An ongoing crash in cryptocurrency prices is causing some miners to abandon ship, selling off their racks of graphics cards at discount prices in a bid to recoup some cash. Wccftech spotted that some erstwhile miners across China and South Asia, previously encouraged by low energy costs, are even hosting livestreamed auctions to get rid of their GPU ‘stock’ en masse.
First off: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Second, while it’s entertaining to imagine desperate crypto barons hosting a kind of QVC channel for dusty PC components, I wouldn’t necessarily take this as a long-overdue opportunity to upgrade your graphics card on the cheap.
That’s not so much to do with the potential health of these cards. Buying used tech is always a bit of a gamble but research by Linus Tech Tips suggests that even after being run 24/7 for months on end, ex-mining cards tend to only be negligibly slower than new models at worst. Nah, the more offputting issue with these GPUs is that they’re just… not that much cheaper than what you can get from your existing, local second-hand market?
Take the RTX 3060 Ti, which miners in China are reportedly selling for the equivalent of $300-$350 (about £250-£300). Even a cursory glance at eBay reveals multiple listings at broadly similar prices, especially in the US, and although some of these also appear to have escaped mining rigs, the majority appear to be one-off sales from typical private sellers. And they come without the worry of having to import them from the other side of world, as well.
Also, to be blunt, many of the sellers now dumping their GPUs on auction sites are partly responsible for graphics cards being so expensive in the first place. Supply shortages played a part as well but if gaming GPUs weren’t gobbled up so quickly, for the purpose of extracting environment-melting funny money, it’s hard to see them becoming anywhere near as overpriced. If you are currently looking for a used graphics card, there are plenty of less avaricious sellers to give your cash to.
With all that in mind, I do think this development is good for PC gaming hardware. The collapse in mining profitability isn't just karmically pleasing, but the resulting drop in demanding for new GPUs will push down prices among both regular retailers and other second-hand sellers. RPS deals hunter Will has already found several brand-new GPUs at post-plummet prices, like this £330 RTX 3060. It also bodes well for the availability of upcoming releases, like Intel’s Arc Alchemist cards, the AMD Radeon RX 7000 series and the heavily rumoured Nvidia GeForce RTX 4000 range. Assuming these all launch in 2022, they should drive down the price of used RTX 3000/Radeon RX 6000 series cards as well, so it might even be worth waiting longer if you’re after a bargain and don't mind missing out on the next-gen stuff.