As Prices Soar, Graphics Card Manufacturers Appeal To Cryptocurrency Miners

You might have to wait to upgrade your graphics card. The increasing popularity of the Ethereum cryptocurrency has caused "miners," who essentially earn units of the cryptocurrency by having their GPUs solve complex math problems, to buy out many mid-range graphics cards. Prices are rising, supply is falling, and now companies like Asus want to appeal directly to miners with new graphics cards.

Last week, the problem was mostly limited to AMD's RX 500-series and Nvidia's GTX 1070. It was nigh impossible to find RX 500-series graphics cards anywhere, and the price of GTX 1070 graphics cards almost reached parity with the more powerful GTX 1080, which have been mostly unaffected by the mining craze so far. The lower-end GTX 1060 also had its price inflated into the $250-$350 range, but was less affected, as miners focused on the GTX 1070.

That changed. Now the price of many GTX 1060s on Newegg has risen above $400, even though many retailed for around $250 two weeks ago. Amazon seems to have sold out of many GTX 1060s--popular models are currently only available from third-party sellers instead of directly from Amazon or from the cards' manufacturers. This suggests that Amazon and OEMs have all sold through their current stock of GTX 1060s.

Most GTX 1080 graphics cards still appear to be unaffected by the mining craze. That's probably because these graphics cards require more investment, and with the unpredictability of many cryptocurrencies, miners want to minimize their up-front investments as much as possible. The RX 500-series and GTX 1070 offered the most bang for your buck; now it seems miners would rather settle for GTX 1060s than splurge on GTX 1080s. There are some exceptions, though. Gigabyte used to offer some of the least expensive GTX 1080s on the market, with one model dipping as low as $450 this spring. Now, some of the company's GTX 1080s have sold out, while others have jumped up from their regular $500 price tag to around $600. If this trend continues, we will likely see the price on other GTX 1080 GPUs spike to similar prices.

The good news is that the appears to be stabilizing. A few GTX 1070s have dropped in price--the EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 FTW Gaming ACX 3.0 is now $460 on Amazon instead of $500, like it was over the weekend.They still aren't the best option, considering you can get better performance from a GTX 1080 without upping your investment too much, but they are available.

At least for now: Earlier this morning a Zotac GeForce GTX 1070 AMP! Edition was briefly available from Amazon for $400, but that model sold out before we could write this article. Although these attempts to stabilize the market are a positive sign that OEMs are attempting to resolve the issue, the speed with which the $400 GTX 1070 sold out shows that we are still far from a solution to the current GPU shortage.

Perhaps the introduction of mining-specific cards will help. At the very least it will help manufacturers appeal directly to miners, which is exactly what Asus did with the Mining-P106-6G and Mining-RX470-4G. The former is based on Nvidia's P106-100 graphics engine, the latter on AMD's RX 470. Both offer a single display port (you don't need 'em for mining) and easy overclocking for "maximum hash-rate performance." These cards are made to help miners get the best return on their investment by allowing continuous operation with relatively low power draws.

This could be good news for gamers, too, if other manufacturers follow suit. Instead of eating into the supply of gaming-focused graphics cards, miners could purchase models designed specifically for them. Maybe that would help keep the price of graphics cards down and divide production between the two markets. It's not going to stop miners from buying up gaming cards, but it could at least help stabilize the market.

In the meantime, unless you're planning to buy a GTX 1080 or the lowly GTX 1050, you probably ought to wait to buy a new graphics card.

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
68 comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
    Top Comments
  • SteveRNG
    But if there is a limited supply, and if miners are already snapping up the gaming variants, what is to stop them from going back to snap up the gaming-centric ones AFTER the miner-centric ones are out of stock?

    It's still supply and demand. The demand is so high right now that NOTHING will bring the price down until the demand is met. I just hope it's met by the time we figure out how Vega competes with Nvidia. Because I want a new card, but I'm not paying these prices for them.

    Edit: Added a question mark to my actual question. It was driving me crazy.
  • Other Comments
  • problematiq
    This might work for Ethereum for the next 2 months before ASIC boxes kill any value of using GPU's. as far as bitcoin, that ship sailed a LONG time ago.
  • SteveRNG
    But if there is a limited supply, and if miners are already snapping up the gaming variants, what is to stop them from going back to snap up the gaming-centric ones AFTER the miner-centric ones are out of stock?

    It's still supply and demand. The demand is so high right now that NOTHING will bring the price down until the demand is met. I just hope it's met by the time we figure out how Vega competes with Nvidia. Because I want a new card, but I'm not paying these prices for them.

    Edit: Added a question mark to my actual question. It was driving me crazy.
  • TJ Hooker
    Anonymous said:
    This might work for Ethereum for the next 2 months before ASIC boxes kill any value of using GPU's. as far as bitcoin, that ship sailed a LONG time ago.

    Eth hashing is different than Bitcoin, and is designed to be resistant to acceleration with ASICs.