PC gaming is encountering dark days due to the cost-prohibitive price of GPUs.
Graphics card prices are sky-high right now and have been for several months. Even though GPUs are being sold for two or three times their MSRP, they're still quickly flying off shelves thanks to the cryptocurrency craze. This has made it a horrible time to build or upgrade a gaming rig. Make sure you check out the video above for more details.
Lots of PC gamers have exclaimed that they're waiting for the bubble to burst, but considering cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been around since 2009, cryptomining doesn't show many signs of slowing down. If anything, it's been growing at a steady rate over the past decade.
Considering cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are really interesting technologies that have the potential to be very disruptive in a wide variety of sectors, we have to consider the possibility that this might not be a bubble. While lulls and dips are expected to happen because the crypto market is highly volatile, this could be a new hurdle PC gamers have to deal with moving forward.
There's also the possibility that the pricing situation could get even worse. As it is right now, retailers like Amazon and Newegg are the ones reaping the benefits of the pricier GPUs. With Nvidia rumored to release a new line of GPUs in the near future, the graphics card manufacturer could inflate MSRP right out of the gate to get in on the action, too. We love PC gaming, but this could cripple the industry for who knows how long.
Couldn't AMD and Nvidia make GPUs geared specifically for miners? Or could they mitigate whatever makes gaming graphics card so effective at mining? It's possible, but would be difficult. Having spoken with AMD, the company told us that what makes a GPU good at mining is what makes it good at gaming. In other words, if a card manufacturer throttles mining performance, gaming performance would also suffer.
What are your options then? We suggest using browser extensions like Honey to give you GPU price alerts. Beyond that, right now is a better time to buy a pre-built rig. Vendors like Alienware and CyberPower PC have agreements with AMD and Nvidia that prevent them from overinflating the price of their systems based on the market value of GPUs. You could also build a PC with a high-end accelerated processing unit (APU) like AMD's Ryzen 5 2400G, which offers high-end integrated graphics. It performs roughly on par with a GTX 1050, so it isn't going to be a killer gaming rig, but it can tide you over until discrete GPU prices come down. Shadow is also on the horizon. The streaming service grants you access to a full-on, high-end Windows 10 PC in the cloud starting at $35 per month. It has some minor issues at the moment, but the tech is very promising. Beyond those options, we'll just have to hope for prices to return to normal.