While 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, prices for it continue to climb. We wrote about the 10% increase since October just last week (the details are repeated below), but prices are now nearing the $2,000 mark on the cheapest cards. There’s still a single Zotac RTX 4090 for $1,899 at Newegg, but the next cheapest is $1,999, and the next cheapest after that kicks the price up to $2,149. What exactly is going on?
As discussed previously, the RTX 4090 is now subject to China export restrictions starting November 17 — that’s today. In short, any Nvidia card using the AD102 chip is now on the export list. Restricting these GPUs from export to China means that assembling 4090 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.
There’s also the fact that RTX 4090 inventory seems to be drying up. Many 4090 cards are out of stock, and we doubt that’s due to increased demand. More probable is that Nvidia and its partners aren’t making the cards anymore, or if they are, the costs to assemble the cards (see above) has increased significantly. Halting production on the 4090 would also make a lot of sense if something else is coming down the pipeline.
There’s no official word from Nvidia, but the long-rumored RTX 4090 Ti (or perhaps RTX 4090 Super?) may actually come to market. We’ve been hearing supposed “leaks” about the 4090 Ti (sometimes also called the new Titan RTX) for most of the past year, including numerous shots of a massive quad-slot cooler. Nvidia left room for a higher performance AD102 part when it created the RTX 4090, but perhaps it scrapped the 4-slot design and will simply use the existing 4090 model with additional cores and cache enabled. Given the melting 16-pin connector snafu of the 4090, an RTX 4090 Ti with a 600W or higher TGP seems like asking for trouble, so Nvidia may also stick with a 450W TGP.
We can also cynically point out that Black Friday GPU sales are right around the corner. We don’t usually see a lot of great deals on graphics cards, but 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%!” But the above reasons mean that, out of all GPUs, the 4090 is least likely to see the usual price hike and then discount cycle this year.
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 few months. It’s possible we’ll get a new RTX 4090 Ti priced at the same $1,599 MSRP as the 4090 in the near future. That would be the best-case scenario, frankly. More likely, unfortunately, is that such a card — if it even exists and comes to market — will bump the MSRP up a notch. Those $1,999 RTX 4090 cards may soon become the base model RTX 4090 Ti / Super. Whatever the case, we’ll continue to track prices as we wait to see where things end up.