Opinion: The real reason the RTX 3080 is out of stock


The following article is solely my own opinion. I have no evidence to back up my claims other than my own experience and research that I have performed. 

I also want to make it clear that I do not blame companies for doing what I’m about to suggest they are doing. After all, they are businesses, and each one of them has brought us a great deal of joy over the years with their fantastic products. 

Long may it continue.

Ok, now that I’ve covered my butt with the above, let me cut the chase: 

The shortages that are plaguing the new RTX 3000 series cards, the RTX 3090, 3080, 3070, have been manufactured to shift old stock. 

That’s right. 

I believe that Nvidia has deliberately, and understandably from a business point of view, held back stock of its new cards in an effort to sell off as much of its 2000 series RTX cards as possible. 

Let’s take a look at why this might be the case. 

AMD changed the game

AMD hasn’t made a great high-end graphics card for years. 

It was only with the introduction of the RDNA architecture and the RX 5000 series did AMD even compete in the mid-tier graphics card market. 

Yet all that changed overnight. 

AMD announced their new RDNA 6000 series cards to the world and they matched or even beat Nvidia’s new RTX 3000 series. 

I think this took Nvidia by surprise. 

I think Nvidia was planning yet another incremental update with the RTX 3000 series. That is until AMD spoiled the party.

Nvidia responds to AMD 

Nvidia, for the first time in years, were surprised and found themselves playing catch up. 

Information is power at the end of the day, and companies like Nvidia know how important it is to keep one eye on the competition to avoid any surprises. 

Despite this, it seems Nvidia found out very late that AMD was going to release such a powerful GPU. I’m talking 6 months before AMD’s announcement. 

This wouldn’t give Nvidia significant time to adjust its products at an architectural level to compete more effectively.

Nvidia faced the prospect of, for the first time in years, not being the holder of the most powerful graphics cards on the market for a given price point. 

In an act of desperation in response to AMD’s RX 6000, I think Nvidia at the last minute forced an increase in clock speeds and power usage across its GPUs to increase game performance. 

One of the reasons I think this is the case is that early partner boards did not have the correct capacitors on board to regulate peak power correctly when the GPUs were clocked higher.

This was reported across multiple board makers such as EVGA and MSI. They just weren’t given the time to adjust to the sudden higher peak power consumption Nvidia had sprung on them at the last minute.

The problem was, board partners had finalized their 3000 series boards ready for the chips months in advance and had to scramble to redesign them. Or in some cases, release them as is, hope for the best, and claim any early problems were expected with such an advanced piece of tech.  

Massive increase in power

This AMD-forced hike in clock speed, when paired with the increase in RT and shader cores, meant that Nivida had a more powerful GPU than they originally intended to create. And it made the RTX 2000 cards look old by comparison. 

And this caused a problem: 

The new RTX 3000 series would make the RTX 2000 series obsolete overnight, shifting the power vs price ratio and making the RTX 2000 series card seem way overpriced. 

For example, the RTX 3070, at $469, offers the same compute and game performance as the RTX 2080 ti, which retails for a staggering $1500 dollars. 

A question would be quivering on Nvidia’s and their partner’s lips:

Why would anybody buy a $1500 RTX 2000 series card that we have in stock when you could buy a 3000 series card that is just as powerful for 1/3rd of the price.

A massive amount of old stock would go unsold, costing Nvidia’s partners tens of millions of dollars in the process.

Nvidia, in their haste to compete with AMD, shot themselves and their partners in the foot. 

Stuck with stock. 

Nvidia had two options: 

One, they could price the new graphics cards so high that their old GPUs still held value. 

So the RTX 3070, which is the same power as the RTX 2080 ti, would be priced roughly the same. 

You see this with phones like the Samsung folding phones. They are priced extremely high so they don’t disrupt well-established products. Companies want a slow transition away from the old toward the new, not sudden change that can disrupt their own position. 

But Nvidia couldn’t do that as AMD had disrupted the graphics card landscape for them. 

AMD were releasing cards that would be far cheaper, and be vastly more powerful than existing RTX 2000 series. 

AMD had forced a price vs performance shift which Nvidia had to match to compete. 

The other option:

The soft launch.

Nivida would wow the world with their new RTX 3000 GPUs and slacken the jaws of millions of nerds worldwide a month before AMD would show off their new GPUs. 

They’d grab mind share amongst gamers and establishing themselves as the premier GPU maker before AMD had a chance to respond. 

The new RTX 3000 series GPU’s were handed out to all the major websites, and all the major influencers on Youtube in an effort to get people buzzing for an upgrade. Especially given the situation with the pandemic. 

But along came the release date, and there was hardly any stock on the new RTX 3000 GPUs anywhere. There was a massive shortage.

Why would Nvidia do this? Surely they want to sell graphics cards! 

Of course they do. 

Just not these graphics cards. Not yet anyway. 

First, they want to appease partners by helping to shift old stock: RTX 2000 series stock. 

People just can’t wait.

Nvidia knew they had to help partners shift the old RTX 2000 series stock first before the new RTX 3000 series and AMD’s RX 6000 series devalued it. 

Additionally, the RTX 2000 series hadn’t been selling well anyway according to multiple income reports by Nivida. Partners were already frustrated. 

So to help shift the old stock Nvidia created an artificial shortage of the new RTX 3000 series cards. 

Nvidia knew that once they had primed people about the idea of buying a new super powerful graphics card consumers would be desperate to buy. 

Being so close to Christmas, and with the current pandemic making people stay in, we’ve never needed games more. 

So people, desperate to upgrade after seeing the RTX 3000 launch, would wait for stock, then wait some more, and then eventually give in to their desires and buy an RTX 2000 series GPU instead. Even though they knew they would be buying an inferior product.

That’s if they weren’t already convinced by the news Nvidia was planting everywhere convincing people that stock would be low even before the GPUs were launched. 

Think about it: wouldn’t you think a multi-billion dollar company like Nvidia could predict demand would be high months in advance and so ramp up production, similar to what Sony and Microsoft are doing for next-gen consoles?  

I personally think so considering that’s the business they are in. But no, Nvidia wanted the shortage. 

Nvidia, and all good companies know, that once people decide they want something, such as a new GPU upgrade, they will tell themselves anything to convince themselves to buy sooner rather than later. 

Most people will, for whatever odd reason, pay more for an inferior product so long as they can have it now instead of later. 

People will even tell themselves stories to convince themselves they are making the right choice. You’ve probably heard of a few of them: 

  • Life’s too short
  • There won’t be stock for months and months
  • I bet the new graphics cards aren’t actually as powerful as Nvidia say 
  • But it’s Christmas and I wanted a new GPU for the holiday 
  • I’ve got the money so why not 
  • I was going to get this one originally anyway
  • I couldn’t disappoint the kids 

And that’s just a few of the lies we will tell ourselves to reason with ourselves that spending more on an inferior product now is better than buying a better product later. And Nivida knows we do this.  

We in many ways have created the shortage we seek to avoid because of our human nature. 

So over time, one-by-one, people run out of patience and buy an old RTX card instead, slowly whittling down the RTX 2000 series until stock is nearly gone.

I would say that this shortage will continue until after Christmas. That way parents can throw their money at prebuilt and now outdated RTX 2000 series systems. People with Christmas cash burning a hole in their pockets in January will give in and buy an RTX 2000 series card instead of waiting. 

After all, life is too short to wait, right?

And then, in February or March, when RTX 2000 series stock is starting to dwindle. Deep discounts on the remaining RTX 2000 cards will flood the market in an effort to shift the last remaining stock. 

So all Nvidia’s partners have been given the time to sell as much of their old stock: everybody has made money, everybody is happy. 

Except for the average consumer who has just spent more money on less powerful cards. 

What can I do about it?

So what can you and I, the consumer, do about it? 

Well, you can wait. 

Make do with the graphics card you have got right now if you can. 

And, instead of playing Nvidia’s low stock game, wait for AMD to bring their RX 6000 series cards out and buy one of them. 

I would bet that there will not be as big a shortage of AMDs cards as they are desperate to sell them and claw back market share at the high-end. 

Just a quick reminder that this is my own opinion. In a few months, everything I’ve said above could be proven to be utter rubbish. It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been wrong. 

Ask my cat: every time I refuse to give her more cream, I’m apparently wrong. 

Also, If you think I’m wrong or talking complete rubbish, let me know in the comments. I’ll be sure to update this article as new info arises or just to update it to say I was talking nonsense.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

13 thoughts on “Opinion: The real reason the RTX 3080 is out of stock

    1. Hi SkillCraft20. Thanks for the comment. I think most businesses work this way. Nvidia wouldn’t want to upset important partners by tying up capital in unsellable stock. So by limiting stock in the new 3000 series, they get massive exposure, knowing that people will be desperate to buy, won’t be able to hold out, and will dump their cash on an older graphics card. All because they “want” one now.

  1. What you are saying makes a lot of sense , i dont understand one thing though , how does this explain the shortage of amd cards?

    1. Hi Archangel. First of all, thank you for posting a comment! Really appreciated. This article was written before the AMD cards were released. However, I still think what the article describes is what Nvidia are doing. For example, in the UK, you can’t buy any RTX 2000 series cards anywhere now because all the stock has been sold over Christmas. So hyping the market with the RTX 3000 had the desired effect of making people desperate to upgrade for Christmas, as settling on a 2000 series card. Thus shifting old stock.

      As for AMD, I think that they have had trouble making both CPUs and GPUs because of the massive demand for Xbox Series X/S and PS5. They just can’t get the fab time with TSMC to make the chips. But it does have the convenient knock-on effect of letting AMD sell off the old stock of ZEN 2 chips, RX 500 cards and RX 5000 cards.

      Also, remember, covid has changed the world. It’s making businesses desperate. They will protect themselves and their business partners. And if that means holding back stock and manipulating the masses to ensure old stock sells profitably first, they will.

      Just keep in mind this is my own opinion, based on my own experience though.

  2. My only point on contention with this theory is that Nvidia would have to know that delaying shipping stock of their 3000 series would give AMD time to build stock of their own new cards. When Nvidia finally depleted stocks of the 2000 series and was ready to release the flood of their new cards, AMD would have already had their new “Nvidia-killer” in the market.

    So unless Nvidia knew for a fact that AMD would suffer from supply issues, or purposely delay their own new cards just like they had done to move old stock, why would they risk ceding the top-tier of the gpu market to AMD, even for a year, hype and bragging rights being as important as they are to tech manufacturers?

    1. Hi Cauthon. Thanks for the incredible post. A real thought provoker!

      I totally get what you are saying. and you make some great points. My argument is not water-tight (not by a long shot) and was mainly my own ideas for what I thought was happening at the time.

      However, what I would say is it would be very easy for Nvidia to learn if AMD is having stock issues. In fact, it would make sense the AMD would absolutely have stock issues.

      Why?

      Because they knew that TSMC, the maker of AMD’s GPUs and CPUs, would be tied up making millions of PS5s and Xbox Series X and S consoles.

      Nivida could easily plant a corporate spy in the ranks of AMD and learn this information. I know corporate spying sounds like something out of Cyberpunk 2077. But these are multi-billion dollar companies with only a handful of true competitors. Wouldn’t you, if you had billions of dollars on the line, try and gather as much intel about your “enemy” as possible?

      I know I would. So Nvidia would have all the information they need.

      And there’s another, though more far fetched possibility: Nvidia and AMD colluded. They worked together to manipulate the GPU market. I’m not saying this actually has happened. But with only 2 big players in this space, it’s not beyond the relms of possibility that AMD and Nvidia have worked together.

      I can imagine a rep from AMD calling the rep and Nvidia and saying, “look, we are gonna be tied up for 6 months with PS5/Xbox production, and you’ve got loads of old 2000 series Stock. Why don’t we do a soft release of our GPUS, build some hype, but hold off on a true release? That way, you get to shift all your old stock and keep partners happy, and it gives us time to fulfill our contracts with Sony. Oh, and we’d be happy to share some tech/slip you some cash to sweeten the deal.”

      Just remember big businesses will do anything to take as much cash from our pockets as they can, within the bounds of the law. They are not our friends, they do not care about us. All they care about is that we keep on buying their stuff. They’ll do anything to keep us doing that. They would sell us terds if they could get away with it.

      Just keep in mind these are my own thoughts and I have no evidence to back them up. And, again, thanks for the great comment.

  3. I’m looking everywhere and can’t find a 20 series in Southeast Asia (where they should be plentiful). So I’m not so sure about this ‘overstock’ hypothesis.

    1. Hi Barry. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      I wrote the article back in 2020 just before Christmas. Back then there were plenty of 2000 series GPUs floating around in the UK but their price, even on the secondary market had jumped far beyond RRP.

      By now all the cards would be sold out as no more are being made. It’s just a matter of waiting now for 3000 GPU to circulate throughout the world.

      Thanks for the info on the Asian market. The readers and I appreciate the heads up. 🙂

  4. I dont think this is true, because there is simply NO 2000 series cards to be bought from any distributor in whole of europe. There is not even one 1660 super available on any distributor. Everything is sold out. Only 1650 are available.

    1. Hi Hans. Thanks for the response and for adding to the discussion.

      I think I wrote the article back in December 2020, or around there. So it’s a little behind the times now.

      At the time, there were still loads of RTX 2000 cards available to buy. And, in many ways, Nvidia succeeded in selling all that stock by holding back the RTX 3000 series.

      However, the continued shortages point toward another more likely reason for the shortage: Every tech company needs lots of chips made and there isn’t enough fab time to get them all made quick enough to fulfill demand.

      However, my theory was fun whilst it lasted.

      Anyway, thanks again for the comment.

      All the very best and stay safe.

  5. Hi everyone, I’d like to briefly bring up the supposed issue with the caps. Speaking as an IC design engineer this seems very simple and straight forward. There’s no hidden agenda or other motive… the partner card design teams simply messed up.

    First, let’s discuss the first order purposes of the caps.

    MLCC capacitors (ceramics of several varieties) are great for high-frequency applications, and along with offering a charge reservoir for at-speed current they also offer a path to ground for noise sources. Ceramic caps are essentially zero resistance at low frequency but may have some R roll in at very high frequency. They are also one choice for AC coupling use.

    POSCAPS… Tantalum capacitors have a series resistance. This R is typically small (1 to 10 ohms) which makes them usable for low-frequency decoupling… They support step changes in current so the power supply doesn’t droop too far. They may not be better, but their cap density is very nice. The ESR dips as frequency goes up (to a point). As with electrolytic caps you wouldn’t use a tantalum for AC coupling. Lastly, tantalum stock can sometimes be hard to get.

    But there’s another issue that is rarely discussed. Tantalum caps are often specified specifically for their series R. They can provide a needed zero for loop stabilization of regulators and other closed loop circuits (we don’t want an oscillator). Tantalums are expensive and can look inferior if one doesn’t look at them in-circuit, so designers who aren’t fully educated on the product may put down ceramics instead. Another patxh I’ve seen is to place a small R in series with a ceramic to emulate a tantalum… Which kind of works. As noted above, the ESR decreases with increased frequency, so an R with a ceramic C isn’t the same. Now the designer needs to place at least 1 additional (and likely 2) to more closely mimic tantalum behavior.

    I’d bet NVidia was clear about the cap need, and purchasing and/or the design team for the card vendors modified the design to hit a price target. This was a design mistake because engineering management didn’t stand up for themselves. I really hope they didn’t simply go along with it and have learned their lesson for future cards.

    1. Hi Brad. Amazing comment. Thank you so much for posting it.

      I must admit that much of what you wrote went so far over my head I’d have to hire rocket for the day to catch it.

      It’s wonderful to read something like this that is clearly written by somebody who knows a great deal about the technicalities of graphics cards and has a passion for it. You should start a website Brad. Or write an article or two for this one!

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