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Memory shortage, cryptocurrency behind surge in computer graphics card prices

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, March 1, 2018, 5:15 a.m.
The Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card.
The Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card.
An AMD RX 570 graphics card.
An AMD RX 570 graphics card.

A solid, separate graphics card is at the heart of any computer intended for gaming.

But those looking to build a gaming rig, or upgrade one they already have, are going to be in for a severe case of sticker shock.

As reported by Forbes , graphics card maker Nvidia says prices on graphics cards are set to continue rising for most of 2018.

How bad is it? The price of Nvidia's GTX 1060 card has gone up by 45 percent since January, rising from $300 to $440. And it's not the strongest card in the company's lineup.

Cited as causes of the price surge are cryptocurrency mining, such as Bitcoin, and a shortage of computer memory, which graphics cards carry onboard in addition to the memory found in a computer.

Cryptocurrency mining has benefitted Nvidia competitor AMD, which makes its own line of graphics cards.

According to a report from TechRadar , AMD has gained ground at Nvidia's expense, making big gains from cryptocurrency mining.

AMD's market share increased from 27.2 percent in the third quarter of 2017 to 33.7 percent in the fourth quarter. Nvidia fell from 72.8 percent to 66.3 percent, according to Jon Peddie Research .

More than 3 million graphics cards worth $776 million were sold to cryptocurrency miners in 2017, primarily benefitting AMD, the computer industry research firm reported.

As TechRadar warns, it's difficult to buy a decent graphics card now without paying way too much money.

“Demand is that high, and supply is simultaneously constrained due to a bottleneck with video memory production — and those forces aren't going anywhere in the near term,” they reported.

TechRadar offers these suggestions for the best graphics cards available. Another site offering recommendations is PCGamer .

Just be ready for the prices.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4701, or on Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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