Cheaper RTX 3080s are coming, but you shouldn't buy one yet - here's why

RTX 3070 Crypto miningg rig from Zotac
(Image credit: Zotac)

Cryptominers in China appear to be selling off graphics cards in bulk, a strong indication that the cryptocurrency bust might lead to gamers more easily being able to actually buy a GPU for their gaming PC.

According to Hong Kong news outlet HKEPC Hardware, internal conversations among cryptomining groups posted to a popular Taiwanese bulletin board PTT show large quantities of everything from Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 and AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT cards to Nvidia GTX 1066s and AMD Radeon RX 478s – which is likely the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 and AMD Radeon RX 470, respectively.

China's cryptomining crackdown in provinces like Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, and Sichuan, as well as that government's more aggressive stance against cryptocurrency more broadly, have helped crash cryptocurrency prices around the world. China accounts for about 65% of the world's global cryptomining hashrate for major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.

The cards are being sold in bulk at roughly their MSRP price, which would mean that most of these cards are being sold at cost or for less than the miners paid for them.

Don't buy a 'new' graphics card on eBay or StockX right now

While we always say that you should never buy a new graphics card on resale sites like eBay and StockX, right now would be the absolute worst time to do so. With cryptocurrency prices collapsing from their highs of just a month or two ago, a lot of industrial mining operations are going to be trying to dump their excess hardware for whatever price they can get for it.

These are really not the kind of graphics cards you're going to want to buy under any circumstances, as PC Gamer notes, since they may have been used to mine cryptocurrencies for months, running 24/7, stuffed into poorly-ventilated warehouses at high temperatures. It's one thing to buy a used car, it's another to buy a used car that's been driven around Death Valley in the Summer, all day, every day, for months on end without any maintenance.

What's more, all of those mining graphics cards that are about to flood resale sites are going to likely be promoted as "new" graphics cards since no one in their right mind would want to buy an RTX 3090 that's been running at full throttle for almost a year straight to mine Bitcoin and Ether.

Cryptominers have plenty of money to spend on cleaning up and packaging used up graphics cards as if they were brand new cards, so no matter what the pictures on a listing look like, you simply can't trust that the card you're buying is actually brand new. Once these cards are sold, trust us, these sellers are going to vanish into the night, so good luck getting your money back.

Customers Wait In Line Outside A New York City Best Buy For A Chance To Buy An RTX 3080 Ti

(Image credit: Future)

We definitely understand gamers want to finally get their hands on these new graphics cards, really, we do. And no matter how savvy you think you might be at spotting a bad card, you are taking a much bigger risk now than you would have even a month ago.

What's more, now's the time to start starving the scalpers online of the demand they need to justify buying up all the legit graphics card stock. They are about to have to compete with a massive surge of cheaper cards, which is going to force them to lower the prices they're charging. If no one buys these cards at even these lower prices, they'll end up losing money on them, which is going to strongly dissuade them from buying up any more cards from legit retailers.

We know you've been waiting a long time to get your hands on one of these cards, and it looks like there is going to be a major let-up in these stock shortages. We can't say that everyone who wants one is going to be able to buy one, there are other factors like the broader semiconductor shortage to consider as well, but it's likely to get much easier than it was before to buy a new graphics card. You've waited this long, another month or two is definitely doable to ensure that you're getting something that will actually last.

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).