year.
Tom's Hardware was tuned in for Huang's Q&A session today, following close on the heels of both new GPU launches. Both the 3080 ($799) and 3090 ($1,499) promise massive performance leaps over the similarly priced cards from Nvidia's last generation, as does the forthcoming 3070; the new Ampere architecture employed for the cards makes this possible, but the use of cutting-edge processes has also had people wondering if the stock shortages are due in part to poor yields on these new manufacturing methods. Huang says demand issues are to blame, not supply troubles:
The 3080 and 3090 have a demand issue, not a supply issue[...] the demand issue is much, much greater than we expected-and we expected really a lot. Retailers will tell you they have seen a phenomenon like this in over a decade of computing. It hearkens back to the old days of Windows 95 and Pentium when people were just out of their minds to buy this stuff.
Of course, that high demand has also seen some unscrupulous buyers getting in on the rush, leading to 3080s and 3090s listed on auction websites at high mark-ups. In Nvidia's case, the company promised that it would carefully review orders of RTX 3080 Founders Edition cards (which, like 3080s did at numerous retailers, sold out in an instant) in order to sort out scalpers and people who used bots to scoop the sale.
In at least a few cases, it seems like bots have also been turned against resellers of the RTX 3080. While that's nice for a little sense of karmic justice, it doesn't exactly help anyone who's trying to secure their new PC parts at the still-high MSRP.
With the launch of the $499 RTX 3070 later this month, we may see another repeat of the shortages that the more powerful cards have seen. The 3070 is supposed to match or outperform the most powerful card from Nvidia's previous generation, which cost over twice as much when it debuted. For that power—surely enough to run most recent games with ray tracing pretty well at 1080p or even higher—even Nvidia's move to delay the 3070's release and bulk up launch-day supply may not be enough to prevent another instantaneous "out of stock" scenario. We'll find out on Oct. 29.