MSI has acknowledged that one of its subsidiaries, Starlit Partners, was able to access stockpiles of RTX 3080 GPUs that the reseller should not have had access to, and that at least a few of these cards ended up being sold on eBay at much higher prices. End users discovered the relationship between the two companies and called it out on Reddit.
MSI has posted a brief note on Twitter, in which they claim that Starlit Partners is a reseller that’s supposed to handle refurbished equipment and excess inventory. According to the company, no RTX 3080 GPUs should have been sold through Starlit in the first place. The company has been ordered to contact all of the customers that it sold video cards to and offer them either a complete refund in exchange for returning the product or a refund on what they paid over MSRP in exchange for keeping the card they’ve already received.
Regarding Starlit Partner/eBay: pic.twitter.com/QqRDBNRdVa
— MSI Gaming USA (@msiUSA) October 7, 2020
We can safely assume that everyone affected will be taking option #2.
It looks as though both RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 GPUs slipped through this net, with four of the former and 11 of the latter being sold. MSI has claimed that this is an error, and if I’m being honest, I find that believable. Assume that MSI made an extra $ 1,000 per GPU sale and that’s still just $ 15,000. Nvidia has taken a great deal of flak from end-users who are frustrated about the non-availability of RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 GPUs, especially those frustrated about bots. Jensen Huang is not going to look favorably on any OEM found to be kicking cards out the door at 2-3x base price right now.
Fifteen cards is about what I’d expect from an individual employee or a handful of employees with access to inventory they shouldn’t have access to. If I’m being honest, I’d also rather MSI acknowledged these kinds of problems — that companies in general acknowledged them — rather than being left entirely in the dark while firms smile and promise that no, really, they’ve taken every precaution to safeguard stockpiles of GPUs from bots and scalpers, while actually taking no action whatsoever to safeguard their supply lines from bots and stalkers. Granted, this would look a little better if MSI had found the problem themselves, but the company is at least taking steps to refund the money of everyone who overpaid for a launch GPU.
It’s important, in an overarching sense of the word, for customers to be able to expect that they’ll be able to buy hardware on launch day if they take some reasonable steps to do so or, failing this, that they be able to pick it up in reasonably short order. Nobody on the manufacturing side of things has any reason to game the system at the moment, especially not given how sensitive Nvidia is going to be to anything delaying shipping RTX GPUs to as many customers as possible, as quickly as possible.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told reporters earlier this week that Nvidia does not expect RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 to improve before 2021, and that the RTX 3070 could also be tough to find this year. According to Jensen, this is entirely due to pent-up demand for Ampere. That’s certainly possible, but there are also additional factors in play, from questions about Samsung’s 8nm yields to the impact of bots and scalpers on near-term availability. Regardless of the exact mix of causes, getting Ampere into more people’s hands is a top priority.