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

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

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