So, actual graphics card smugglers are now a thing then

Smuggled graphics cards after raid in Hong Kong
(Image credit: TVB News)

Graphics cards are now so profitable criminal gangs are willing to risk running foul of the Hong Kong authorities simply to smuggle unlabelled GPUs. TVB News (via Tom's Hardware) has reported that 300 Nvidia graphics cards, specifically for GPU mining, have been seized during a 2am raid just outside of Hong Kong International Airport.

I'll admit, the actual smuggling angle initially had me confused. However much we might rail against the use of GPUs in large-scale mining operations, it's not illegal for those outfits to buy up a block of 300 new graphics cards for the privilege. 

But it is now incredibly expensive.

The Nvidia CMP 30HX cards, which these unmarked cards seem to be, don't have a listed retail price we can find, but there are reports of these GPUs hitting the market for over $720. With a nominal Ethereum hash rate of 26 MH/s that puts these cards at the same level as a GTX 1660 Super, once a $230 graphics card, making a hell of a markup.

And another nightmarish sign of the GPU endtimes we're living through.

With a street price of around $217,000 for the 300 CMP 30HX cards you can understand why some enterprising malfeasants would happily help you cut out the middle man for a more reasonable price, and why that might be attractive to some serious cryptocurrency miners looking to quickly turn a profit.

The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, however, is not to be trifled with. The authorities reportedly found this fishing boat anchored just outside the airport to be mildly suspicious and subsequently discovered smugglers loading boxes of goodies into speedboats from the boat.

Smuggled graphics cards after raid in Hong Kong

(Image credit: TVB News)

On being discovered the smugglers fled in their speedboats and headed back to the mainland, evading the customs boys in blue and making a clean getaway, potentially with other fun stuff in tow. They might have already unloaded a whole bunch of GeForce RTX 3080s, who knows...

The customs folk did detain the owner of the fishing boat, however, and that's when they discovered those 300 graphics card nestled in among smartphones, sea cucumbers, and shark fins. And system RAM too, because that's seemingly worth smuggling too.

Smuggled RAM after raid in Hong Kong

(Image credit: TVB News)

What's going to happen to those poor graphics cards though? That's what we want to know, though we're not convinced an email to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will yield many answers, we'll keep you posted. It's possible that, as contraband, the Turing GPUs will be destroyed [sharp intake of breath] but don't worry, they don't have outputs so you can't game on them anyways.

But spare a thought for those crypto miners not getting their illicit graphics cards, and tell me if their sadness doesn't raise a smile and warm the heart just a little.

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.