What just happened? As much as the RTX 4090 costs, it's already sold out and listing at a significant markup on eBay. So, Nvidia is testing a new reservation system to help customers who have an interest in and the money for its latest flagship GPU. The company is also rethinking the launch of its current lowest-tier 40 series model.
An Nvidia staff member confirmed this week that the company is trying out a program to connect a certain number of players and content creators directly to RTX 4090 purchasing options. Nvidia could use the idea to smoothen future product launches if it works well.
The trial - called "Verified Priority Access," - will notify certain users through Nvidia's GeForce Experience app. The notifications contain unique URLs leading to reserved 4090 Founders Editions at third-party retailers depending on the region. For now, the program works through Best Buy in the United States, Scan in the UK, NBB in Germany and the Netherlands, and LDLC in France, Italy, and Spain.
Verified Priority Access sounds similar to EVGA's Elite Priority Access program, which lets EVGA membership program members order new hardware a day earlier than other customers. However, while EVGA's guarantee goes to customers who purchase certain hardware from its store or interact with its community, Nvidia seems to have no prerequisite for its program other than downloading GeForce Experience.
An early access order guarantee could be a new ploy to convince Nvidia GPU users to download GeForce Experience, which some have railed against. The app is useful for easily downloading the latest graphics drivers but requires a login, which many users find unnecessary for that simple function.
For now, users who don't want to wait on a reservation system may have to contend with eBay inflation, which is already adding over $1,000 to the 4090's $1,600 MSRP. Most listings on the site range from around $2,200 to $2,800, but some are over $4,000. According to PC Mag, even in today's post-crypto mining market, at least dozens of customers have already paid those prices.
Meanwhile, this week Nvidia also announced it's "unlaunching" the 12GB RTX 4080 due to a name the company called confusing. Nvidia unveiled the 4000 series with the 4090 along with 16GB and 12GB 4080 variants, but VRAM isn't the only difference between the two. Different CUDA core counts led many to accuse the 12GB 4080 of being a $900 4070 in disguise, suggesting an 80 percent price increase from the 3070, which launched at $500 in 2020.
The 4080 models' $900 and $1,200 MSRPs - a massive increase over the 3080's $700 launch price - are arguably the most controversial aspect of the 40 series launch. Nvidia boss Jensen Huang justified the hike by declaring Moore's Law dead, as he previously did multiple times. It's difficult to say how much longer we can expect price decreases to accompany die shrinks, but one sign this year may be how AMD prices the rival RDNA 3 GPUs when they launch in November and how Nvidia responds.