Demand from the cryptocurrency mining scene seems to be messing with the market for high-end Radeon graphics cards. First, members of the R9 280 and 290 families were in short supply. The cards eventually became more widely available, but only at premium prices. In fact, just last week, the R9 290X hit $900 on Newegg, up substantially from its suggested list price of $549.
High-end Radeons based on AMD's GCN architecture are particularly adept at doing the math required to generate cryptocurrencies, and the mining community appears to be buying cards in droves. One needs to look no further than ThinkComputers' gallery of insane mining machines to spot evidence of the apparent trend. The article doesn't include system specifications for the various rigs, but I see a lot of Radeons, especially in the more ambitious configs.
Some of the systems are put together rather nicely, as well. I particularly like this machine, which appears to be dedicated to Dogecoin mining.
Such Radeon. So spaghetti.
On the one hand, I feel for gamers shopping for high-end Radeon cards. The latest models are great deals at their suggested retail prices, but their value proposition is tenuous with today's street stickers. AMD is in an awkward position, too. The firm appears to be selling plenty of cards, just not to the core audience it originally targeted.
Part of me thinks that's pretty awesome, though. Thumbing through ThinkComputers' gallery reveals a lot of crazy-looking machines that have clearly been put together by PC enthusiasts. The demand associated with these systems may be inflating the prices of some Radeons, and the bottom could very well fall out on the whole cryptocurrency scene. However, it's still very cool to see the horsepower and flexibility of modern PC hardware harnessed on this kind of scale—and to generate virtual money. Too bad there's no indication of how much profit the various machines have generated for their owners.