Cryptocurrency miners are stealing away your Radeon graphics cards

AMD RX 470, the darling of the miners

Cryptocurrency is back in a big way, that much has become abundantly clear to me while pottering around the show floor at this year’s Computex show. And it’s making AMD’s 500-series cards pretty thin on the ground.

Yeah, yeah, crypto-mining... whatever. These are our pick of the best graphics cards for gamers.

There are a bunch of different motherboard vendors at the show, such as ASRock and Biostar, displaying boards specifically designed for mining these crypto-currencies. These are motherboards with more PCIe slots than you’ve seen Half Life 3 rumours.

ASRock H110 Pro BTC+ cryptocurrency motherboard

Cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and any other word+coin you can think of, are basically digital currencies, but the only way new units of currency are generated is by unlocking them from the hidden depths of complicated mathematical equations. The equations are solved, and the currency therefore unlocked - or mined - using the parallel processing power of your PC.

You can use a CPU to mine cryptocurrencies, but the GPU inside your graphics card is much better at chewing through the weird mess of maths needed to uncover whatever ‘coin' you’re mining for.

And AMD GPUs are much better at it than Nvidia's. That’s why every single monster mining rig on display on the Computex show floor was rocking anything up to 13 graphics cards, and why most of them were using AMD’s Radeon RX 470.

Cryptocurrency mining rig

You might think, ’meh, let ’em get on with it,’ but the recent introduction of a different kind of cryptocurrency more easily mined with current graphics cards, called Ethereum, has had an impact on the number of AMD GPUs actually available for us normies to buy. I spoke to a representative from Sapphire, AMD's largest board partner, at the show and he said that, while it’s great for their bottom line, they're not loving it because it’s not really doing anything for the brand.

Miners don’t really care who makes the graphics cards, they aren’t that interested in any features board partners have added in to differentiate themselves from the competition, they just want to run the GPU ragged until it dies.

Eight AMD RX 470 hashing away...

We’re so far down the road with mining now that you’re not going to get very far with your own bedroom setup; those days have long gone. Now mining’s about big commercial system farms with row-upon-row of dedicated mining rigs.

And so graphics card companies are seeing these commercial crypto-mining operations buying up thousands of AMD GPUs each month, paying up front, leaving us gamers wondering where all the Radeons have gone.

That’s no real issue for the Gigabytes and MSIs of the world - those companies who produce both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards - but if you’re Sapphire, and no gamers can find your cards on the shelves, you might quickly get forgotten.

Edited to reflect the introduction of Ethereum, rather than Bitcoin,  is responsible for the recent dearth of AMD GPUs.

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Geekdomo avatarDave James avataryurimodin83 avatarredraider89 avatartimothymichaelbird avatarZech Eastwood avatar
Geekdomo Avatar
2
4 Months ago

The author might want to do some research, that or change the title. Bitcoin can no longer be mined by GPU based rigs. You technically can but it would take years and cost thousands in electricity to find a coin. Bitcoin is now being farmed by ASIC based rigs. What is hot right now and what is causing a renaissance with GPU-Based mining is Ethereum. This crypto currency has gone from a few dollars a coin last year to over $230 as of right now. Difficulty is going up at a fast rate so to get on board and quickly people are buying 10-15 cards at a time. Even old AMD 290s are performing well on ebay. Thing is with programs like Claymore miner you can very effectively mine with CUDA based cards, which means that ALL cards are fair game, hence the drought on sites like Amazon and Newegg, and for the price gouging of on other sites.

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Dave James Avatar
454
4 Months ago

Cheers for the heads-up.

This piece sprang out of a conversation with Sapphire about a dearth of their cards and a rise in cryptocurrency mining, though they didn't mention it was related to Ethereum.

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redraider89 Avatar
8
4 Months ago

He did say in the article:

"...but the recent introduction of a different kind of cryptocurrency more easily mined with current graphics cards, called Ethereum, has had an impact on the number of AMD GPUs actually available for us normies to buy. "

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Dave James Avatar
454
4 Months ago

That was an edit after Geekdomo commented and the link with Ethereum was confirmed. Initially, in my chat with Sapphire in Taipei, Ethereum wasn't mentioned as the defining reason.

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yurimodin83 Avatar
7
4 Months ago

yup...just sold my rx480 for $415 on ebay. :o on green team until vega :(

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Dave James Avatar
454
4 Months ago

Haha, that's a hell of a price for a 2nd hand 480!

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timothymichaelbird Avatar
1
4 Months ago

Nobody "stole" anything. Miners paid for those cards. Who the hell are you to start telling people what to do with the things they buy? I had an rx470 and an rx480 that I ran in two different rigs before this hit. I bought for gaming at the market price. Now I can mine a little with one while gaming with the other. I suppose I should "surrender" my stolen GPUs to my nearest PC gestapo? SMH.

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Zech Eastwood Avatar
1
3 Months ago

what he truly meant is those miners are taking away the chances of any normal buyer who wants to buy those amd graphic cards for gaming purpose which is only buy one or two cards like you before this shit happens.

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