You’re probably just as sick of this whole cryptocurrency mining thing as the rest of us PC gamers. The latest crypto gold rush has seen prices spiralling out of control for new and second-hand graphics cards, and has made it all but impossible to buy a decent AMD GPU, whether that be old Polaris or new Vega.
If you’ve managed to find a new graphics card you’ll want a one of the best gaming monitors to show it off.
And it shows no sign of letting up, with huge back orders still in place for everything team Radeon and their partners can produce. So yeah, if you’re excitedly clicking that ‘pre-order’ button on your favourite etailer, because the current price almost looks enticing, the chances are that you’re quite far down the line.
We’re talking hundreds of thousands down the line, in global terms.
That’s because the professional cryptocurrency mining outfits are swallowing up as much of the GPU manufacturers’ inventories as they can. They’re buying up thousands of cards at a time, so even the ‘small fry’ who want a couple hundred are being put to the back of the queue.
Companies such as Genesis Mining are regularly setting up new mining farms as interest grows and the endeavour increasingly shifts away from the sort of thing you can set up with a weird motherboard and a bunch of cards in your garage.
Right now they’ve got three facilities in Iceland - one designed for Ethereum, one for Bitcoin, and a GPU-specific facility for the cryptocurrencies using the X11 algorithm. This is where all our gaming graphics cards have gone. Genesis will do all the mining for you. You just set up an account, invest in whichever cryptocurrency mining platform you want, and pay for a fixed two years of constant mining.
Simple, eh? Prospective prospectors in this modern gold rush don’t have to go through the hassle of researching and setting up a homebrew rig themselves, they only have to pay for the cheapest of electricity (hence the Iceland setup) and can effectively just sit back and watch the cryptocash roll in.
That’s why they’re growing and that’s why pretty much every AMD graphics card on the planet is being swallowed up by this sort of professional mining company.
Lucky ol’ AMD, eh? And if our sources are correct they’ve been very lucky indeed because things weren’t looking too rosy before the GPU market went crypto-obsessive. Despite the fact the AMD RX 480 had become our favourite graphics card of the last year, with successive price drops and moderate performance increases, they still weren’t selling in huge numbers.
Before they started getting chewed up by the industrial mining machine there was apparently a lot of stock of both the 400 and 500-series AMD cards sat in the channel going nowhere. If the miners hadn’t come along, bought up all the GPUs that AMD could make, and subsequently massively boosted the red team’s bottom line, who knows what would have happened to the Radeon Technology Group. The lukewarm reception (look at me being all polite) of the AMD RX Vega consumer cards would have been far more damaging to the company if they struggled to shift their new GPUs as well as the existing stock sat in warehouses across the globe.
So, really, we ought to be thanking the miners, not berating them for stealing away all the AMD graphics cards being produced right now, otherwise we might have come mighty close to losing the only Nvidia competition there is and that’s good for no-one. With the huge amount of cash being injected into the Radeon coffers here’s hoping that gets ploughed into making the next-gen AMD Navi as good as we hope it’s going to be.
And making sure there’s enough of them so that us gamers, as well as the miners, can get ourselves some shiny new graphics silicon.