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

When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What is RAM? How your computer’s memory keeps all your programs running smoothly

business professional working late on laptop
It’s important to understand how RAM affects your computer’s performance.

  • RAM, or Random Access Memory, is the part of your computer that keeps programs running in the background.
  • When your RAM is working properly, you’ll be able to switch between programs quickly and freely.
  • How much RAM your computer needs will depend on what you use it for.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

RAM, or Random Access Memory, isn’t just a cool Daft Punk album. It’s an important part of any computer, phones included. Without it, even switching browser tabs could take ages.

Here’s everything to know about what RAM is and how it works, what the different types of RAM are, and how much memory your computer needs.

What is RAM?

RAM is the part of your device that functions like its short-term memory. It keeps track of what programs are running in the background and what they’re doing, so when you focus on them again, they can get right back to work.

This goes for browser tabs, too. You can switch between browser tabs quickly because your computer’s memory keeps them ready to use.

The benefit of RAM is that it keeps your computer fast, and makes multitasking convenient. Because of RAM, your computer doesn’t have to lean on its slower hard drive to perform basic functions. Without it, we’d be living in a less instantaneous world.

computer ram sticks
An assortment of RAM sticks from various manufacturers.

But RAM, much like our own short-term memory, is limited. If you’re making it keep track of more things than it can handle, it’ll start to “forget” whatever it deems low priority. And if you don’t have enough of it, your computer can slow to a crawl.

When talking about RAM, there are a few different terms you should know.

Common RAM terminology

DDR

DDR stands for “double data rate,” and in essence, refers to how fast your RAM is. DDR4 is the most common type of RAM sold today, but older computer models may have DDR3 or DDR2.

The higher number the better, and because each successive generation of RAM has undergone design changes, you can’t switch out one for another.

crucial ballistix ram
These RAM sticks from crucial specifically say DDR4 on them.

VRAM

VRAM, or Video RAM, is another beast entirely. Rather than being part of your computer’s general memory, VRAM is an intermediary between the CPU and graphics card. Before you see an image on the screen, the data is read by the VRAM processor and converted from digital information to an analog image on the screen.

How much RAM do I need?

Most computers, tablets and phones have between 4GB and 32GB of RAM, although more advanced computers could have even more. On computers, 8GB to 16GB is standard. Some cheap tablets have around 2GB of RAM, which isn’t enough for your laptop.

8GB of RAM is more than enough to power a Windows or Mac computer, but won’t be able to handle too many intensive apps. 16GB RAM will handle advanced programs. 32GB of RAM and up is good for serious computer engineers, gamers, or audio and visual professionals.

Most modern phones have 8GB of RAM. And unlike computers, you can’t really upgrade the RAM in your phone.

The amount of RAM that you need depends on what you’re using your device for. Over-investing in RAM isn’t going to make your computer magically better or infinitely fast – even 100GB of RAM won’t mean anything if the rest of your computer is slow.

You can buy RAM in various combinations, or modules. For example, if you want to buy 16GB of RAM, you can get:

  • One 16 GB stick
  • Two 8 GB sticks
  • Four 4 GB sticks
Corsair Vengeance RAM
Two Corsair RAM sticks, from their “VENGEANCE” series.

The combination you get doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s compatible with the rest of your computer, and fits in the case.

What is a CPU? A guide to the ‘brain’ of your computer or phone, including how it worksWhat is a cyberattack? A guide to the different methods cybercriminals use to harm computers and steal dataSSD vs. HDD: How to decide which storage option is the best for your computerWhat is an SSD? Everything you should know about solid state drives

Read the original article on Business Insider

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.

Product Card (small)

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider