Just two years ago, if you asked where you should go to buy a graphics card, the answer would have been more than a little complicated. A massive GPU shortage, online marketplace madness and rampant bot buyers and scalpers made buying a graphics card as an everyday shopper a true nightmare. Given that graphics cards are a core component for gaming PCs (not to mention a lot of creative workloads) and responsible for actually producing the visuals of a game, an inability to access a graphics card can mean an inability to enjoy a great many games. The landscape has changed considerably since then, but it’s still worth taking some care in deciding where to buy a graphics card.
You should set out to buy a graphics card with some knowledge.
Tips to start your graphics card buying journey
One absolute necessity to make sure you’re getting a good deal on a graphics card is to know how much it should actually cost. So, figure out what the MSRP of the graphics card you’re looking for is. AMD, Intel and Nvidia can all offer some guidance on this, as they’re the ones making the GPU that sits at the heart of each graphics card.
If you’re after an AMD card, you can look it up on AMD’s website. For instance, the product page for the Radeon RX 7900 XTX includes a starting price of $969. AMD even has its own store with the ability to buy some of its cards.
If you’re after Intel, the company doesn’t readily list the price of its graphics cards. However, it’s not hard to find MSRP data. When new cards launch, many tech websites will cover the launch and list pricing details.
Nvidia makes it simple to know what prices you should be looking for. If you go to the product page for one of its cards, like the RTX 3070, you can find starting prices listed. There’s also a “Shop All” button on the page that’ll provide even more useful info. That page will show you prices for cards from Nvidia’s board partners — the brands like Asus, Gigabyte, Zotac and more, which build Nvidia’s GPUs into their own graphics cards.
Knowing the MSRP gives you a solid footing to know when a price you’re seeing out in the wild is fair and when it’s good old-fashioned gouging. Board partners often have their own models that can add out-of-the-box overclocking, extra cooling or extra features, and these can inflate anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars at the high end, making it a little trickier to know if you’re seeing a good deal. What you should look for in this case is to see if the price is still below the next GPU class up (i.e., the most expensive RTX 4070 from one board partner should almost always be cheaper than the cheapest RTX 4070 Ti).
Finding a good price can get trickier if you’re looking at multiple generations of graphics cards. Paying MSRP for a card that’s been replaced by a new generation is a bad move. It’s hard to say just what an older card should be worth, but oftentimes you can see the top-end graphics card of a prior generation on sale for less than the price of the next lower tier (e.g., an RTX 3080 cheaper than an RTX 4070). Graphics card reviews often compare performance between generations, so you can check to see if the older card is still competitive against a newer model and evaluate its price-to-performance for yourself.
Now let’s look at what retailers you can rely on to find a graphics card.
Best Buy is by no means the best store for PC parts, but it’s a safe bet for graphics cards. Even during the worst of the GPU shortages, I never saw Best Buy list graphics cards for clearly marked-up prices. Best Buy offers online orders with shipping or store pickup, giving you some options for how and when you can get your card as well. And if you’re looking for a discount on a card that’s not actually on sale, you can sometimes find open-box inventory that has a lower price than an unopened product. Unlike buying secondhand, you can return an open-box product to Best Buy if something is wrong.
Here are a few strong options from Best Buy:
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with a Micro Center, you’ve got one of the best options for PC components around. You can check Micro Center’s web store for graphics cards and find a wide assortment of options. Some will be available for shipping, but Micro Center’s bread and butter is in-store sales. For the best results, you’ll want to pick a store near you and search its inventory. Like Best Buy, I never caught Micro Center marking up its graphics card stock, and the company even actively found ways to deter scalpers and look out for general consumers.
Here are a few strong options from Micro Center:
Related: I built a gaming PC with my kid — and you should too
B&H Photo Video
B&H offers a wide range of electronics, and it has no small selection of graphics cards. It carries the latest option and offers fast shipping. Like Best Buy and Micro Center, its prices reflect those that manufacturers set. I didn’t see any dubious pricing from B&H during the shortages, and there’s all the less likelihood of scalping prices now that inventory is back to normal.
Here are a few strong options from B&H:
Newegg is one of the most effective online stores when it comes to shopping for PC parts. It has a lot of shopping filters to help you narrow down results to only the items that match your needs. It often has promotions and discounts, and shipping is free on many products. It also has extremely extensive graphics card options. During the GPU shortages, it wasn’t the best place to shop, as it had obnoxious raffles and often forced shoppers to choose between paying for a bundle with extra components they might not need or not getting a graphics card. The situation appears better lately, though. However, with so many listings and third-party sellers, you can’t always be sure the listing you’re looking for is a good deal, so be sure to compare prices.
Here are a few strong options from Newegg:
Amazon or Walmart (with caution)
Amazon and Walmart can be decent places to pick up a new graphics card, but they take some care. You’ll want to go in armed with information on what the graphics card you’re looking for should actually cost and make sure you find it. Absurdly marked-up prices were prevalent on Amazon and Walmart during the GPU shortages, and you can still see unusually inflated prices from third-party sellers. For both sites, it’s worth looking to confirm that the seller is Amazon, Walmart or the graphics card manufacturer itself. If you use Amazon, the website CamelCamelCamel can show you the price history of a product as well, letting you see if the price is at a low point or if you could hold out for a lower one.
Here are a few strong options from Amazon and Walmart:
And here are a few examples of poor pricing on these sites:
Board partners’ online stores
If you know a specific graphics card you want — say, Gigabyte’s Aero 4070 to fit in with an all-white gaming PC build — you can sometimes find them for sale directly from the manufacturer.
Here’s a quick list of board makers with online stores that stock their graphics cards:
Knowing where and knowing when
As helpful as it is to know where you can buy a graphics card, it can be just as helpful to know when to buy one. Holidays often coincide with large sales that can see discounts on graphics cards, making them strong times to buy. We also regularly scour the web for outstanding deals on electronics, so you can keep an eye on CNN Underscored Deals for discounts on graphics cards. Timing in product life cycles can also help you ensure you’re getting a good price. Generally, news and rumors can alert you to the release of new graphics cards. If you know a new generation of graphics cards is coming, you should wait for the new cards to land at MSRP or for the old cards to drop below their original price.