Editor's Note: As of September 2022 the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080, 4090 have been unveiled — here's what they'll cost.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards were released back in September of 2020. Unfortunately, they've long been difficult to procure at market prices (or find at all) due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage. Scalpers and bitcoin miners hoarding the GPUs have only made matters worse.
The proverbial tide has changed in recent months, however. Not only are RTX 30-series cards becoming more readily available, but they’re also selling closer to their original MSRP. GPUs like the beastly Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti recently saw prices drop by $1,000. The RTX 3080 saw a similar price drop, as did the RTX 3080 Ti. Because of that, you could argue that now is the best time to purchase an RTX 30-series card.
Or is it? The first Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series GPU is expected to arrive in late 2022. Codenamed “Lovelace,” the upcoming graphics card line is rumored to be vastly more powerful than the current Ampere line. If supposedly leaked specs are correct, the cards may offer a 150% performance increase over the RTX 30-series. Even if the rumors are off, Lovelace GPUs will no doubt be extremely powerful.
With the RTX 40-series GPU on the horizon, should you bother getting a now two-year-old Ampere graphics card? Let’s go over the pros and cons of buying an RTX 30-series right now.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series: Why you should buy now
The RTX 30-series is easier to find
If you peruse our Nvidia RTX 3080 restock page, you’ll see a wide range of available Ampere cards from a host of different vendors. Up until recently, following a link for a select card would have resulted in landing on a page for a sold-out product. That’s now the exception as Nvidia GPUs become more readily available.
Instead of constantly checking for restocks, you can simply visit a vendor's website and buy an Ampere card. It’s weird celebrating an act as common as buying an item, but if you’ve waited years for an RTX 30-series card, you’ll more than understand. Being able to purchase a card without a hassle is a huge deal for PC gamers nowadays.
Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs are now cheaper
Ampere GPUs have been overpriced for most of the line’s existence. But now that stock is becoming more available, we’re seeing Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs selling for MSRP. In some cases, the graphics cards are selling for less than their regular prices. At the time of writing, Newegg is selling the MSI Ventus GeForce RTX 3080 for $780, which is about $20 less than MSRP.
However, the vendor is offering a $30 rebate card, which you can use to purchase the graphics card for $750. Amazon is offering the MSI Gaming GeForce RTX 3080 for $929, which is less than its original $1,099 MSPR. If you want a GPU with more kick, you can get the RTX 3080 Ti for $979 at Amazon.
This is lower than its regular $1,199 and even a couple of hundred dollars less than I paid for the same card in my pre-built gaming rig – which I mainly purchased to secure that coveted GPU.
According to recent rumors, Nvidia will only release a single Lovelace card in 2022 – the RTX 4090. We don’t know how much that GPU will cost, but seeing how the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 was the priciest Ampere card before the RTX 3090 Ti dropped, it’s reasonable to assume the RTX 4090 will be the most expensive Lovelace card for a time. This is another reason to get an RTX 30-series right now.
RTX 30-series is more than enough for modern gaming
The global pandemic had an enormous impact on the video game industry, most notably in the form of countless game delays. While this has caused frustration for many gamers, there is a silver lining to this less-than-ideal situation.
Due to the gaming industry effectively being set back by at least two years, Ampere GPUs will be viable for longer. Even with RTX 40-series cards on the market, developers will continue making PC games optimized for the current Nvidia GPU line. Granted, developers don’t usually abandon previous-gen GPUs the instant new ones arrive, but given how the Ampere line is now more available, it’s easy to see it being the de facto Nvidia card for some time – at least until 8K gaming gains significant traction.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series: Why you should skip
If you absolutely must have the latest and greatest GPU available, then you’ll want to wait for the RTX-40 series to come out. This is especially true if even half the rumors about its supposed power are accurate.
While far from officially confirmed, the next-gen GeForce cards are tipped to use a 5-nanometer process produced by TSMC (an advance on the 8nm Samsung chips used on the current-gen Ampere generation cards).
According to what Wccftech calls “reliable leakers," the new hardware will likely pack a punch. There’s talk that the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 flagship card will come with 18,432 CUDA cores with a clock speed as high as 2.5GHz and 92 teraflops of compute performance. For comparison’s sake, the current top-end Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 card packs 10,752 CUDA cores, a 1.6GHz clock speed and around 37 teraflops of compute power.
If — and it’s a big ‘if’ — the leaked specs are correct, it looks like we’re set to see a performance increase of around 150%, as mentioned above. This sounds like a lot but is about what was seen between the GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 3090. Of course, real-world in-game performance is a different beast, and we'll have to see how that boosted performance affects actual gameplay.
Previous rumors suggested the RTX 40 series cards could consume as much as 1,200W of power. The latest rumor from Greymon55 suggests some cards may consume between 450W to 850W. Leaker Kopite7Kimi confirms these numbers.
Though there will be few upcoming games that push Lovelace cards to the limit, you’ll still enjoy better overall performance on existing games. And even if you spend a lot of money on a potentially expensive RTX 40-series GPU now, it’ll likely last you for at least half a decade.
If you’re willing to wait a little longer, a Lovelace card seems like a worthwhile investment – provided you can find one when the line eventually launches.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series: Should you buy right now?
Considering whether to buy or stick with an Nvidia RTX 30-series card or wait for the inevitable RTX 40 line ultimately comes down to your specific wants and needs.
Nvidia’s current-generation GPUs will remain viable for the next few years and will likely see further reduced pricing. The graphics cards will also be more than enough for future game releases. But for those who want to future-proof their rigs or simply have FOMO, then it might be worth it to wait for the more powerful RTX 40-series.