We pointed out a couple of weeks ago that cryptocurrency miners are largely to blame for the scarcity of AMD Radeon RX 580 and 570 graphics cards. That has not changed—finding an RX 580/570 in stock and without a grossly inflated price tag is a near-impossible task—but what has changed is that miners now seem to be driving up the price of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 cards too.
A user on Reddit lamented (opens in new tab) that GTX 1060 pricing is "skyrocketing," which is an exaggeration of the situation, though not totally off base.
"I just checked Jet and their cheapest 6GB 1060 was $280 when yesterday it was $246. On Newegg, the cheapest was $226 and now it's $270? Is this because of mining? Should I buy one now before the prices get higher? I'm freaking out guys!," Lions_for_Life posted.
He also pointed out that he had the opportunity to grab a GeForce GTX 1060 card the other day for $210, only to now see that prices have jumped across the board. Is there any merit to his claim? We decided to do some digging and as it turns out, he appears to be onto something.
One of the cheaper GTX 1060 cards out there is MSI's GTX 1060 Aero ITX 6TG OC. It is the least expensive 6GB 1060 on Newegg, which as the Reddit user noted is priced at $270 (opens in new tab). Over at Amazon, only third-party vendors offer the same card, albeit starting at $294 (opens in new tab)—yikes!
We headed over to CamelCamelCamel (opens in new tab) to see how this card has been trending, and sure enough the asking price is as high as it's ever been.
About a month and a half ago, this same card sold for around $220 on Amazon, via third-parties. So in other words, pricing has risen 34 percent in the span of about six weeks.
A similar situation seems to playing out in GeForce GTX 1070 territory as well. Take the Asus GeForce GTX 1070 8GB ROG Strix OC Edition (STRIX-GTX1070-O8G-GAMING). Amazon has this one in stock for $470 (opens in new tab), versus $399 as recently as May 22. Have a look:
For the most part, this fluctuated between $420 and $450 for several months for dipping down to $399, but has now ballooned to a new high.
So what does all of this mean? We can't say with 100 percent certainty that cryptocurrency miners are the culprit, but it sure seems that way. That's where AMD's hardware partners pinned the blame the shortage of Radeon RX 580 and 570 cards, and with those being out of stock, it makes sense that miners would turn to alternative hardware—in this case, GeForce GTX 1060 and 1070 cards.
In case you're new to all of this, cryptocurrency participants use graphics cards to "mine" various coins, which can be traded for Bitcoin and then sold for actual cash. The right hardware can pay for itself within months, and at that point anything that is mined is pure profit (minus the power bill).
This was not an issue for gamers over the past few years because miners had turned to ASIC hardware built specifically for mining. However, GPUs are popular again because of newer hashing algorithms, like Ethereum's DaggerHashimoto or ZCash's Equihash, which are resistant to ASIC hardware. On top of that, there has been a spike in the value of Ethereum and Bitcoin lately, the latter of which recently topped the $3,000 mark for the first time.
Another reason we're seeing this play out among Pascal cards is that Nvidia GPUs are proving nearly as profitable as AMD GPUs with some cryptocurrencies. While AMD's GPUs are still generally better, some of Nvidia's card's are cheaper and consume less power.
Hopefully AMD and Nvidia both can get handle on things by increasing production and/or building a separate set of cards specifically intended for miners. Otherwise, your best bet is to pounce on a good deal when you find one, as the aforementioned Reddit user wishes he had done.