You could get an RTX 3090 for $120 from a mystery box

Getting an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series or AMD Radeon RX 6000 series graphics card for $120 sounds like a scam, but it was briefly possible — at least in theory. The cards, alongside many other much less expensive models, were found inside mystery boxes that were up for sale on Amazon Japan.

The mystery boxes sold out in record time, providing just how desperate many users are for a decent graphics card. The question is: Were the mystery boxes a great deal or a smart way for the seller to make money at a time when GPUs are so hard to come by?

According to the now sold-out listing on Amazon.co.jp, the mystery boxes were priced at around 14,000 Japanese yen which translates to around $120. The seller described the contents of the box, promising that each would contain a graphics card, with a slim chance of winning the jackpot and getting one of the best graphics cards on the market.

The cards found inside the mystery boxes weren’t all new. The seller stated that refurbished and used cards were also included alongside the all-new RTX 30 series or Radeon 6000 series GPUs.

It’s clear that the chance of scoring a graphics card in the rough times of the ongoing GPU shortage was enough to make people jump on the gamble, but the odds of making a profit were not all that high. In that, the seller was very transparent: They provided a full summary of the cards that could be found in the box alongside the odds of getting each kind of card.

According to the seller, the mystery box had a 16% chance of containing an Nvidia GeForce GTX 900 series or Radeon RX 300 series GPU. The odds get lower as the cards get better: An 8% chance of scoring a GTX 10 series or RX 500 series card, a 4% chance of getting an RTX 20 series or RX 5000 series card, and finally, a 2% chance of winning one of the latest RTX 30 series or RX 6000 graphics cards. The remaining 70% was made up of older, presumably much cheaper cards.

A list of the odds for the mystery GPU boxes.
Image source: Amazon

Considering the current GPU prices, there was around a 30% chance of making a profit if reselling the card later on. However, this entirely depends on the state of the card, not to mention the fact that 70% of customers would still get a cheap and much older Nvidia or AMD GPU. The seller did not accept returns or exchanges, so the customers are stuck with whatever they found inside their mystery boxes.

The listing was initially found and reported on by Wccftech. There have been no reviews from actual buyers yet, so it’s impossible to tell whether they struck a good deal or were disappointed with the contents of the mystery box. However, it’s important to remember that the boxes were probably just an expensive way to gamble.

Following the old adage: “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” If the seller wasn’t making a profit, they wouldn’t offer the mystery boxes in the first place, which means that the vast majority of the customers may walk away disappointed once their boxes arrive. However clever (and also quite fun) the idea of ​​these mystery GPU boxes may seem, the fact that the boxes sold out so quickly perfectly highlights just how badly people want to get a good GPU — and how difficult it has been for the past year or two.

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