The Struggle is Real
2020 was a difficult year for many reasons but the one thing that probably stands out for the gaming community is the difficulty in acquiring a high-end graphics card. Like a perfect storm, many factors have come into play to cause a shortage in the most popular GPUs on the market.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge increase in both the number of gamers and in the number of hours being played. And with more traditional entertainment options being unavailable, more discretionary income is being diverted to gaming hardware.
In addition to the increase in gaming, Bitcoin mining has also gained in popularity; a GPU or an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is needed for a mining operation. This added to the demand for GPUs.
Many of the cards were removed from the normal manufacturer-to-user pathway by bots grabbing spots on waiting lists and by thieves hijacking shipments of the coveted GPUs. This put more of the GPUs in the hands of aftermarket and black-market sellers.
The demand has far exceeded supply and manufacturers are finding it difficult to ramp up to meet it. The pandemic has affected the supply chain for the components required to manufacture the GPUs and related computer and gaming hardware. Even shipping is impacted with the COVID vaccine and related supplies taking top priority.
If you can manage to get your hands on a high-end GPU right now, the cost will probably be 2 – 3 times the MSRP.
To add insult to injury, the exemption from the tariffs that was previously granted to electronic parts coming from China expired on December 31, 2020. These tariffs will add 25% to the cost of GPUs being imported from China as of January 1, 2021. President Biden has no immediate plans to remove the tariffs imposed by former President Trump. He intends to make a full review of the United States’ trade relations with China and to consult with European and Asian allies prior to making any changes.