While we recently reported that the crackdown on cryptomining operations in China is having a positive knock-on effect for gamers looking to buy a new graphics card, we're not completely in the clear.
A Vietnamese retailer has been spotted selling pre-built mining rigs that contain non-restricted GeForce RTX 3080 GPUs by Twitter user I_Leak_VN. It hurts enough to see gaming hardware used for mining cryptocurrencies, but these are no ordinary graphics cards – the prized Asus Gundam RTX 3080 is notable for making up most of the stock in the images snapped within the store, and this is a card that is outlandishly expensive and hard to find as it was intended as a collector's item.
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Gun-damn, that hurts
We know that the last year has seen GPU prices rapidly inflated to obscene levels, but this Gundam-themed GPU is especially notable for being almost impossible to buy, selling on eBay at prices starting from $2,300 (around £1,700 / AU$3,100).
The fact that such a rare GPU is being used in mining rigs is likely due to the fact that these are pre-LHR (Light Hash Rate, or 'anti mining') cards that were introduced before Nvidia extended its new hash rate limiter across almost the entire RTX 3000 series to deter crypto enthusiasts from buying up all the available stock.
Before the introduction of LHR cards and regions of China bringing in mining restrictions, many of the best graphics cards currently on the market have been almost impossible to obtain thanks to mining operations buying them up to farm for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Given that opportunists will take advantage of situations like this, scalpers started using bots to fight for what little stock was available, causing prices to inflate to almost three times their recommended MSRP.
Images like this show that despite all the good news surrounding prices finally starting to fall and a mass selloff of second-hand equipment, mining operations are still alive and well... for now.
With any luck, we will continue to see a downwards trend in cryptomining though as profits start to dwindle, which should free up some hardware for gaming and PC enthusiasts to buy.
While we're not seeing any signs of improvement yet in the US market, it's expected that we will see things stabilize as we have in other regions such as Pakistan, Germany and China, so a little patience should reap the reward of readily available and reasonably priced GPUs in the coming months.
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Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.