The GPU market just got more crowded, and a bit more contentious. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 Ti and 3050 are the new GPUs on the block, and people seem angry. Under more normal conditions, new GPUs would be good news, but in 2022, that’s not the way things work anymore. But before we get into the doom and gloom, let’s look at what’s coming.
The new “halo” card is the 3090 Ti. Priced at an MSRP of $1,499 USD, gamers and production houses get 24GB of GDDR6X RAM, 40 teraflops of GPU performance, and dedicated performance for ray tracing and AI applications. Specifically, you’re getting 78 TFLOPs for raytracing 320 TFLOPs for AI tasks. Some outlets project roughly a 10% uplift in performance over a standard 3090.
On the other end is the 3050. Selling for a $249 MSRP is a stripped 3060 with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM; including 9 TFLOPs worth of shader performance, 18 TFLOPs for ray tracing, and 73 for Tensor cores. Positioned as a true budget option for the 3000-series, it remains to be seen if it ever actually sells for close to MSRP. The 3050 launches on January 27.
A lot of analysis around these two announcements for the RTX 3090 Ti and 3050 pointed out two major flaws. The RTX 3090 Ti and 3050 will have to contend with both a limited chip supply and a heavily scalped retail market. The consumer response to these two issues has been exactly what you would expect. No one really expects to be able to buy either a RTX 3090 Ti and 3050 on launch day. Scalpers and pricing above MSRP will likely kill a lot of early interest in the cards.
Various companies have tried to spool up more production and counter botting at retailers, with little success. The shortage of chips is just too big to easily overcome. And it looks like 2022 will be another year of trying to fight a losing war against botters and scalpers.
Another issue relates to the choice to release the 3090 Ti at all. The RTX 3080, 3090 and now the 3090 Ti all share the same GPU core—the GA102. The chipset has been positioned as a production card, but Nvidia continues to market it as a retail gaming card. And the performance of the 3090 SKUs supports the latter being more fitting. So with the 3080 being one of the most desirable RTX GPUs, why would Nvidia gimp their own production output by adding another SKU which will further reduce supply? The answer seems pretty simple, greed. 3090 TIs can be sold at a higher margin, and that’s doubly true in a market where MSRP is a thing of the past.
Nvidia also announced other efforts in the lineup, with laptops sporting slimmed-down 3070 Tis and 3080 Tis taking top billing the RTX 3080 Ti Laptop will be launching February 1st for $2499.