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Want a GPU from Best Buy? Get ready for a $200 paywall

Best Buy used to rank highly amongst reliable sources of the best graphics cards, but this could be about to change — or at the very least, it just got a whole lot more expensive.

The latest drop of Nvidia RTX 30-series graphics cards was locked to only include customers who purchased a membership to the Best Buy Totaltech program. The membership costs $199 per year.

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Line outside of Best Buy for RTX restock.

In the dire times of the seemingly never-ending GPU shortage, Best Buy has been a fairly good source of graphics cards, known for occasionally stocking Nvidia’s RTX 30-series Founders Edition GPUs at MSRP. Sales took place online and offline at Best Buy’s brick-and-mortar locations and provided a way for gamers to buy a new graphics card without paying ridiculously overpriced scalper prices. Of course, that is not to say the sales always went without a hitch.

During in-store events, hundreds of people camped outside of Best Buy only to be turned away once the GPU stock has run out. Online sales often went by in a flash, selling out in seconds. However, this is more of an observation of the state of the market as a whole: There just aren’t enough graphics cards sold at reasonable prices to satisfy the current demand. It seems that from now on, Best Buy may no longer be the go-to source for getting a GPU without an added premium.

The U.S. retailer restocked some Nvidia RTX 30-series Founders Edition graphics cards on February 10, only this time, the drop was gated to require an Exclusive Event Access sign-up fee. In order to gain access, users would have to pay $199 upfront for a yearly subscription to the Best Buy Totaltech program. As a result, the stock lasted a lot longer than usual, but the cards sold out within around four hours. It’s unclear how many people bit the bullet and purchased the membership just to grab a GPU at MSRP.

The program provides various benefits aside from access to exclusive stock drops. The perks include free Geek Squad tech support, up to 24 months of product protection, free delivery within two days, 60-day returns, and “access to exclusive Totaltech member prices.” If used correctly, the program could certainly pay for itself over the course of a year, but many users may subscribe just to be able to buy a graphics card.

Founder editions say exclusive access event and we know what that means.

Everyone’s favorite subscription model Total Tech

Sign up here:

— KillerCam1020🎮 (@CameronRitz) February 10, 2022

This isn’t the first time Best Buy has used its Totaltech program to limit sales only to a select group of people. It has done the same with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X stock drops in the previous year. However, this is the first time Best Buy used Totaltech for graphics cards drops.

Best Buy’s new policy was first spotted by CameronRitz on Twitter as well as a disgruntled user on Reddit. While graphics cards prices are a sensitive topic for many gamers who can’t get their hands on one, Best Buy’s Totaltech Exclusive Event Access plan makes sense from a business standpoint. Clearly, the demand was there even with the $199 premium, considering that the GPUs still sold out. It’s just unfortunate that the market is the way it is, making building a PC more expensive than ever before, and we’ve just lost another source of reasonably-priced graphics cards.

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