GPUs: A Miner’s Best Friend or Gamer’s Worst Enemy?
If you’ve been looking to get into PC gaming lately, you’ve probably been tirelessly researching components to deliver the best bang for your PC gaming buck. Unfortunately, this task has proven itself a bit more difficult now with the cryptocurrency space taking over.
Let me explain:
In a gaming PC, the GPU is easily one of the most important components. It handles all of the 3D rendering that a video game requires to run smoothly (or at all). Luck would have it that the same type of processing power is great for cryptocurrency mining.
So, what is cryptocurrency mining, exactly?
Bitcoin uses a decentralized peer-to-peer network called the Blockchain. Every time a transaction is made, the Bitcoin wallet address of the sender, recipient, and the amount of Bitcoin sent is announced to the entire network.
Everyone who owns Bitcoin has a copy of the ledger and the entire network compares what they have to insure they all have the same thing. In order to validate the network (or prove that a transaction occurred) mathematical equations are solved. Each cryptocurrency uses a special algorithm known as a cryptographic hash function.
They’re next to impossible to solve, and right now the only way to do so is to have your computer hardware guess and check combinations to the algorithm until it finds the right one. GPUs are currently the best hardware around for doing that (besides ASICs, but that’s besides the point).
Once the algorithm is solved, one block of transactions is validated and added to the ledger (Blockchain). Every previous layer is sealed off and miners begin to verify the next block of transactions.
Great. Now you understand cryptocurrency mining; how is it related to PC gaming?
The cryptocurrency space is booming. Everyone and their grandmother is trying to get their hands on cryptocurrency mining hardware. Due to the basic laws of supply and demand, the price of GPUs has skyrocketed.
While this is awesome for Nvidia’s stock, it’s not so great for our wallets.
Check out the price of this GTX 1060:
A GTX 1060 6GB will run you nearly $460. That’s absolutely insane!
In fact, over on my YouTube channel I had posted a video about two months ago titled “Best Gaming PC Build Under $700”. I also a posted the $700 gaming PC build on my site. I had included a GTX 1060 6GB in the build which at the time I found for about $240.
Well, I was browsing through my comments the other day and I noticed one of them from that same video. It said “Dude… the GPU costs $500”. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I checked and he was right, the GPU price went up to around $470. This is quite discouraging, especially for those interested in joining the PC Master Race.
In my opinion, it would be best to do one of three things: wait for GPU prices to cool off, buy a prebuilt gaming PC, or buy used parts.
The first option isn’t really a viable solution, so I’ll skip to the second option which is buying a prebuilt gaming PC.
Now, in most cases I’d advise against a prebuilt PC as they’re usually overpriced and underpowered. However, in this case they may be the best option. Granted, not all prebuilt PCs were created equally. You’ll have to do some research to find a good deal.
That being said, I’ve found prebuilt PCs on Amazon for around $700 with an RX 570 4GB, a Ryzen 5 1400, 8 GB Ram, Windows, and everything else. Considering the price of an RX 570 right now is $500, it’s a steal.
The other option is buying a used PC. You could ask your friends if they have any old parts, or see if you can salvage some parts from an older computer. As long as your CPU doesn’t bottleneck the GPU, you don’t need the fastest or most expensive one. You can definitely get away with an older PC as long as you put a graphics card in it.
Find an old used desktop on eBay and buy it for around $200 or less. You’ll get all of the components you need except for the GPU. From here, just buy a used GPU like a GTX 1050 Ti and you’ll be ready to go after spending just $350.
If you’re new to the PC gaming community or looking to upgrade your rig, times are tough. Hopefully this guide helped you decide your next move!