Why are NVIDIA RTX 4090 prices so high? China reportedly still can't get enough of the GPU

NVIDIA's RTX 4090 is banned in China, but people are purchasing via the black market, rather than going for the official alternative RTX 4090 D variant.

2 minutes & 50 seconds read time

NVIDIA's RTX 4090 remains a highly sought after graphics card in China, even though Team Green has deployed an alternative 4090 D model.

NVIDIA's RTX 4090 is a powerful graphics card, but the 4090 D variant isn't that far behind it (Image Credit: NVIDIA)

NVIDIA's RTX 4090 is a powerful graphics card, but the 4090 D variant isn't that far behind it (Image Credit: NVIDIA)

The RTX 4090 D is only marginally slower than the full-fat RTX 4090 which is now banned in China - NVIDIA has previously said the difference in performance is only 5% or thereabouts - yet still the original Lovelace flagship remains popular on the black market.

Wccftech reports that various Asian countries are seeing a huge spike in sales for the RTX 4090, and that includes Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam, because the buyers are selling them on to the Chinese market.

Such is the demand, retailers in those territories are starting to avoid selling the RTX 4090 as a standalone graphics card, and are putting the GPUs inside prebuilt PCs instead - but even that isn't deterring some folks according to Wccftech.

The tech site spotted that on MyDrivers, the word is that those selling to the Chinese market are still buying those whole PC systems, just to extract the RTX 4090 and sell the graphics card on.

Even this is still a profitable way to proceed, if the reports are to be believed - put on your skeptical hat as always with tales like these. An example is given of a buyer ordering 20 prebuilt PCs with NVIDIA RTX 4090 graphics cards inside from a retailer in Taipei, at a cost of 32,000 RMB or $4450 each, but still managing to make a profit selling on the flagship NVIDIA GPU.

And, of course, they've still got the rest of these PCs to do something with - they could just slot in another replacement GPU, and resell the whole system.

If you were wondering why the price of Lovelace flagship graphics cards remains so high, it's clear enough that demand is still pretty strong in China, and this is continuing to have a knock-on effect elsewhere.

Taking a look at Newegg in the US right now, you can't get an RTX 4090 for anything less than $2000 (at the time of writing), and it's been that way for a while. We can't imagine the situation will change much in the near future, either, with NVIDIA's plan to push the RTX 4090 D variant in China appearing to have hit a stumbling block.

That noted, there are more positive signs with graphics card pricing elsewhere in the US, as some models have fallen in price since NVIDIA pushed out its new RTX Super refreshes in January.

With NVIDIA cutting the price of the existing RTX 4070 following the 4070 Super debuting at its MSRP of $599, we've seen that RX 7800 XT drop to new lows of around the $480 or $490 mark, which is great news for consumers hunting for good mid-range GPU options.

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* Prices last scanned on 2/27/2024 at 10:10 pm CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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