Where to buy an Nvidia or AMD graphics card, the most highly sought-after products in PC gaming right now

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nvidia 30 series rtx
Nvidia’s RTX 30 series graphics cards launched in September 2020, but they’ve been nearly impossible to find in stores.

  • New Nvidia and AMD graphics cards have driven a PC gaming boom amid an international chip shortage.
  • RTX 30 and RX 6000 series cards are made at a variety of price points and performance levels.
  • Buying an RTX 30 or RX 6000 series card is incredibly difficult but it’s important not to overpay.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The computer graphics cards designed by Nvidia and AMD serve as the heart of a gaming PC, with cards at a wide range of prices offering increasing levels of image quality and rendering speed.

As home-built gaming computers become more common, demand for individually sold graphics cards has spiked dramatically, leaving most stores out of stock on a day-to-day basis. Just a few retailers, like Microcenter, Best Buy, and Newegg, have advertised restocks. Manufacturer EVGA offers direct sales of the latest graphics cards, but the constant demand has created a lengthy waitlist for potential buyers.

International tariffs and resellers on eBay and Amazon have also led to graphics cards being sold way above their suggested retail price. Prices can increase if the manufacturer makes changes to the base card design too, like adding special lighting or an extra cooling fan.

To help you make the best graphics card purchase without overpaying, we’ve broken down the ins and outs of Nvidia’s RTX 30 and AMD’s RX 6000 series products. That said, it’s important to remember that stock remains hard to come by for all the models we’ve listed, so prices above MSRP are likely unavoidable for the time being.

The starting prices we’ve listed are for reference so you can decide whether any higher prices you may come across are worth the premium. We’ll update this page with more buying options and restock alerts as they’re announced.

Nvidia RTX 30 series graphics cards

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8GB GDDR6 PCI Express 4.0 Graphics Card
Nvidia’s RTX 3060ti graphics card.

Nvidia has described the demand for its latest series of RTX 30 graphics cards as “unprecedented.” Seven different cards have joined the RTX 30 line since September 2020, with recommended prices ranging from $329 to $1,500.

Priced at about $700, the RTX 3080 is an ideal choice for most people that will meet the needs of all but the most hardcore PC gaming enthusiasts. The $400 RTX 3060 Ti is a perfect pick for midrange and budget PCs, delivering excellent performance at 1080p, but struggling when pushed to 4K.

Nvidia graphics cards also have excellent software features and developer support that can benefit gamers who stream or record their gameplay for YouTube and Twitch. Nvidia’s exclusive DLSS software helps improve performance in certain games by using artificial intelligence to upscale visuals.

Nvidia graphics card

Starting price

Target resolution and refresh rate

RTX 3060

$329

1080p/60hz

RTX 3060 Ti

$399

1080p/144hz

RTX 3070

$499

1440p/60hz

RTX 3070 Ti

$599

1440p/144hz

RTX 3080

$699

1440p/144hz or 4K/60hz

RTX 3080 Ti

$1,199

4K/144hz

RTX 3090

$1,500

4K/144hz

AMD Radeon RX 6000 series graphics cards

AMD RX 6800XT graphics cad
The AMD RX 6800XT was released in November 2020.

AMD’s graphics cards aren’t quite as popular as Nvidia’s, but they boast plenty of power and are generally less expensive than their RTX counterparts. AMD cards get an additional performance boost when paired with AMD processors, which compete with Intel as the most popular gaming CPUs, and are generally more cost effective.

At $649 AMD Radeon 6800XT offers comparable performance to the RTX 3080 for $50 less, while the $579 AMD RX 6800 is a parallel to the $599 RTX 3070ti. The $999 Radeon RX 6900XT outperforms the $1,500 RTX 3090 in some games, but AMD’s cards struggle with some newer features, like ray traced lighting and AI-powered resolution scaling.

Certain newly released games with those features will likely run slightly better on Nvidia hardware until AMD develops its own solutions to boost performance. On the other hand, some popular titles like “Borderlands 3” run better on AMD devices, so the performance differences will vary depending on your choice of games.

AMD graphics card

Starting price

Target resolution and refresh rate

Radeon RX 6700XT

$479

1440p/60hz

Radeon RX 6800

$579

1440p/60hz

Radeon RX 6800XT

$649

1440p/144hz or 4K/60hz

Radeon RX 6900XT

$999

4K/60hz

Where to buy an Nvidia or AMD graphics card

Recommended retailers for an Nvidia or AMD graphics card include Microcenter, Best Buy, Newegg, and Amazon (Nvidia, AMD). Unfortunately, inventory remains sold out at most store, but restocks occur from time to time. AMD also sell units from its own online store, and Nvidia has a tool for checking stock at other retailers.

If you’re on the hunt for an Nvidia or AMD graphics card we recommend checking these landing pages on a regular basis:

Manufacturer EVGA is also offering a virtual waitlist via its website, so you can choose to be contacted by email when stock is available. However, the EVGA waitlist is months long, and the RTX 3080 and RTX 3060ti are in especially high demand.

How to shop for a graphics card

New graphics cards are incredibly hard to buy right now due to an international chip shortage that began in 2020. Resellers are charging far more than retail price on eBay and Amazon and even older cards are selling for above market rate. Given the current market situation it may be more affordable to shop for a pre-built gaming PC or laptop, rather than buying a graphics card separately and building your own.

Prices for the same cards can vary between manufacturers, with upgrades like extra cooling fans or RGB lighting increasing the cost. Graphics cards shipped were also impacted by a US tariff increase that arrived in early 2021, leading manufacturers to increase their prices by $70 to $300 more than what RTX 30 series and AMD 6000 series cards originally sold for in fall 2020.

What to know before buying a graphics card

The graphics card might be the most important part of building a gaming PC, as it will likely determine your computer’s peak performance. However, the more you spend on a graphics card, the more you’ll need to spend on other parts to make sure you’re not limiting its potential.

Even a $1,500 graphics card like the RTX 3090 can struggle if paired with an old processor or motherboard, so be sure to make sure the components in your PC are all modern and compatible before spending most of your budget on a graphics card.

Specifically, you should make sure your power supply can deliver requirements for your card of choice, and you should see if your motherboard supports PCI 4.0. A weak CPU can create a bottleneck that limits the overall speed of your gaming computer too, so don’t overspend on your graphics card if you can’t upgrade your CPU to a similar quality.

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How to change the refresh rate on your monitor for smoother-looking videos and gameplay

gaming on computer
A high refresh rate on a monitor is especially important for gaming, which requires an on-screen image to rapidly refresh.

  • A monitor’s refresh rate measures how frequently the on-screen image is updated.
  • You can change the refresh rate on your monitor through your display settings, though it may be limited by the monitor, graphics card, and screen resolution.
  • A typical refresh rate is 60Hz; slower refresh rates can look jittery, while higher refresh rates are desirable for gaming.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Your display’s refresh rate is a measure of how frequently the on-screen image is updated. Refresh rate is measured in hertz (Hz), which indicates the number of times per second something occurs. So a 60Hz display is one that has a refresh rate of 60 times per second.

Understanding monitor refresh rates

Most people don’t need to worry much about refresh rate, especially when using a computer for ordinary productivity applications. That’s because computer displays typically have a refresh rate of 60Hz – that’s the default for many monitors – and that value is perfectly adequate almost all the time. It’s fast enough that there’s no obvious blurring or “image tearing” when there’s on-screen motion. Below this value – 30 Hz, for example – you might see some stuttering or jitteriness when things are moving on the screen.

Higher refresh rates are of interest to gamers, though. Because many video games rely on fast-moving visuals, many computer displays are optimized for gaming with very high refresh rates – 144Hz, 240Hz, and even 360Hz. For gaming, the higher the refresh rate the better.

There’s also a relationship between screen resolution and refresh rate. Because a computer only has so much bandwidth for the display, you might find that at higher resolutions, your display can’t run at its maximum refresh rate. If you are adjusting these settings, you might need to make a choice between, for example, an HD (1920×1080) display at 144Hz or a 4K (3840×2160) resolution at 60Hz.

Depending on your monitor or laptop display, you might be able to adjust the refresh rate. Some displays aren’t running at their highest refresh rate by default, for example, and it’s adjustable in the system settings. If you try to increase the refresh rate but it won’t go as high as you think the monitor is designed to go, you might need to lower the resolution to make a higher value become available.

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What is overclocking? How to boost your PC’s speed and power by changing its CPU settings

Gaming PC
An overclocked computer can run more intensive programs than usual.

  • Overclocking is the process of forcing your computer to run faster than it’s intended to go.
  • You can overclock both your CPU and graphics card, which can help you run advanced programs on an older PC.
  • Although overclocking is largely safe, it’s possible to run into overheating and crashing issues.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Overclocking a component in your computer – usually the CPU, and occasionally the graphics card – makes your computer run faster than it was originally intended. This lets you improve your computer’s performance without spending money to upgrade or enhance your PC. 

Not every computer can be overclocked, and there are some risks associated with overclocking as well. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is overclocking?

Different computer processor chips run at different speeds – this is known at their “clock speed.” A higher clock speed means a CPU can run more operations per second, and thus run your computer faster.

But even processors with different speeds are all made on the same assembly line. It’s only after the processors are built that companies test them for defects, take out the more defective ones, and manually “throttle down” those chips to make them run slower in a computer.

pc build motherboard cpu
Not all CPUs can safely run at the same speed.

That means that in theory, even these slower chips can run at faster speeds if you want them to – that’s how they were built, after all. This is where overclocking comes in.

Overclocking lets you undo the throttling and run that slower chip at a faster speed, as if it were a less defective model.

To do this, you need to increase the processor’s “multiplier,” which can be found in your computer’s UEFI or BIOS menu, causing the chip’s clock speed to increase.

The pros and cons of overclocking

Overclocking is incredibly popular among computer enthusiasts, gamers, and anyone who regularly needs to run programs that take a lot of CPU power. This can include graphic design apps, 3D modeling programs, and more. Done right, it can increase your computer’s performance essentially for free.

When you join discussions about building computers or buying graphics cards, you’ll often find people talking about how easily their computers can be overclocked. Buying a less expensive graphics card that can be overclocked can save money, while still ensuring excellent performance.

In recent years, however, there’s been some evidence that overclocking isn’t as useful as it used to be. Modern CPUs already run so fast that overclocking can have little effect. And more important, improving your processor performance can be useless if the rest of your computer isn’t fast enough to keep up. This is called “bottlenecking.” 

For example, if you have a slow hard disk drive (HDD), overclocking your CPU can’t make it run faster. Likewise, programs that use your graphics card more than the CPU won’t be helped by an overclocked CPU.

What is overclocking 2
Your CPU will need enhanced cooling if you plan to run it at a higher clock speed.

Overclocking comes with some inherent risks. Companies don’t throttle down processor chips for fun – they do it because the chip has defects, and running it too fast can cause your computer glitches.

Too much overclocking can lead to instability and crashing apps, as well as the occasional Blue Screen of Death. Frequent crashes can cause data loss and frustration. In some cases, overclocking can even damage your CPU or graphics card permanently. 

You need to weigh the sometimes-marginal performance improvements that come from overclocking against these risks. 

How to overclock your processor

If you want to overclock your computer, first assess if your processor supports overclocking – not all do. 

Intel adds an “K” or an “X” to the model numbers of the Intel Core CPUs that can be overclocked. For example, the Intel Core i9-10900K can be overclocked; the Intel Core i9-10900F cannot.

If you have an AMD CPU, the news is better – any “Ryzen” CPU can be overclocked.

You should also ensure your computer has adequate cooling equipment. Your CPU should have a heavy duty heatsink and large cooling fans. You might even want to use a liquid cooling system to deal with the extra heat generated by your faster CPU.  

Your CPU will need enhanced cooling if you plan to run it at a higher clock speed. 

To overclock the CPU, restart your computer and enter the startup menu in the computer’s UEFI or BIOS. These startup screens vary dramatically from one manufacturer to another, so you’ll need to look for the overclocking controls. 

What is overclocking 1
The BIOS or UEFI is where you’ll find an option to overclock your CPU.

It’s a good idea to increase the multiplier by a small amount, reboot the computer and test it. You can increase the clock speed in increments to get to the speed you are interested in. 

Every time you increase the clock speed, spend a few hours “stress testing” the computer. You can use an app like Prime95 to temporarily run the CPU at 100% load to make sure there are no problems with the PC. 

If your computer crashes, you get a Blue Screen of Death, or your programs won’t open, return to the UEFI or BIOS menu and revert to a slower clock speed. 

It’s also possible to overclock your graphics card’s GPU, though you can’t do that from the UEFI or BIOS menu. To speed up your GPU, you’ll need to use an overclocking utility – one of the most common is MSI Afterburner

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A beginner’s guide to graphics cards and how they help power your computer’s images

teen playing desktop computer game with headphones graphics
High-quality graphics cards can significantly improve the visuals on your favorite computer games.

  • A graphics card is an expansion card for your PC that is responsible for rendering images to the display.
  • High-end GPUs are used for gaming, ray tracing, graphics production, and even mining cryptocurrency.
  • Here’s a brief overview of everything you need to know about graphics cards. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

At the birth of the computer era, the IBM PC became the standard computer in large part due to its modular architecture with interchangeable components.

Like the original IBM, now every PC’s motherboard has slots in which any third-party manufacturer can insert the components needed to make the PC run. Among those components: the graphics card, which is responsible for displaying all the images you see on the screen. 

What is a graphics card 1
Modern Nvidia graphics cards are large and require lots of cooling because of their vast processing power.

What to know about graphics cards

A graphics card looks like a smaller version of the computer motherboard – it’s a printed circuit board that has a processor, RAM, and other components. A graphics card is sometimes commonly referred to as a graphics processing unit, or GPU, but in reality the GPU is just a component (albeit the primary, defining component) of the graphics card.

In fact, GPUs come in two major forms:

  • An integrated GPU is built into the motherboard and cannot be upgraded or replaced. You’ll find this in laptops and inexpensive desktop PCs. These graphics typically have modest performance and don’t perform well for tasks like games or professional graphics production.  
  • A discrete GPU is mounted on a graphics card that slips into a computer’s expansion slot on the motherboard. This kind of graphics card is replaceable so it can be upgraded as newer graphics cards are developed and helps keep a PC from becoming obsolete. 

Modern graphics cards are extremely sophisticated devices that in some ways behave like stand-alone computers. They perform an enormous number of calculations and are typically the most sophisticated components in a computer – particularly high-end graphics cards optimized for gaming and advanced graphics processing.

 

Not only are they responsible for drawing ordinary 2D graphics such as windows and documents, but the best modern graphics cards can generate realistic, high-resolution 3D graphics in real time without needing that content to be pre-rendered. They’re essential for graphics production, such as photography and video production, because they’re able to manipulate and process an enormous number of pixels in real time. 

Increasingly, graphics cards are also capable of performing a technique known as ray tracing. Ray tracing is a form of 3D graphics in which scenes are rendered by tracing the path of each light beam in a scene and accurately modeling its effect on materials and textures in the image. Ray-traced graphics are incredibly realistic and previously could only be rendered in advance with copious amounts of processing power. As graphics cards with ray-tracing capabilities continue to drop in price, video games will increasingly rely on ray-traced graphics to deliver cinema-quality visuals, rendered in real time. 

What is a graphics card 2
Real-time ray tracing is widely considered the holy grail of modern computer graphics rendering.

Types of graphics cards

Virtually all graphics cards are developed by two rival brands: Nvidia and AMD. No matter what kind of graphics card you purchase or find inside your PC, it’s almost certainly sold directly by one of these companies or by a third-party company that has licensed the technology. 

That makes it easier to purchase a graphics card because, while there are a lot of companies selling graphics cards, you can always compare them directly since they are all using the same underlying architecture. In other words, an Nvidia GeForce 2070 GPU will behave more or less the same no matter if you buy it from Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, or Nvidia. 

AMD is a close competitor to Nvidia and the two companies sometimes leapfrog each other in top performance. But as a general rule, the best AMD cards offer similar performance to the best Nvidia cards. 

Applications for graphics cards

The sophistication and processing power of modern GPUs means that graphics cards are often the most complex and high-performance component in a computer, rivaling or exceeding the computer’s CPU (central processing unit). 

High-end graphics cards do all the traditional tasks that they have always been responsible for, including rendering the ordinary graphics you use daily. They also render advanced 3D graphics in real time for computer games.

Graphics professionals rely on high-end graphics cards as well. These days, photo, video, and graphics production applications rely on the graphics card, not the computer’s CPU, to perform advanced image processing, including computational photography, which uses artificial intelligence and computer processing to achieve results that previously could only have been done “in the lens” when photos or video were taken.

The GPUs in graphics cards are also sometimes used for their raw processing power to perform non-graphics work. Cryptocurrency miners, for example, rely on computers with high-end graphics cards to perform the sophisticated mining process for coins.

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