Last week, China issued a blanket ban on cryptocurrency transactions and mining in any form. In a turn up for the books, this might spell some good news for those still looking for the best graphics cards on the market for their PCs.
Nvidia's next generation of graphics cards were revealed in late 2020, yet customers are struggling to get their mitts on the RTX 3080, RTX 3070, and the beastly RTX 3090. There are a number of reasons, expectedly, but the one most pertinent to the subject at hand is that cryptocurrency miners use these zippy gizmos to mine their coins of choice.
Furthermore, cryptocurrency is ludicrously lucrative in China, with an estimated combined value of $150 million held in crypto wallets across the country. Indeed, 300 NVIDIA CMP 30HX graphics cards were seized from smugglers earlier this year - which would have earned them about $250,000 if they'd managed to make it into China.
Once upon a time, a guy had approximately $240 million in bitcoin stored on a hard drive. Unhappily ever after, he lost the password to that hard drive and lost the lot. Hear his story here, if you've got the stomach for it!
With this new directive, the People's Bank of China aims to "resolutely clamp down on virtual currency speculation ... to safeguard people's properties and maintain economic, financial and social order."
So, now that crypto boffins risk a run-in with the law if they continue their activities in the country, we might see an influx of top-tier (and secondhand) GPUs enter the market.
However, it's worth being wary regarding the condition of these graphics cards if they've been previously used for specialised ASICs to produce proof of work. PC Gamer's report on the enormous volume of e-waste that cryptocurrency creates explains that the ASICs are "fixed function devices" intended for the calculation of algorithms and nothing else. Ergo, once the amount of energy required to complete the maths surpasses the pace that ensures the user turns a profit, then there is no need for the component any longer and it is trashed.
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