Cryptomining frenzy of the recent 18 months have encouraged computer component manufacturers to develop hardware tailored for mining infrastructure. At some points earlier this year, these components retailed for hefty sums of money. As rates of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other similar currencies have dropped, so too have prices of motherboards, power supplies, and GPUs.

 
3050W PSUs for Mining

 

From $17,000 to $3,900

The period between April 2017 and April 2018 was particularly good for cryptocurrency, which stimulated many hardware companies to try their luck to design hardware aimed specifically for mining and mining infrastructre. In the recent quarters, manufacturers of motherboards have introduced special platforms featuring multiple PCIe slots; producers of PSUs launched power supplies for many graphics cards; suppliers of chassis released special-purpose stands and cases; multiple companies unveiled special-purpose turnkey mining machines, whereas some even offered to rent such systems in the cloud.

Since the peaks, Bitcoin-USD exchange rates have dropped from around $17,000 in December 2017 to $3,900 in December 2018, according to CoinDesk. Ethereum suffered the same fate and dropped from around $1,350 in January 2018 to $130 in late December 2018. With exchange rates collapsing that significantly, the interest towards mining dropped along with demand and prices of appropriate hardware.

 
Left: Bitcoin, Right: Ethereum

In a bid to understand the significance of mining hardware price drops, we decided to analyze several popular cryptocurrency mining hardware devices sold at Amazon.

Every decent rig starts from a motherboard, so we are going to start from them. The B250 Mining Expert from ASUS as well the B360-F PRO from MSI are among the most capable platforms for mining with 19 and 18 PCIe slots, respectively.

 

The ASUS B250 Mining Expert used to cost from $400 to $600 about a year ago, but right now it is possible to get it for $58 - $78.  The situation is similar with the MSI B360-F PRO: it used to cost $200 in May, but now it can be obtained for $63 - $96. Biostar’s TB250-BTC supports “only” eight GPUs, yet it used to cost $250 - $320 from December 2017 to February 2018. By contrast, today it is priced at around $60.

 

 

Mining rigs usually need chassis so we decided to check out dynamics of mining chassis: an entry-level open-air frame from Astarin that supports up to six graphics cards.

 

The 6-way frame for mining rigs that used to cost $100 in March, is now available for $36, a nearly three times decline.

 

 

Getting enough GPUs was a big problem for “professional” miners and those who did not have a good/close relationship with GPU manufacturers. They had to buy from retailers, which is why demand for mainstream and performance mainstream graphics cards increased and their prices hit a historical peak.

 

MSI’s Radeon RX 580 Armor 8 GB OC used to cost $420 - $700 in the period from late-2017 to early-2018, but at present it is available for $220 - $240.

The situation is similar with GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 570 4 GB. The product that used to cost $450 - $600 a year ago is now sold for $150 - $184. The EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 SC 6 GB graphics card, currently priced at $250 - $280, used to cost $430 or even $700 (depending on the retailer) earlier this year and that is if you were lucky enough to get one.

 

Launched at an MSRP of $139 in late October 2016, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti has been overpriced throughout its lifetime. Amazon sold GIGABYTE’s GeForce GTX 1050 Ti for $200, whereas its partners were bold enough to offer it for as high as $350 when demand for mining hardware peaked in January 2018. Right now, the board can be obtained for $165 - $170.

Some Thoughts

Once cryptocurrencies became an investment tool for various market players, exchange rates began to increase at rapid paces as more money was pumped into them. Contrary to usual scenarios, when unqualified investors often avoid highly volatile items like currencies or commodities, this time enough people decided to try their lack and mine Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies at home, investing in hardware. Hardware makers were eager to satisfy demand for mining rigs and invested in appropriate R&D and manufacturing.

Meanwhile, like any stock or commodity, cryptocurrencies could not grow forever or stay at their peak for too long, and exchange rates have began to depreciate. It remains to be seen when they are set to bottom out. Ot looks like there will be many people left with mining hardware that cannot be applied elsewhere as well as companies with redundant inventory.

Related Reading

Sources: CoinDesk, CamelCamelCamel

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  • marees - Friday, December 28, 2018 - link

    Why is the 1050ti overpriced despite stiff competition from 570 ?

    Is it because the PSU requirement is cheaper !?
    Reply
  • watzupken - Saturday, December 29, 2018 - link

    GTX 1050 Ti is pricey mainly because it runs very well for a card that does not require additional power connectors. In other words, if one is looking to build a low power PC, it may be a good candidate especially if you want to game on it as well. It's significantly better than AMD's RX 550/560, and any integrated graphics out there. Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Thursday, January 03, 2019 - link

    MIners are probably still using it as well.

    The 750 ti and 1050 ti were two of the most efficient cards out there.
    Reply
  • CheapSushi - Friday, December 28, 2018 - link

    These weren't mentioned but there's some amazing motherboards based on a PCIe card. I think these are awesome. I've seen about 5 variants, mostly built around the J1900 CPU. I hope I can grab a few cheap to play around with clustering. Reply
  • Flunk - Friday, December 28, 2018 - link

    Why does this article about GPU mining reference Bitcoin so much or conversely not mention actual Bitcoin ASIC hardware prices? It seems like the author is confused as to how people were mining Bitcoin vs other cryptocurrencies over the last year and has conflated the two. All the Cyrptocoin values are linked, yes, but the cost of mining hardware isn't. You haven't been able to mine Bitcoin in any viable way with GPUs for years. Reply
  • mpbello - Saturday, December 29, 2018 - link

    True, Bitcoin needed ASIC hardware, do not think people were buying GPUs to mine BTC.
    The real deal will be when these miners start dumping their overpriced gear on ebay.
    Reply
  • watzupken - Saturday, December 29, 2018 - link

    To be honest, this is a crash that is expected to happen, regardless if mining took off or not. The bonanza can only last as long as there's strong demand. But demand can't remain strong forever. With so many manufacturers rushing in to try to get into the action, it's not surprising many are left bruised by the sudden plunge in demand. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Saturday, December 29, 2018 - link

    The main concern now is whether or not cryptocurrencies will endure the various peaks and slumps for long enough to emerge as a useful form of exchange for other goods and services. With the exchange rate swinging so wildly, its just another form of high risk investing rather than a useful, practical way of purchasing products. For adoption to work, people will need a much lower variance in order to be able to depend on it to buy a package of potato chips or accept it as a form of payment for work they perform. I'm not taking a paycheck in crypto coins, for instance, if I don't know whether it will be worth enough to buy a car or a candy bar when I'm ready to spend it. If crypto can overcome the prospector boom-bust mentality, it may eventually be able to serve its intended purpose. Reply
  • dromoxen - Sunday, December 30, 2018 - link

    I'd love to hear and see a true miners story. You know joe soap who thought wow , a money printing machine. I looked at Bitcoin in the early days and didnt really understand how it was being controlled/priced so stayed out.. I think GPU users were mining ethereum and all the other rubbish. And imagine those wise heads who bought GFX cards with no outputs , to save a few bucks.LOL. You can still find keyser pushing the whole Crypto-shill, replace the Dollar, in 2020 ? Reply
  • niva - Wednesday, January 02, 2019 - link

    Hindsight is always 20/20. I have a similar story, I deliberately sat out from the Bitcoin craze exactly for the reason you stated. Oh well, better luck next time! Reply

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