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Soaring prices push graphics card makers to release cards built expressly for cryptocurrency mining

By Koh Wanzi - on 27 Jun 2017, 11:25am

Soaring prices push graphics card makers to release cards built expressly for cryptocurrency mining

ASUS Mining-RX470-4G

As prices of graphics cards soar, card manufacturers are releasing mining-specific models based on both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs to draw the heat away from their more gaming-focused models and relieve pressure on supply chains.

While local prices so far seem unaffected, prices of the GeForce GTX 1060 have jumped above US$400 on Newegg, up from roughly US$250 just a couple of weeks ago. At the time of writing, the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Dual 6GB actually retails for a mind-boggling US$839, more than even the GeForce GTX 1080.

Similarly, AMD’s Radeon RX 500-series cards have been flying off the virtual shelves, and the MSI Radeon RX 580 Armor 4G OC is currently selling for US$719 on Newegg.

That said, there are also supply shortages locally, even if we’ve fortunately been spared the crazy price increases seen in the US.

Mid-range cards are the most heavily hit, because miners don’t want to commit that much cash up front given the volatility of many cryptocurrencies.

To help assuage the issue, ASUS and Sapphire have announced models built expressly for mining. All the cards have far more limited display outputs since they’re hardly needed for mining.

The ASUS Mining-P106-6G, based on the same GP106 GPU that powers the GeForce GTX 1060, features no display connectors at all, while the Mining-RX470-4G has one DVI-D output (and empty cutouts for HDMI and DisplayPort connections).

On Sapphire’s end, it is fielding a total of five SKUs, according to the listings at Overclockers UK. Four of them are based on the Radeon RX 470, and are differentiated in terms of 4GB and 8GB models and the expected MH/s performance for mining.  

Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition 4GB

The fifth model is a Radeon RX 560 Mining Edition 4GB, and it’s the cheapest mining-specific card that Sapphire is offering. It is also the only one to come with a display output in the form of a single DVI-D port.

Two of the Radeon RX 470-based cards come with Samsung memory chips, which reportedly offer slightly better performance – 25-28MH/s versus 24-27MH/s – than their Elpida counterparts.

Mining performance can be quantified in terms of MH/s, or megahash per second, and this hash rate is directly proportional to the amount of profit a miner can expect.

Having said that, this could be the start of a solution to the GPU shortages, if other manufacturers follow suit. Miners will probably not stop buying up gaming cards, but these mining cards could at least help relieve some of the burden.

Source: PC Perspective

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