Photo: The-Contributor/Pixabay

Crypto mining hurting PC gaming; some retailers cracking down on miners

Bradley Wint
By - Founder/Executive Editor
Jan 31, 2018 10:07pm AST
Photo: The-Contributor/Pixabay
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If you’re a hardcore PC gamer looking to build a rig right about now, you’re most likely going to be out of luck thanks to crypto miners.

GPUs have suddenly gained popularity amongst miners because of their ability to run any type of complex calculational versus ASIC products which are designed to mine specific types of currencies. As the developers of many alt-currencies are against the idea of ASIC mining hardware (and re-write their source code from time to time to make new ASIC hardware ineffective), GPUs always come out on top in this regard.

As a result, GPU brands like AMD and NVIDIA have been unable to keep up with the sudden demand for their chips, with card prices skyrocketing to as much as twice what they would normally sell for. Availability has also been a huge problem as some of their top tier products are almost always out of stock at retail outlets.

Even used GPUs are fetching a much higher price than what they were being sold for when new just a year or two ago.

However, it is unlikely that gaming geared GPU manufacturers are going to look into ramping up production in the long run because of the volatility of the crypto market. Bitcoin for instance shot up to almost US $18,000 per coin in December. It has since lost more than 40% of its value in the last month because of various country policy changes, exchange hacks, and Facebook’s recent ban on crypto advertisements.

Unfortunately, card manufacturers cannot simply step up production in a few weeks as production quantities are normally mapped out months in advance. As third parties are contracted to produce the actual chips, it’s not easy for NVIDIA and AMD to request that production be doubled up as these 3rd parties operate near peak output as it stands.

There are obviously many other alt-currencies worth looking at, but it’s still somewhat like the wild west as there is no telling the fate of crypto currencies six months from now.

Just last week, NVIDIA asked retailers to put gamers first over miners, and it appears two retailers are already listening.

Micro Center has announced that it will be putting PC gamers first by prioritizing those who are building gaming PCs, and plans to limit quantities per customer. Also, customers who purchase other gaming-related hardware for their custom build can expect to see discounts on GPUs when the bill is tallied up.

You may have noticed that the price of our video cards has recently increased. High demand from crypto currency miners, combined with constrained shipment from vendors, has created industry-wide shortages.

To best address your system-building needs, we

  1. Monitor market pricing, and set our prices to be competitive with Amazon and newegg for the same products
  2. Limit quantities to ensure that as many of you as possible can purchase the component you need
  3. Offer more discounts – for a final price well below the market – for in-store bundled components

Thank you.

B&H, a New York-based electronics retailer, has also stated that it is limiting customer purchased of GPUs given the sudden demand for them by crypto miners. They said that these restrictions have proven effective in the past when surges for particular products arise.

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