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Availability check: Can you buy the latest Polaris and Pascal GPUs from AMD and Nvidia?

For the past two months, AMD and Nvidia have been launching new GPU families and pushing fresh hardware into market. While this makes for interesting reviews, it’s not worth much if consumers can’t actually buy the hardware they’re reading about.

We’ve swept the Internet in the US and even checked some relative sales figures in Europe, courtesy of mindfactory.de. Let’s see how AMD and Nvidia rank — and whether or not the hardware they’ve launched is actually on sale. We’ve used the website NowInStock.net for this analysis, which performs minute-by-minute inventory checks on websites. We’ve seen its contents vary while putting this article together, so don’t be surprised if the totals don’t exactly match our own. Trends, however, are easy to spot.

The RX 480 launched over a month ago to strong reviews, though the GPU’s debut was disrupted by a power delivery issue (since resolved by driver updates). AMD made it clear that the company was targeting the mass market for its first 14nm refresh cycle, which means it needs to ship enough GPUs to satisfy buyers looking for cards.

RX480-Feature

Right now, it looks as if manufacturers are having trouble keeping cards in stock. NowInStock.net had one RX 480 listed in-stock when I began this story and ran out of stock while I was writing it. Of the 20 SKUs listed by the tracking service, 15 of them have been in stock at some point in the past 15 days, implying that the GPUs are generally moving as quickly as they hit shelves.

List prices on the RX 480 generally match AMD’s recommendation, with 4GB cards hitting the $200 mark while the 8GB cards are priced at $239 – $249.

Nvidia has launched three GPUs in the past three months, so we’ll take them all in turn. The GTX 1080 is available in limited quantities (five SKUs at NIS as of this writing), with a minimum price of $700. These aren’t Founder’s Editions, either, which suggests that OEMs are still exploiting limited stock to keep prices high (the non-Founders edition of the GTX 1080 is supposed to start at $600, but there are no cards available at that price). The 1080’s performance is unquestionably best-in-class, but we aren’t seeing as many cards on shelves as we would like, and Nvidia appears to be having some trouble meeting demand based on the price behavior we’re still seeing two months after launch. Of the 67 tracked SKUs, 60 have been in stock at least once in the past 15 days.

GTX1070-Feature

The GTX 1070, in contrast, is now widely available from a number of companies, but again, not at its suggested MSRP. The cheapest 1070 we’ve seen is a $409 card from Asus (MSRP on the 1070 was $379 for the base card and $459 for the Founder’s Edition). NowInStock lists more than 30 separate SKUs on the 1070 currently in-stock. Interestingly, both the 1080 and 1070 are still selling for almost the same premium — about 20% over list price.

As for the 1060, which launched nine days ago, NIS.net lists four SKUs — three from Zotac and one from Nvidia itself. As with the other NV GPUs, list prices are running above MSRP — Zotac’s non-Founders GPU is $279 (12% above list price) with a $299 part available as well. The GTX 1060 hasn’t been out long enough for us to compare its inventory refresh the same way as the other cards, but it looks as though NV has kept a steady trickle of these cards moving out to market.

There’s no way to provide a comprehensive set of data on which GPUs are selling best, but we can check trends and concrete data from one European website that discloses individual GPU sales. First, over at Amazon, the RX 480 has nailed down the #1 GPU sales spot, while various incarnations of the 1070 hold spots 2-4. Only one other AMD card makes the top ten — an RX 480 4GB card from Sapphire, at #8.

Amazon-Bestseller

Data from Mindfactory.de suggests that the RX 480’s uptake has been fairly modest thus far. When we checked Mindfactory last week, we counted a total of 2,270 RX 480’s sold through the site. Seven days later, that number stands at 2,605, for a net gain of 335 cards. The GTX 1080 had sold 4,305 cards on 7/21 and 4,965 cards on 7/28, for a net gain of 660 cards.

This is more or less the opposite of what one might expect, since high-end cards tend to sell in much smaller figures than low-end GPUs do, but there are caveats in play. As we noted last month, the GTX 1080 was in very short supply, implying that some of what we’re seeing is pent-up upgrades from people still snapping up cards. Nvidia’s market share is also significantly larger than AMD’s, which will skew sales — very strong sales of a chip when you only have 20-25% of the overall market is a much smaller piece of the pie than it would be if the situation were reversed. It’s also possible that some customers are holding off on buying the RX 480 until third-party OEM cards are available, since those are expected to use eight-pin PCI Express connectors and may feature better overclocking.

Mindfactory reports that they’ve shipped more than 8,000 GTX 1070s since that card launched, and 1,780 GeForce 1060s in the past nine days. We’ll keep an eye on how these figures evolve over the next few weeks. As always, keep in mind that data reported from any single sales outlet can’t be generalized to the entire GPU business — we’re checking to see how things are evolving overall, not trying to make absolute pronouncements on relative sales figures.

Neither AMD nor Nvidia get top marks for keeping hardware in-market and available. The RX 480 is in very short supply, as is the GTX 1080 and the GTX 1060. If you’re waiting to see what OEM options look like for a midrange card from AMD or Nvidia, or you wanted a 1070 or 1080 at the actual suggested retail price, you’re still going to be waiting a while longer.

On the other hand, Nvidia does seem to be doing a reasonable job of keeping the 1060 in market in and in stock relative to the card’s recent launch date. The 1080 being difficult to find two months after launch doesn’t speak well of the company’s ability to ship its high-end GPU solutions — don’t count on finding a GP102 around town in the days after launch, either — but it’s clearly bringing the situation under control and the 1070 is now plentiful. Meanwhile, AMD’s RX 480 is selling well, but overall supply is clearly limited, and this will dampen the card’s ability to generate significant amounts of revenue if it doesn’t start hitting shelves in earnest in the near future.

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