The Nvidia RTX 4090 currently reigns as the fastest GPU among the best graphics cards, sitting in the pole position on our GPU benchmarks hierarchy. It has never been an affordable card, with an MSRP of $1,599, but recently the trend has been even higher prices. In the U.S., we’ve seen the lowest priced card increase in cost by 10% during the past month, and looking at specific models on Amazon, some of them have shot up even more. There are multiple factors potentially at play.
First and perhaps foremost, the RTX 4090 will be subject to China export restrictions starting November 17. That’s thanks to its raw computational power, but perhaps also because it’s just a bit too much like the data center Nvidia L40 and L40S — those use the same AD102 chip as the 4090. But restricting these GPUs from export to China also means that assembling the graphics cards in China is also prohibited. Most graphics card companies do their card assembly in China for cost reasons, and so Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, PNY, etc. will all have to shift production of 4090 cards elsewhere — and China-centric brands may have to halt production completely.
Looking at some of the custom RTX 4090 cards on CamelCamelCamel gives insight into how things have progressed over recent months. The Asus RTX 4090 TUF OC bottomed out at $1,699, but now it sells for $1,819 — the highest ever price for that card on Amazon. Similarly, the Asus 4090 ROG Strix OC hit a low of $1,885 in May but has spiked as high as $2,173 in October and currently sits at $2,640 (because it’s mostly out of stock).
We could try looking at other 4090 models, but there’s another disturbing trend: Most of the 4090 cards are starting to go out of stock. Is that because demand has increased? It’s possible but unlikely. More probably is that the supply has dried up, either because it became too expensive to manufacture, or because something else is coming down the pipeline.
That leads to the third potential factor influencing price and availability: The long-rumored RTX 4090 Ti. We’ve been hearing supposed “leaks” about the 4090 Ti (sometimes also called the new Titan RTX) for most of the past year. Certainly, Nvidia left room for a higher performance AD102 part when it created the RTX 4090. But given the melting 16-pin connector snafu of the 4090 and its already somewhat obscene 450W TGP rating, pushing out an RTX 4090 Ti with a 600W or higher TGP seems like asking for more problems.
Nevertheless, the latest Nvidia RTX 4070 Ti Super rumors also include mention of an RTX 4070 Super, RTX 4080 Super, and the RTX 4090 Ti. It may or may not happen, but if a 4090 Ti is going to be launched within the next couple of months (CES 2024 in January seems like a real possibility), graphics card manufacturers would almost certainly halt production of vanilla 4090 cards.
That’s because the 4090 currently sits as the halo product, with a price to match. Those who wanted the fastest possible GPU can be enticed into paying for the 4090 rather than a 4080, but by the same token, if a 4090 Ti exists, why would they then opt for the penultimate GPU that launched last year? In other words, if Nvidia launches a 4090 Ti, it will likely discontinue the 4090, or at least reduce production on that part.
There’s another cynical factor that may also be at play. Black Friday GPU sales are theoretically right around the corner. And while we don’t usually see a lot of great deals on graphics cards, we often see prices trend upward right before the sales kick off. That GPU that was selling for $600 earlier this year might suddenly jump to $700 for a month or so, only to “go on sale” for $600 again. “Save 14%!”
We can’t say for certain how each of the above factors into the RTX 4090 pricing equation, but we do know that 4090 prices have been creeping upward for the past two months. Ideally, we’ll get a new RTX 4090 Ti priced at the same $1,599 MSRP as the 4090 in the near future. More likely, unfortunately, is that such a card — if it exists and comes out soon — will bump the MSRP up a notch. Whatever the case, we’ll continue to track prices as we wait to see where things end up.