You may have read rumors that Nvidia is working on headless graphics cards for cryptocurrency miners. It makes sense, given how popular mining has become. However, it looks like Sapphire has beaten all others to the punch with a handful of AMD Radeon RX 470 and 560 cards built specifically for mining.
Sapphire is taking the bull by the horns here. As far as we can tell, it is the only company with consumer-based graphics cards for miners on the market. There are five in all. They include the following models, all of which are available to preorder at OverclockersUK:
- Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition 8GB (Samsung)—£300
- Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition 8GB—£290
- Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition 4GB (Samsung)—£260
- Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition 4GB—£249
- Sapphire Radeon RX 560 Mining Edition 4GB—£170
Most of these cards ship without any display outputs, save for the Radeon RX 560, the only non-headless card of the bunch with a single DVI port (at least according to picture, shown above).
The other thing to note here is that Sapphire offers two of the models with Samsung-brand memory chips. These have been known to clock higher than Elpida chips, so users can get better mining performance. The difference is not huge—25-28MHz versus 24-27MHz for the Radeon RX 470 with 8GB of memory—but for miners looking to squeeze out every last bit of performance out of the hardware, it might be worth shelling out a small premium upfront and making up the difference over time.
Worth noting is that these cards are only backed by a one-year warranty. The other downside is that without any display ports, miners won't be able to flip these cards to gamers in the second-hand market should they upgrade to something newer (or give up on cryptocurrency mining). Long-term, there's also the matter of pricing. The mining variants of the cards would need to cost less than the gaming variants to really gain traction.
In any event, it's interesting to see a major player expand its lineup to include cards aimed specifically at miners. It speaks to the popularity of mining for cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum. The whole mining craze is the reason why certain model graphics cards are in short supply, which has caused a noticeable spike in pricing. Here's hoping that the craze ends soon, or that manufacturers are able to meet demand with cards purpose built for mining.