Buying a video card has been an exercise in futility for the last year, and don’t hold your breath for it to get better anytime soon. During a recent investor call, MSI chairman Joseph Hsu said the company expects the supply of video cards and other in-demand gaming components will continue to drop. MSI points to dropping shipments from both Nvidia and AMD as the primary culprit, and as a result, GPU prices could increase even before they get to the resellers who are charging an arm and a leg.
Currently, you’d be extremely lucky to find a GPU in stock at any reputable retailer. The listings available online are almost all resellers who have used bots and other sketchy methods to vacuum up the very limited supply. Then they’ll sell those cards for as much as double MSRP, and people will pay it. For example, if you wanted to pick up an RTX 3090 that should retail for around $700, you’ll probably have to pay about twice that. That’s if you can find one! Even scalpers are starting to come up dry.
MSI says that its 2020 sales rose by 30 to 50 percent compared with 2019. Although profits in the final quarter of the year were softer than expected, the company still saw its highest annual profits ever. The problem going forward is that 53 percent of MSI’s revenue comes from GPU sales. With shipments expected to continue dropping, MSI says it’ll probably have to charge more for each card. The situation is unlikely to improve in 2021. MSI has projected interest in GPUs, motherboards, and gaming notebooks will continue to rise at double-digit rates.
The shortage is the result of numerous interconnected events, all conspiring to make gaming hardware obscenely expensive. There’s the pandemic, which has made gaming a more attractive way to pass the time. The global disruptions stemming from COVID-19 also affected supply chains, leading to semiconductor shortages. Technically, it exacerbated a problem that already existed, but the results are the same.
At the same time, the increasing price of cryptocurrency has made GPU-based mining profitable again, prompting miners to scoop up many of the cards intended for gaming. Nvidia hopes its upcoming CMP cards will loosen demand a bit. These cards are specifically designed for crypto mining — they don’t even have video outputs. Nvidia also said CMP production would not further reduce its shipments of gaming cards, but it’s just not a great time to be a gamer.
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