The market is still reeling from months upon months of the best graphics cards being sold directly to mining operations, not to mention scalpers jumping on most available graphics cards with nothing but easy profit on their minds. Now, adding insult to injury, a Vietnamese retailer has managed to subdue the legendary Asus Gundam as pauper slaves in pre-built mining rigs. Oh, how low the heroes have fallen.
As the market starts replacing its stock of available RTX graphics cards with Lite Hash-Rate (LHR) graphics cards, some brave miners are still investing in mining equipment. For those, non-LHR cards matter the most. And as a result, some retailers are looking to capitalize on the remaining mining demand by pooling together as many non-LHR GPUs as they can find, and selling them as part of pre-built mining rigs.
These Gundam graphics cards, which are part of a limited edition Asus release, can generally be found around the $2,300 mark on resale websites such as eBay. That pre-assembled mining rig with eight Gundam graphics cards? At current street prices it costs a mere $18,000 — not taking into account the rest of the hardware that makes up a mining rig, of course.
Is there any sort of economic sanity to these pre-sold mining rigs, though? At current Ethereum prices, there is surely profit to be taken. However, it's on the order of a mere $5 daily return per card, now — and that's for non-LHR RTX 3080 graphics cards. That means that a miner acquiring one of these GUNDAM graphics cards for their current $2,300 pricing should see its investment returned in around 460 days, though that's assuming Ethereum's price and mining rewards stay the same.
Pricing isn't really predictable, but mining rewards? Those tend to decline straight to zero profitability over time, and it's even worse now for Ethereum mining. Planned changes to Ethereum's protocol will destroy mining profitability irrespective of pricing.
Currently, Ethereum is set to go through two updates that will destroy mining profitability. The first one, EIP 1559, is part of the upcoming London hard fork, which will change the way Ethereum handles transaction fees. Before, this process was manual and miners were rewarded with the equivalent Ether value of these fees, but the Ethereum network will now set a base minimum fee for transaction completion. The network will then burn the Ether committed this way, only rewarding miners with the excess Ether, effectively cutting into miners' profits.
The bigger deal is the planned Ethereum 2.0 network, which will transition from the current Proof of Work paradigm to Proof of Stake. That will essentially do away with the need for miners to perform expensive computations that write transactions to the blockchain to keep it secure. Other coins can still be mined the old fashioned way, but profits are currently much worse. Conflux (Octopus) for example only generates about $3.35 per day on an RTX 3080, compared to Ethereum's $5 per day.
Once Ethereum ditches Proof of Work, and perhaps much earlier, these Gundam heroes will likely take flight once again. But after being worked to within an inch of their lives in dark mining caves, they might not have much more to give other than a few gasping breaths. Shed a tear for these poor, fallen heroes. May they rest in peace.