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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Cryptocurrency miners in China are beginning to sell off GPUs for cheap

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Could the cryptocurrency boom be starting to ease off in China? Sales of graphics cards from mining groups seems to suggest it may well be. Not to speak too soon, but Taiwanese PC builders spotted heaps of GPUs up for grabs in China, cards likely once used to mine cryptocurrencies but seemingly no longer worth the hassle.

According to a screenshot from a mining group posted to PTT, a popular Taiwanese bulletin board, miners in China are selling off a large number of Nvidia and AMD GPUs (via HKEPC). These include the latest 30-series or 6000-series, but also other older GPU generations, such as AMD’s cheap and cheerful Polaris generation.

Card prices aren’t massively inflated, either. HKEPC reports that an RTX 3070, sold in there hundreds and thus potentially cheaper for it, will cost roughly $3,120 HKD (Hong Kong Dollar) each. That’s a little over $400 US. 

Since these cards are being sold in bulk, it may be that the sellers are hoping cryptocurrency miners elsewhere will take them up on the offer. Regardless, gamers will likely want to steer clear.

The fact these graphics cards have been used to mine crypto should comes as a red flag for would be purchasers: you probably don’t want a graphics card that’s been on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and at high temperatures for your next gaming PC. 

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The mere fact these cards are being put on sale could be indicative of a larger slide in cryptocurrency profitability, or viability, in China. The country currently has the world’s highest hash rate, meaning it mines more crypto than anyone else, but recent crackdowns on mining by both China’s financial and local authorities may have some looking to move on or even elsewhere.

There are a few other signs of a potential turning of the tides for GPU mining, most of all in China: GPU prices are dropping, ASRock says demand is easing, and Ethereum is moving to proof-of-stake which may also accelerate the whole process. Then there’s Nvidia’s hash rate limiter, sure to be of more concern to miners if profitability swings down further than it already has this year.

We can’t say for sure what’s going to happen, though. This could be a small blip, a temporary lull for today’s biggest cryptos. Even Ethereum or Bitcoin’s ‘low’ value today is far in excess of what it was just in January of this year. 

Basically this certainly isn’t the end of cryptocurrency, and we’re definitely not out of the woods yet.

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