Given the current state of the GPU market, where even ageing cards are selling for several times their MSRP and store stock evaporates as soon as it appears, you’d be forgiven for thinking a new card will be equally scarce.
But it looks like Nvidia has deliberately neutered the upcoming GeForce RTX 3050’s ability to mine cryptocurrency in order to deter miners, and increase the odds of the card ending up in PCs that will actually be used for gaming.
According to Videocardz (opens in new tab) “source in China,” the RTX 3050 ships with a Lite Hash Rate algorithm which severely limits the rate at which the card can mine Ethereum. While it will start mining with a hash rate around 20 MH/s, it quickly drops to 12.5 MH/s while consuming 73W of energy.
Assuming the RTX 3050 goes on sale at $250 (not unlikely given RTX 3060 stock theoretically costs $329), the site calculates that with the current value of Etherium, the card would take 500 days — or around a year and four months — to recoup the cost involved. And if the current bout of GPU inflation were to up the price to $350, that would increase to 700 days (or a month shy of two years).
For people who just want a graphics card to game with, that’s excellent news. And as Videocardz points out, the weak performance isn’t the only thing that would make the RTX 3050 a poor investment for crypto miners.
With Etherum’s switch to proof-of-stake mining (opens in new tab) — which aims to make GPU mining redundant and hopefully see a flurry of pre-owned cards hit the market — scheduled for June 2022, it simply won’t be worth a miner buying a RTX 3050 if this Ethereum mining performance is matched in the real world, even if it were released tomorrow.
That’s not to say that supply will outstrip demand over night: supply chain issues are still a thing, as is the global chip shortage. But with cryptocurrency miners hopefully out of the picture (other coins don’t offer the same ROI), the chances of actually getting a GPU for gaming are looking a lot better in 2022 than they did in 2021.