If you’re like me, you hear the word “Bitcoin” and automatically think “huh?” As far as I was concerned, bitcoin was an online cryptocurrency that had nothing to do with anything I was interested in. A friend of mine told me a few years ago to invest in it, but that’s not really my strong suit, so I ignored him and kept on gaming.
Well, I should have paid more attention. Bitcoin has blown up. Bitcoin is apparently worth thousands. It’s currently an unregulated currency that allows people to make online purchases anonymously. It’s not tied to any banks or any government; it’s completely online.
There are various ways to get bitcoin. First, you can use an exchange app, such as Coinbase. Second, a friend or possibly an employer or buyer can transfer bitcoin to you online, much like sending cash digitally (think Paypal or Venmo). Finally, and most importantly to the topic of this article, you can mine it.
According to CNNTech, people use computers to solve complex math problems in a competition. A winner is chosen every 10 minutes and awarded with 12.5 bitcoins. This is how new bitcoin is created.
Bitcoin miners are buying high end GPUs in bulk in order to solve these math problems faster, thus creating a significant shortage in the supply. This shortage is driving up the prices at a nearly 80% markup.
Because of this drastic increase in price and shortage of supply, PC gamers are finding it almost impossible to build their own rigs. Nvidia has strongly suggested that retailers prioritize gamers over miners, but retailers are going to sell to whomever is going to pay. Some retailers have tried to place a limit on how many any one person can buy at one time, while others, like Micro Center in Pennsylvania, are offering huge discounts to gamers who buy their GPUs with other computer parts.
This problem doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, which will drastically impact PC gamers in the long run. Why spend upwards of $800 for a $300 GPU when you can just buy a PS4 or Xbox One X for $500? How long until the price of pre-built computers goes up, too?
Until suppliers can meet the demand and flood the market with graphics cards, gamers are going to see the shit end of the stick.
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