While bitcoin remains a volatile roller coaster, the value of graphics processing units is climbing steadily.
Computer gamers love putting high-powered GPUs into their rigs to render a game’s imagery in super-realistic color and detail. However, this same hardware is highly prized by the cryptocurrency community for its efficacy in mining. The more GPUs that miners have, the quicker their computers solve complicated math problems that unleash new coins into the ecosystem. It stands to reason that miners want a lot of them.
Now graphics card manufacturer NVIDIA is pushing back against the crypto-rush for its products. Company spokesman Boris Böhles issued a statement to German tech publication ComputerBase that, as translated, says, “For NVIDIA, gamers come first. All work related to our GeForce product line is for our main audience. To ensure that gamers continue to have good GeForce graphics card availability in the current situation, we recommend that our retail partners make the appropriate arrangements to meet gamers’ needs as usual.”
NVIDIA’s sentiment is clear: cryptocurrency mining hurts PC gaming by driving up the price of GPUs. Consider the suggested retail price of $499 for NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1080. On Amazon, the same unit is selling for more than $1,000. As noted by HotHardware, computer equipment retailer NewEgg is selling them in six-packs for $6,700—nearly double the MSRP.
The reason these prices are climbing is that it still makes economic sense for miners to spend more on GPUs as prices climb. That means NVIDIA’s beloved gaming audience is getting priced out.
Of course, shareholders may have a different view. NVIDIA’s revenues continue to rise along with bitcoin average prices. Coincidence?
The company is asking its retail partners to limit GPU sales to no more than two per customer. We’ll see if those retailers actually follow suit when there’s so much money to be made by marking up products.
For now, it seems a surer money-making bet than investing in bitcoin.