The hell that has been 2021 has been one big waking nightmare for PC gamers. The combination of both spiking interest in cryptocurrency and the COVID-19 pandemic drove huge demand. GPUs and power supplies continually sold out. There was even a window in time when SSDs were threatened with shortages. As a result, gamers just couldn’t build systems. It’s gotten so bad in terms of pricing that buying pre-built is genuinely the better option.
The whole situation has seen a lot of gamers unable to get their hands on new cards from any manufacturer. This mess has been going on for months, and shows no signs of slowing. Previous projections pegged the issue as not abating until 2022 or later. Nvidia and AMD have tried to counter these supply problems, but have largely been unsuccessful. Most PC gamers have given up trying to find GPUs online at all, and even resorted to camping outside of retailers. Basically, if you’re not using a bot to buy GPUs, you have no chance at this point. It’s just a massively screwed-up situation.
To help ease the strain, NVidia and AMD both tried opening up supply. Nvidia rolled out CMP cards designed cut hash rate. This did nothing to address unprecedented PC gaming demand, and was further hampered. The biggest hurdle for CMP and other cryptocurrency-targeted adjustments was team green themselves. The company leaked a BIOS revision that unlocked the hash rate on some cards. Big yikes. The AIBs then countered with 3060 variants targeting a lower hash rate, aiming to get these new GPUs into the hands of gamers.
Nvidia was reportedly selling a ton of GPUs directly to miners, and although direct numbers aren’t confirmed, estimates point to tens of millions of dollars annually flowing through this channel. And with crashing crypto pricing, it’s unclear how long this pipeline will remain open. The RTX 30 Series has been highly sought after, and the reduced supply has led to massively inflated prices. I’m even using an old RX 560 in my current rig rather than paying inflated scalper pricing.
So just how big is the drop? Bitcoin has lost 20% of its value in the last week, seeing a massive sell-off of both hardware and currency in some areas. Bitcoin is entirely ASIC-based mining now, so there are not any extra graphics cards to be found there. Etherium, the real driver behind a lot of buyers of GPUs,
Ehterium has also fallen, down about 25% over the last week. Ethereum (the most popular currency for GPU mining) has continued to slide as time passes, causing hope among gamers of easing GPU supply constraints. It’s hard to say what’s causing the drop, but it’s likely that one country is the source of a lot of anxiety and sell-offs.
According to Tom’s Hardware, GPU prices are dropping in the Chinese market. This is in big part due to the recent Chinese government crackdown on cryptocurrency mining in the country. It’s a very chaotic situation, but it seems China is not interested in letting crypto grow within the country.
It appears that China’s logic of trying to curry favor internationally while inwardly committing to more self-reliance and sustainability is at odds with its market. China has been a huge source of crypto mining, and this turn against the miners seems to be part of the push to downplay the Chinese impact on the global climate. The World’s Factory moniker seems to be something that the country’s leadership wants to abandon in some respect.
A more cynical interpretation would be that the Chinese government is attempting to control financial markets to protect its current economic order. “Virtual currency transactions and speculative activity have disrupted the normal order of the economy and financial [system],” the central bank said in a statement on its website. “They increase the risks of illegal cross-border transfers of assets and illegal activities such as money laundering. ”
So whatever the reason, there’s a lot of turmoil headed for the crypto markets. Whether this all actually has any long-term effect, remains to be seen.