No, we didn’t either!
The RTX 3080 launch was a poor showing from Nvidia. They succeeded in building massive hype for this GPU: It’s their new flagship gaming GPU at a price that was finally realistic for the majority of PC enthusiasts. However the launch itself was marred by lack of supply, widespread use of bots taking online retail sites down almost instantly, and any stock that was available disappearing before there was any opportunity to purchase it. Very, very few people managed to obtain an RTX 3080 on launch day with rumours of fewer than 2000 cards available globally at launch. So rest assured you are not alone in NOT having hands on this highly desirable graphics card! Outside of prominent youtubers, it appears not many people do!
All is not lost however. In this article we’ll discuss some of the options available to you now that the initial launch is over. If you wanted an upgrade, or are in dire need of a GPU to get a PC up and running, we’ve got a solution for your situation.
Here’s what to do if you missed out on an RTX 3080: 4 Scenarios
If you still want an RTX 3080 and don’t mind waiting:
Firstly, don’t feel too bad for ‘missing out’. There are a number of advantages to sitting back and waiting a while. Firstly, in respect of the RTX 3080, it allows you to dig into the reviews of the various AIB models and find which one is right for you. There’s a temptation to rush into buying whatever you can get your hands on in the hype of a major release but that’s often not the best approach. In respect of the RTX 3080, there are now a few issues coming to light that you should be mindful of: It appears that certain cards are not stable at high boost clocks, limiting their performance. This has been traced back to boards with 6 ‘POSCAP’ style capacitors at the rear of the GPU core being less stable than those with one or two ‘MLCC’ arrays amongst the capacitors to smooth power delivery: Zotacs trinity and Gigabytes Eagle cards are known to be of the flawed design. By waiting not only can you avoid those cards for now, but there will be time for the manufacturers to rectify their design so that their cards will be stable. This means you’ll get a better card for your money. It’s also sensible to check dimensions of the various options to ensure it will actually fit in your case: RTX 3080’s are characteristically huge with many models exceeding 300mm long and 3 slots thick, so eliminate cards you can’t physically fit. Finally, there are models that have still not come to market and so are not available to the first round of buyers. We’re particularly eager to see the Asus ROG STRIX design as well as the EVGA FTW3 Ultra, neither of which have shipped at the time of writing. By holding back you can take a calm look at the whole range of products on offer and then sit it out until the one you truly want is available to buy.
Related: Best RTX 3080 Aftermarket Cards (so far)
If you game at 1080p
Then breathe a sigh of relief! You don’t need an RTX 3080 to game at these resolutions. In fact having a GPU as powerful as an RTX 3080 in a 1080p gaming rig is likely to run you into a host of performance issues because even high performance CPUs simply cannot keep up with the frame rates this card is capable of. It is a waste of money to spend this much on a GPU that you simply cannot obtain the full benefit of at 1080p. We’d strongly recommend that you step down your aspirations to an RTX 3070 or perhaps the upcoming AMD ‘Big Navi’ GPU, and spend the money you’ve saved on a 1440p high FPS gaming monitor. For the same outlay, you’ll get a much more satisfying gaming experience in return. If you’re happy at 1080p then you could consider an existing GPU like the GTX 1660 Super or RTX 2060 Super, or hold out and see what kind of performance the upcoming ‘RTX 3060’ offers before making your decision.
If you absolutely need a GPU now:
If you’ve built a rig in preparation for the RTX 3080 but have been unable to obtain the GPU that you wanted, then we can understand your frustration at this situation. However there are a number of options: Firstly, we’d urge you to look at the used market. If you buy astutely then it’s quite possible to get an excellent GPU and lose very little money on it when the time comes to sell it on. The launch of any new GPU prompts a sell-off of older cards that are still excellent performers, and because owners are jittery about being able to sell it prices are often at their lowest at this time. Right now RTX 2070 Super’s, RTX 2080 Super’s, and even RTX 2080 Ti’s are all available for well under half their new pricing. An RTX 2080 Ti at $550 will not disappoint in performance at 1440p ultrawide or 4k and will last you a year or more perhaps until the inevitable RTX 3080 refresh. For best value options we’d consider looking at the RTX 2070 Super if you game at 1440p, or the Radeon RX 5700XT – expect to see a flood of used versions at around $250 once AMD’s ‘Big Navi’ is announced in October.
If the idea of buying used isn’t for you then you could consider EVGA’s ‘step up’ scheme. This programme allows people in the US, Canada or EU who buy the last generation EVGA GPU’s to register and then obtain the new versions once stock is available. You have to pay the difference and return the old GPU. The programme operates within each model bracket, so an RTX 2070 steps up to an RTX 3070, 2080>3080 and so on. They also dictate what models you can step up to. Whilst this programme is unique amongst retailers and offers a lifeline to people who buy at just the wrong time, we’d be wary of buying a new GPU with the expectation of ‘stepping up’ down the line. It should be seen as a nice bonus, not a guaranteed route to the RTX 3080, but it’s certainly worth investigating. An EVGA RTX 2080 Super is still an excellent GPU that will game well at 1440p and 1440p ultrawide for the foreseeable future.
If you’re not sure what GPU you want but the RTX 3080 launch has made you think about an upgrade:
In this situation, there’s actually never been a more important time to keep your powder dry and wait and see how the landscape evolves. The stock issues besetting the RTX 3080 will subside with time so it will become freely available once the initial demand spike passes. However, there’s more to this than the RTX 3080. On October 15th the RTX 3070 releases. Priced from just $499 this card sports 8Gb GDDR6 VRAM and promises to be ‘as fast’ as the RTX 2080 Ti. We’ll have to wait for testing to know it’s true performance but it looks sure to be the new 1440p gaming champion. We confidently predict that on launch we will see exactly the same supply shortages we saw with both the RTX 3080 and 3090 but don’t let that put you off, supply will flow though in time. If you don’t need the power of the RTX 3080 (and most gamers don’t) then the RTX 3070 frees up $300 that can be put to good use in the rest of the PC. There’s also AMD’s upcoming ‘big’ and ‘little’ Navi GPU’s that will be announced towards the end of October. These GPU’s are touted to finally challenge Nvidia’s dominance at the top end of the GPU market, and given the aggressive pricing and performance of the RTX 3000 series line up, it’s clear Nvidia sense a threat. Again, time will tell as to the price and value of these GPU’s but they will be worthy of your consideration as you assess the market and your purchase. Finally, there’s also AMD’s next Ryzen CPU line up, Zen 3, announcing at the end of October as well. They will undoubtedly push performance forwards once more, and offer a compelling value alternative to Intel CPU’s.
The overall picture will therefore develop throughout October whilst the stock and availability of products should hopefully improve. By the holidays you will be in a position to make a clear judgement about which of these products is right from you away from the pressured environment of a product launch.
Overall Nvidia’s disappointing launch of the RTX 3080 – not in performance but in availability – has given an important breathing space to allow you time to make a more informed decision. You don’t have to get swept away in the hype, and nor do you have to purchase the latest and greatest right away. The market is full of GPUs that are available right now and give fantastic gaming experiences without incurring the cost of the RTX 3080. I hope this article has opened your eyes to some options to keep you gaming until you can get the GPU you truly want, and also helped you to assess which GPU is actually most appropriate for your needs.