You may have noticed that people all around the world are complaining about low stock levels of recently released graphics cards. Whether it’s because of yield issues, or production not being high enough, or delays in shipping, or even huge pent-up demand, there’s certainly a shortage of GPUs like the Radeon RX 480 and the GeForce GTX 1070, and it’s a worrying problem. If you’re upgrading this month, even this week, not having your preferred card in stock might make you choose unwisely, or possibly even buy a noisy reference blower cooler.
Today I’m going to take a quick look at the local landscape to see what’s available and what isn’t, and hopefully this helps those of you looking to purchase a new GPU this month.
The tables in this article list most of the stock-keeping units (SKUs) for the GeForce GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and Radeon RX 480 cards that I can find locally. You might get lucky with other sites like Takealot and Loot, but since most local retailers share the same distribution channels they’re all subject to the same stock problems (though thankfully not the same crazy pricing as Takealot). Where an item is in stock, I’ve made note of its price and linked it. Where items are listed as “coming soon”, or “call for availability”, I’ve omitted the price.
The only real disappointment is for fans of the Radeon RX 480, which is surprising because it’s a mid-range card. AMD can’t afford to leave the mid-range market open to NVIDIA, as it currently sits uncontested with no new products to counter the RX 480.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 stock check
|ASUS GTX 1080 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|ASUS GTX 1080 ROG STRIX 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|ASUS GTX 1080 TURBO 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|EVGA GTX 1080 Founders Edition 8GB||R12,599||R12,849||—||—||—||—|
|EVGA GTX 1080 SC ACX 3.0 Edition 8GB||—||R13,499||R12,689||—||—||—|
|EVGA GTX 1080 FTW ACX 3.0 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Galax GTX 1080 HOF 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Galax GTX 1080 EXOC 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Gigabyte GTX 1080 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||R15,721||R15,999||—||—|
|Gigabyte GTX 1080 G1 Gaming 8GB||—||R13,999||R13,599||—||—||R14,999|
|Gigabyte GTX 1080 Xtreme Gaming 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1080 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||—||R14,999||R15,999||—|
|MSI GTX 1080 Sea Hawk EKWB 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1080 Sea Hawk 8GB||R15,799||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1080 ARMOR OC||—||—||—||—||R13,999||R13,999|
|MSI GTX 1080 GAMING X 8GB||—||—||—||—||R15,999||R14,999|
|MSI GTX 1080 GAMING Z 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
I’ll try not to act surprised at the lack of stock for Pascal GPUs locally, but there’s something really strange going on with the pricing here. Some Founders Edition cards are cheaper than others, even though they should cost the same (a policy NVIDIA’s invoking temporarily, presumably to make sure that everyone can sell through their initial allocation). Why is EVGA undercutting Gigabyte and MSI when the card is essentially identical? It’s a weird move to make, as it makes it essentially the cheapest GTX 1080 locally. Some people may end up buying that cooler instead of a better aftermarket one, and that’s not the point of the Founder’s Edition SKU. Some specials also skew things a bit, especially the EVGA SC offering from LandmarkPC – that’s a really lovely cooler, and it’s a custom board with a backplate. It’s also somehow under R13,000, which won’t last for long.
I’m happy to see the pricing for Gigabyte’s GTX 1080 G1 Gaming coming in cheaper than a lot of other custom versions and most of the Founders Edition cards. It’s definitely one of the better choices out there – it won the coveted Dream Machine award in our review, and it’s the fastest single-GPU card we’ve ever tested. The colour scheme might clash with most builds, but if you’re like me and hardly ever see the transparent window on your chassis, well…
That said, if you were waiting on any cheaper versions, like the ASUS TURBO or Galax EXOC cards, waiting another month or two might benefit you. By then, stock availability might have improved, and the price may have dropped some. At the very least, we have cards in stock and lots of choice, unlike larger markets where demand greatly outstrips NVIDIA’s ability to put chips into the channel for their partners. Maybe it’s a good thing that the recently announced GTX 1060 isn’t based on the GP104 chip after all.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 stock check
|ASUS GTX 1070 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|ASUS GTX 1070 ROG STRIX 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|EVGA GTX 1070 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|EVGA GTX 1070 SC ACX 3.0 Edition 8GB||—||—||R8,459||—||—||—|
|Galax GTX 1070 HOF 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Galax GTX 1070 EXOC 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Gigabyte GTX 1070 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||R9,746||R9,726||—||—|
|Gigabyte GTX 1070 G1 Gaming 8GB||—||R9,299||—||—||—||R9,799|
|MSI GTX 1070 Founders Edition 8GB||—||—||—||—||R9,999||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 Sea Hawk 8GB||R10,999||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 ARMOR OC||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 GAMING X 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 GAMING Z 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 AERO 8GB OC||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI GTX 1070 AERO 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
If the GTX 1080 stock levels were considered low, the GTX 1070 levels are basically nonexistent. There’s such a low volume of cards available that most variants, even the Founders Edition, are not available or still coming via shipping container. The pricing for the Founders Edition cards seems to be mostly the same here, however. I’m not sure why that’s the case here and not with the GTX 1080, but anyway.
If you want a card today, look no further than the EVGA SC variant from LandmarkPC. It’s getting a nice price discount of R740 to drop to that level, making it more competitive than most GTX 980 cards still in the wild (and giving you basically zero reason to purchase an AMD Radeon Fury X as well). It generally embarrasses the GTX Titan X, a card that usually costs twice as much. That’s a lot of value.
With that kind of price drop, there’s little point to consider the other cards that are available if you’re buying a GTX 1070 this week. MSI’s Sea Hawk might be a looker, but how far does water cooling take you, and is it really worth the extra cash? It’s a good deal if you were already eyeing a Radeon R9 Fury X, I will admit. At R9,299, Gigabyte’s G1 Gaming variant also looks a little too expensive, especially because it comes so close to the Founders Edition pricing. There’s not a lot of choice locally, for now, and that’s a crying shame. I do believe that the GTX 1070 is great value for money, but no-one really wants the reference blower cooler, do they?
Just like my advice for the GTX 1080, if you’re buying a GTX 1070 this week EVGA has you covered. If you want something else, go grab that, or wait a month for availability improve along with some price drops.
AMD Radeon RX 480 stock check
|ASUS RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Gigabyte RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|MSI RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|PowerColor RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Sapphire RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|XFX RX 480 Reference 8GB||—||—||—||—||—||—|
The strange thing about the RX 480 launch is that there was indeed stock available on 29 June 2016, but all of that sold through. The problem now is that no-one has stock anywhere. I tried to get a review sample recently, and none of my contacts, not even my local MSI hardware rep, could arrange for one. Stock just doesn’t exist locally, although it will sometime soon, I’m told. Until we’ve solved the problem of teleportation and manage to use it for local transportation, everything still has to arrive here by plane or ship, and that takes time to get here.
I fear that the same issue will also beset the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460, due to launch soon. These cards will be fantastic heavy-hitters for the budget market, and they’ll certainly pulverise the competition at those price points, but that will only happen in overseas markets. In South Africa, we can expect some action for maybe a week or two before stock clears out, and then we’re left waiting for two weeks or more for new cards to come in. Like all local launches, it’ll eventually settle down and stock will be generally available all year round, but for now it’s a trying time to get an RX 480 if you’re an AMD fan.
Perhaps NVIDIA’s plan to launch the GTX 1060 next week was made just so to exploit these gaps in growing or emerging markets like ours. Food for thought!