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There is a graphics card shortage—and the popularity of Bitcoin and Ethereum may very well be the reason why.
The recently increased value of cryptocurrencies has created a price surge for graphics processing units (GPUs) because cryptocurrency miners are buying up the cards to gain access to their high-powered computer chips, creating a huge retail shortage, Polygon reported Friday.
In short, cryptocurrency mining requires a ton of computational power, and miners figured out GPU chips provide just precisely that. Unfortunately for PC gamers, miners are emptying retail stores trying to source the powerful chips and driving up overall prices for the graphics cards.
According to Polygon, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 has a suggested retail price of $380, but last year sold for $450 plus. Since the value of bitcoin spiked in December, that same Nvidia card is being sold for more than $700. Lower-end graphics cards are also showing price increases since the better cards have sold out.
Now, retailers are taking unprecedented measures to ensure PC gamers have access to graphics cards before cryptocurrency miners can get their hands on them. While some retailers weren’t ready to publicly address the issue, Micro Center implemented a policy last fall that will give gamers—or anyone who is building or intends to build a gaming computer—priority access to its graphics cards. Though the retailer has raised its GPU prices to reflect the market, it also offers discounts to any customer purchasing both graphics cards and other PC components (like those needed to build a gaming computer).
Other retailers are reportedly limiting the quantities of graphics cards they sell per transaction to crack down on miners—and there could be more extensive measures to come.
Tiffanie Drayton is a geek culture and lifestyle reporter whose work covers everything from gender and race to anime and Xbox. Her work has appeared in Complex, Salon, Marie Claire, Playboy, and elsewhere.