Digital Gold Rush Causing Mass Global GPU Shortage (& what to do if building)

global graphics card gpu shortage miners

Unless you’ve spent your recent time living under a rock, or you just have better things to do than keep up with technology, you would have noticed the recent fairly significant changes in stock and pricing within the graphics card market.

Specifically, the AMD’s 500 series have been directly affected the most, with either no stock to be found anywhere at all, or extremely inflated pricing if you do manage to spot one.

If you can get your hands on AMD’s awesome range of powerful mid-tier graphics cards right now, namely the RX 570 or RX 580, you’re one lucky cat. Even more so if you pay a respectable price.

This stock shortage has spilled over and affected AMD’s lower tier cards and Nvidia’s cards too.

Unfortunately, it’s likely this will continue for at least the next few weeks, if not longer, and nobody really knows when stock levels will return to normal.

So, what on earth is going on?

And what does this all mean if you’re planning on building or upgrading your GPU?

The mass shortage of stock is due to a massive boom in crypocurrency (also known as digital currency) users as more and more people jump on the bandwagon.

Bitcoin is up 160% this year, and a new crypotcurrency called Ethereum has seen a huge spike this year with its price soaring from $19 in March to around $300 at the time of writing.

Ethereum 2017 Boom. Source: CoinDesk

Now that’s a boom of epic proportions in any investor’s book, but what’s this got to do with building or upgrading a gaming PC?

Graphics cards are used to digitally mine for new coins to generate profits, and AMD cards, especially the RX 570 and RX 580, are the perfect economical tool for the job. Budget GPUs aren’t as good for mining, hence why the mid-range cards have been hit hardest.

What’s happening right now is a case of deja vu for gamer’s.

Back in 2013 the same thing happened when Bitcoin and Litecoin miners snapped up every AMD GPU in sight. What happened after that was the development of specific hardware (ASIC hardware) for miners which took the load off the consumer card market, but now we’re back where we begun.

Navigating the New GPU Dark Age

If you’re building a budget gaming rig, you’re in luck as it’s business as usual for the time being; unless these dark times continue and budget GPUs start getting eaten up by miner’s as alternatives to mid-range cards which would therefore increase the prices of budget cards like the 1050, 1050 Ti and AMD’s budget cards.

If you’re thinking of building a cheap-ish machine, say $500-600 and under, I wouldn’t hesitate too long to secure normal budget GPU prices.

As for building a mid-tier system, which means getting a graphics card between the popular $200 – $350 range, you don’t really have a choice but to stick with Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1060, unless you’re willing to wait it out.

Of course this current restriction in choice isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the 1060 range of cards, whilst not our number 1 recommendation for this price range, are still very capable cards and only slightly behind the RX 570 and 580 in terms of bang for your buck.

However, stock and pricing for the 1060 have been affected as well, so be prepared to pay a lot more for a 1060 right now and likely into the foreseeable future.

So yeah, it’s not a good time to build or upgrade your graphics in the middle-tier price category. On the high-end of things, the GeForce GTX 1070 has also seen some inflation, so it’s a similar story there.

Only the very top of the pile, as in the 1080 and 1080 Ti, have not been affected, so if you’re lucky enough to be putting together an extreme gaming system then it’s business as usual for you.

Finding a 570 or 580 in Stock

Never say never, right?

If you’re totally set on a 570 or 580, the only way you have a chance in the foreseeable future is by obsessively checking major retailers for stock and acting fast if you see a reasonable price. It’s unlikely though as if you do manage to land upon some stock, it’ll A) probably be at a crazy price and B) won’t last long at all.

There are a couple of lil tricks up your sleeve though:

1 – Use a stock searching site like this one.

2 – Click on the “auto-notify” button on the GPU page on Newegg to be notified as soon as it come back in stock.

Last Words

Hopefully the storm passes over soon, but the reality is it’s anybody’s guess. Some in the industry predict the boom is over, and some predict the complete opposite and say this will continue throughout 2017.

What a crazy cool new world we live in; perhaps we’ll have to start a “best mining builds” section ;)

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