Navigating The Secret GPU Trade Waters

About two weeks ago, Gamers Nexus released a pertinent video about the secret GPU trade. The supply constraints across the entire performance spectrum have forced bundles within the Newegg Shuffle that contain additional products which are undesired or unnecessary for many customers. The calculations done by Andrew Freedman at Tom’s Hardware place the odds of winning such a bundle at .001%. The odds finally stacked in our favor about a week ago. The regular offerings vary by day and include a mix of AMD RX 6000-series GPUs and nVidia RTX 30-series GPUs. During each Shuffle, one or two of the GPUs that are up for grabs may be purchased individually if your name is selected. The balance of available product requires purchasing one additional item. The Gigabyte PSU’s that Steve Burke highlighted are a common option. Specific motherboards supporting Intel or AMD platforms are the more frequent inclusion in the Shuffle bundle. The winning selection that was made available for purchase was a Sapphire Nitro+ Radeon RX 6700 XT that was paired with an AsRock Steel Legend B550M Micro-ATX motherboard.

The GPU by itself was marked up one hundred percent over where it would be priced if supply chain constraints were not present. Having a foundation for the system build due to the guarantee of getting a GPU, the remaining parts to put together a complete system were procured. The summarization of points that Gamers Nexus provided for overstock or unwanted stock being jettisoned to customers who are desperate for current-generation GPU goodness holds true. In the case of the Steel Legend motherboard, the BIOS on the board we received was v1.1. The minimum BIOS where a current-generation Ryzen 5000-series CPU is officially supported is v1.2. The most up-to-date release is v2.0. If the channel inventory on this specific model was being actively rotated based on selling through allocations regularly, the expectation would lead to receiving a board with a minimum BIOS revision of v1.4 or v1.5.

Motherboards that do not contain any provision for USB Flashback functionality to update the BIOS to the desired revision without installing a CPU may leave recipients scrambling for a potential alternative. This may involve shipping your brand-new motherboard to the vendor to have them perform the update, visiting a local computer shop or Micro Center (if you’re lucky enough to live by one) to have them perform the service at an incremental cost, or leveraging AMD’s boot kit loaner program to obtain the necessary CPU (on a temporary basis) to bring the firmware to a level that supports a newer processor. Thankfully, there was a way to update the v1.1 Steel Legend motherboard using a Ryzen 7 5800X in a stripped down configuration. Following this procedure allowed a transition to the most recent BIOS (v2.0) before the boot kit processor arrived.

Forecasts related to normalization of GPU supply availability to meet or exceed pent-up demand are now projected to be constrained until 2022. The new normals of bundles, which may include unwanted or potentially dangerous adjunct products, will continue for the foreseeable future. There is sufficient data available on the RTX 30-series GPUs and RX 6000-series GPUs to determine which model(s) are desirable for your build. An equivalent amount of time should be spent researching the bundled product to determine if it’s viable for use or if it should be immediately recycled at a facility that accepts electronic waste.

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