Gamers, it's our time: Crypto miners are trying to make money by auctioning off mountains of used (but cheap) graphics cards via live streams, offering a decent opportunity to pick up a bargain, as long as you're happy to take the risk.

The cryptocurrency market has had a rough few weeks after most of its most profitable coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum crashed, but as they say, one person's pain is another's pleasure. PC Gamer (Opens in a new tab) reports that with so much value extracted from Ethereum in particular, the largest coin still viably mined using a conventional desktop GPU, crypto miners and farms are trying to sell used equipment to recover their losses.

The GPU flood has arrived. Chinese miners and South Asian ecafes are now dismantling their mining rigs and auctioning off cards on live streams.

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In fact, Ethereum mining still uses proof-of-work validation, although the coin is about to move to proof-of-stake, which will make mining the coin extremely unprofitable in the future. Gaming GPUs help, even if the market recovers. This is the same validation method used by Bitcoin these days, which is why miners generally focus more on application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners built specifically for mining rather than scrambling to get one of their own. best gaming graphics cards on the market. .

At its peak, a single Bitcoin was worth almost €64,400, which means that if you bought €1,000 worth of Bitcoin on November 12, 2021, it would currently be worth around €326. Similarly, the price of Ethereum fell to €1,112 this week. from €4,600 in November.

Bad news for crypto, good news for gamers

Chinese miners are downloading 3080 at a pretty crazy price on Xianyu (Taobao's second market smartphone app), starting at just 3500 yuan (€523).

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China's cheap electricity has made it a mining haven, which probably explains why we're seeing the majority of sales in that region, with piles of junk Ampere RTX 30 graphics cards being sold on the marketplace website. Xianyu. Some of the RTX 3080 graphics card listings were posted on Twitter by I_Leak_VN (Opens in a new tab), showing that these used GPUs are advertised at just 3500 Yuan (about $523 / £420 / AU$760). .

Technically, the same GPU has an MSRP of $699 (£649, around AU$950) for the original Founders Edition model, so the savings here aren't particularly big, though it's worth noting that while we're seeing some inventory improvements and lower prices, some units are still priced above MSRP, albeit slightly.

Auctions were also held on the live stream to help sell the cards, with Tom's Hardware (Opens in a new tab) reporting a post from Baidu (Opens in a new tab) describing a large number of cards advertised to via live streams, some speculated to be from gaming internet cafes. In the post, the RTX 3060 Tis were listed as being priced between €300 (approximately $245 / AU$440) and €350 (approximately $290 / AU$510) which, while just below the original MSRP of the €399 (about $299, AU$540) card, is a huge improvement over the prices we were seeing at the height of the GPU shortage.

Review: Wait, so should you buy these GPUs?

People in New York line up to get a new graphics card from Best Buy (Image credit: Twitter/Matt Swider)

These sales aren't just happening in China - eBay, Facebook Marketplace and many others are also seeing an influx of used GPUs around the world - but there are a few things to consider before buying one.

The biggest issue for most people will be worrying about using this hardware, especially if it's potentially coming from a large-scale farm rather than a hobby miner, but mining cards aren't as bad as you might think. This video from LinusTechTips delves into how cards are used for mining, and the tests in the video revealed that months of constant use on a mining rig actually had a fairly negligible effect on performance.

This is because many miners are clocking down the cards to better preserve longevity and consume less power, so despite running 24/7 these GPUs have not been brought to its absolute limit.

However, there are other things to be aware of that you might not notice on an online list. Our American IT writer, John Loeffler, has written an informative article about the dangers of buying cards from ex-miners, warning that "in many cases it's [run] in a dusty open warehouse alongside dozens of other similarly burned graphics cards." , all generating heat and frying their own and their neighbors' silicon transistors, plastic PCBs and solder.

It's hard to judge the cosmetic condition of a GPU from a listing image, but only you can assess whether it's worth buying a cheaper used product. For those of you planning to buy a next-gen Nvidia Lovelace graphics card like the GeForce RTX 4090 when it releases later this year, a used GPU might be worth the risk of buying something new at MSRP considering you just need it to stay put. with you for a few months.

Regardless of your stance on old mining hardware, this is great news for PC gamers. With the collapse of the crypto market, there is less competition against miners, which will result not only in mountains of used graphics cards hitting the market, but also in more availability of new inventory. It has been reported that Ethereum miners have spent €15 billion on GPUs in the last two years and that is no small match to go up against.

As we get closer to the release of Nvidia Lovelace and AMD RDNA3, we can only hope the market stays down to give gamers the chance to pick up a new GPU after years of battling scalpers, bots, and miners. Otherwise, we could be addicted to gaming desktop PCs and pre-built gaming laptops again.

Today's best graphics card deals

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