Addressing the needs and requirements of gaming, graphics cards have high expectations and are sought out to the maximum. 

Since the announcement of the NVidia 3000 series graphics cards, gamers have been eagerly trying to get their hands on them. Their desire for better power in their gaming rigs and PCs has left them aching for an even better graphics card. I spoke to PC specialist James Parker on the 25th of April to get a better idea of the situation from the end of a frustrated customer. 

To understand why high-end GPUs are so important we need to first know what they’re used for. GPU stands for graphics processing unit, also known as a graphics card, which is a specialised processor designed to accelerate graphics rendering. GPUs are able to process multiple strands of data at once and are therefore extremely useful video and gaming programs and software. There are two types of GPUs, integrated and dedicated. Integrated GPUs are built directly into the motherboard or central processing unit (CPU) of a desktop. These GPUs are able to run simple tasks and provide an image to your screen. They were built to render an image of the web or emails onto a screen, very non-demanding tasks. However, when games start to be played or more intense video editing programmes are run, more RAM is used up from your CPU and therefore there isn’t enough to go around leading to the computer freezing due to the high demand.  

However, gamers do not want to face these problems when playing games which demand high framerates and processing power. They want to enjoy their time rather than having their PC freeze every five minutes. That’s where dedicated GPUs come in. Dedicated GPUs have dedicated RAM within them. They’re perfect for gaming and video/image-editing tasks (such as Photoshop) as there is no risk of running out of RAM and your computer freezing or possibly crashing midway through an extremely important project. As a bonus for games, they help render images to the highest quality possible creating breath-taking images and silky-smooth refresh rates in an instant. Some midrange GPUs cost around £50-100 whist top tier GPUs cost in the regions of £1000. Therefore, for gamers a dedicated GPU is extremely beneficial as it provides them with the best gaming experience possible which for some is worth the price. 

However, for James Parker it has been more frustrating than satisfying to get his hands on a high-end GPU. I asked him:  

What is your GPU situation like and how does it feel? 

I pre-ordered my NVidia 3060 in December and it still hasn’t arrived. I’ve spoken to the vendors on the phone and sent multiple emails but all I know is that my GPU is in the process of being delivered. It's been over 4 months and I’m frustrated. I want my graphics card! I know it’s problematic for many companies, especially NVidia, but when I order a product, I expect to be given a specific date by which I’ll receive what I bought.  

Was it worth buying your NVidia 3060 in December? 

I don’t think it was worth it. It was extremely expensive and I think with the money I used to buy this graphics card I could easily have gotten another one a lot quicker. I would rather get a slightly worse graphics card and be able to see results improve immediately than receive a slightly better card and see some more improvements but wait much longer. I want to play Horizon Zero Dawn at max settings but I've been having to put up with my old card for ages, I’m in need for an upgrade! 

Why is the modern GPU supply so low? 

Nowadays people are buying the best graphics cards for crypto-currency mining. By mining a crypto-currency such as Ethereum you’re able to make back the money used on a graphics card within a year. Once you’re beyond that point you’re becoming extremely profitable. These crypto-currency miners are staying ahead of the game and are using bots to pre-order and order the graphics cards as soon as they come out, ensuring that other don’t get them. Therefore, GPU retailers such as NVidia or Radeon are staggering the release of their GPUs so that Ethereum miners can’t buy up their entire inventory at once. Graphics cards are also extremely complicated to make and require time and resources to manufacture. However, the retailers have tried to limit the number of crypto-currency miners buying graphics cards as each customer is only able to buy one graphics card. The aim of Nvidia and Radeon is create GPUs for gamers, however they are always being taken away by crypto-currency miners.  

I think the graphics card shortage is extremely important and interesting as it’s a market that only a select few know about. It’s also a problem that gaming specialists face and their need for proper and better graphics cards is on the rise as more demanding games are released every year. I must thank James Parker for his time and hope his frustration soon comes to an end.