Bitcoin and Ethereum have lost almost half their value from their peak. Here’s how that is helpful for 360 and VR (with apologies to investors).
As you know, cryptocurrency prices were rising early this year but in the past few weeks, they’ve been crashing. The silver lining is that the crypto crash benefits 360 and VR by making graphics cards more affordable.
Graphics cards are essential for VR and are also used for rendering 360 videos more quickly. Some software such as Adobe Premiere also require graphics cards to reframe 360 videos. Unfortunately for VR and 360 camera users, graphics cards are also highly sought-after among cryptocurrency miners. Normally, mining cryptocurrency is generally handled by ASICs designed specifically for mining. However, as cryptocurrency prices increase, graphics cards become more attractive for mining as well, which enables scalpers to push their price up.
I used to be able to put together a $400 VR-ready PC. Now, thanks to the high cost of graphics cards, that same PC would cost around $500 or more, despite having components that are several years old.
NVidia tried to stop the graphics card price inflation by limiting the mining hash rate for Ethereum but that did not really affect the demand because, among other things, the graphics cards could still be used to mine other cryptocurrencies.
To see the correlation between cryptocurrency prices and graphics card prices, we can take a look at these charts. First, here is a graph showing the price of Bitcoin in the past year (generated by Coindesk):
Now here a price graph for GTX 1050Ti, which was one of the most popular low-end graphics cards in the GeForce 10 series, and was the minimum graphics card usable for VR:
You can see the very strong correlation with the Bitcoin price, both of them risking, peaking, and falling at exactly the same time. It is crazy that a card that normally costs $129 was being sold for as high as $500.
Here is another price graph for GTX 1650, which is considered the successor to the GTX 1050Ti, and a very good graphics card for entry-level VR:
Again, it’s insane that a card that is supposed to be affordable as priced as high as $1079, and even today sells for more than $500.
Finally, here’s a price chart for GTX 2060, which is supposed to be an affordable upgrade to the GTX 1060.
As you can see, the correlation between cryptocurrency prices and VR-ready graphics cards is undeniable. To clarify, I’m not against the concept of cryptocurrencies. And of course there are other factors for the inflated prices of graphics cards such as disruptions in the supply chain caused by the pandemic. I’m just worried about how crypto’s popularity could stifle the growth of VR and 360 by making graphics cards too expensive. Will graphics cards become affordable again, or will they stay beyond the reach of average consumers? I don’t know. Perhaps the solution to this dilemma is to save up for your VR-ready graphics card with cryptocurrency. Ha ha.