The Nvidia RTX 3060, announced last month, has finally hit the shelves. Aaannnnd, it’s gone. The RTX 3060 launch going exactly like every other recent GPU launch is arguably not much of a surprise. However, there’s one thing that’s different this time.

Crypto Mining Lock Announced Ahead of Launch

Last week, Nvidia pushed out a press release proclaiming “GeForce Is Made for Gaming, CMP Is Made to Mine“. This PR announced two things – a driver lock designed to halve Eth mining performance on an RTX 3060, and “CMP” mining cards to take its place. Unfortunately for Nvidia, this did not land well. Miners have already demonstrated that the RTX 3060 is still profitable, and the nature of a driver lock is it could well be worked around.

Moreover, Nvidia have come under fire for the CMP mining-only cards. CMP cards are probably based on the same chips as RTX 30 series gaming cards. Even if the chips are different, CMP cards almost certainly come through the same constrained supply chains. This means that, aside from occasional cards that fail production testing for gaming and not mining, every CMP card made is a gaming GPU not made. What’s worse, though, is if and when the bubble bursts gamers won’t benefit from CMP cards.

The last mining bubble had one bright side, and it was a bountiful used market when cryptocurrency prices fell. Some people are averse to ex-mining cards, and it’s true some miners run them in poor conditions – I’ve seen pictures of GPUs corroded from a damp mining rig in a shed. Mostly though, the main wear and tear is to the (easily replaced) fans. Of course, if you’re Nvidia, you don’t want that. You want people to buy your new cards, not some used cards. CMP cards without display outputs aren’t likely to be much use to gamers when they lose mining relevance. Outlets like Linus Tech Tips have been bluntly critical of the ethics of this strategy, which they point out will just make more premature e-waste, and called for a reversal.

RTX 3060 Sells Out Anyway

Well, you already know this bit of the story. Between the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, a massive mining boom and the predictable wave of scalpers there’s extreme demand. Meanwhile, with both covid and world politics shaking up supply chains, just about all electronics are entering shortage. To no surprise, while the RTX 3060 launch has happened, you can’t get one. At least, not without bending over to pick up your wallet and handing out double the MSRP to a scalper.

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