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Nvidia’s RTX 4080 16GB Could be Even Harder to Buy than the RTX 4090

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The end-of-year hardware flood continues with the impending release of the RTX 4080 16GB on Nov. 16. As you recall, Nvidia launched the flagship RTX 4090 a few weeks ago, and it sold out instantly. Your humble author played the “let’s see if we can get one” game just for kicks, and watched the ticker at Best Buy go from “not available” (yet) to “not in stock” in the blink of an eye. It was just like old times, in other words. However, there was hope that the situation might improve for the less expensive 40-series GPU. According to a new report, though, the situation could actually be worse. Nvidia is allegedly holding back on 4080 GPUs with the hopes of clearing out its existing Ampere inventory during the holiday shopping period.

YouTuber Moore’s Law is Dead says various supply chain sources, which include a “major retailer,” said the launch allocation for 4080 16GB will be smaller than the RTX 4090. In addition, following the launch, there will be a smaller and less-frequent restocking. The plan seems like Nvidia wants to put a small number of these GPUs in the channel at first. When they’re gone, it’ll force people to buy a 30-series GPU instead. After all, the $1,199 RTX 4080 is only a few hundred dollars more than the existing RTX 3090 and 3080. Those cards are a tough sell right now with the 4080 waiting in the wings. Especially since the 4080 will support DLSS 3, which can more than double the frame rate in some games. However, if a gamer has no chance of getting their hands on one, they might just say “screw it” and go with Ampere.

F1 22 DLSS 3 benchmarks, click to expand. (Image: Nvidia)

Nvidia’s recent “unlaunching” of the RTX 4080 12GB is exacerbating the situation. The company said that GPU wasn’t named correctly, which is true. Having two GPUs with the same moniker and wildly different specs was a bad idea. However, it would have still offered gamers a more affordable 4080 GPU that supports DLSS 3. Now that’s not going to happen.

A Plague Tale: Requiem RTX 40 series benchmarks, click to expand. (Image: Nvidia)

One of MLID’s sources says the number of 4080s offered at launch will be between 20 to 40 percent lower than the 4090. Since the 4090 was very hard to find on launch day and still is today, that sounds like the 4080s will disappear in a nanosecond. Therefore, if you had your heart set on the “affordable” 40-series GPU, you might want to start googling Discord channels that track inventories.

Still, it remains unknown how much demand there will be for the RTX 4080. It’s been a controversial GPU since its unveiling due to its pricing. At $1,199 it’s $500 more expensive than the original RTX 3080 Founders Edition. That’s despite the fact that it uses a smaller AD103 die. With Ampere, both the RTX 3090 and 3080 had the big GA102 die and performed within 10 percent of each other. Nvidia is not making that mistake again, so there’s a huge performance delta between the RTX 4090 and 4080 this time. Some of that gap is clearly designed to allow Nvidia to counter AMD’s RDNA3 GPUs, which were announced last week. Nvidia could easily stick an RTX 4080 Ti into the gap between its two GPUs to hit back at AMD.

Nvidia’s benchmarks for its 40-series GPUs show huge gains via DLSS 3.0. Click to expand.

Another factor that might influence the RTX 4080 launch is the aforementioned AMD GPUs. The company undercut Nvidia by pricing its XTX flagship at $999, and the XT model at $899. It’s clearly not trying to compete with the RTX 4090, but the 4080 instead. AMD has even confirmed this, on the record, stating its new GPUs are not competing with the 4090. In an interview with PCWorld, AMD’s Frank Azor stated as much.

Another reason people might be hesitant to pull the trigger on an RTX 4080 is that it will come with the same “issues” as the RTX 4090. That includes the massive size and the controversial 16-pin power connector. Nvidia has been taking some heat lately, pardon the pun, for its adapter cables melting on RTX 4090s. AMD isn’t even using the new ATX 3.0 connector on its GPUs either, opting for the traditional dual eight-pin connectors we know and love.

For its part, MLID says his sources told him AMD has created a lot of RDNA3 GPUs. It supposedly upped its order after seeing the RTX 4090 sell out in a heartbeat. The pandemic has proved there’s an almost insatiable demand for expensive GPUs, and it wants to capitalize on that. It remains to be seen if AMD’s newest GPUs will outperform the RTX 4080, but they already beat them on price. We’ll be getting Nvidia benchmarks on or before the 16th, but it’s unclear when the RDNA3 embargo lifts.

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