If you're going to build a new PC, do it now before Trump's GPU tax arrives
Just when you think graphics cards couldn't be any harder to buy...
If you have plans to build your own PC for the New Year (don't miss our guide on how to build your own PC in 2021 the right way if you're looking for tips), you should plan to do so very soon. This is because of the Trump administration's "List 3" tariffs that are intended to tax various Chinese products now include graphics cards and motherboards. Previously, these components were exempt from the tariffs, but these exemptions were not extended and thus expired at the start of 2021, according to a report from The Verge. As a result of this, GPUs and motherboards made in China are soon to be taxed 25 percent.
What does this mean if you're an average consumer looking to pick up a shiny new GPU or motherboard? Unfortunately, there's a good chance that PC part manufacturers will raise the price of components in order to help offset the impact of the tax. ASUS in particular has already stated to Videocardz that it is increasing the cost of its GPUs and motherboards, although thankfully it worked to "minimize price increases." Here is the full statement from ASUS Technical Product Marketing Manager Juan Jose Guerrero III:
The recent surge of Bitcoin may only worsen the situation if you're looking to get a new GPU. Recently, Coindesk reported that the price of Bitcoin doubled in less than a month from December to January, even briefly topping $40,000 for the first time ever. At the time of writing, the price of Bitcoin sits at about $32,500, but if the general upward trend continues it could result in a significantly increased demand for GPUs to be used for crypto mining. Previously in 2018, skyrocketing Bitcoin prices resulted in a massive GPU shortage that lasted for months. This could happen again in 2021, resulting in the availability of GPUs going down and the price going up on top of the hiked costs that will likely be brought about by the Trump tax.
Another thing that makes things worse for the future of PC building is that it's nigh-impossible to find most GPUs in stock already. Stock for both NVIDIA's 30-series cards like the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 as well as AMD's 6000-series GPUs such as the Radeon RX 6800 has been ravaged by scalpers and genuine buyers alike, resulting in almost nothing on the shelf and skyrocketed resale prices on eBay. You'll probably have more luck if you're aiming for an older card, but regardless, getting your hands on any GPU is difficult right now.
Ultimately, all of this means that you should take any good deal on a GPU you can find and build your new PC right now, before Trump's tax goes into effect and before rising Bitcoin prices potentially result in a major extension of the GPU shortage that buyers are already having to deal with.
While things do look pretty bleak for PC building at the moment, there's a chance that things will improve over the course of 2021. Firstly, as reported by TechRadar, the shortage of new GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD may finally begin to end come February 2021. It will likely take a few months after that for the supply chain to get running smoothly again, especially during a pandemic, but it's nonetheless a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to.
It's also worth pointing out that Bitcoin's recent upward trend may not continue, which would (hopefully) help the market avoid extreme demand for GPUs that manufacturers can't supply. This wouldn't be great news if you're a crypto miner, but it's certainly something that gaming PC builders would love to hear.
Finally, Trump's tariffs may be altered or reversed by the Biden administration following the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20. There's no concrete indication that the administration will do this so far, but Neil Torpey, chairman of Paul Hastings LLP's Hong Kong office, has stated that "The incoming Biden administration is expected to bring a return to relative normalcy" in regards to business relations. We can only hope that this "return to normalcy" includes cutting the taxes on GPUs and motherboards.
What do you think? Are you going to try and build your PC before Trump's taxes go into effect, or are you going to wait and see how the market changes over the course of the next several months? Let me know. Personally, this whole situation is making me glad I built my new gaming rig over the holidays.
If you'd prefer to buy a pre-built PC instead, we highly recommend the Alienware Aurora R11. It's one of the best Dell gaming desktops out there, and it's also one of the best gaming desktop PCs in general. This is because of its powerful specs, sleek design, and competitive pricing.
The Alienware Aurora R11's excellent specs, sleek and stylish design, and competitive prices make it one of our favorite pre-built gaming PCs on the market. It's a fantastic alternative if you're not comfortable with the DIY PC market right now.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.