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Here's Why It's NOT a Good Time to Upgrade Your Gaming PC

Cryptocurrency miners have been snatching up high-end GPUs, making them scarce and pricey.
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cryptocurrency

Planning to upgrade your gaming PC's graphics card? Now may not be the best time to do it. There's a good chance you won't be able to find a high-end video card in stock — and if you do, it's going to cost more than you want to pay. And you can blame it all on the miners.

No, not soot-covered workers with pickaxes; it's cryptocurrency miners who are buying up all the GPUs. As Ars Technica recently explained, these would-be moguls have been purchasing every high-end graphics card they can get their hands on to outfit their specialized mining computers.

SEE ALSO: Almost Everyone With a Computer Is Affected by These Security Flaws

While mining for Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, these graphics cards can generate a few dollars a day, earning back their purchase price in a matter of months. With the value of cryptocurrencies rising in recent months, more and more people have turned to mining.

Graphics Card Prices Have Shot Up

The result is a surge in demand for the high-end graphics cards best suited for mining Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies that — unlike the more well-known Bitcoin — can be mined using consumer-grade equipment.

Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies can be mined using consumer-grade equipment.

For example, third-party sellers on Amazon currently have the Asus Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 card listed for around $840 new. This card, which Nvidia lists in its "Ultimate Gaming" tier, cost about $600 a month ago according to price-tracking website Camelcamelcamel. Of course, that seems fairly reasonable compared to the $1,699 price tag it was carrying a couple weeks ago.

Similarly, a new Asus AMD Radeon RX 580 (the top of AMD's top-tier Radeon RX 500 Series) currently starts at $600 on Amazon; it was only $264 on December 4.

Will GPU Deals Return Soon?

As manufacturers step up to meet the demand, we may see more GPUs become available and prices drop. What's more, cryptocurrency values have already plummeted this month; Ethereum dropped from $1,100 per unit to $830 in just 24 hours. If this trend continues, we may see a surge in the secondhand GPU market as miners get out of the game and sell off their rigs.

What are your thoughts, readers? Have you had difficulty finding high-end graphics cards lately? Are you thinking about mining for cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments.


Senior Staff Writer

Stephen has been writing for such national and regional publications as The Village Voice, Paste, The Agit Reader, and The Big Takeover for 20 years, and has been covering consumer electronics and technology for DealNews since 2013.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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9 comments
drt1
Better idea. Buy some fishing gear or a bicycle and get out of the house. But be careful.... You may meet someone and actually have to look them in the eye.
Wolfman
Someone might have been speculating on the popularity of VR rigs at Christmas driving demand for higher-end cards.
bigpike
Anyone know how Microsoft can sell the Xbox One X for just $500? It seems like a great deal after reading the specs. That is some serious hardware, including the GPU.
sjlplat
The current rise in GPU price spike wasn't caused by miners. It was caused by an artificial shortage of VRAM initiated by Micron, Hynix, and Samsung. Manufacturers can't get VRAM to build the cards, so the rule of supply and demand dictates that the prices increase. When VRAM manufacturers stop manipulating the supply chain, prices will return to MSRP.
chrisbrendel
To add to the end of this article, which seems to imply holding off until the cryptocraze ends to buy a used gfx card, do not buy a used card. No matter how good the deal is even with a receipt showing less than a year old, stay away. As the crypto currencies crash, miners will be trying to sell off their "slightly used, almost new" cards. Keep in mind, these cards are being run at 100% capacity, 24 hours a day, for months if not years. Additionally, there is a strong chance they overclocked the cards, too, voiding any manufacturer warranty that may still have been in effect.

Here's hoping prices level back out!
michael bonebright (DealNews)
@OminousG - You're not wrong. I've seen pre-built gaming rigs for just a couple hundred more than some of these cards. I've been building my own PCs since I was in high school, but it's just not worth it anymore.
OminousG
Luckily (if you can consider the constantly changing standards as lucky), most gaming pc upgrades require whole new builds. So its actually cheaper to go prebuilt right now than to try and piecemeal your parts, unless you're one to snipe deals at 1am in the morning.

That being said, I bought my EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 FTW GAMING from Newegg via Jet back in May for $460. Its now worth north of $700. I could sell it and wait for the next round of cards and pretty much get a free upgrade.
Crismodin
I was going to buy an AMD 580 for around $340 (triple fan) but now I can't find it for less than $540. There's always ebay, but I'm not about to start buying PC components from there. The 1070 ti released not long ago, my brother was lucky enough to grab one at $520 before the price soon took off to $600+ territory.
trag
8 GB or 11 GB 1080? The 8 GB versions were showing up on sale slighly under $500 around the holidays. The 11 GB versions are normally a few hundred dollars more.