The fight to get a decent graphics card in the last two years amid supply shortages and increased demand has been nasty. Anyone wanting a top-of-the-line GPU between 2020 and now had to be committed enough to spend weeks stalking stores and Discord servers for drops, only to watch stock sell out immediately while bots snatched up what little supply there was.
In recent months, a good GPU has gotten easier to get. But now, they’re getting cheaper, in part because of the cryptocurrency market’s recent crash.
Individuals use high-end GPUs to mine cryptocurrency at home, and much larger mining operations abroad use arrays of GPUs to generate more crypto. But in the last seven months, crypto’s global market capitalization has dropped from $3 trillion to around $900 billion, leading some miners to unplug if they can’t make the economics work. Another factor may be the upcoming Ethereum shift away from mining to a Proof-of-Stake approach—Ethereum is the largest cryptocurrency where GPU mining was still viable before the crash.
For years, many consumers assumed that the exorbitant price of GPUs was because of a demand in PC gaming, when in fact, crypto miners drove sales; In May, the SEC fined Nvidia $5.5 for not telling investors that crypto mining jacked up its prices.
Tom’s Hardware noted earlier this week that some GPU prices are down: AMD GPUs are eight percent below MSRP, and Tom’s predicted that while Nvidia’s units are still overpriced, this is just the start of the GPU price dip. There is a way to get a Nvidia GPU for cheap right now, though: Old, used units are being sold off at a discount, mostly on Chinese e-commerce sites like Xianyu (an online shop similar to eBay).
“Chinese Miners are dumping 3080 at a pretty crazy price on Xianyu (Taobao 2nd market smartphone app), from just 3500 yuan ($523),” the Twitter account @I_Leak_VN wrote on Tuesday, with screenshots of various GPUs listed for sale on the site:
Motherboard searched for “3080” on Taobao and confirmed that there were listings for as low as 3500 yuan, or $523.
On Baidu, users are posting screenshots of live streams where stacks of GPUs, allegedly for sale through the live auction, sit at sellers’ feet and are piled up in boxes.
Even on eBay, you can find once-impossible-to-get Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics cards for around its MSRP price of $699, or even less. Bloomberg recently reported, based on a report by consulting firm Bitpro, that Ethereum miners have spent approximately $15 billion on graphics processing units; in 2021, Bitpro claims that the price of GPUs has gone down by almost $400.
With everything—not just crypto—crashing right now, GPUs might be the only things that are actually becoming easier to afford.
Chloe Xiang contributed reporting to this story.