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With crypto mining at an all-time high, GPU (graphics cards) pricing and availability are at an all-time low. This is effect has been attributed to two major factors. The first is a worldwide shortage of memory, needed to manufacture GPUs. The second is due to scalpers and miners buying whatever available stock of GPUs they can find. These are then sold at a premium or used in the resource-intensive crypto mining process. Since this has been going on for the last eight to ten months or so, some may be wondering when the prices will ever go down.
The GPU Shortage
The GPU shortage may never end. If you recall the basics of economics 101 with the basic law of supply and demand; as demand increases supply decreases. This is the major part of the issue that gamers and PC builders face today. Although GPU manufacturers aren't making enough efforts to combat shortages, this is not entirely their fault.
As previously stated, the GPU "epidemic" is due in part to a worldwide memory shortage. Couple this with the outrageous demand for cards, manufacturers simply cannot keep up. Sadly the attempts have been feeble at best. The computer component manufacturer AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), tried bundling their GPUs and CPUs with other components to encourage new builders or gamers looking to upgrade. Retailers like Micro Center, Newegg, and Fry’s Electronics have tried pairing GPU stock with peripherals like monitors and keyboards to help adjust for the inflated price of components. However, no one can seem to stop the determination of the mining crowd.
A Brief Note on Crypto Mining.
Simply put; because crypto mining is so profitable right now, it will be hard to discourage users to build a PC specifically for this task. Even more so than what it was a year ago, a miner with the proper low-end equipment could make anywhere from $40 – $80 a month. It may not sound like a lot, but when this number is completely reliant on the usage of one card. This is why miners often use more cards in a single build, thus creating the shortage. Gamers just want to play video games and the PC is a very viable platform to do so. Gamers and PC builders alike aren’t able to purchase the cards they need at the original MSRP. This has created a market that is a little overextended. The good news is that there may be a few alternatives finally.
Some Great Alternative to Consider...
With the launch of AMD’s Ryzen APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit), the result of a partnership between AMD and Intel, we may have what the gamers need. This particular APU is not the most powerful way to play games, but it is a solution for those who are looking for PC gaming on a budget. Not to mention because its a version of a CPU it fits the same socket as traditional Ryzen CPUs. This means that someone looking to game on a budget can do so with this chip without worrying about wasting money on a component that either isn't compatible or won't fit their needs after a short while.
According to JayzTwoCents a PC building expert and YouTuber, the performance of AMD’s latest APU, Ryzen 5 2400g, will yield around 30 FPS. It is some of the latest demanding titles such as Metro: Last Light, PUBG, and Shadow of Mordor with low - Medium settings. While older or less demanding titles like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Dirt: Rally, etc. achieve somewhere around 50 plus FPS in medium to high settings. This is great news because AMD’s APU is a great value bang for the buck. If you were ever skeptical about upgrading to Ryzen, this could be your chip of choice.
Prebuilt Systems, Cloud-based Gaming, and NVidia Options.
Other sources indicate that buying a prebuilt system may be your best bet. This is because third party PC builders often get components at the same price no matter if there is a shortage, they just get less of them. This is to indeed help their margins, but could in a way provide you with a good value for your money. A few good builders to recommend would be Xotic PC, CyberPowerPC, Digital Storm and iBuyPower.
If you're looking to get a great value for gaming, consider looking into LiquidSky. If you have the internet connection to prevent lag, it uses cloud-based computing to give your PC a little extra boost. It may not be the best option for those looking to play competitive first-person-shooters, but Liquid Sky could come in handy for strategy games, casual games, or just a basic platformer.
If none of these options work for you, you may consider bidding for a GPU, checking out the used market, or just waiting for the latest launch from NVidia. It's not really a secret anymore, but NVidia’s GTX 2070 and GTX 2080 is let to launch very soon. With it should come more stable pricing for these components at least for a short while. It is said that these specific cards are meant to target crypto miners which could lead to cheaper and less powerful cards available for gamers to buy happily.
Should you wait?
It is not known if this GPU shortage will ever end. Cryptocurrency has finally reached the attention of the mainstream. There is the potential for miners to make a lot of money, after adjusting for the cost of PC components and utilities. As a result, it is not going to go away until crypto mining is finished. Users will have to stop wanting crypto or the government may have to intervene with regulations. This is probably not the best approach. Nevertheless, until we can have more supply than what is currently demanded, this will just have to be our reality for a while.