Time to scramble to buy a graphics card to mine coins

 CHINA Merchants are cutting half the price of high-end graphics cards, but there are still no buyers.

Nvidia's GeForce RTX 3080, RTX 3080 Ti, RTX 3090... used to be the most sought-after graphics cards "like gold" when they always kept selling prices 3-4 times higher than the company's suggested retail price. However, the mid-September The Merge event made Ethereum mining impossible and caused the market to plunge, according to SCMP. In June, an RTX 3080 model was advertised for about $ 1,140 but now it is less than $ 700 (VND 16.6 million).

The Ethereum overhaul removed the proof-of-work (Proof-of-Work) mechanism that requires a lot of power and powerful machines. This is why in the past, graphics cards - products for gamers or content creators - were sought after just because they could "mine".

“When the crypto mining wave peaked, miners came in with a lot of money and pooled all the graphics cards we had,” said Peng, a merchant at Buy Now in Shanghai. "But now, look at the stores, no one is buying a new graphics card, nor is anyone buying a new computer because of Covid-19."

An empty computer parts store in Shanghai. Photo: Ann Cao/SCMP
An empty computer parts store in Shanghai. Photo: Ann Cao/SCMP

Liu, a manager at another computer parts store in Shanghai, said the lower-end RTX 3080 series of cards from manufacturers like MSI and Coloful started cutting prices sharply two months ago. "I had a customer last year who bought an RTX 3080 for 9,400 yuan late last year but now has to put it up for sale for less than half the price," he said.

Like Peng and Liu, many other merchants at Buy Now, one of Shanghai's busiest electronics shopping malls in Xuhui, Shanghai are fidgeting in their stores, next to boxes full of cards. Graphics are not for sale.

The selling price of graphics cards on the e-commerce platform also decreased, but at a slower rate. On JD, Taobao, the price of the RTX 3080 is down a few hundred to one thousand yuan (nearly four million dong) compared to three months ago. But even if the price is continuously plunging, the number of transactions is very small.

In fact, graphics card retailers have had a hard time before in China. Last year, the government of this country banned Bitcoin mining also caused the price of graphics cards to go down. Subsequent crypto market developments this year saw both BTC and ETH drop more than 70% in value, to around $19,000 and $1,300 respectively. Therefore, the demand for graphics cards has also plummeted continuously in the past year.

China is currently grappling with weaker consumer demand amid a slowing economy. In the second quarter of 2022, personal computer sales fell 16% year-on-year, marking the worst decline since 2013, according to Canalys data. According to SCMP, The Merge event is like a drop of water, making the graphics card market more gloomy than ever in the world's most populous country.

Graphics card mounted on a coin miner. Photo: Mundo
Graphics card mounted on a coin miner. Photo: Mundo

This situation is in contrast to last year, when dealers and miners were willing to buy cards at high prices, even without the need for after-sales and warranty policies. "Many ranchers are holding tens of thousands of cards. They rent a hydroelectric dam as a farm. A large farm has hundreds of diggers with thousands of cards. Huge profits from mining Bitcoin, Ethereum have made demand surged. Some ranchers drove trucks straight to the gate of graphics card manufacturers in Guangdong and other places to get goods, blocking the supply to the market," said a miner nicknamed Ahui.

People like Peng and Liu, even though they've only been running the store for a few years, have seen graphics cards go from the most sought-after computer component to the current surplus. "Card prices have reached their lowest point, some models are even cheaper than the list price," Liu said.

Peng said the upcoming market will see another wave of “discharge” from cryptocurrency miners. This could drag equipment prices down even further. "These cards are also very risky when reselling because they are operating at full capacity for cryptocurrency mining, they may have system problems," he said, and believes that not many users will notice. often want to buy, but it is difficult to distinguish from ordinary cards.

Recently, Nvidia was also required to comply with new US sanctions targeting China related to the technology sector. Accordingly, the company along with AMD cannot sell advanced AI chips to Beijing. However, the merchants said that the banned GPU line is mainly designed for business customers, not affecting gamers or cryptocurrency miners.
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