Here at The Great Setup, we’re enthusiastic about PC building. Not only is it fun, but it can often offer a better value when compared to buying prebuilt PCs or investing in console gaming. Not to mention the ability and know-how to upgrade your system down the line and keep it running for much longer.
Unfortunately, there’s a GPU shortage in play that’s put our build updates on hold and rocked the world of PC building. Keep reading to learn what this GPU shortage is and what exactly you can do about it.
What is the GPU shortage?
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum can be “mined” and exchanged for goods, services...or even fiat currencies, like the US Dollar. For many consumers, the best way to go about mining cryptocurrency is by investing in a powerful GPU- in ideal circumstances, this will pay back your investment quickly and start making you a lot of money. Plus, you can play video games with it!
Anyways, the rising popularity of cryptocurrency mining has resulted in a GPU shortage. Hungry miners are buying mid-to-high end GPUs as soon as they become available, rapidly emptying stocks and driving up prices as far as 2x MSRP. Mining can often be torture for a GPU as well, running it at full capacity 24/7, often resulting these GPUs being burnt out much more quickly than they would in a normal gaming PC.
This has left PC builders in a difficult position. GPUs aren’t available, and when they are, they’re often hundreds of dollars more expensive than they should be.
So what do you do?
Solution 1: Buy Used, Last-Gen GPUs
One solution is to buy a used GPU of comparable power to what you’re looking for. This works best in the mid-range, where last-gen high-end GPUs will be rough equivalents.
Here’s some useful substitute GPUs:
- Substitute for GTX 1050 (Pay no more than $80): GTX 760, GTX 950, R9 270
- Substitute for GTX 1050 Ti (Pay no more than $110): GTX 760, GTX 770, R9 270X
- Substitute for GTX 1060 3GB (Pay no more than $200): GTX 780, GTX 780 Ti, R9 290, R9 290X
- Substitute for GTX 1060 6GB (Pay no more than $250): GTX 780 Ti, GTX 980, GTX 980 Ti, R9 390, R9 390X
These alternative GPUs on the used market should provide a rough equivalent (give or take ~5 percent more or less) to those GPUs in your system. Try to buy as recent as possible to avoid GPUs nearing the end of their life, and for better support in the most recent games.
You can find used GPUs on Craigslist and eBay. eBay will have higher prices, but will have better buyer protection. There’s also the Hardware Swap Subreddit.
MORE: Best Graphics Card Deals
Solution 2: Buy A Full PC From Microcenter
Micro Center is pretty much the last relevant brick-and-mortar PC hardware retailer, and they’re staying relevant by helping deal with the GPU shortage. The way they’re doing this is buy lowering their GPU prices...for those who are buying a full PC in-store at Microcenter. If you’re buying a brand new PC and aren’t just upgrading an existing PC, this is probably your safest bet for saving the most money. MicroCenter discounts in these situations seem to be about as close to MSRP as you’re going to get.
While this solution won’t offer the same convenience as ordering parts off Amazon or buying a whole prebuilt, it should save you money. Just be sure to call ahead and make sure that your Microcenter of choice actually has the hardware you need in stock and are willing to discount it.
Solution 3: Buy A Prebuilt PC From iBuyPower or CyberpowerPC
It may physically pain PC building enthusiasts (like ourselves) to say it, but prebuilts actually may be one of the best options right now. Companies like iBuyPower or CyberpowerPC buy their GPUs in bulk from manufacturers, so they aren’t actually affected by the GPU shortage and its associated price hikes. Were it not for the GPU shortage, it’d be a good bit more expensive to buy a prebuilt PC than to build it with the same/equivalent components yourself...but now that the GPU shortage is in play, buying prebuilt actually saves you money.
If you’re going to buy a prebuilt PC, however, stick with iBuyPower or CyberpowerPC. Maybe Origin. Everyone else is hot garbage, but most especially Alienware. iBuyPower and Cyberpower should offer the best PC prebuilts you can get on the market, from both a build quality and pricing standpoint. Alienware almost certainly will not.
Solution 4: Buy Direct From Nvidia
While AMD doesn’t seem to offer a way to buy directly from them, Nvidia does. When you buy from Nvidia, the cards will come at MSRP and be free of the insane markups that’re currently being seen on retailers like Amazon and Newegg. The issue is, you’ll need to subscribe to them for email notifications, and be ready to act quickly and order the GPUs when they become available, because you won’t be the only one waiting for them.
This solution, like the one below, requires patience. And, honestly, a little bit of luck unless you have the free time to wait by your phone for an email notification from Nvidia. With the GPU shortage as it is now, that’s unfortunately as good as it’s going to get for PC gaming enthusiasts.
Solution 5: Wait It Out
The last solution is arguably the most simple.
Just wait. This shortage isn’t going to last forever, especially if the cryptocurrencies it’s linked to start crashing. Bitcoin recently collapsed pretty badly, and the instability of this market could mean that a bubble is going to pop in the near future. While this shortage won’t last forever, the length of it is honestly anyone’s guess: it could be in a month or two, or it could be in the latter half of 2019. If you’re going to just wait it out, make sure you have the patience to do so- otherwise, just consider one of the other options on this list.