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Nvidia RTX 30-series stock shortage: Crypto mining mania resurrects another old GPU

Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series stock shortage
(Image credit: Nvidia)

It would be unfair to say the current Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series stock shortage is entirely the fault of digital currency miners. But they’re hardly helping either, and instead of pushing faster manufacturing of cards like the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 and the newest Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060, the added demand seems to primarily be dragging older GPUs out of retirement.

The latest to be pulled off a dusty shelf is 2016’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060. Or to be more precise, its GP106 GPU: PC Gamer spotted a new ECC filing for several GP106 models, presumably to follow the RTX 2060 and GTX 1050 Ti in their reinvented roles as mining workhorses.

How will this help the average PC owner, who just wants one of the RTX 30-series cards in stock? Probably not at all. 

Palit’s apparent “new” cards use P106 branding, harking back to the Palit P106 cards that launched during the last big mining boom in 2017. These were built specifically for use in mining rigs, lacking the display outputs they would need to function as gaming-centric graphics cards. So they may divert some miners’ attention away from the RTX 30-series, but not enough to free up significant amounts of stock.

In fairness, Palit’s strategy isn’t a million miles away from what Nvidia itself is doing to try and ease RTX 30-series cards away from miners and towards ordinary consumers. Nvidia is bringing out its own purpose-built mining cards, the CMP (Cryptocurrency Mining Processor) range, which will also lack display outputs.

This, along with intentionally making the RTX 3060 drastically less effective at mining, gave some hope that the newest and cheapest of the RTX 30-series might be spared the fate of being bulk-bought and stuffed into mining rigs. But as anyone who’s checked where to buy the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 will know, it’s still mostly sold out, regardless of who’s been buying them.

What’s more, because Palit’s GP106-based cards will need to compete with the Nvidia CMP range, its effect on RTX 30-series will likely be even smaller.

The unfortunate truth is that RTX 30-series stock will almost certainly remain low until Nvidia finds a way to boost production, something it’s struggled with due to materials shortages and low yields for key components. 

If it’s not entirely the miners’ fault, it’s definitely not Palit’s, though this new trend of bringing back mothballed GPUs to satisfy miners’ needs — while PC owners are left waiting for cards that released months ago — show how far out of hand this shortage has got.

James Archer

As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. His favorite musical genre is rock, despite once claiming the guitar is “too complicated” for humans to play. He plays bass instead.