We all know how bad online availability for new GPU and CPU processors is right now, but sometimes a traditional method of acquiring PC parts has its merits. While brick-and-mortar stores are on a huge decline, companies like Micro Center still draw plenty of crowds IRL — even in times like these.
The national US retailer has long been a bastion for PC gamers and tech enthusiasts. And with personal computers in huge demand, it’s no surprise that Micro Center is doing fine while other companies are closing shop. Truth be told, I’ve taken several trips to Micro Center this year for component replacements and workstation upgrades. I’ve also done so to check in on CPU and GPU availability due to the company’s unique policy on purchases of said parts right now. If you’re out of the loop, Micro Center cut out online sales and basically quit answering the phone as perhaps the most extreme, yet effective measure of dealing with the bots and scalpers that I’ve heard of to date. That’s right, in an age where online sales are paramount, the company has taken a step backwards.
It’s hard to say how this approach is working out overall for sales, but it’s an admirable gesture to ensure local customers get first pick. I suspect the company will resume normal online sales once a majority of the stores have stock. However, online sales will likely remain a difficult mode of acquiring a GPU or Ryzen 5000 Series CPU for the foreseeable future.
Wait in line or wait online
In mid March I took a trip to Micro Center and was not surprised to find a long line of gamers outside waiting for a GPU shipment. This has been the norm, and will likely continue to be the norm until crypto miners can’t benefit from buying regular GPUs. There probably weren’t any miners in that line, but that’s what gamers are being forced to do at this point. Fight over the little bit that is available. Yet as frustrating as that looked, they were guaranteed a GPU at MSRP if they were high enough in the pecking order to have access to the small amount of GPUs sent in on the weekly truck.
I asked a lot of questions about the situation when I was there, but things admittedly looked rough back in March. However, I was pleased to find out that Micro Center tracks people’s IDs to try and prevent scalping. The employees are also as transparent as they can be about the situation. It’s certainly refreshing, despite the lack of any guarantee and the inconvenience of driving up there.
One 5600X and a 6900 XT, please
What really surprised me though was my visit on April 19. I knew there were 5600X and 5800X CPUs in stock last month, but availability was seemingly improving at the time. Things have since taken a turn for the worse again though. Not even 5800X CPUs can be found online aside from the bundles on antonline. That’s why Micro Center’s in-store availability is such a stark contrast to online retailers. As the cover image of this article shows, I found a case full of AMD Ryzen 5600X and 5800X CPUs in stock. And on sale below MSRP at that.
The surprises kept coming, though. That last thing I ever thought to see were new GPUs. The PowerColor Red Devil 6900 XT models are far from cheap at $1800+ USD. Still, they’re cheaper than what weaker 3080s are going for on eBay at the moment. And they are sitting on a shelf at the Micro Center in Marietta, Georgia.
While the online situation continues to look awful, there seems to be some improvement at brick-and-mortar retailers. I’m glad I took the time to check the GPU and CPU availability out again and will continue to report on Micro Center and any other retailers that show signs of stock recovery. Stay tuned.
The author is vaccinated for COVID-19 and does not suggest readers take any specific course of action for acquiring PC parts. This is just a recap of PC Invasion’s report.