Nvidia RTX 3000 stock might not improve until May – and AMD’s GPU outlook isn’t great either

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re wondering when it might become easier to buy one of the latest Nvidia RTX 3000 or AMD RX 6000 graphics cards, the answer is – sadly – not any time soon.

We’ve recently heard from both AMD and Nvidia on this topic, with the news from the latter coming via a conference call with Nvidia’s CFO Colette Kress by Seeking Alpha.

Kress stressed that there had been strong demand for Ampere GPUs and supply remains tight, and then observed: “We expect the overall channel inventories, meaning the inventories that are with our AIC partners [graphics card makers] as well as in our e-tail and retail channels will likely remain lean throughout Q1.”

The bad news here is that doesn’t mean Q1 as in January through to March, but Nvidia’s fiscal Q1 which comes to a close at the end of April. In other words, stock is likely to remain constrained through to April, or possibly even May by the sound of things.

Whatever the case, the last we heard from Nvidia was that stock levels would recover somewhat either in February or March, and it seems like that estimation – which was also from Kress back in November 2020 – has now been pushed back further.

Kress added: “Our overall capacity has not been able to keep up with that overall strong demand that we have seen. We’ve seen in terms of constraints, constraints really from the overall global surge of compute and the overall capacity, capacity that may be necessary for assembly and test and/or sub trades as well. But again, we remain focused on this and working each day to improve our overall supply situation.”

As an aside, Kress also confirmed that as far as the adoption of RTX graphics cards goes (RTX 2000 and 3000 models), around 10% of Nvidia GPU owners have made the leap to an RTX card.

Better prospects for Big Navi?

Okay, so if Nvidia Ampere stock is going to remain lean for the foreseeable, what about AMD? The news from team red sounds a bit more positive, but sadly, prospects of an inventory recovery still seem rather wobbly.

The Verge (which also spotted the above report) notes that the good news is that AMD is going to continue to sell its own RX 6800, 6800 XT and 6900 XT reference boards – rather than wind up production and leave it to third-party graphics card manufacturers to supply gamers with these high-end Big Navi GPUs (as would normally happen a while after launch).

This is because third-party cards are having their asking prices seriously inflated by retailers – due to those stock problems, of course, and the big demand – so AMD is promising to keep its own boards pegged at their recommended retail pricing. Graphics card manufacturers are also being encouraged to stick to those prices, too.

So yes, that’s definitely a positive move on the fairness front, although as The Verge notes, exactly how many GPUs AMD will be able to supply is another question – the firm said that it would make these reference cards available “to as many gamers as possible,” which sounds rather noncommittal.

Furthermore, in an interview with Anandtech, AMD’s chief executive Lisa Su was questioned about stock shortages around not just Big Navi GPUs, but also Ryzen 5000 CPUs.

Su noted: “This is the result of a demand focused environment, rather than manufacturing issues. There is tightness in the supply chain due to demand, and that invariably puts pressure on our consumer, PC, and gaming product lines. As it relates to our semiconductor production, we’re putting in additional capacity to meet this unexpected demand. It will take time to catch up, but that’s what we’re seeing.”

She added: “We are shipping lots of parts, and volumes in all segments are increasing, and that will happen through 2021. There will be tightness in the first half of the year, but alongside consumers we also ship to OEM partners. There is some real-time prioritization between end-user and OEM, but we understand that consumers want more and it’s very high on our priority list to meet this high demand.”

Still, the noises about ‘tightness’ of supply in the first half of the year are bound to make folks nervous about exactly when we might see a meaningful uptick in the stock of Big Navi GPUs (or indeed top-end Ryzen 5000 silicon).

Meantime, if you’re on the hunt for an Nvidia graphics card, we’ve got some handy where to buy guides for the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070 and RTX 3080, articles that are worth keeping an eye on as we regularly update them to flag up when stock arrives. Similarly, on the AMD front, keep tabs on our guides for buying the RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).