Demand for AMD CPUs surges as crypto mining rises from the ashes

AMD Ryzen 9 7950X CPU in a motherboard socket
(Image credit: Future)

Anyone that was in the market for a GPU in the period from 2020 to 2022 would remember the ridiculous prices caused by demand from miners. Among other reasons related to the pandemic, GPUs were particularly strong at Ethereum mining, leading to shortages of graphics cards. Thankfully that came to an end in September 2022, but now that we're well into 2024, are we seeing a new mining crunch? This one's in the form of CPUs, specifically, the AMD Ryzen variety.

An analysis by Wccftech looks at the mining profitability of several proof of work (PoW) coins that perform best on CPUs. Mining profitability has surged on the back of Bitcoin's new all-time highs. That tends to have a flow-on effect into the alt-coin market. Even if some of these coins are basically garbage, there's money to be made, and that means demand for PC hardware is rising. 

At the time of writing, the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X was out of stock at Newegg, and its list price was $741—higher than its $699 launch price. It's also higher than the current $592 price of the 7950X3D. You wouldn't expect supply side issues well over a year after the 7950X launched, so a demand side factor is obviously at play. And mining appears to be the culprit.

RandomX is the algorithm used by Monero and several other PoW coins. A look at XMRig benchmarks shows the list is dominated by high core count AMD chips. If one scrolls down to find the mainstream CPUs, you'll find the 7950X in 118th spot with a benchmark result of 26,783. The Intel Core i9 14900K—admittedly with far fewer entries, sits back in 211th spot with a result of 16,278.

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There are CPU mining algorithms that thrive on large amounts of L3 cache, while others benefit from AVX instructions. Add to that miner-appealing power efficiency and you've pretty much ticked off the major strengths of AMD's Ryzen 7000-series CPUs. They're good at mining. A little known crypto called Qubic can generate up to $3 a day.

Even if we face a run of miners snapping up CPUs, at least gamers will still be able to buy the cheaper Zen 4 chips, but can we say the same about AMD's upcoming Zen 5 models? Should AVX-512 become widely adopted, the mining performance of AMD's chips will move even further ahead given Intel's challengers don't support AVX-512.

There's even speculation that AMD could release so-called low hash rate Zen 5 versions, which hearkens back to Nvidia's LHR graphics cards during the height of the mining boom. I'm less inclined to believe AMD would go down that path though.

If Bitcoin continues to rise, and money keeps flowing into the crypto market, shit and not-so-shitcoin mining profitability is only going to increase. That's not good news for those of you looking to buy a high core count Zen 5 CPU in the months ahead. Let's see how things play out.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.