We’ve been tracking the graphics card shortage for over a year now at TechRadar, and we’re just as disgusted as anyone by the state of the market.
It’s understandable that the demand for the best graphics cards is understandably high, but when even the latest and even the latest generation graphics cards are selling for a hefty premium over their MSRP, the market is just plain shattered. And there is no easy or quick fix.
Considering Nvidia Lovelace and AMD RDNA 3 are coming soon, it’s time to face a hard truth: Nvidia Ampere and AMD RDNA 2 might just be a lost generation of graphics cards.
There’s something liberating about acknowledging that though, and while many of us want to play the best PC games on the best hardware available, I think it’s high time we put the focus on better for available.
Graphics card shortage is real, but gaming laptops are easy to find
Maybe it’s because gaming laptops make terrible Ethereum mining rigs or the tricky maximization formulas used by miners to get the most out of a cut GPU against laptops with powerful GPUs, but whatever the reason, the best gaming laptops have been pretty much unscathed by supply shortages.
That’s not to say they don’t exist — they do — but they’re much more mundane supply chain issues that everything from toilet paper to auto parts have suffered from in recent months.
It was telling that on Black Friday weekend last year you couldn’t find graphics cards at any price, but the best RTX 3080 laptops were both cheap and in stock.
Ultimately, if you’re upgrading your gaming rig from an older graphics card like the Nvidia GTX 1060, you’ll see a huge performance boost only with an RTX 3050 gaming laptop, let alone an RTX 3080 laptop.
And – we can’t stress this enough – you can buy one right now. Without having to submit to the NewEgg Shuffle RNG or wait for hours in online queues.
Honestly, you’re not missing out on much by opting for a gaming laptop
I’ve tested and reviewed many different computers in my time with TechRadar, and I’ll be honest, an RTX 3090 at peak performance is one thing to see, but so is a Delacroix at the Louvre , and not everyone is supposed to choose an auction and hang in their own private gallery.
My all-time favorite gaming PC is a midrange gaming laptop with an RTX 3070 that you could have picked up on sale at Christmas for around $1,000. With Nvidia DLSS enabled, I was able to comfortably play Icarus at 60 FPS on high, but not maximum settings, and barely noticed the difference.
What I noticed was the crisp, fast 1440p display running at 165Hz, which would have cost me an extra $400 as an external gaming monitor. That screen was more than enough to keep me engaged, even though it was only a 15.6-inch screen, and honestly, I felt relieved when I was able to clean a bulky gaming monitor from my desk.
And this is from someone who played Cyberpunk 2077 for over 40 hours at [email protected] with an RTX 3090 review unit. Was it gorgeous? Sure. Was it worth the $7,000 in parts? Not when I could have more or less the same experience for $1,199 and be able to take it with me when visiting family out of state.
For some, nothing can replace the experience of playing on the best hardware, and I wish them all the luck in the world. They’re going to need it, given the state of the market.
For the rest of us, there’s really no other way to put it: a good gaming laptop, not even the best on the market, is probably more than you’ll really need for the next five years. It’s good to admit it. Embrace it and get back to enjoying the gaming experience rather than wishing you could boost texture detail or shadows to a next level.
Sometimes moving on means letting go
I really get that the PC versions are a sacred thing for a lot of gamers. Fine-tuning your rig to squeeze the best possible performance out of overclocked hardware is often the end goal, while gaming is pretty much a secondary concern.
I really have nothing to offer if you are that person. TechRadar’s own computing queen, Jackie Thomas, is that person too, and the RTX 3050 broke her heart once she realized that building a budget PC gaming rig like we always have been able to do so is now virtually impossible.
The days of a custom $500 / £500 / AU$800 custom gaming PC are over, especially now that consoles are both competitive on price and vastly outperform a similarly priced PC.
They have almost all the same games you’ll find on Steam, and almost all AAA games are now optimized for consoles rather than PC, so games like Elden Ring play better on consoles.
PCs still have one major advantage that no console, not even the Steam Deck, can match: they’re working computers that can do a whole lot more than play games, and their hardware offers advantages you don’t. still can’t get. elsewhere.
By this I mean overclocking and AI processing in the form of DLSS and FSR. This super-sampling technology will eventually come to consoles, but for now you can still make an RTX 3050 perform like an RTX 3060 Ti with the right settings, and there are a few titles that remain exclusives. pc.
The best thing about it is that you can get everything in a gaming laptop and even give you some features that you might not have enjoyed before, like a high-refresh display or RAM splurges.
I can tell you from personal experience that even with an RTX 3080 graphics card you will still need DLSS if you want 4K ray tracing for many games, but you can get the same performance with an RTX 3070 mobile at 1440p, and you can’t even tell the difference.
People, high-end graphics cards just aren’t worth it anymore, and it’s time we all admit it and break free.