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Crypto-miners bought 3m graphics cards in 2017, but gaming still dominates

Playing the market

In these dark days of graphics card price hikes and crypto mining this and currency mining that, it's easy to think that the powers that be have forgotten about us gaming folk and are simply concerning with making sure those pesky coin plunderers continue to line their respective pockets.

As it turns out, a new report from US data and marketing firm Jon Peddie Research suggests that gaming, not mining, is still the biggest market for the graphics card bigwigs, giving them plenty of incentive to meet the ever growing demand for more GPUs.

“Gaming has been and will continue to be the primary driver for GPU sales, augmented by the demand from cryptocurrency miners,” said Dr Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. "We expect demand to slacken from the miners as margins drop in response increasingly utilities costs and supply and demand forces that drive up AIB (add-in-board) prices."

Nvidia's latest earnings report would seem to reflect this as well, with gaming being listed first in their top revenue drivers and cryptocurrency mining listed last. AMD also reported similarly strong growth in their graphics card department over the last three months of 2017, but has been much less clear about what all those cards are actually being used for.

Sadly, as much as Dr Peddie predicts a drop in demand over the coming months, it looks like general graphics card prices will take a lot longer to start falling. "Gamers can offset those costs by mining when not gaming, but prices will not drop in the near future,” he added. Well, thanks, Dr Peddie, how very helpful.

The value of various cryptocurrencies has been all over the shop recently, with bitcoin in particular dropping lower and lower over the past two months. Much to our continuing dismay, however, graphics card prices haven't moved an inch, with cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti still demanding at least £840, making choosing the best graphics card for your budget harder than ever.

Admittedly, the report doesn't state just how many graphics cards were sold for gaming purposes in 2017, but it does reveal that cryptocurrency miners bought just over three million of them last year, spending a total of $776 million. Surprisingly, AMD was the primary benefactor of those sales, not Nvidia.

In fact, AMD managed to increase its market share by 8.1% in the last three months of 2017, taking its total to 14.2%, while Nvidia shrunk by 6% to 18.4%. The other 67.4%, meanwhile, is occupied by Intel. Year-on-year graphics card shipments also fell by 4.8%, not doubt due to ever dwindling stock numbers. Here's hoping that prices start falling much quicker than Dr Peddie predicts.

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