Obtaining one of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards has been a challenge ever since they were released in September 2020. High demand, global chip shortages, and scalpers make getting any of the GeForce 30-series cards all but impossible at retail prices.
This problem won’t go away any time soon, as Nvidia warns that shortages may continue well into 2022. If you’re a PC gamer looking to upgrade to a new GeForce RTX card, you’re going to face frustration. Even if you find a RTX card in stock, we feel now is not the time to buy a new graphics card.
But you could do what I did and buy a pre-built PC.
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Before hardcore gaming PC builders rush to the comments, I’m fully aware of the aversion some in the PC gaming community have toward pre-built rigs. Some retailers sell them for exorbitant prices and may use low-quality parts. The bloatware that often comes with these rigs isn’t great either. There’s also the belief that one should build a PC for themselves to truly understand its inner workings.
Those are all valid points, but I’ve wanted to build a new PC since late last year and I was tired of waiting for GeForce RTX cards to become readily available. Ergo, my decision to purchase a pre-built PC to get a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.
Snagging an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti without breaking the bank
The initial spark for opting for a pre-built PC came when YouTube recommend a video from Linus Tech Tips where he reviewed a rig from Build Redux. My research revealed that Build Redux is a service offered by Digital Storm. In business since 2002, Digital Storm has a reputation for building high-quality PCs. Build Redux launched last year and has earned equal praise, especially from tech-focused YouTubers.
You can “build” your PC on Build Redux’s site. This involves choosing PCs starting at $1,419 all the way to $2,483 (there are three choices: Good, Better, Best). After selecting a number of games from a list, you’re then presented with your potential PC, along with a list of the parts it will have.
The $2,408 build it created for me was good but the GeForce RTX card it chose was the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080. A powerful GPU, but not what I wanted. The same was true of some of the other components.
I went into the customize menu and selected individual parts for the GPU, CPU, RAM, storage, and operating system. Selecting a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, Intel Core i7-10700K, 32GB DDR4 dual-channel RAM, 1TB NVMe M.2 + 2TB HDD, and Windows 10, I got a build that came to $2,901 before shipping and taxes were added.
No guilt over pre-built
Build Redux only charges $75 to build your PC. The low markup price, quality components, and praise from YouTube tech reviewers were almost enough for me to pull the trigger.
However, I wasn’t happy with the storage options. I had my heart set on a 2TB SSD and didn’t want a standard HDD. I held off on purchasing this PC to get feedback from some of my more tech-savvy friends.
One friend directed me to a company called NZXT. He said Build Redux was good, but that NZXT offers a wider range of PC components. The $99 markup is higher than Build Redux’s $75, but not by much. Building a PC on NZXT’s site isn’t inherently different from building one on Build Redux. The main point of departure is the wider range of available components, as my friend noted.
The NZXT rig ended up being $3,500. Taxes and shipping bumped it up to $3,900 (thank you, NYC taxes). Due to being in lockdown for so long and not spending money on traveling, the price wasn't out of my budget. I also wanted a PC that would last at least five years. I could stomach the expensive price tag.
Here is what's inside my new PC:
The GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (normally) retails for $1,199. The one in my rig cost $1,399. While that’s higher than MSRP, it’s far less than I would have paid a scalper. All the other components, such as the Intel Core i7-11700KF ($399) and Seagate FireCuda 520 2TB SSD ($399), were at or close to MSRP.
I should also note that my PC arrived a week after I ordered it. This was a nice surprise since NZXT said it would take 2-3 weeks (some people have had to wait months to get pre-build PC from all manner of retailers). I believe luck played a factor in my PC shipping so quickly, but that's not to say lightning couldn't strike twice and others could get lucky too.
The point of this article isn’t to convince you to buy a pre-built PC, nor is it a covert ad for NZXT. My primary goal was to discuss a viable option for obtaining a GeForce 30-series card. I also wanted to instill that one shouldn’t feel guilty for purchasing a pre-built PC.
While it’s arguably better to build your own rig, the difficulty of obtaining a graphics card makes buying a pre-built PC enticing. I don’t have a shred of remorse for the choice I made and you shouldn’t either if you go down a similar route.
Buying a pre-built PC isn't the worst idea in the world — heck, it might just be a great idea at the moment.