South Africa’s major online PC hardware retailers have seen a significant increase in available graphics cards in recent weeks.
Graphics cards have been hard to come by due to global chip shortages and heightened demand for cryptocurrency mining hardware.
Several prominent retailers — including Evetech — often had little or no graphics cards throughout June and early July.
On 18 June 2021, for example, Evetech only had stock of old GT710 and GT730 cards for gamers and a Quadro P400 workstation card.
None of these is suitable for playing top-end games on higher graphics settings.
By 2 July, the situation had improved slightly, with Evetech showing that it had received supplies of the RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 2060 Super, and GT 1030.
As of 5 August, Evetech had thirteen models, including Nvidia’s RTX 3090, RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3070 Ti, the GTX 1660 Super, and AMD’s RX 6900 XT and RX 6700 XT.
One of South Africa’s most well-known gaming groups on Facebook, the ZA Gaming Alliance, has also been flooded with posts of gamers showing off their new RTX 30 Ti cards in recent days.
MyBroadband asked several popular online PC hardware stores to confirm if stock levels had improved.
Dreamware Tech and Raru told MyBroadband their available stock of graphics cards had increased over the past few weeks.
“New graphics cards are definitely more readily available than before but still nowhere near what it used to be before the shortages,” said Dreamware Tech COO Justin Bekker.
Raru director Neil Smith told MyBroadband the store had increased stock of low hashrate (LHR) cards since about mid-July, but no full hashrate (FHR) cards.
“Hashrate” refers to the speed with which a graphics card can perform the complex calculations necessary for cryptocurrency mining. High-end graphics cards are typically used for mining on the Ethereum blockchain.
Nvidia purposefully limited hashrates on the RTX 30 Ti series, ostensibly to scare off cryptocurrency miners and ensure more cards would get into the hands of gamers.
Bekker said China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies and the crash in crypto prices definitely had a positive impact on stock levels.
“That being said, there is still demand for mining cards in South Africa despite the downturn in crypto mining returns of late, which puts further pressure on the supply chain.”
Bekker added that manufacturing delays caused by the pandemic were also a major factor in stock constraints.
Bekker also stated that Dreamware Tech saw a drop in the pricing of cards with the introduction of the LHR models.
“Whether pricing will continue to drop is unclear at this point due to the damage suffered by the supply chain and the volatility in our exchange rate that the recent looting caused,” he added.
Smith said there was a slight increase in the pricing of Raru’s cards.
Bekker warned Dreamware Tech was uncertain whether the supply recovery was just a temporary boost.
“We’re still a long way away from normal at this stage, unfortunately. Stock levels are definitely improving, but available quantities with local distributors are still relatively low,” Bekker said.
“For this reason, customers will notice that we are restricting GPU sales to one per customer, applicable to cards that are under supply constraints.”
In addition, there was still a major shortage of low to mid-range cards for budget gamers.