Nvidia’s secret new GPU won’t play games, but could help you buy an RTX 3080 Ti

Nvidia GPU
(Image credit: Nvidia)

A new leak suggests Nvidia is working on another new graphics card – but it won’t be for gaming. Instead, the rumored Nvidia 170HX would be a GPU designed solely for cryptocurrency miners – but this could still be a good thing for gamers.

If you’ve tried to buy a GPU recently, such as the brand new Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti, you may have noticed that it’s almost impossible to get hold of one. This is due to many things, but one of the main reasons is the current cryptocurrency boom, which means miners are buying up GPUs to use in their mining rigs.

Modern graphics cards offer excellent hashrates, which means they can mine for cryptocurrency better. With GPUs being hoarded by miners, it’s left regular PC gamers struggling to get a new GPU. That’s where the Nvidia 170HX could come in.

According to Twitter user HXL, the Nvidia 170HX will be a GPU with an Ethereum hash rate of 164 MH/s and a power consumption of 250W.

It’ll also come with 8GB of HBM2e memory. If these specs are correct, then this could be an extremely powerful GPU for cryptocurrency mining. The hope would be that cryptocurrency miners buy this card instead, leaving more stock of gaming GPUs available for gamers.

What the specs mean

The reason why these specs to attract cryptocurrency miners is that the 164MH/s hash rate is impressively high. As PC Gamer points out, the mighty RTX 3090 manages around 120 – 130MH/s. The RTX 3090 also has a 350W power consumption, whereas the rumored Nvidia 170HX requires just 250W.

The less power the GPU needs, the less it will cost to run. These GPUs are usually used in large rigs with multiple graphics cards, and they usually run 24/7. That means energy bills can start seriously racking up, and eating into any potential profits.

The choice of HBM2e memory also looks to be a savvy move, as Ethereum mining in particular benefits from high memory bandwidth. The GDDR6X memory of the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3090 hits 84GB/s, whereas HBM2e can reach up to 410GB/s.

This means for any cryptocurrency miner weighing buying an Nvidia 170HX or RTX 3080 Ti, for example, the Nvidia 170HX would be a much better bet.

So will this help alleviate stock woes for gamers wanting a new graphics card? Maybe. However, Nvidia would need to make sure there was enough stock of this card. After all, if it sells out quickly, miners would then go back to buying up regular gaming GPUs. The danger then, would be if Nvidia is pumping out these cryptocurrency GPUs, would that impact its ability to make new gaming GPUs?

There’s also the resell value to take into consideration. Cryptocurrency miners know that if they buy a gaming GPU to mine, after they’re finished with it, they can recoup some of their money by reselling the GPU to gamers. A second-hand cryptocurrency GPU may not offer that resell value, putting people off buying it in the first place.

Still, we hope this does something. As we saw with the recent RTX 3080 Ti launch, which sold out in seconds, it’s still almost impossible to get a new GPU, leading to a lot of frustrated and angry gamers.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.