How Nvidia got everyone to buy a $1,600 GPU |  Digital trends

How Nvidia got everyone to buy a $1,600 GPU | Digital trends

Nvidia’s RTX 4090 is extremely powerful, but at first glance it’s hard not to call it overpriced. Spending over $1,600 on a graphics card is a lot, especially considering you can build a full gaming PC for the same amount.

Of course, the flagship RTX 4090 only looks like a ripoff until you look at the $1,200 RTX 4080. Has Nvidia really managed to trick us into believing that a $1,600 GPU is a bargain?

Nvidia’s RTX 4090 is a beast with a scary price tag

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 graphics card.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

When Nvidia first launched its Ada Lovelace flagship, the RTX 4090, and the reviews started pouring in, it was clear that the GPU was a real beast. It is easily the best graphics card right now, and I dare say it will remain so until Nvidia finally drops an RTX 4090 Ti, or maybe even resurrects the Titan.

The RTX 4090 blows other graphics cards out of the water, no questions asked. According to our tests, it’s 68 per cent faster than the 3090 Ti in 4K gaming, it unlocks DLSS 3, and despite previous warnings and wild speculation, it’s somewhat power efficient. By today’s standards, that’s almost too good; so much so that he begs for a new AAA game to come out and enjoy it.

It also costs $1,600 for the Founders Edition, but you’ll find plenty of versions of the card on sale for $2,000 to $2,500.

Nvidia’s choice to price the RTX 4090 the way it did wasn’t the most popular decision it’s ever made. After a few years of GPU shortages, most of us are tired of having to pay outrageous prices for our PC hardware. Seeing Nvidia not only continue this trend, but also tell its customers that cheaper GPUs are a thing of the past, was disheartening.

Still, the RTX 4090 sold out and returned at scalping prices, with some eBay launch day sales reaching as high as $5,000. There was only one sale for $9,999, but it’s hard to believe it was a legit purchase.

The RTX 4080 doesn’t make much sense

Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 sits on a pink surface.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The madness of these prices had some of us looking forward to the (also overpriced) RTX 4080, with an MSRP (recommended price) of $1,200. Unfortunately, once the card arrived, the taste of excitement soured with a whole lot of disappointment.

Comparing the RTX 4090 to the RTX 4080 reveals a flaw in Nvidia’s pricing plan for this generation – the numbers just don’t add up.

If you look at the RTX 4080 alone, regardless of its price, it’s a very good graphics card. It dramatically outperforms all previous generation GPUs, including the RTX 3090 Ti.

RTX 4080 sales show us what gamers really think.

It’s also about 30% slower than the RTX 4090 while only being 25% cheaper, and that’s where things get tricky because, at MSRP, the RTX 4090 is a much better deal than the 4080 , although it is more expensive.

It offers much better performance per dollar, which has never been the case. Flagships were aimed at enthusiasts who weren’t trying to get the best deal; they just wanted the best performance. Step down from the top and the bargains begin, where the performance is still great but the price is less ridiculous.

That hasn’t been true in this generation, and sales of the RTX 4080 show us what Nvidia customers think.

Bad luck, scalpers

MSI RTX 4080 Suprim X installed on a PC.

Every time a new GPU drops, scalpers can be counted on to buy it in droves and then dump it on eBay with a huge profit margin. It was often the only way to get a graphics card during GPU shortages, when regular users faced stiff competition from scalpers and crypto miners during the brief periods when GPUs were actually in stock. .

Of course, scalpers have also tried their luck with the new Ada cards, and while they’ve had success with the 4090, it seems their success with the 4080 has been moderate at best so far. We really only have eBay sales data, but let’s see how those numbers compare.

Since the launch of the RTX 4090 on October 12, a total of 3,050 units have been sold through the US version of eBay, at an average price of $2,328.

Hardly worth reselling these cards right now.

Around the time the RTX 4080 launched (November 16), sales of the 4090 started to pick up and have seen a steady, albeit slow, increase ever since. Prices are now close to what they were at launch.

The RTX 4080 doesn’t fare so well. Only 281 units have been sold since Nov. 16, at an average price of $1,496. For scalpers, this means sales are just about enough to break even when factoring in shipping and fees. It’s barely worth reselling these cards right now, and with only 281 GPUs sold in 3 weeks, demand is scarce. The average sale price also tends to gradually decline since launch.

Nvidia’s flagship RTX 4090 is available at various online retailers, such as and , but cards priced close to MSRP are all sold out. Meanwhile, or near, and there are plenty of cards . Some models are only $50 less than the recommended list price of the 4090 – default, no scalper tax.

It almost feels like people prefer to buy the RTX 4090 instead.

Some retailers won’t even refund the RTX 4080

Three RTX 4080s sitting side by side.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

After looking at the eBay sales figures for both GPUs, I can tell you one thing: the RTX 4090 doesn’t seem to have slowed down just because the RTX 4080 was launched. On the contrary, he took advantage of the release.

While the RTX 4080 seems to be selling at a snail’s pace and scalpers are desperate to get rid of it, the 4090 is thriving and it’s still a snag at the MSRP. Considering the vast performance gap between the two, the 4090 is still a better deal if picked up at the recommended price of $1,600, pricey as that might be.

It seems Nvidia customers are aware of this if you look at the large number of 4080s that scalpers can’t seem to make a profit from. Newegg in fact made the 4080 non-refundableapparently because too many scalpers wanted to get rid of their cards.

NVIDIA 4080 Shipping Units:


NVIDIA 4090 Shipping Units:


Total RTX 40 shipping units:


NVIDIA’s 4090 was pretty much sold out at launch.

Retailers still have 4080 in stock. 😶‍🌫️😶‍🌫️

—Hassan Mujtaba (@hms1193) November 19, 2022

I’m almost sorry for these scalpers, but I’m not that benevolent. Talk about miscalculated risk.

Hassan Mujtaba of Wccftech claims that the 4080 was initially shipped in much smaller numbers than the 4090 – 30,000 units vs. 130,000. If this is true and the 4080 is still hanging around at MSRP then the community has really spoken – people just don’t want those decent but dubiously priced RTX 4080s. Might as well get an RTX 4090 if you’re spending that kind of money, assuming your budget can stretch that far.

Did Nvidia play itself or were we played?

The RTX 4090 sitting on a table.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

In short, the RTX 4080 seems to have done the 4090 a favor. It suddenly made an overpriced GPU appear much more desirable than it ever should have been.

Now the question is, was this Nvidia’s plan all along, or did it just overstate the enthusiasm people would have for the 4080?

Considering the fact that Nvidia plans to strategically reduce the MSRP of the RTX 4080 soon, it could be that it never intended the 4080 to serve as a crutch for 4090 sales.

Nvidia also has serious competitors on the horizon. AMD will soon launch the next-gen Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT, both of which are meant to rival the RTX 4080, but at more reasonable prices – $999 and $899, respectively.

With the upcoming price drop, the RTX 4080 might become a more attractive contender. For now, if you manage to spot the 4090 for $1,600, that’s a better deal, but only if you can use it. If you’re a casual gamer, save your money and get the 4080 without worrying about benchmarks and comparisons.

Personally, I’m still waiting for the 7900 XTX, and judging by the performance per dollar of the RTX 4080, I really have no regrets.

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