AMD Radeon RX 500 series graphics cards, particularly the RX 580 and 570, have been out of stock for weeks now owing to the cryptocurrency mining craze. The market had shifted away from GPU mining a couple of years back after several China based companies launched specialized ASICs that were much faster and more power efficient at resolving the block chain equations necessary to mine Bitcoin and Litecoin, the Gold and Silver of cryptocurrencies.
However GPU mining has seen a massive resurgence over the past little while due to the rising popularity of ASIC resistant coins. Chief among which is Etherium which has seen its price more than triple in a matter of months. AMD's add-in-board partners have caught on to this and have already started directly advertising to miners.
Why AMD GPUs Are Flying Off The Shelves - Sold Out In Over A Dozen Countries
Our resident lab-master and chief Keith May published a story a couple of weeks ago detailing the performance of different graphics cards in Etherium mining. No matter what price bracket we looked at AMD GPUs were the biggest profit makers in terms of a return on investment basis.
While some NVIDIA graphics cards do close the gap with their AMD counterparts in perf/watt at Etherium mining, their significantly higher initial cost make them far less profitable. For example, not too long ago miners would've been able to grab two RX 470 graphics cards for the price of a single GTX 1070 and generate nearly double the profit.
The mining craze hasn't just affected US based retailers, the phenomenon has gone global. RX 500 series GPUs are sold out all over the globe. Nearly all retailers in North America and Europe are out of stock. Even retailers that have RX 500 series cards in stock only have a handful of units left.
Used AMD Radeon Graphics Cards Are Catching 2-3 Times Their Original Value In The 2nd Hand Market
We've seen the same scenario back in late 2013 early 2014 during the Bitcoin and Litecoin mining crazes. AMD GPUs of the day handily outperformed their NVIDIA counterparts and as a result AMD simply couldn't keep up with the demand and supplies of R9 290 and 290X cards dried up really quickly, driving prices up to insane levels.
Today if you browse eBay for used Fiji based cards like the R9 Fury X and R9 Nano you will find them routinely being bought for several hundred dollars more than what they cost new just a couple of months ago. AMD retired Fiji GPUs a while back in preparation for the Vega launch. All Fiji based cards that retailers were selling over the past several months were just left-over inventory. It's the same story with RX 480 and RX 470 units.
The irony in all of this is that PC hardware has always been one of those things that consistently lost value over time as it got older and replaced by new products, but what we're witnessing here is the exact opposite. It's almost like Radeon graphics cards have become collectors items' overnight. How long these shortages will last is unknown. Back in 2013-2014 the Hawaii shortages lasted for at least two quarters. If AMD decides to increase supply now it risks building up inventory that it can't sell later on if the mining craze fades out as quickly as it had come in. It's a game of wait and see now.