Why Graphics Cards Are Even More Expensive in 2021


Nvidia and AMD’s high-end graphics cards were expensive in 2020 (if you could find them), but their prices are only going up. And you can thank the government for that.

As of December 31, 2020, GPUs and motherboards are now included in tariffs the Trump administration placed on Chinese imports. These PC components were previously exempt from said tariffs, but those exceptions expired at the end of 2020 and no extensions were applied. That means prices have been rising by as much as 25 percent for high-end GPUs—including Nvidia’s new RTX 3090, 3080, 3070, and 3060 Ti, and AMD’s RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT.

Nvidia and AMD’s latest GPUs were nearly impossible to buy in 2020 to begin with, as COVID-19 affected manufacturing and supply chains, leading to more limited products even available for purchase. And retailers would typically sell out in mere seconds every time they restocked, thanks to scalpers and cryptocurrency miners using bots to buy up as many graphics cards as possible.

The purchasing experience got bad enough that many retailers implemented anti-bot tactics like waitlists, more aggressive human verification systems, and strict limits on how many GPUs customers can purchase. However, these tariffs are only going to make the process more difficult—and expensive—if you’re lucky enough to score a card.

The tariffs don’t just affect GPUs, either; SSDs, CPUs, power supply units, and other PC components could all see price hikes between seven and 25 percent, depending on their price. As Tom’s Hardware notes, the increase on prices for these probably won’t be as severe as the increase to GPUs, but if you’re buying or building a new PC, or upgrading several pieces of an existing rig, you’ll definitely notice a difference.

Our best advice for anyone looking to build or upgrade their PC is to shop wisely and thoroughly. You can’t avoid the price hikes, but you don’t have to buy a scalped overpriced GPU on eBay or Facebook Marketplace just because they’re available.

Resources like VideoCardz.com, GPUBoss, Reddit (r/GPU, r/GraphicsCards, r/nvidia, r/amd), Google’s Shopping tab, and even Discord communities can help you compare specs and prices and find available stock. At some point, graphics card quantities will stabilize (we hope), and buying a new graphics card from a legit retailer at normal MSRP will be easier—even if the GPU costs more than what it did at launch.

It’s also possible new GPUs will launch that are cheaper, or drive down the price of the current high-end models. In fact, Nvidia has a press conference tomorrow and there are rumors that more GPUs will be announced. At the very least, having more models to choose from could improve your chances of buying the card you want. Until then, shop smart, but be prepared to pay a little extra because of politics; if you can wait it out until we can see what a Democrat-led government does about the tariffs, if anything, it might be worth your wallet to do so.

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