Nvidia expects crippling GPU shortages to continue throughout 2021

geforce rtx 3080 1Image: Brad Chacos/IDG

If you’re waiting for the crippling graphics card shortage to loosen up before buying new hardware, well, you might be waiting for a while. Nvidia says it expects GPU stock to remain constrained for the rest of 2021 (which probably helps explain why we won’t see an RTX 4080 this year).

“Overall demand remains very strong and continues to exceed supply while our channel inventories remain quite lean,” Nvidia chief financial officer Colette Kress said in a statement. “We expect demand to continue to exceed supply for much of this year. We believe we will have sufficient supply to support sequential growth beyond Q1.”

For people who don’t speak accountant-ese, demand exceeding supply means that more people want graphics cards than Nvidia can make and ship to retailers. There’s a long list of reasons why that’s the case, all summed up in our explainer on why graphics cards cost so much right now, but the bottom line is you shouldn’t expect the ludicrous prices to return to sanity anytime soon. You already can’t buy any of the GPUs on our list of the best graphics cards without paying substantial markups and/or buying from scalpers on resale sites like Ebay and Craigslist.

geforce rtx 3060 ti asus tuf 3 Brad Chacos/IDG

If Nvidia can’t supply enough GPUs, that means graphics card makers like Asus, EVGA, and MSI can’t make more third-party models either.

In the wake of this disclosure, it’s worth pointing out that Nvidia commands most of the gaming GPU market, so if it’s having trouble meeting demand, AMD’s rival Radeon cards aren’t likely to pick up the slack. In fact, retail checks largely show Radeon RX 6000-series graphics cards shipping in much lower quantities than RTX 30-series GPUs over recent months.

That last line from Kress’s statement offers a faint glimmer of hope, at least. If Nvidia indeed becomes able to “support sequential growth” going forward, that likely means the company can ship more GPUs than it has been. But that said, starting that sentence with “We believe” means this is not a foregone conclusion, and it’s worth pointing out that graphics card demand significantly outstrips supply right now. Some people who signed up on GeForce RTX 3080 waiting lists when the card debuted in September have yet to receive their hardware, and even second-hand two- or three-generations-old GPUs currently sell for more than they cost new all those years ago. It’s bad, y’all.

We’ll see how it goes. For now, graphics card-less gamers can get their fix by streaming games from the cloud via GeForce Now or Stadia, buying a new console (if you can find one—they’re in short supply, too), or playing less-intensive games on your CPU’s integrated graphics, if your CPU packs integrated graphics. (Most Ryzen processors and all Intel K-series chips lack iGPUs.) And once again, our explainer on why graphics cards cost so much right now can help you wrap your head around the full GPU crisis. This ain’t just about scalpers and Bitcoin miners.

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