Today marked the arrival of the H370 Mining Master motherboard, which is meant to be used for cryptocurrency mining. It can support up to 20 graphics cards. Among its most prominent features is its ability to support streamlined connectivity. The motherboard can do this by supporting direct plugin of USB riser cables into the PCB over PCIe.
The approach that Asus has taken has several benefits including fewer PCIe disconnects and easier maintenance of the systems. Moreover, the diagnostics that will be made will be more accurate than before. Asus says that this format is better than connecting the graphics card to the motherboard directly, as in a gaming desktop.
The H370 contains tweaks that are specific to GPU-based data crunching which is set to default. This goes to show just how focused the mining motherboard is. The graphical user interface is designed to identify the location and the status of a port easily. It also assigns special alphanumeric codes to each port. These codes help in easier identification.
The PC hardware industry has experienced a drastic change since the arrival of cryptocurrency mining. Hardware OEMs have been invited to manufacture special crypto mining hardware, and GPU prices have also increased.
Even though it’s not the first company to release a mining motherboard, Asus has been leading in the number of GPUs that are allowed in the motherboard. Their pricing has also been quite aggressive. While most of the motherboards range from $50 to $400, Asus is yet to confirm their price. However, it’s expected to be around the same range once the H370 becomes available in the third quarter of 2018 in North America.
Why Are GPU Prices So High in 2018?
The GPU shortage that was experienced in 2017 was possibly the worst of all time. It was a hard time for PC enthusiasts and gamers. The prices doubled for some high-end and mid-range GPUs. It was also close to impossible to find an AMD Radeon RX 580 or a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 for over a month. That shortage might have been bad, but due to the newest shortage, it would be safe to say that we need to scrub off that statement. If the last shortage was bad, then what we are experiencing currently is a complete disaster.
The Price of Bitcoin and Ethereum
Cryptocurrency mining is once again the major cause of the shortage. It was the same case last summer. Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency, peaked at around 400 dollars in June, only to dwindle down to $150 on 16th of July. It would later go through a period of wild fluctuations all the way to November before it once again began to increase in value. It hit an all-time high of $1,389 on 15th January, before plummeting to $400. The latest decline might make you think that mining Ethereum is a complete waste of time. However, it’s too soon to say for sure.
Bitcoin has also recently experienced an upsurge, hitting a peak of $18,737 on 18th December. However, it has now fallen to $6,000, and it has experienced wild fluctuations since then.
The Price of Gaming or Mining
The price of graphics cards has shot through the roof recently, all attributed to cryptocurrency mining. The prices of some of the graphics cards have doubled while others have gone as far as triple the original amount. Some of these include AMD’s RX 570 and 580 GPUs and Nvidia’s GTX 1060 and 1070 graphics cards. It might not even be possible to find them in stock. We found that some of them are being sold for $1,000 while we were researching prices for this article. Some have even gone up to $1,300 like the GTX 1070s.
Most graphics cards have remained in stock even though the price has increased. This is different from last year’s shortage when some GPUs stayed out of stock for weeks. Some popular models are still available. This has been attributed to the better management of GPU inventories by OEMs and retailers. The steep price has also contributed to their continued availability.
The shortage last summer had little effect on the high-end and low-end cards. However, the current shortage has rippled throughout the whole market. The prices of low-end cards have not shot up yet none of them are available at their MSRP rate. However, they have remained in stock, and they are all you can get if you need a new card.
AMD’s Vega GPUs have been greatly affected on the upper side of the market. Their prices have risen significantly higher than their Nvidia counterparts. You will now need to spend at least $1,000 if you want to acquire a Vega 56 GPU which was previously being sold at $400. The prices of Nvidia’s GTX 1080s and GTX 1080 have also increased, even though the difference is not quite as big as the others. The low-end GPUs like the GT 1030 and RX 550 are the only ones that have been affected less. The effect on the GTX 1080 and GTX 1080 Ti is higher.
AMD’s new Ryzen 5 2400G is a welcome alternative to the currently overpriced cards. That’s if you are a gamer and it meets your needs for a low-power gaming PC. A gaming bundle would also help you to reduce the overall price of your gaming rig greatly. You may have to look into other methods of purchasing a gaming GPU.
It’s unlikely that a recession in cryptocurrency will bring normality back to the market although the scramble to mine cryptocurrency and acquire GPUs is to blame for the current state of the market. As we reported some time last year, orders are typically placed months in advance by OEMs. They order from AMD and Nvidia, who in turn have to place their orders to fabs, once again months in advance. Due to orders from other customers and their limited production capacity, fabs are unable to respond quickly to the changes in the GPU market.
From this information, it’s safe to say that the shortage might be experienced for a few more months, while companies restock.
What’s the Answer to Cryptocurrency Mining?
With two large-scale GPU shortages experienced in less than a year, it goes without saying that we need a lasting solution to the problem. Earlier, the idea of increasing production to meet the market demand arose. However, this move could potentially harm OEMs due to the unpredictable nature of the market. New cryptocurrency mining hardware will be released shortly, but still, will this be enough to remove the burden on the GPU market?
Gaming Still Dominates
John Peddie Research, a US data, and marketing firm, recently released a report suggesting that gaming is still the largest market for graphics cards manufacturers. This definitely gives them a lot of incentive to meet the ever-rising market demand for GPUs.
“Augmented by demand from crypto miners, gaming is still the number one driver for GPU sales,” says Dr. John Peddie. He is the president of John Peddie Research.
“Demand from the miners is expected to slacken as the margins drop. This will lead to an increase in utility costs as well as the forces of supply and demand, which drive up AIB (add-in-board) prices,” Dr. Peddie continues.
This is supported by Nvidia as their latest earnings report ranked gaming at the top of their revenue drivers’ list while cryptocurrency mining came in last. Over the last three months, AMD has recorded a strong growth in their graphics cards department. However, they have been blurry on what the cards are being used for.
Graphics card prices might take much longer to start going down even though Dr. Peddie predicts that demand is expected to fall in the coming months.
“Prices are not going to fall shortly although gamers can offset the prices by mining when not gaming,” he said.
The report, however, doesn’t give an exact figure on how many graphics cards were sold to be used for gaming purposes. It states that just over 3 million cards were purchased by cryptocurrency miners. The total amount that the miners spent amounted to $776 million. The surprise in these figures is that AMD, and not Nvidia, was the top sales beneficiary.
Over the last three months of 2017, AMD managed to increase its stake in the market from 6.1% to 14.2%, a significant rise of 8.1%. Nvidia, on the other hand, dropped from 24.4% to 18.4%. Intel occupies the rest of the market at 67.4%
The year-on-year graphics card shipment experienced a drop of 4.8%. The drop was attributed to the ever-fluctuating stock numbers.
Best Mining Motherboards for 2018
Below is a list of the best GPUs that you can use to build your dream cryptocurrency mining machine:
- Asus B250 Mining Expert
It’s simply the best mining motherboard that you can acquire today. It boasts of its ability to support a whopping 19 GPUs, the only one that supports this number on the list. What’s even better about it is that you don’t have to mess with the BIOS to increase your Bitcoin payout. This is already taken care of by a unique mining mode. The B250 carries with it the exact standards that we expect from Asus. The only disadvantage of this great product is its scarcity, most probably due to how good it is.
- ASRock H110 Pro BTC+
Its ability to support 13 GPUs and its solid built quality are just some of the reasons why the AS Rock H110 Pro BTC+ makes a list. This machine also allows you to expand as the need arises. Even with this unique ability, some people might argue that this is too much since Windows 10 can only accommodate up to 8 cards. There’s no harm in readying yourself for the future, though. This machine might not be the best for a beginner, but if what you’re looking for is a feature packed machine as well as a flexible platform into which you can grow, then this is the best.
- Gigabyte GA – H110 – D3A
This machine may not be able to handle 13 GPUs all at once, but its excellent built quality makes sure that it can handle the intensive use that mining requires. It includes power failure, electrostatic and high-temperature protection which are really essential since the machine is operational 24/7. It has the unique feature of flexibility which means that you can use it for other purposes just in case you discover that you aren’t meant to be a crypto miner.
- Biostar TB250-BTC Pro
It brings in some of the most advanced mining features. It can support up to 12 GPUs at a very competitive price. Though you might not need to use the whole 12 PCI slots, this machine is a wise investment if you plan to scale up your cryptocurrency mining operations in the future. Its downside is that it’s extremely rare. So, make sure to keep your eye on a good price tracker for the latest details on its availability and the best prices.
- MSI ZI70A Gaming Pro Carbon
If what you need is a versatile mining motherboard, then look no further. The MSI ZI70A Gaming Pro Carbon supports up to 7 GPUs and comes fully equipped with 4 DDR4 slots, 2 more than other mining motherboards. Besides that, it has several gaming-specific features that are usually associated with mobos found in gaming lounges. It also has lots of connectivity ports.