Where have all the Radeon R9 290X graphics cards gone?
Back in December of last year, we noticed that AMD's Radeon R9 290X graphics card was hard to find, which we (and the rest of the web) ultimately surmised was due to the virtual coin mining craze. With the rapid rise in value of Bitcoins, miners who were late to the party started looking at Litecoin mining in hopes of making some easy money. Since AMD's cards do a better job at mining these virtual gold nuggets, the 290X became a hot commodity. Fast forward to today and the card is still in short supply, but is mining still to blame?
Probably so, though that may not be the only reason the 290X is sold out in most locations. Fudzilla, which noticed the absence of stock in places like Newegg and TigerDirect, surmises that Mantle might also be a reason why these cards fly off of store shelves, even at inflated prices.
AMD's Mantle API offers performance gains in Battlefield 4 and will do the same for other supported titles, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that gamers are willing to pay a premium for the 290X versus its MSRP. And obviously miners will shell out an extra $100 or so per card if they think they'll be able to dig up virtual coins for a quick profit.
At present, the 290X is completely sold out on Newegg, where prices range from $700 to $800, well above the card's $549 MSRP. One of the few places you can find the card is on Amazon, but only through third-party sellers.