I have never been this mad at the apparent shortage of items at the store. It irks me the more because the acute shortage of graphics cards leaves us with two unforeseen options: wait for I don’t know how long till prices come down or scramble for the few available pieces with cryptocurrency miners.
Gamers can no longer pop into the nearest Best Buys store and grab the latest graphics processing units (GPUs). The situation has got so bad that it’s practically good advice to stay away from the very graphics cards that made gaming such a beautiful venture. Don’t try because you won’t get them. If you do find them, prices are insane.
Shortages and price hikes
Now, we are in 2018 and skyrocketing prices seems to be the norm. I worry more about the crazy graphics cards prices than I do about the increased cost of fuel. And the worst thing is that it’s now virtually impossible to purchase a good GPU. There are even allegations that we should expect prices to continue spiking until Q3 of 2018. What on earth is going on here? Relief seems to be far off. Efforts by Nvidia and AMD to solve the situation is notwithstanding. Nvidia has come out clearly asking its retail partners and sellers to ensure gamers come first. But that seems not to have helped.
I bought two Nvidia GTX 1060s back in March 2017 at a cost of $400 for the two. Now my $400 can’t get me one of those. I have to fork out up to $600 for the same. Third party stores on Amazon take the game of pricing to ever insane levels. Take the price of a GTX 1080Ti, for example. The MRSP is $700, but you’d be lucky to get one below $1000. It’s not that prices are this way because of production costs. It’s the craze about mining cryptocurrencies like ZCash and Ethereum that is driving prices higher due to demand.
Why is this happening?
I’ll tell you why you can’t find that graphics card you are after and why this is happening. The short explanation to this is that a mining rush is on in crypto-world. Thus GPU prices are skyrocketing as the supply can’t meet the demand. Miners want to build powerful rigs and the more GPUs, the higher hash rate they generate. Read this article to understand what mining hardware is all about. Trust me, the number of GPUs needed to build a good mining rig is just incredible. So, we find that we really want the graphics units, but a mining rush pushes sellers to hike prices. That automatically makes it tougher for us in the gaming industry. We compete for the graphics cards with miners and it’s sad that they have almost beaten us in our own game.
Consider the price of the Nvidia GeForce GTX1070. It was an absolute favorite of many in 2017, averaging an affordable $380 in retail shops. It’s almost blowing the roof off at over $700 in the same stores. This represents almost 50% price hike in the space of a few weeks. The worst thing is that you just can’t walk in and get them, even at that cost. Every last piece of them is sold to a miner eager to have Ethereum. If you happen to shop on a site like Amazon, you realize it won’t be anytime soon till you get it because there are back orders waiting.
The situation is so bad that recent reports by Techspot claim that an entire country like Australia didn’t have even one RX Vega56 graphic card in stock. Cards like the RX Vega 56, AMD Radeon RX 570 and RX 580 are virtually snapped up from the production lines. The claim is that these graphics cards are suitable for mining, especially when it comes to Ethereum.
How it all began
This madness began sometime last year. I remember a friend of mine saying something about mining profitability and how everybody was getting into it. I have read a bit about cryptocurrency mining and such stuff. Apparently, blockchains require miners to use their computational power to solve some algorithmic puzzles. This process helps confirm transactions on the network and generates new blocks that are then added to the main chain. Miners are rewarded with bitcoins or such cryptocurrencies. They can then sell to recoup huge profits. That is no problem at all. Its how the whole process has affected prices that make those of us in the gaming business very upset.
This pricing war has made it harder for us to build custom gaming PCs. We are especially hit when it comes to the mid-range graphics cards. A good example is when a retailer told me to try Nvidia’s GTX 1080. It turned out it was even cheaper than a 1060 or 1070 because miners disliked due to its huge power consumption. But the same retailer advised me that buying a graphics card now was better than a few weeks down the road. Did that mean that prices would continue to blow out of proportion?
Something has to be done about this situation. I hear the big boys at Nvidia and AMD are talking of developing specialized mining graphics cards. They want to disconnect the gaming aspect from such cards. What we need is to be able to build our own gaming PCs using affordable graphics cards. That is an idea I think should be pursued. Yet that is a long-term thing, lending credence to allegations that the biting prices will continue to later in the year. I also read that Smartphone giant Samsung was to produce ASIC chipsets targeting mining. That could help, but short term, gaming continues to suffer.
I want to sum up by saying that as a gamer, I have no problem with cryptocurrency and in particular mining. The problem comes in when a graphics card like the AMD’s Vega 64 now costs $1,500 because miners need all the available stock. Whatever happens, all the players in the GPU manufacturing industry need to find a solution? We never know where cryptocurrency mining craze will take GPU prices.