It’s not impossible! These five strategies can help you land the card you want. (We’re leaving sorcery, bribery, and outright robbery off the list. For now.)
Who knew it could be so hard to get major corporations just to take your money?
Buying a new graphics card has been tough for a while now. And in 2023 it sure isn’t easy, or for the faint of heart or wallet. Fab-capacity shortages for manufacturing cutting-edge silicon are roiling the tech industry. The resulting supply crunch has hit the graphics card world the hardest.
The result? It’s near-impossible for the average person to compete with cheap cryptocurrency miners and scalpers in the race to see who can buy the latest graphics cards the quickest. These days, new cards, sold in limited quantities, sell out in an eyeblink at launch. Soon after, some of those very same cards show up on eBay or Craigslist at multiples of their manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRPs). Existing cards, meanwhile, go out of stock almost as soon as fresh inventory is posted online or put on retail store shelves.These days, Sasquatch is easier to track down than one of these. (Photo: Zlata Ivleva)
Sure, there was a run on video cards in 2017-2018, triggered by the first crypto-mining craze. But it has relented, and buying a card before the COVID-19 pandemic began used to be as easy as a leisurely Amazon or Newegg order, or a field trip to your local Best Buy or Micro Center: Enter with a credit card, exit with a video card. No more!
The good news, though, is that it’s not impossible to land the card you want. Some enthusiasts have managed to upgrade their builds with the latest and greatest to purchase graphics tech despite these challenges. The bad news: It’s going to require more time than you might expect, a bit more savvy—and maybe even some fast action and sly moves.
Let’s run through our five top suggested strategies for buying a new graphics card in this, the most challenging of times for GPU shoppers, PC gamers, and content creators. Where to Buy a Graphics online 2023
1. Use Restock Notification Tools for Online Storefronts
You can’t buy a graphics card if you don’t know when it’s restocked, and some tools and channels can help you with that. Stock levels are easier to track for digital sellers than it is for brick-and-mortar stores, which we’ll get to in a minute. But actually buying a new GPU using this method will require a fair amount of luck.
Of course, you can park yourself on the product page of a given graphics card at your favorite reseller, and tap the F5 key, all day long, to refresh your browser. But that’s tedious and ineffective. After all, each card appears on a discrete page of a site, and not every seller makes it easy to keep track of, say, all the GeForce RTX 3070-based cards a seller has in its database, all the time. These are some of the easiest ways to keep track of an online retailer’s inventory without manually refreshing a web page until you finally score (or snore).
Discord and Telegram
Perhaps the simplest and lowest-commitment way of monitoring online inventory is to use Discord and Telegram. (For anyone who isn’t in the know: Discord is basically Slack for gamers, and Telegram is a highly automatable messaging service.) Intrepid users of both services have set up a variety of bots and communities dedicated to letting people know when a retailer’s website finally has graphics cards in stock.Monitoring a Discord channel can give you instant in-stock alerts. (Image: Discord)
This method has a few upsides: It’s mostly passive, it’s free, and it’s totally legitimate. But there are some downsides, too, the most important among them being the fact that every other person who uses these bots or joins these communities will also be looking for a new graphics card. Anyone who’s shopped on Black Friday knows how quickly neighbors can become deadly rivals when the most-desired items are in short supply. (Our reporter Michael Kan, who experimented with bots and tried his level best to buy an AMD Radeon card via conventional retailer-stalking, ultimately came up aces thanks to an alert from the Discord channel Fixitfixitfixit Drops & Tech.) Where to Buy a Graphics online 2023
YouTube and Twitch
The graphics card shortage has given rise to a new category of streamer: the restock monitor. Several channels on YouTube and Twitch have taken to monitoring various websites to see when they receive a new shipment of GPUs. When they do, they play a sound to let people who leave the channels running in the background know it’s time to switch tabs and race other viewers through the checkout process. Game on!
This method is fairly unobtrusive—all you have to do is listen up for the restock chime—but it’s also less effective than using Discord or Telegram. Those services can notify you on any device when a GPU has been restocked; the YouTube and Twitch channels are only useful on the device being used to stream them. Anyone with a metered connection should also be wary of the data that will get consumed to keep streaming these videos around the clock.
Dedicated Inventory Trackers
Of course, you could always turn to ol’ reliable instead of relying on these newfangled bots and servers and streaming channels. That’s right—it’s email’s time to shine.
Services like CamelCamelCamel can automatically email you when a graphics card’s price drops (which is the service’s primary function) or comes back in stock. People have been using these services for years to track items they want to buy online.The old standard (Image: CamelCamelCamel)
Unfortunately, this might be the worst method of trying to nail an in-stock notice on a new GPU. CamelCamelCamel, in particular, is limited to Amazon, where restocked graphics cards sell out almost instantly, and you have to set up alerts for individual products rather than checking for any modern graphics card. Other services, such as HotStock and NowInStock might support more storefronts or aggregate multiple versions of a given buy GPU onto a single page, but the restriction to a specific product is still pretty common.Tracking cards by the GPU they’re based on (Company: digitalcryto.com) Where to Buy a Graphics online 2023