Graphics card prices are plummetting across the board, as entire Bitcoin mines are being shuttered in China. Some second-hand markets in the country have seen NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 hit as low as 270 USD, a massive price drop below the MSRP of the card.
The current shortage of graphics cards relates to multiple factors, with short-term decisions by manufacturers when COVID-19 hit now causing long-term problems in supply chains for entire electrical products.
On top of this, the rise in scalping during the pandemic due to bots claiming everything from new consoles to even TPMs – a device that should no more than 15 dollars is now raking in 60 plus in some cases – and the ever-increasing popularity of cryptocurrency has resulted in a massive shortage of graphics cards in particular.
NVIDIA and AMD can’t put them out fast enough, with supplies dwindling and the green monolith having to resort to reissuing older GTX cards to fill in demand where they can.
China's Crackdown on Crypto
As this rages on, China has begun to shut down multiple mining operations in a bid to control the cryptocurrency’s effects on the country as a whole.
Image via HKEPC/The Mining Network
This might potentially tie in with China’s development of a digital currency, but more than likely, provinces using mass amounts of coal energy to run their farms isn’t a good look for Xi Jinping and China’s government that wants to be Carbon Neutral by 2060.
The provinces of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Yunnan, and Sichuan have now all shut down multiple crypto mining operations, which caused the hashrate – essentially the speed of mining – to take a massive hit, which follows a drop in the hashrate after a coal mining plant flooded.
Now, the folks running these farms had to begin packing up and figuring out what the next step is.
#China logistics firm in Guangzhou confirms to @CNBC it’s airlifting 3,000kg (6,600lbs) #bitcoin mining machines to Maryland, USA. Fenghua International advertises products delivered to door, tax on both ends cleared. Price per kilo: as low as $9.37! #cryptocurrencies pic.twitter.com/8yUjZjhpkk
— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) June 21, 2021
Crypto Mining Moves To Texas
Whinstone U.S. crypto mining facility in Rockdale, Texas/Image via riotblockchain.com
For some, it’s been to shift to different countries with their gear. The problem is, as the world is currently flailing, multiple operations are either sat in boxes waiting to be shipped out to countries like Kazakhstan or America.
Though, it does seem like Texas is the next big hotspot for mining. In April, one of Texas’ largest mining operations, Whinstone Inc. was purchased for a whopping $651 million, has ties with the local government and energy providers (Texas uses a privately owned power grid that broke during the cold snap this February). When fully operational, it takes up to 750 megawatts of power, or roughly 150, 000 homes.
With the flood of GPUs now hitting the secondary market, it’s bringing up the question of whether or not to actually purchase these cards and if the risks attached to them will see hundreds of graphics cards sit in boxes for the remainder of their relevancy.
Should I buy a used graphics card?
Image via Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
When you mine with a graphics card, it runs constantly, days at a time, until it burns out and is replaced with something else. It’s lead to some manufacturers trying to get around their gaming-centric cards being used for such activities by developing ‘made for mining’ cards or NVIDIA simply trying to lock miners out of their current flagship 3000 series to no avail.
Dips in prices across the board have been mostly due to this scuppering of plans revolving around mining. RTX 3080 Tis have seen 5% drops, while 3060s have seen a killer 33-45% drop in price.
The reason the 3060s seem to be getting dumped faster than the others is due to the lack of mining capabilities, which NVIDIA seems to be bringing to their 3070 and 3080 cards, indicated by a hashrate limit on the box or listings online. Just don’t expect this to last too long, as the internet is efficient when it comes to nefarious things.
While this might sounds enticing, the latest cards at lower prices, PC Guide cannot recommend you purchase or install these cards in your machine. Their tendency to have already burnt out and died, with no real way to return or get a refund on it (they’re being dumped for a reason!) isn’t worth the hassle of navigating the plethora of second-hand sites.
Not just ASICs, Chinese miners been dumping stacks of GPUs too on Xianyu, one of the largest marketplace apps for secondhand goods. Looks like gamers were also sending their regards under those sales ads.https://t.co/Sv1tL7NneC pic.twitter.com/69VpWlcyFj
— Wolfie Zhao (@WolfieZhao) July 7, 2021
Even if you did get a working one, their life expectancy has been so battered by their constant use in ways they weren’t supposed to be used, that is it worth the 270 dollars? Probably not. Also less chance of a fire.
There is also the case of the cards currently being shipped out of China’s last remnants of mining operations are mostly loose, so who knows what kind of state they’ll show up in once they do make it to you.
However, PC Guide will do our due diligence and keep you up to date with the absolute latest from the murky wastes of cryptocurrency’s leftovers.