Nvidia RTX 3080 stock disaster — here’s why there’s finally hope

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
(Image credit: Nvidia)

So continues the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series stock disaster: retailers are near-constantly sold out, resellers hawk the cards at ludicrously inflated prices, and digital currency miners bulk-buy what’s left to build gigantic Bitcoin or Ethereum mining rigs. If you’re just a PC owner wanting to know where to buy the Nvidia RTX 3080, you’re in for some drawn-out disappointment.

However, there’s now cause for hope that such overwhelming demand can at least be eased. Nvidia itself has a two-pronged plan to get currency miners off the RTX 30-series’ case: first by intentionally hamstringing the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 as a potential mining tool. And secondly, by offering a brand new range of processors that can perform a graphics card’s role in mining rigs, without the need to buy up all of the gaming GPU stock, of course.

The Nvidia blog details this new Cryptocurrency Mining Processor (CMP) product line, as well as the plan for the RTX 3060 when it launches later this month. 

Firstly, the RTX 3060’s software drivers will cut the card's Ethereum “hash rate” in half. This will essentially make it much slower at solving the complex mathematical problems that digital currency mining requires, making the RTX 3060 less appealing to serious miners without affecting gaming performance.

That’s the stick, but the CMP line is the carrot. These GPUs will be built from the ground up for efficient mining, and not just like how some gaming graphics cards have a barely distinct “Mining Edition.” CMP cards will be more power-efficient and come without display outputs, which mining rigs don’t use, to enable better airflow.

In other words, Nvidia is shooing miners away from the RTX 30-series family while also providing a superior alternative. The blog post says production of the CMP range won’t affect the RTX line’s already glacial supply speed, too.

nvidia geforce rtx 3070

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nvidia RTX 30-series stock disaster: Mining madness

While this is only addressing one factor in the much wider problem of non-availability, it’s clear that Nvidia is finally doing something to make RTX 30-series cards (or at least the RTX 3060) easier for ordinary consumers to get.

As frustrating as it might be to see photos of mining rigs piled high with Nvidia’s latest cards, or even GeForce RTX-powered laptops, a solely punitive approach to mining wouldn’t work. If there’s money to be made, people will do it. And even if the RTX 3060 will suck as a mining card, anyone desperate enough will still try it if there’s no alternative. Nvidia has, therefore, been wise in providing one.

It’s certainly a lot more than other powerful parties have done. The anti-reseller defenses put in place by retailers have proven woefully inadequate. Modern bots — the scripts resellers use to instantly buy stock the moment it goes online — are able to get past captchas and order limits with ease. 

Board partners have done even less to make sure their graphics cards end up in the hands of regular consumers. Zotac even posted (then hastily deleted) an approving tweet showing someone’s RTX 30-series mining rig; if you can’t understand why that’s distasteful, imagine a Victorian workhouse owner hanging a framed photo of roast chicken in front of all the hungry urchins.

Nvidia RTX 30-series stock disaster: More to be done

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Still, there’s a long way to go. Nvidia is giving the RTX 3060 a fighting chance but ultimately, it’s only dulling the appeal to a subset of miners. There’s nothing to dissuade the circling resellers. And even some conventional retailers are banking on demand being high enough to raise their RTX 3060 prices ahead of launch.

Nvidia itself was rightly criticized for the disastrous RTX 3070, RTX 3080 and RTX 3090 launch last year, after which the company admitted ill-preparedness for “truly unprecedented” demand.

Then there’s the supply issue. RTX 30-series production is slow, apparently due to a combination of raw materials shortages and the low yields of the 7-nanometer Samsung chips it uses. It’s extremely unlikely that stock levels will return to something approaching normalcy until Nvidia can actually produce enough cards to meet demand. This could take months, even if the CMP range doesn’t slow it down further.

However the RTX 3060 launch goes, Nvidia obviously has a lot more to do to end this graphics card shortage. But after months of next to nothing, it’s finally moving in the right direction — and all it took was a couple of good ideas.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.

  • russell_john
    This isn't a disaster for Nvidia by any stretch ...... They are selling them as fast as they can make them and in record numbers .... Ditto for their Enterprise products which is what is actually causing the bottleneck ..... High margin enterprise products take precedence in manufacturing over low margin consumer products ..... AMD has the exact same problem except it's not really a problem for them either ..... They are selling high margin Epyc CPUs like hotcakes to Google and Amazon and Microsoft and other Cloud Service Providers
  • JCYall
    I know it's easy to armchair comment on how to run a large company, but to not anticipate this or even respond to their sales patterns more quickly shows they are loving this. For all the concern they ostensibly show for their customers, miners are customers too. When Krispy Kreme opened in Canada some years back there was a madness that gripped the nation for those disgusting little torii made of lard and processed sugar - people lined up for ridiculous amounts of time to get a dozen or two. I wonder if that donut magnate regretted the pain they clearly put their customers through? No matter what NVidia does, they stand to make a lot of money and the damage to their rep over another paper launch will be insignificant in the long run.
  • PapaJsCustomRings
    I always cringe at writings like this when I read them....

    Nvidia clearly cares more about an image or "The Illusion" that they present to the non-thinkers that have a hard time reflecting past the end of their nose....
    The GPU eco-system is so much more complex than this simple writing touches on and I have a nasty habit of pointing out writings that have a slant that's overly pro-OEM as being non-sense and not very factually sound...

    So lets take this offered concept that Nvidia is looking out for the PC owner and reflect on a few thoughts.

    1) Making an attempt to firmware lock the 3060's is a misdirection effort by Nvidia to dress up a select group of consumers as the boogie man...
    - Note, I list attempt to firmware as past firmware limits set on cards by Nvidia in the past took a week or so for Cracked drivers to work around such limits.
    - If it was a real effort, all products in the 3000 Series would have the attempt made vs. a token 3060.
    - Again, nothing more than to deflect negative energy to a select consumer.

    2) Building a mining only GPU hurts the overall GPU eco-system... Now stay with me here as the GPU eco-system is more complex that the first exchange of Nvidia taking money for a GPU and why this Mining only GPU is meant to screw the Nvidia GPU eco-system for the small PC consumer...
    - Show of hands that found the RTX 2000 Series cards to be overly priced and inflated by NVidia? Just look at stocking resellers that still have 2000 Series stock of 2080 & Ti's. The pricing for those GPU's has always be obscene. BUT In an Eco-system where high end cards are generally only bought by high end Geeks or miners (The fake boogie man) these things are generally just out of reach for the standard PC person... I have a 2080Ti thats lovely at a fraction of the price due to a healthy eco-system that doesn't center on Nvidia...
    - The role many High end consumers play as they always buy the latest and greatest for WHATEVER REASON is the play ground of the after market - A Discounted second life - for these high end cards moves them into the ranges some of us standard PC geeks can afford. (I got my upgrade this way)
    - repurposed cards are a very green ideal. Second life on PC products is a helpful way to open up performance options for some and keep land fills less busy <--- BUT Nvidia doesn't get a part of the repurposed life of this market <-- Hint at the truth of things...
    - Making a GPU that's miner driven kills any eco-system that card would have had for a repurposed second life. Miners and High end geeks always upgrade so they are going to keep buying the new products that perform for them. BUT the aftermarket circle of the standard PC person will be killed off as these cards have no value for multiple ideals. Forcing back money into the pie that Nvidia gets a bite on.
    - While you hear a large amount of nonsense about mining cards that are resold the truth is that smart miners treat cards at lower power levels most times as they are trying to extend ROI. my 208Ti was an aftermarket mining card .

    3) The illusion that limited GPU stock is a direct effect of a select group of consumers vs. a marketing plan is laughable...
    - Stocking distributors for 2000 Series still have some limited stock and stocking distributors buy stock at Nvidia pricing to them. They aren't going to be buying massive levels of stock of new 3000 series products until the 2000 series is hard out of stock as they have their own OEM eco-system they have to manage.
    - They sprinkle stock to get some high end cards out and those with the most motivation get cards and if Nvidia or Stocking Distributors cared they would manage that better. Another hint the story is pushing a narrative for the OEM to call select consumers the boogie man!!!!
    - Real stock of 3000 series will be limited until they finish their clearing of 2000 series stock IMO as we can see that's how you move product. Drive an itch for upgrade - Limit stock and those with no self control or patience buy 2000 series stock.

    So the key points I was trying to communicate:
    - Nvidia is in the business of making money and supporting their resell partners. Its bad for business to have your stocking distributors holding old stock that they can't sell...
    - Nvidia is driven to care only about consumers of the pie they get a bite on and will misdirect the emotions of the weak minded to a false boogie man!!!
    - Building a Mining only GPU isn't about supporting standard PC type people like me but about killing a resell market of higher end cards and is not very green IMO...

    Just my thoughts on why Nvidia isn't being very truthful and shame on those selling a line of BS to the sheep ;)
  • Biglee2015
    I've got a better idea. Ban all cryptocurrencies. They are undermining the registered economies of the world, they need banning and completely eradicating. Also a feista for organised crime and money laundrering. Ban them, its simple. The currencies are putting power into corporate hands and is unregulated. Outlaw them.