AMD and Nvidia have tried to limit GPU sales to crypto-miners. It isn’t working

AMD, Nvidia, and each company’s retail partners have attempted to curtail graphics card pricing inflation by limiting sale of cards to small numbers, often one or two video cards per customer. However, according to one mining rig builder we spoke to, that may only be hurting gamers, and helping companies that buy GPUs in bulk.

Certainly, it doesn’t seem that limiting sales has had effect on prices. A look at the big retail websites reveals graphics cards that are years old selling for double, or more, their launch price. Current-generation GPUs are priced far beyond their gaming capabilities.

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Nvidia, like many retailers, enforces sale restrictions on its GPUs — when they’re in stock.

Unfortunately, the limitations companies are putting on graphics card sales have no impact on those buying the most graphics cards — the big mining rig manufacturers. Digital Trends spoke to the founder of the largest mining rig builder in the UK at the recent London Crypto Investor show. He said that, if anything, the limitations help his business.

“We haven’t [been impacted by limitations] because commercially we’re at a different scale,” explained Easy Crypto Hunter’s founder, Josh Riddett. “It’s probably been a benefit for us if anything, because it’s probably a barrier for entry for someone trying to do it themselves.”

He went on to explain that some of his customers come to Easy Crypto Hunter after trying, and failing, to acquire GPUs for their own home-built mining rig. “We have a lot of people say ‘I’ve been thinking of building a rig, I’m stuck, I can only get three [GPUs],'” he said. “You can come to me, you can buy 10 rigs […] and you mine from the next day.”

Riddett’s company had more than 10 mining rigs for sale at the show (each with six Nvidia GTX 1080Ti  cards) and promised a 10-14 day turnaround for new buyers once those were sold out. His company is also selling mining “farms” for landlords to replace tenants, and has a still-in-development concept of a shipping container that comes outfitted with 280+ GTX 1080Ti cards.

Although he did admit it wasn’t easy to get the numbers of graphics cards his business requires — and an employee at Easy Crypto Hunter told us that shipping containers may take a few weeks to fill — it was possible.

“We spend a lot of money with the right people to get the stuff and obviously it’s as difficult for us as it is for other people,” he said. “We’ve reached a scale now [though] where we get a lot of preferential treatment, and ultimately it’s a case of getting that hardware out to people and doing it as quick as we can. So even now in the midst of the shortage, we’re the only company to keep units on stock.”

If companies such as Easy Crypto Hunter have no real difficulty in purchasing tens, or potentially even hundreds of some of the most powerful, and therefore limited, cards in the world, what hope do average gamers have? It could be the case that sales limits to one card per customer even hurt those trying to build high-end, multi-GPU gaming rigs.

Perhaps they should do what Riddett told us elsewhere in the interview. They should just mine themselves to offset the cost.