AMD’s RX 480 launched over a month ago and it appears that many potential owners are having trouble getting their hands on either reference cards (the original launch version) or those made by third party manufacturers.
What could be causing this lack of readily available supply? Multiple posters have taken to the R/AMD Reddit to posit their theories & vent their frustrations. One line of thinking, like TheMormonAthiest discussed on Reddit, suggests that maybe bitcoin miners are using the relatively low-cost AMD RX 480 for their mining rigs. Others have suggested that adoption of the RX 480 hasn’t been as high as some have suggested, that instead of a massive demand for the new cards – there is really a supply problem on AMD / other vendor’s end.
Due to its low power consumption when compared with the previous generation’s R9 390 the RX 480 may be the mining card of choice when considering the power consumption costs of their bitcoin mining operations.
Sankvtw from Reddit concisely supports this view using some math:
“The biggest reason some one [SIC} would want a a 480 for mining is that its has a relatively low level (~150W) for the hash rate of about 24Mh/s (6.25 W per Mh), where as something like a r9 390 at like 275W for about 29Mh/s almost 2x the power usage for less than 25% increase in output(9.48 W per Mh) . The less you pay in power the more profitable it is to mine.”
As of the time of writing the price of a reference Radeon 480 hovered around $330.00 CDN on user markets like Ebay. These prices are actually within a couple dollars of the $339.99 CDN MSRP of this particular card, although it is currently on back-order on major retailers like Memory Express. I purchased the RX 480 from Amazon a few days post launch and ended up paying a $60 CDN premium on the card, so it looks the market has adjusted quite a bit in the last 30 days.
Nvidia launched their Geforce 1060 after AMD’s initial success with the RX 480 and most reviewers have found that the two cards are usually within a few frames per second of each other, with the Geforce 1060 taking the lead on some DX 11 benchmarks and the RX 480 taking the DX 12 crown.