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As cryptocurrency tumbles, prices for new and used GPUs continue to fall

AMD's Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT.
Enlarge / AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT.

Sam Machkovech

Cryptocurrency has had a rough year. Bitcoin has fallen by more than 50 percent since the start of the year, from nearly $48,000 in January to just over $20,000 as of publication. Celsius, a major cryptocurrency “bank,” suspended withdrawals earlier this week, and the Coinbase crypto exchange announced a round of layoffs this past Tuesday after pausing hiring last month.

It may be small comfort to anyone who wanted to work at Coinbase or spent hard-earned money on an ugly picture of an ape because a celebrity told them to, but there’s some good news for PC builders and gamers in all of this. As tracked by Tom’s Hardware, prices for new and used graphics cards continue to fall, coming down from their peak prices in late 2021 and early 2022. For weeks, it has generally been possible to go to Amazon, Newegg, or Best Buy and buy current-generation GPUs for prices that would have seemed like bargains six months or a year ago, and pricing for used GPUs has fallen further.

As Tom’s Hardware reports, most mid-range Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000-series cards are still selling at or slightly over their manufacturer-suggested retail prices—the 3050, 3060, and 3070 series are all still in high demand. But top-end 3080 Ti, 3090, and 3090 Ti GPUs are all selling below their (admittedly astronomical) MSRPs right now, as are almost all of AMD’s Radeon RX 6000 series cards.

Used prices have fallen even more quickly. Between June 1 and June 15, eBay prices for used GPUs fell an average of 10 percent as at least some cryptocurrency miners sought to cut their losses and sell their hardware. This is happening even as mining software is beginning to find ways around Nvidia’s hash-rate limiting LHR protections—falling cryptocurrency prices and rising energy costs are still making the economics of mining tricky.

That said, buyers of used GPUs should still proceed with caution. Aside from the scams and bait-and-switches that can come with any high-value eBay purchase, GPUs that have been mining cryptocurrency at full-tilt for months or years may have problems that a new GPU (or a pre-owned GPU that was only used to play games) wouldn’t have. The heat generated by constant use in a high-density mining farm can degrade performance (though GPU manufacturers have overstated this risk in the past), as can dust or dried-out thermal paste. If you buy a used GPU that looks dirty or runs hot, removing and cleaning the fan and heatsink and reapplying fresh thermal paste can help restore lost performance and extend the card’s life span.

If you enjoy struggling to buy a GPU, things might get more interesting for you soon. Nvidia’s RTX 4000-series GPUs are reportedly nearing release, and manufacturing and supply chain issues could conspire to keep these new cards scarce.

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