Crypto-miners could flock to the Nvidia RTX 3080, leaving gamers out in the cold

(Image credit: Nvidia)

The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is a hotly anticipated next-gen graphics card on the cusp of being launched, but when it’s out, it seems like crypto miners may be attracted to the raw performance of the RTX 3080 – which could limit supply.

Not only have we heard rumors about stock shortages – due to an initial short manufacturing run, allegedly – but the prospect that cryptocurrency miners could be seriously interested in grabbing these GPUs, could compound the former problem.

That will certainly be disappointing to hear for those who thought that the crypto-mining boom days were over, but don’t forget that we recently heard that Nvidia’s Turing GPUs, such as the RTX 2060, have witnessed an increase in demand for crypto-mining over in China.

The assertion comes from a report by Tom’s Hardware (citing a tweet from prolific leaker @momomo_us) which claims that crypto-miners are very interested in the prospect of the RTX 3080’s mining power compared to its price tag. This would be for mining Ethereum which still remains best mined with a GPU, as opposed to the likes of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies best served with ASICs.

One miner claims that the RTX 3080 offers a hash rate that is no less than three to four times faster than the RTX 2080, allegedly giving miners a lot more power for the same asking price (at launch).

Theoretically then, as Tom’s Hardware observes, assuming a cost of $0.10 per kWh for electricity, a miner could drop an RTX 3080 into their existing Ethereum mining rig and recoup the cost of the upgrade in around nine months or so (compared to more like a few years for the RTX 2080).

Other considerations

Take all this and the napkin math with a good deal of caution, naturally, and besides, there are other points to consider here, including that the RTX 3080 chews through some serious power (it’s rated at 320W in fact, making it relatively expensive to run constantly in a mining rig).

There are, of course, much more affordable second-hand options than the RTX 3080 on eBay, such as the Radeon VII which is also a great mining prospect if you want a beefy GPU, or other cheaper AMD graphics cards (like the RX 580). Indeed, taking a look at some of the cryptocurrency forums online, there are miners who are waiting for the RTX 3000 series to drop, not to buy one – but in order to pick up cheaper Turing graphics cards being sold off.

Ultimately, we won’t know how any additional crypto-mining forces will play out until after the launch of Nvidia’s RTX 3080 – but nonetheless, with all this talk of stock shortages already floating around, the possibility of extra mining demand is a concern for those who just want to grab a powerful Ampere graphics card to play games with.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).