China’s Crypto Crackdown Could Help Usher in a Return to Sanity for GPU Prices

China’s Crypto Crackdown Could Help Usher in a Return to Sanity for GPU Prices
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Getty Images

Finding new graphics cards at reasonable prices has been almost impossible as of late, but that might be about to change after prices for GPUs in China fell by as much as 66 per cent following a number of crypto mining shutdowns across Sichuan, Xinjian, and Inner Mongolia.

According to a recent report by the South China Morning Post, China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency is wreaking havoc on crypto mining operations throughout the country, resulting in plummeting demand for graphics cards and major price drops for GPUs across a number of China’s largest online retailers.

The SCMP found that today, the going price for an Asus branded Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU was just 4,699 yuan (about $930), down from highs of 13,499 yuan (about $2,674) seen as recently as early May. And while a price of around $930 is still double Nvidia’s typical MSRP of around $425 for an RTX 3060 card, that’s still a huge drop in price in a little over a month.

Though Nvidia’s line of Quadro cards aren’t usually targeted at general consumers, the SCMP also noted that prices for an entry-level Quadro P1000 GPU dropped from around 3,000 yuan (about $596) to 2,429 yuan (about $480) over the same period.

The driving force behind China’s falling GPU prices is China’s recent decision to ban financial institutions and payment services from supporting cryptocurrency, effectively outlawing the use of Bitcoin and other crypto coins from being used as legal currencies, while also prohibiting online exchanges from converting crypto into traditional fiat money (or vice versa).

Additionally, with China looking to reduce carbon emissions and better manage its electricity generation, a number of power plants in Sichuan and other regions recently cut off power to a number of crypto mining operations, taking huge swaths of mining rigs offline.

Naturally, this has caused a ton of volatility in the crypto market, with the price of major crypto coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum falling by as much as 50% or more since hitting all-time highs back in mid-May. Though the prices for GPUs outside of China haven’t dropped quite as dramatically, there is some indication that GPU prices here in the U.S. are starting to recover as well.

Just last week, the latest edition of Tom’s Hardware’s GPU pricing index showed that the prices for current cards had fallen somewhere between 4% and 12% during the first two weeks of June, depending on the specific model. That said, with cards like Nvidia’s RTX 3070 and AMD’s 6800 XT still going for double their MSRP, it’s going to be a while until prices approach anything most people would call normal.

However, between China’s crypto crackdown and the recent release of new GPUs from from Nvidia earlier this month, it seems we might finally be able to see some light at the end of the tunnel.