Nvidia's inflated RTX 3050 GPU prices already have us feeling bitter

A couple dozen RTX 3050 graphics cards spaced out and arranged against a black backdrop
(Image credit: Nvidia)

The Nvidia RTX 3050 desktop graphics card was announced with a budget-friendly price tag back during Nvidia's keynote at CES 2022. But presale listings for the card show that some sites have already inflated its price to over double the MSRP.

This is despite earlier predictions that stock of the RTX 3050 would be more plentiful, something that we hoped would lessen the demand and help keep prices down. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 will go on sale on January 27, 2022, with prices starting at $249 (about £185 / AU$350), but VideoCardz reports that listings can already be found for the GPU in Peru at an undisclosed retailer for $453 (around £334 / AU$630).

And it's not just Peru where we're seeing prices started to shoot up, with a now deleted third-party listing on Newegg Marketplace already offering RTX 3050 cards for as much as $699 (around £520 / AU$980). These cards, though, are not being distributed directly via Newegg and are instead being shipped from overseas.

This is disheartening as it gives us a fairly good indication of what to expect when the RTX 3050 does officially go on sale. Even with plentiful stock rumored to be available, it's likely that the 'budget-friendly' appeal for the entry-level graphics card will be lost, at least for the time being.

It's hardly going to be one of the best graphics cards on the market, but it wasn't designed to be. Instead, it's targeted at folks who want to upgrade from much older hardware on a tight budget, or newcomers to PC gaming looking for an affordable way to enjoy the hobby. So it was expected that demand would be high, especially as it supports DLSS and real-time ray tracing, which are two things that the older GTX series of Nvidia graphics cards can't do.

With any luck, prices on launch day across third-party retailers could still remain low if this is just a blip caused by some scalpers trying to push their luck, but only time will tell. We would recommend not getting your hopes up regarding this GPU actually selling for close to the MSRP just in case (at least outside of Nvidia's own webstore).

Analysis: Yep, we're still in this mess for a while yet

As disappointing as it is to think that the RTX 3050 won't be as affordable as it should be, this is hardly unsurprising when you look at every GPU launch from both Nvidia and AMD over the last few years.

The graphics card market is a mess thanks to the ongoing chip shortage and a rise in Ethereum crypto mining, which has created the perfect environment for scalpers and opportunists to snap up stock and inflate prices massively over the MSRP. Sadly, improvements aren't expected until around 2023.

If you're currently rocking a rather tired graphics card in your system, specifically around the GTX 1660 Ti mark or lower, the RTX 3050 would be a decent card to replace it with if you can snap one up for close to its official recommended retail price. If costs do skyrocket to match the incidents reported above though, you'd be better off looking to get a second-hand RTX 3060 or similar if you're happy to stretch your budget. 

Other options for folks in desperate need of a GPU replacement or upgrade would be to check out streaming services like GeForce Now until the market stabilizes. GeForce Now has a free membership option, as well as monthly subscription tiers if you want longer play sessions and shorter wait times to use the service. Best of all, if you do manage to snag a GPU for the right price, you can just cancel your subscription, though you'll need a decent internet connection for this to work.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.