The RTX 30 series from Nvidia is actually a very decent step-up from last gen for the price, but sadly it’s extremely difficult or borderline impossible to get one at MSRP. This squeeze in GPU supply has happened before, but earlier a cryptocurrency boom was the culprit, in 2021 cryptos compound the problem. Due to a very limited supply in chips and henceforth GPUs, gamers and enthusiasts have to shell out big premiums for these new cards, if they manage to find one that is.
Nvidia Comes With A Solution
RTX 3060 software drivers are designed to detect specific attributes of the Ethereum cryptocurrency mining algorithm, and limit the hash rate, or cryptocurrency mining efficiency, by around 50 percent.
That only makes sense. Our GeForce RTX GPUs introduce cutting-edge technologies — such as RTX real-time ray-tracing, DLSS AI-accelerated image upscaling technology, Reflex super-fast response rendering for the best system latency, and many more — tailored to meet the needs of gamers and those who create digital experiences.
For the RTX 3060 specifically Nvidia decided to impose limits on the hash rate and kill mining efficiency by 50 percent for the Ethereum coin. Interestingly they also announced a new line-up of products specifically for mining called Nvidia CMP. The company was very confident on how this implementation would make the RTX 3060 unprofitable for miners.
And It Fails…..
This wasn’t surprising honestly because cryptos are just part of a bigger problem plaguing GPU supply. Covid-19 has hit production badly and every chip foundry is struggling to meet demand, which has in-turn increased due to quarantines in various countries. LTT actually made a very good video calling Nvidia out on their apparent “solution”.
Even locked down drivers for the RTX 3060 cards have failed, according to a report from Wccftech, miners in China have found a way to by-pass it with a mod. Although as claimed in many reports this wasn’t the DaggerHashimoto algorithm for mining ETH, instead it was the Octopus algorithm for Conflux mining.
This was going to happen eventually because mid-end cards are great for mining. Firstly cards like the RTX 3060 are way more power efficient compared to the beefier cards, cooling is also less of a concern due to the lower power consumption. The results posted online show the RTX 3060 doing around 40-45 MH/s, the report from Wccftech also shares a Facebook group where Vietnamese miners were able to get 50 MH/s. These figures make the RTX 3060 a very enticing option for miners and with the soaring prices of popular cryptos many such units can be snagged up for mining. This obviously hurts real buyers now, but if you factor in the current scenario this plays out in favour of gamers.
Why This is A Good Thing
This is not the first time miners have caused a scarcity, a very recent example was from 2018 where a big price crash in crypto currencies made mining unprofitable for most miners, the aftermath was a blessing for gamers because the market was suddenly flooded with cheap GPUs.
Recently it’s a bit different, miners are not the sole reason for a supply crunch. As Covid-19 swept across the globe, governments had to take serious action to contain the virus. These lockdowns and restrictions badly affected the global chip supply. Demand on the other hand rebounded very quickly as people got comfortable working from their homes. This caused a big supply-demand imbalance that is still going on, even with the chip foundries manufacturing at max capacity.
Point being, even without miners people buying GPUs would have to shell out a lot extra. The good thing is, with mining being very profitable now, miners will be willing to pay extra for these GPUs and hence absorb the costs imposed by the pandemic. When the next correction happens in crypto prices there will be a huge influx of GPUs in the second hand market. This will cause prices to fall drastically, even for new cards, greatly benefitting patient buyers.
The Waiting Game
The hard part is guessing when that happens, analysts expect supply side shortages to last till 2022. How long is the current crypto boom going to last? That’s even harder to answer.
The general consensus for computer hardware has always been to buy at market prices and not speculate on lower prices in the future. This is excellent advice for ordinary times but recent events have been anything but ordinary. The current GPU prices make no sense for the usual buyer and do not warrant a purchase, that is unless they are lucky to find something close to MSRP.
Nvidia might seem noble in its intentions to limit mining on the RTX 3060 cards, but that is most probably to save their own bottom-line. During the last crypto crash Nvidia lost out on a lot of potential buyers for the RTX 20 series who instead opted for used GTX 10 series cards, which were being sold at dirt cheap prices. Nvidia will never take any drastic action on mining which is a sizeable portion of their revenue, but they might, from time to time, try to hedge against a impending crypto crash and play it off as a pro-gaming move. Concluding, gamers see little to no benefit from such actions and instead, potentially stand to lose out more.
For anyone who is looking to buy a new GPU, its better to wait till one of the market forces driving prices higher normalise. If you absolutely need to buy a new GPU, monitor for restocks on online marketplaces and if it’s a new PC you are looking to build, buying a pre-assembled one now will be your best bet.