Purchasing a mining-friendly Nvidia GPU is next to impossible at the moment. As 2017 came to a close things were getting pretty sparse. As far as 2018 is concerned, it’s a full on drought. Whether you’re looking for a GTX 1070, 1080 or even a GTX 1060 you’ll have to look long and hard in 2018. And, once you find one, be prepared to pay an extreme premium for the privilege of just getting a good Nvidia card at all.
Nvidia GTX GPUs and mining
First, it’s not just Nvidia. You can’t find AMD GPUs either. In 2018, If a video card can be used in some way to mine cryptocurrency profitably, it’s likely unavailable anywhere. But, as AMD and Nvidia progressed their architectures in the past year or so, Nvidia cards emerged as the better choice if you want to efficiently mine a wide variety of cryptocurrencies.
As cryptocurrency prices exploded, building a GPU mining rig became popular beyond hardcore enthusiasts. Throughout 2017 what might be best described as cryptocurrency mania further popularized rig building and GPU prices continued their rise. That didn’t stop them from being bought up, even when prices were double or more MSRP. Take a look at what a good Nvidia GTX card should cost, and what reality looks like if you went shopping today.
Nvidia GPU Prices
|Nvidia GPU||MSRP||Recent Price|
|GeForce GTX 1060 6GB||$249||$455|
|GeForce GTX 1070||$379||$684|
|GeForce GTX 1070 Ti||$449||$799|
|GeForce GTX 1080||$599||$849|
|GeForce GTX 1080 Ti||$699||$999|
An Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with an MSRP of $379 for $684 isn’t abnormal at all today. An 80% premium. That’s where things are today.
Nvida executives have been actively accepting, if not embracing, cryptocurrency
Gamers haven’t been shy about their frustration with cryptocurrency miners. The demand created by a mining rig build is magnitudes higher than the single card a gaming system builder is trying to get. The average mining rig build will consume 6, 7, 8 or more video cards. That has created the demand that drove the shortages were seeing today.
If we were heavy gamers, we’d be angry, too. We’re also not going to bee shy about purchasing a product just because it’s intended for a different market.
GPU Mining, Nvidia and 2018 GPUs
Depending on what you believe we may see new GPU models around March 26th, 2018. But, according to sources who claim to have spoken to Nvidia directly, new cards aren’t coming until the third quarter. Between then and now, we’d expect nothing on shelves at all. Why? It’s been widely reported that the Nvidia’s video RAM suppliers have moved on to manufacturing GDDR6, not GDDR5, RAM. That RAM is intended for next, not current generation Nvidia video cards.
Last years’ mining-specific GPUs
We’ve heard the mining-specific GPU story before. In 2017 a few manufacturers sold 4GB and 8GB AMD RX Mining Edition cards. Similarly, a card aimed at miners using Nvidia’s GPUs was also made.
The mining-specific GPUs had far fewer, or no, video output ports altogether. For mining, they’re not necessary. So, these cards were of little or no use to gamers. But, the strategy didn’t work. When they came out, the miner’s didn’t find them to be enough of a value.
As far as the 2017 mining Nvidia cards goes, there were so few produced they were like unicorns. While there were more AMD cards available retailers priced them very close to the their non-mining counterparts. GPU miners live under the fear of the cryptocurrency market being over regulated and tanking at any given moment. Saving a few dollars wasn’t very compelling if the cards were worthless for other uses if crypto tanked. Sure, those cards eventually did sell, but only because they were the only thing to be had.
However you look at it the approach was bungled. The strategy at hand shouldn’t have been to create graphic cards that gamers wouldn’t want, it should have been to create gaming cards that miners didn’t want.
Nvidia’s 2018 desktop video cards
There’s little known about Nvidia’s 2018 product lineup. What is known is the next evolution of the cherished Pascal architecture cards of today is known as the Volta architecture. At least that was what everyone had for the most part agreed in late 2017. As 2018 has progressed new rumors suggest that another successor, Ampere might be the answer for gamers, powering whatever the next generation of cards is called. Some believe the next generation of the GTX model line will use an ’11’ prefix (eg. Nvidia GTX 2070, Nvidia GTX 2080), others believe it will be ’20’ (eg. Nvidia GTX 1170, Nvidia GTX 1180).
Regardless of the name, new rumors have recently surfaced.
Does Nvidia have a GPU miner card strategy for 2018?
The rumor mill is now abuzz with what seems, in our opinion, like a quite likely possibility: a cryptocurrency-specific Nvidia mining GPU. If 2018’s Nvidia mode line reflects any learning from 2017, Nvidia will take this direction. A few reasons why we think this is plausible:
- Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, as well as Nvida executives have been actively accepting, if not embracing, cryptocurrency mining. Huang was recently quoted as saying “Crypto is a real thing – it’s not going away.” This doesn’t signal an intent to purposefully leave the GPU mining market.
- To produce video cards with discreet mining vs. gaming video functionality, it will likely have to happen at the GPU architecture level if both markets are important to Nvidia. Manufacturers want profits, and will put the architecture provided to them to work for whatever generates the best revenue stream.
- Astride ASIC mining chip production statements, Samsung stated it also has its eyes on manufacturing GPU-mining specific chips. It’s no surprise that there’s money to be made, and if Nvidia wants their chips at the center of the hungry gaming and GPU-mining markets they need products that uniquely serve both customer sets well.
- And finally, another Nvidia codename has emerged: Turning. Industry analysts are speculating that Turing might be Nvidia’s codename for a mining-specific GPU architecture. Of course, it might not be. It could just as well be the evolution of their compute platforms for datacenter-scale AI and number crunching.
The waiting game
For the time being, it’s a waiting game. In March there should be a far clearer picture of what Nvidia’s 2018 GPU plans are. And, who knows, maybe there will be a surprise announcement by Samsung, AMD or another player that brings mining rig building back to a reasonable price point.
Until then, the only options are to pay inflated prices or simply wait.