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TL;DR: Is a depressingly familiar scenario set to return? Following the recent jump in cryptocurrency prices, especially Bitcoin’s, graphics cards are expected to become even more scarce as miners grab them in bulk for their rigs. The situation is exacerbating the current supply problems experienced by the RTX 3000 and Radeon RX 6000 series.
After hitting its previous record of $19,700 in late 2017, Bitcoin dropped to a low of $3,200 a year later. It stagnated between $7,000 and $9,000 for a long time, but since December, its price has gone through the roof, passing $20,000 last month and breaking the $30K barrier recently.
Ethereum has experienced a similar resurgence—the crypto’s price has quadrupled in the last year to around $1,000.
Crypto prices via coinmarketcap
The more valuable a cryptocurrency, the more profit a miner can make each day. And with the new generation of graphics cards offering more power at lower price points than ever before, people can break even in fewer days. Tom’s Hardware notes that the $399 RTX 3060 Ti will have paid for itself after 80 days of mining.
History does appear to be repeating. As Bitcoin and Ethereum soared in 2017, the price of graphics cards—those in stock—skyrocketed as demand far outweighed supply. Consumer anger led to Nvidia requesting that retailers prioritize gamers over miners. Eventually, a slumping crypto market saw GPU prices finally return to normal. When the crypto crash came, Nvidia’s share price plummeted, and last year it faced a lawsuit alleging that the company reported $1 billion in crypto revenue as gaming revenue.
What’s unique this time around is that we’ve been experiencing a shortage of the latest graphics cards since their release. Nvidia has repeatedly said that its GPU supply issues will last until at least the end of January, and with crypto prices continuing to rise, it could be a while before gamers can upgrade their PCs.
Masthead credit: Tech4Gamers