Even during the most bullish Bitcoin days, video card partners had shied away from creating specific SKUs for the purpose of cryptocurrency mining, and that has remained the case since – until now. With the Ethereum mining mania hitting new heights (ed: and arguably new lows), add-in board vendors ASUS and Sapphire have released mining-specific video cards, with variants based off of NVIDIA's GP106 GPU, and AMD's RX 470 & RX 560 video cards. Being built for high hash-rates rather than visual graphics horsepower, these cards are distinctively sparse in their display output offerings.

ASUS has outright labelled their cards as part of their new “MINING Series,” with product pages for MINING-P106-6G and MINING-RX470-4G advertising hash-rate production and cost efficiency features. Something to note is that ASUS has chosen to use the GPU codename of GP106, rather than the NVIDIA GTX 1060 branding. The GP106-based card has no display outputs, while the RX 470 card supports only a single DVI-D output despite humorously having HDMI and DisplayPort cut-outs on the PCIe bracket. Both cards are specified at reference clocks.

Meanwhile, Overclockers UK are listing 5 Sapphire MINING Edition SKUs, with 4 RX 470 variants differentiated by memory manufacturer and VRAM size: RX 470s with 4GB of non-Samsung (11256-35-10G) or Samsung memory (11256-36-10G), RX 470s with 8GB of non-Samsung (11256-37-10G) or Samsung memory (11256-38-10G), as well as an RX 560 Pulse MINING Edition card (11267-11-10G). None of the RX 470 variants offer any display outputs, while the RX 560 has a single DVI-D.

In the Overclockers UK product descriptions, cards with Samsung memory are specified for an additional 1 MH/s (mega-hashes per second) over the non-Samsung counterparts, highlighting the importance of memory bandwidth and quality in current Ethereum mining. In addition, the descriptions state a short 1 year warranty and, interestingly, CrossFire support for up to 2 GPUs. It remains to be seen whether these cards can be paired with standard video cards for the purpose of increased graphical performance.

Other SKU listings have surfaced in the wild: Sapphire RX 470 4GB with non-Samsung (11256-21-21G) and Samsung memory (11256-31-21G) on Newegg, and MSI P106-100 MINER 6G on NCIX. The Newegg Sapphire RX 470s, unlike the ones listed on Overclockers UK, both have single DVI outputs and 180 day limited warranties. However, the MSI mining card is completely bare of any details.

Looking back, Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin – as well as many others – have all waxed and waned. Yet video card manufacturers remained the last holdouts in the PC component market in offering cryptocurrency-specific SKUs; since then, there have been tailored chassis’, PSUs, and motherboards both new and old. In the past, surging cryptomining demand has resulted in periodic supply issues, with consequences like $900 R9 290X’s. Now, ASUS and Sapphire seem intent on tackling the current Polaris and Pascal shortages from the most direct angle possible: cryptomining cards.

While drastic on some level, it’s representative of the difficult problem faced by both the GPU manufacturers (AMD and NVIDIA) and their video card partners. Mining-inflated demand restricts supply to such an extent that scarcity and artificially high prices infuriate standard consumers looking to purchase video cards. However, overproduction could easily lead into an intractably congested channel after the cryptomining craze has ceased, not to mention potential RMA/warranty headaches or unintentional flooding of the secondary market with used mining cards of variable health.

By offering cryptomining cards with limited warranties, restricted display outputs, and presumably lower manufacturing costs, vendors are hoping to capitalize on mining demand while satisfying standard consumers and avoiding undue damage to their brand or revenue. Given these aggressive and forthright efforts by ASUS and Sapphire, it would not be surprising if other add-in board vendors followed suit with a few mining-specific products of their own.

Source: Various (via PCPerspective)

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  • jvl - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    > Newsflash, bud, using GPUs or CPUs to mine Bitcoin has been a completely inefficient usage of electricity since the first ASIC was specifically to mine Bitcoin. This has been true for _several_ years.

    How's that news? Why would you think satai doesn't know this? You come off as condescending, which doesn't suit you (or anyone).

    His point regarding deep learning is valid. Yours is simply a

    >> cool story bro <<
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    >Hi I don't know how to make a counterargument, so I'll simply attack the supposed tone that I'm reading your post in.

    >> insert fresh memes here <<

    [spoiler]Thinking to self: Man I sure won that internet argument![/spoiler]
  • Flunk - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    I can't see them selling many of these unless they're noticeably less than standard video cards. Why? Pretty much every crypocoin miner's backup plan is to sell off the cards and these wouldn't be worth very much on the secondary market, especially if coin prices are down, which is the primary reason most people sell off their cards.
  • lordken - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    exactly my thoughts, why would miners bother with this except it would be like 50% price. And I would also expect more from Anandtech to question this strategy rather than being it pure info article.
    What I mean is, how exactly does this [miner cards] help anyone? If there is problem with supply how new miner cards solve this if they are same board minus video out? Same chip from AMD/NV , possibly same PCB etc, , so if initial shortage is coming from GP106 , Polaris10 low volumes how does this change?? If AMD/NV can produce "10k" chips which are now insta-bought by miners and gamers are left with none, now there will be same "10k" chips but 5k will be sold as miners and remaining 5k will be sold as "normal" but still bought by miners - that was late to get hands on miner card...
    Looks like bullshit to me. If the mining craze fall down over night there will be still tons of (mining) cards in warehouse that will have zero value and oems can throw them into trash.
    Also it could have negative impact on second hand market as after bubble burst there wont be anymore cheap cards if miners went with mining edition...
  • vladx - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    They are a lot cheaper compared to the now inflated price of the gaming versions, around $200 less.
  • lordken - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - link

    @vladx: its irrelevant that they are cheaper - to only inflated price (btw our local prices aren't inflated like newegg etc, only slightly but there is no stock).
    Price increased because lack of supply, hence my question how this solve anything.
  • peterfares - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    These are so dumb. Cards become unprofitable for mining pretty quickly and without any video outputs they have no resale value to gamers.
  • BrokenCrayons - Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - link

    There might be a tiny niche usage for headless GPUs once they're retired from mining chores. I'm not sure about the details of how this would all work out, but such graphics adapters might be useful for Steam's in home streaming feature. Between that and VNC or RDP, you could manage a gaming desktop and sling some of your games over network wires to a different PC so the lack of outputs may not be a problem as long as Steam and the games in question aren't befuddled by the lack of a physical output and associated monitor.
  • mkozakewich - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - link

    A bit late! Mining now will give you 1/200th of the profit you'd have gotten before. With advancements in hashing power and a slightly higher value of the coins, maybe that's 1/100th or so.
  • johnpombrio - Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - link

    About the only good reason to buy one is availability. As for selling graphics cards that have been running flat out 24/7 for months or years, good luck with buying a used card.

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