Cryptocurrency miners are buying lots of mid- to high-end GPUs to keep their operations profitable in a very competitive market. Only half a year ago, the Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070 was available for about €410. Now, most GTX 1070 models are sold close to €600. The price for the average GPU was already above average in summer, but with the sudden spike in Bitcoin value – and public interest – before Christmas, we are in the middle of a second GPU price surge.
The price surge is fueled by an increasing demand for alternative cryptocurrencies, like Ethereum and Monero. It’s a problem that’s affecting pricing worldwide and it seems like card vendors can’t keep up with the demand. Countries that are attractive to cryptocurrencies miners (cheap power) might see an even bigger increase in GPU retail prices.
What could change the current situation? 1.) Graphics card manufacturers could try to keep up with the demand and develop more specialized mining GPUs. 2.) A sudden and continuing devaluation of cryptocurrencies could flood the second hand market with cheap, used GPUs from unprofitable mining rigs. 3.) Stricter regulations and the loss of confidence due to high price swings could have the same effect. In either case, we could finally put those GPUs to use again: Play PC games at 4K resolution, train neural networks and crack our neighbor’s WiFi password.
The list of graphic cards analyzed includes popular, mid- to high-end consumer models. The prices have been retrieved from the German price comparison service Idealo and represent the cheapest available price at a given day.
- GeForce GTX 1080 Ti: GigaByte, MSI, Zotac
- GeForce GTX 1080: GigaByte, Zotac, MSI
- GeForce GTX 1070 Ti: GigaByte, MSI, Zotac
- GeForce GTX 1070: GigaByte, MSI, Zotac
- Radeon RX 580: GigaByte, MSI, Sapphire
- Radeon RX 570: GigaByte, Powercolor, Sapphire
The Radeon RX Vega56, Vega64 and Geforce GTX TITAN X have been excluded from the analysis, because they are expensive and very hard to get due to retail stock shortages. The old Radeon RX 480 – another popular choice – was excluded because it's only available on the second-hand market.
The selection of cryptocurrencies is based on what I consider “important currencies”. To be fair, not all of those cryptocurrencies benefit from a fast GPU. But still, they fuel the current cryptocurrency craze. The price history was retrieved from CryptoCompare.
- Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Nxt (NXT), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Dogecoin (DOGE), ZCash (ZEC), DigitalCash (DASH), NEO (NEO)
The documentation for the CryptoCompare API can be found here.