The recent explosion in cryptocurrency mining has made AMD’s 500-series graphics cards rarer than rocking horse excrement. That's making it almost impossible for us gamers to get a look-in when the pro-miners are hoarding all the silicon goodness for themselves. But retailers in the UK are starting to limit GPU purchases, so if your PC’s performance well is running dry a new graphics card will still be a possibility.
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Scan Computers International are one of the biggest PC hardware retailers in the UK and they’ve seen all stock of the in-demand AMD RX 580 and RX 570 cards wiped out by the second coming of crypto-mining. But it’s not just AMD cards that are being picked out for mining anymore as newer currencies are starting to make better use of Nvidia’s architecture now.
With Ethereum, the currency which has seemingly sparked the resurgence of crypto-mining, there’s not a huge difference in hashing performance between the Polaris GPUs and the Pascal-based Nvidia GTX 1060, especially with a bit of overclocking on the memory side. Because it’s so similarly priced compared with the RX 580 then a lot of the focus has switched to the 1060, but Scan are putting methods in place to ensure they can still serve the gamers.
“There’s a massive demand for Radeon 500-series and GTX 1060s from miners,” Scan’s technical guru, James Gorbold, told me. “And the 500-series are going to remain rare for quite some time. However, we do have good supply of GTX 1060 as we’re limiting sales to two cards per order to let gamers have a chance.”
When speaking with AMD's biggest GPU partner, Sapphire, at Computex they told me the pro-miners were setting up orders in the thousands each month to keep their mining plants up and running. With the retailers putting these restrictions in place it ought to at least give us the opportunity to upgrade our GPU without getting gazumped by the professional outfits.
So, it looks like AMD’s mainstream GPUs are going to stay rather elusive for the foreseeable future. We’ve reached out to the Radeon gang to see if they’ve got a bead on when they anticipate more 500-series cards actually becoming available again, but they’re still crunching the numbers.
Though, when these in-demand cards do eventually reappear, Scan are going to put the same buying restrictions on the AMD cards they’ve already placed on the GTX 1060. “We’ll definitely limit sales once we have stock so that gamers have a chance to buy,” Gorbold explains. “Right now that still looks to be a fair way off, though, making the GTX 1060 the only buyable choice in the mid-range.”