4 alternatives to buying an overpriced GPU right now
The GPU market is a disaster in 2021. A global semiconductor shortage, combined with massive demand from gamers and cryptocurrency miners, has driven graphics cards from digital tablets. And with tariffs on products imported from the East, the cards are selling well above the MSRP. Scalpers only made the problem worse, selling cards on the second hand market for double their asking price (and sometimes even more).
The GPU market isn’t going to recover anytime soon, but the news isn’t all bad. You can play the latest PC games with the newest components if you know where to look. Here are four alternatives to buying an expensive GPU right now.
1. Get a preset PC
The only consistent way to get a GPU in 2021 is to use a prebuilt computer. There are plenty of machines packing RTX 30 and RX 6000 graphics cards, including the Dell XPS 8940 SE and HP Omen 30L. You can find these machines online and at big box retailers, but HP and Dell are big names, so you might be hard pressed to find a setup with the graphics card you want. This makes totally custom machines like the Falcon Northwest Talon a bit more compelling, as it lets you choose the exact specs you want (assuming you have the money).
Falcon is a great option, but you can find similar prebuilt machines on Maingear, Origin PC, and CyberPower PC. Newegg and Micro Center also have their own custom PCs and NZXT offers its BLD program.
If you already have a gaming PC, the good news is that GPUs aren’t the only components in short supply. You can remove the graphics card from a pre-built card and take the other components on the second-hand market.
2. Get a gaming laptop
Gaming laptops have come a long way. You don’t have to lug around a cinder block to play on the go, thanks to machines like the Razer Blade 15 and Alienware m15, which deliver desktop performance in a thin and light chassis. In addition to being lighter, gaming laptops have also become cheaper. You can find a high-end setup for under $ 2,000, and there are plenty of great mid-range machines out there for under $ 1,000.
Our roundup of the best gaming laptops has options for all sizes and budgets, but you can still get decent gaming performance with machines like the Dell XPS 15 or the HP Specter x360. AMD doesn’t appear much in mobile gaming rigs, so you’ll typically find machines with Nvidia’s RTX 30 series mobile graphics cards or a slightly older GTX 16 series card.
If you’re starting from scratch, a gaming laptop might be your best bet anyway. You can easily turn it into a desktop replacement with a Thunderbolt 3 docking station, and the external GPU enclosures make it easy to add a little extra power on the go.
3. Try cloud gaming
Cloud gaming isn’t a replacement for a dedicated gaming PC, but it can help you until the GPU market recovers. If you want to get started in PC gaming or are waiting for an upgrade, the best option is GeForce Now. It uses the game library you already have on Steam, Epic Games stores, and other platforms, so you can continue building your library before you upgrade. Shadow is also a great option, as it gives you a dedicated cloud gaming PC. The waiting list is long, however.
If you already own a gaming PC, you can use a hybrid approach. For demanding games like Cyberpunk 2077, you can use the cloud, and for less demanding titles, you can use whatever hardware you have. This is the best setup if you want to upgrade down the line.
There are other cloud gaming services, including PlayStation Now, Amazon Luna, Xbox Game Pass, and Google Stadia. All of these platforms are closed, so you won’t be able to transfer your progress to a gaming PC down the line. PS Now, Game Pass, and Luna all require a subscription that unlocks a game library. Stadia has a similar program, but you have to purchase games separately.
4. Buy an older GPU
This is the least efficient option, but if you’re diligent you’ll find an older GPU faster than you find a new one. If you want a brand new card, we maintain a list of the best GPU deals which is updated regularly. Almost all cards are currently overpriced, from flagship models to the cheapest GPUs, but reasonably priced cards pop up every now and then. Check our list often and be sure to check out local retail stores like Best Buy and Micro Center if you have one near you.
You can save money by buying on the second hand market. You can find an RTX 2080 Super for around $ 1,000 and a GTX 1070 for around $ 400 on eBay, but you can find even cheaper cards on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Again, these cards are overpriced, but given the state of the GPU market, they don’t look too bad.
Whether you’re buying new or used cards, we don’t recommend buying something older than a GTX 10-series graphics card. AMD offers RX 5000 and RX 500 cards, but they are popular with miners. , they are therefore difficult to find. We do not recommend any older card from AMD.
Even with the pressure in the GPU market, there are plenty of ways to play PC games in 2021. If you want to upgrade and have a little extra cash, go with a pre-built one. If you’re just getting started, we recommend using a gaming laptop. And if you want to upgrade but don’t have the money right now, you can use cloud gaming to fill it up. the gap. None of them are ideal, but at least there are still ways to play.