In the market for a new graphics card? Prepare to be in a world of hurt due to the growth of cryptocurrency and the increasing popularity of Ethereum. These have combined to cause a massive shortage in the graphics card market. Not only are graphic card models not even in stock, the ones that are have prices that are fluctuating all over the map. The chaos is causing prices to jump week to week and in some cases day to day for the most popular cards.
Mining for Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency and more specifically, Ethereum, is the biggest culprit for the graphics card shortage. While cryptocurrency has been around for quite a while, the price of Ethereum exploded in the early part of the year, climbing from $10 in January to $50 in March. As of now it is sitting at $286, that high price is causing a rush of people wanting to score a huge profit through crypto-mining. Crypto-miners use graphics cards to mine due to its fast speed and efficiency over CPU mining.
Effect on Graphic Cards
If you are in the market for a low end graphics card then you can largely breath a sigh of relief as these have been safe from the spikes in pricing. Because these graphics cards are not used for mining their prices have remained stable, cards like AMD’s Radeon RX 550/560 and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050/Ti.
You start to see the effect start in the mid range graphic cards, the supply of cards in this range are almost non-existent. While it may be possible to find a few available the price will be extremely inflated due to the lack of stock and high demand.
The card that has been hit the hardest is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. Before the rush at the beginning of the year, the 1070 was fetching around $350, however now you see the same card starting at $470. Because of this inflation the better option for a high end card for people in the market is the GeForce GTX 1080 which has been pretty solid in its pricing throughout the year. In most cases the price for the 1080 is going to be identical to the ballooned price of the 1070.
Bite the Bullet or Wait?
The hardest decision at this point is to guess when all of this will end. There isn’t an accurate way to predict those type of ebbs and flows, however, graphic card companies have just introduced new cards to be used exclusively for crypto mining, so they clearly see it as a long term issue. These specially designed cards cannot be used for gaming, and will hopefully help with the shortage. The end result will perhaps add more stock to the market but demand will still be high as long as miners see dollar signs in Ethereum. Given what we have seen I would expect prices to remain inflated for the high end graphic card market and only see drops as new cards are released and the line between high and medium moves.
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