Cryptocurrency miners are making it impossible for people to find a crucial component of PC gaming

Cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of serious processing power, a lot of serious cooling for those processors, and a lot of power to make it all run.

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Cryptocurrency mining requires a lot of serious processing power, a lot of serious cooling for those processors, and a lot of power to make it all run.
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Thomson Reuters

  • Cryptocurrency miners are buying up all the high-end graphics cards usually reserved for PC gaming.
  • As a result, the graphics cards are extremely difficult to find. Some are being sold for double or more their original price.
  • The dearth of available graphics cards has become a meme among PC gaming enthusiasts.
  • Nvidia is urging retailers to prioritize PC gaming buyers over cryptocurrency miners.

It’s a terrible time to build a gaming PC.

The process of building one is actually easier than its ever been, and playing video games on a PC is a delight. The problem is that graphics cards (GPUs) – the crucial component that powers the visuals of a PC – are in extremely high demand, which makes them difficult to find at their intended prices. Many resellers are jacking up the price by double or more.

The demand, however, isn’t due to a massive influx of new PC gaming enthusiasts. The demand is being driven by cryptocurrency mining.

bitcoin mining supercomputers

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Marko Ahtisaari/Flickr

Though the graphics cards from companies like Nvidia and AMD are capable of powering cutting-edge gaming visuals, they’re also capable of mining cryptocurrency. More than just capable, they’re one of the main tools used by cryptocurrency miners.

As such, they’re sold out pretty much everywhere.

A quick check of retail websites from Amazon to Best Buy to Newegg reveals the same thing: Back-order options, or sold-out signs, or re-sellers with huge mark-ups.

Nvidia’s flagship GPU, the GTX 1080 Ti, has a suggested retail price of $700.

The lowest price for one on Amazon starts around $1,100:

Nvidia graphics cards (Amazon)

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Amazon

As such, PC gaming communities on Reddit are full of jokes about how hard it is to find a graphics card for a decent price. There’s even a major thread dedicated to explaining the high prices of graphics cards – it’s given prominent placement at the top of the “Build a PC” subreddit.

And then there are anecdotes like this one, from an Ethereum-mining Facebook group:

This is why gamers hateminers so much…

Both Nvidia and AMD declined to comment for this story.

German website Computer Base got in touch with Nvidia Germany public-relations manager Boris Böhles, who told the publication that Nvidia is actively encouraging retailers to “make the appropriate arrangements” so that graphics cards are available for the intended consumer.

Nvidia can’t force its manufacturing partners to limit their sales, nor its retail partners to do the same. It’s a problem of supply and demand.

The problem, of course, is that cryptocurrency mining is more popular than ever.

And as more people discover the concept, more people need hardware to power their new hobby. Without a swift increase in supply from graphics-card makers like Nvidia, AMD, Asus, and others, it’s unlikely that this problem is going away anytime soon.