Why is it so hard to find a GPU in 2021?

Building a PC has never been this difficult. Starting in 2020, and extending into 2021, those attempting to buy a custom-built PC, or to build one themselves, are feeling the pinch of widespread unavailability of new graphics cards. Those lucky enough to find new cards are faced with an impossible decision: wait and hope the market improves, or fork over much more than the typical retail price to build now. And if you’re looking for relief by buying second hand, don’t count on cheaper prices. On eBay right now, you can expect to pay two-to-three times the retail price of a new card for most older, used models. 

So what gives? How did we find ourselves in a situation where a GPU could double or triple the price of your build?

Global Supply Chain Issues

A graphics card is nothing without the silicon chip inside of it. Think of these chips as the brain of the GPU, a mini computer inside of your hardware. Before you can plug in that shiny new PC graphics card, companies like Nvidia and AMD need semiconductors to make them. And while you rely on Nvidia and AMD for graphics performance, they rely on companies like Samsung to produce the silicon. Due to a global shortage of silicon chips, Nvidia and AMD can’t get the job done fast enough to meet demand.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With a global pandemic, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers were forced to slow production considerably, and stop it altogether at times. Slowdowns in production, coupled with a rise in demand as people found themselves stuck inside and looking to upgrade or build new gaming or production rigs has left us in a bit of a bind when it comes to sourcing parts.

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