On the morning of September 17, 2020, I woke up at 8:30 a.m., a full half an hour before pre-orders for Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080 card were supposed to rise. The night before, by the grace of the gods, I actually managed to pre-order a PlayStation 5. Now I focused on going two versus two with the new GPU. Certainly, a graphics processing unit would be relatively easy to snap up compared to one of the most anticipated game consoles of all time.
I ventured into ResetEra, the internet forum for everything to do with games. As with the PS5, there was a new thread for those who wanted to order the RTX 3080, and the opening post included links to the landing pages of the major retailers
I opened them all.
The first try
The clock struck 9 a.m. and it was time to go to work. Although I was advised not to buy a Founder's Edition directly from Nvidia, as third-party models tend to increase the card's clock speed, I felt safer to order from Nvidia. Also, their card had a nifty new cooling system that I wasn't sure would be included in the non-founder edition. So my original plan was to get one straight from the source.
Nvidia was the first to let me down.
Their landing page for the 3080 was on a "Notify Me" button that I had clicked days earlier to be notified when the 3080 was on sale. 9:01 am Only a minute had passed, but with the recent stress of having a PS5 firmly on my mind, I know a minute is an eternity when it comes to things like that.
Nobody reported an inventory. “Did the 3080 even go on sale? Did someone forget to flip the switch? "I checked the ResetEra thread. That feeling that the 3080s just weren't up for sale was a common one. Then posts came in. Less than a few commenters had somehow managed to secure one. It posed turned out the trick at Nvidia was to buy a 2080, which took you to a store page where a 3080 could only be bought for seconds before you read "out of stock." On the current 3080 landing page was still "Notify".
People couldn't believe it. Commenters were deleting videos of themselves at 9am sharp, updating the store they accessed when purchasing a 2080, and changing the Notify tab to Out of Stock with no "Buy Now" option in between .
A conspiracy was formed. Some people were sure this was all a ploy to get you to buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090, which will be available later that year with higher performance and a higher price of $ 1,499 compared to the $ 699. Dollar of the 3080 comes on the market.
It was then that the whispers of a 3080 Discord began, a chat room that may have been a little faster with updates when the draw was made. "Does anyone have a link?" asked an innocent ResetEra member. "Here!" answered another, dropping a portal to discord that everyone could see.
That was the beginning of the chaos.
A community is formed
In ResetEra, you create hidden links to prevent everyone and their mom from descending on them. No such masking was granted for this post. "DELETE THAT!" Posted by multiple commentators. But it was too late. Together with hundreds of others, I quickly joined the secret discord.
The small group of members that had been there long before the sales increase was surprised. Their discord was not designed to be without two-factor authentication to verify a real user, with no rules page, no publishing restrictions, and most importantly, no slow motion to prevent the chat from being a flaming scroll of text impossible to navigate.
The locks opened.
What was meant to be a useful resource for the most dedicated PC gamers looking to get a GPU had become a useless mess of yelling and spam. Within seconds, the discord was reduced and anyone who had joined was erased, no matter whether they were friends or foes.
Blasted back to ResetEra, one of the Discord owners offered to allow people as long as they were addressing private messages to them, but shortly after posting a hidden link in the thread, she quoted as having received dozens of private messages in a matter of seconds .
Back to the discord, things were a little less hectic and the original members were more welcome now as the majority of the members were genuinely interested in buying a card rather than trolls. However, that hasn't stopped some from posting links to the previous 20 series cards. At first glance, these offers are almost identical to the 30s series, and while people in the chat would scream "IT'S A 2080, DON'T BUY IT", many were too eager and ended up buying the wrong GPU .
Fortunately, the majority of those purchases had a quick cancellation process – but it added an unwanted mess to the mix, and posting a link to a card that was anything but a 3080 without specifying it quickly resulted in an immediate ban.
People got the trick of 2080.
As the trolls got kicked out, the waves of comments slowed towards calm waters. At that point, the news came that Nvidia, like the third-party shop fronts, was out of stock. It turned out that B&H had no shares to begin with.
All eyes were then on Amazon, with the majority of members believing the card had never been available there. Rumor has it that stocks are replenished every hour on the hour. Scripts were created by tech-savvy members and paired with a browser plug-in so many users had an Amazon window that updated every five seconds with a full list of in-stock and out-of-stock items.
But the mythical supplies never came. The goalposts were changing and the hope was that the next hour would bring more supplies. The rumor turned to the hope that when the clock on the east coast set to midnight, Amazon would have plenty of offers. Midnight ET came and no such luck. "Then it would have been the Pacific, right ?!" some said. Midnight Pacific came and went. The tickets remained sold out.
"Then it would have been the Pacific, right ?!" some hoped. Midnight Pacific came and went. No updates were found.
That kind of reaction would happen every hour.
When people woke up on September 18 and returned to those who held the 24 hour watch, RTX 3080 stock was still a wasteland. Those who are still active in the discord decided to keep the dream alive, slowly trickled in and asked, "Any changes?" A lucky couple who had managed to order cards the day before said their GPU was about to ship. They showed screenshots of their UPS truck's delivery route and eventually pictures of it coming through their window.
Rather than encountering jealousy and contempt, the community congratulated the select few who would play at 4K120 without breaking a sweat.
Then something wonderful happened.
The end was in sight
An Amazon posting for a third-party card direct from the supplier was displayed. It wasn't one of the most popular brands like EVGA or MSI, but Zotac, which was derided as unreliable by some in the chat. But for many it didn't matter. They just wanted this to be over. Soon the chat with proclamations of "I GOT ONE!" This was followed by reviews of the card, which showed that negative prejudices against Zotac were seemingly unwarranted.
People have a card! It might not be what they wanted, but it was something.
People wondered if the card would fit their setup or if their order would be canceled, but many of them were happy and stepped back to answer one of those questions later. For now it was done.
Discord chat is still chugging along, and those who snagged Zotac pre-orders made their minds about cancellation and compatibility worries. Many are now also returning as the west coast wakes up after missing the short window to pick one up.
For many, the saga of buying an RTX 3080 has only just begun.