Nvidia Is Testing a ‘Priority Access’ Program for RTX 4090 Founders Edition GPUs
I attempted to add an Nvidia RTX 4090 to my cart this week just out of pure curiosity. I didn’t need the card, but I wanted to see if the launch availability was better now that GPU mining is in the rearview mirror. Sadly, the situation hasn’t changed one bit from the height of the pandemic. On Best Buy, RTX 4090 GPUs went from “not available” to “out of stock” in the blink of an eye. I literally refreshed the page and they were all gone. Over on Newegg, I could add the GPU to my cart, but then mid-checkout it told me it was out of stock.
This is exactly what happened with every Ampere launch as well. If anyone thought companies might have invested time and money into fixing this situation in the intervening two years, they haven’t. It’s still a sh*tshow.
But now Nvidia seems to be working on a solution to this problem. Over in the GeForce forums, an Nvidia employee has posted about a new program called Verified Priority Access. Starting today, select GeForce Experience users might see an official invitation from Nvidia to buy an RTX 4090 Founders Edition GPU from Best Buy. The program will be offered through the following retailers in these countries:
- Best Buy (United States)
- Scan (United Kingdom)
- NBB (Germany & Netherlands)
- LDLC (France, Italy, and Spain)
According to Videocardz, these lucky (or unlucky, financially) users will be greeted with an in-app notification inviting them to buy a GPU from their local retailer. It’s unclear if the user will have a certain amount of time to make a decision before it expires. For example, they may want to consult with their significant other, loan officer, and so on. It’s also unclear how Nvidia is selecting which people to include in the program. Is GeForce Experience somehow monitoring the number of times you pressed F5 on Newegg? Also, what does it mean to be “verified?”
As the image above notes, all you need to be invited is a late-model Nvidia GPU and GeForce Experience. It also says, “while supplies last” and “available for a limited time.” This makes us wonder if we’d experience the same thing as we did on launch day. Click Add to Cart, only to find it’s “out of stock” before we can input our card details.
Still, this is where the industry might be headed. That is, to get a new GPU on launch day you’ll need to be a registered member of some club. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Best Buy’s Totaltech program, which launched during the pandemic. This required you to pay $200 for access to Nvidia GPUs, which were impossible to purchase otherwise. EVGA also had a similar program named Elite Priority. This was a free program that granted access to new products 24 hours before the unwashed masses. Since EVGA is no longer making Nvidia GPUs, it’s not clear if such a program is even necessary anymore.
It’s an interesting idea from Nvidia but seems half-baked in its implementation if it truly is random. It would make more sense to just ask people if they’re interested first, and if so, put them into the lottery. Perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes, but it doesn’t seem like it based on the available information. It also wouldn’t surprise us to see Nvidia launch some kind of special access program, for a price. It’s obviously aware that not everyone who wants to buy a GPU on launch day can do so. Therefore, it’s leaving money on the table. The same thing goes for its partners as well. Whether Nvidia and its partners have enough cards to satisfy demand at launch is unknown. It’s possible that even if the companies wanted to sell a card to everyone who wanted one, they couldn’t make enough without months of prep time.
For now, you might as well open up GeForce Experience to see if you’re one of the chosen. However, if you’re not running a 4K monitor you might want to hold off for a bit. Nvidia has also released some benchmarks for its RTX 4080 GPUs, but third-party benches won’t show up for a few more weeks. If you’re itching for a midrange GPU, we’d say check out Intel’s new A7 series, but they’re sold out as well.
It really does feel like we’ve gone back in time. Even with mining mostly dead, it’s still impossible to buy a new GPU on launch day, regardless of its horsepower. Perhaps Nvidia’s solution, or one like it, will be the solution to this dilemma.