Monday, March 24, 2014

Mining with GPUs for GPUs?

Have you heard about GPUcoin (GPUC)? It's an interesting idea that could have been a killer and made GPUC mining something worth doing... except the whole alt-coin market is going soft, and with less profitability comes lower demand for GPUs, which leads to lower prices. In short, after peaking at prices of $420 for R9 280X, $550+ for R9 290, and $700+ for R9 290X, we're starting to see a return to sanity on GPU pricing. So let me start off with some quick GPU pricing links that might be of interest:

Radeon R7 240: Newegg starts at $65
Radeon R9 270: Amazon starts at $209; Newegg starts at $179
Radeon R9 270X: Amazon starts at $229; Newegg starts at $199
Radeon R9 280: (Can't find on Amazon); Newegg starts at $289
Radeon R9 280X: Amazon starts at $329; Newegg starts at $349
Radeon R9 290: Amazon starts at $439; Newegg starts at $459
Radeon R9 290X: Amazon starts at $569; Newegg starts at $579

The reason those prices are important is that we can now buy some of those GPUs using GPUC -- but how much does it end up saving...or costing!? Here are the current GPUC prices for the R7 240 (don't bother...), R9 270, and R9 280X. Yes, the R9 280X they have on offer is a nice Sapphire TOXIC, but performance won't be all that different from other R9 280X GPUs if you know what you're doing. Right now, you'll have to pay about 32 satoshis per GPUC in order to buy enough coins for a GPU (though that could obviously change). The good news is that you could now build a capable miner for about $1500 instead of $1900, though at the current rates you'd still be looking at four months or more to break even on the investment. But what about buying graphics cards with GPUC?

[Note: Prices and difficulty for GPUC are jumping around like jackrabbits, so take the following as a snapshot in time rather than a "this is the way it will always be" statement.]
  • R9 280X: 2,520,301 GPUC = $470. OOPS! The exact same GPU is in stock at Newegg for $399.
  • R9 270: 1,227,839 GPUC = $229. Oops again. Yeah, we're still talking pricing higher than Amazon/Newegg right now, by $20 to $50.
  • R7 240: 174,482 GPUC = $32.50, so that's a pretty good price.
My guess is the people at GPUcoin ordered right before prices on most AMD GPUs dropped. The faster GPUs end up costing more than you'll now pay at retail, while the R7 240 wasn't as desirable for mining so you can pay less than retail. Unfortunately, R7 240 will only hash at around 100KH, so while it would be $75 less for the GPUs than buying retail, you're maxing out your motherboards with only 600KH or so. Meanwhile, the minimum cost of a mobo, CPU, PSU, RAM, storage, and case is going to be around $350, so you're spending $550 total for 600KH where a complete $1500 rig might do 2100KH (i.e. better price/performance overall).

The only way this gets worked out and GPUC thrives is if they can go and purchase a bunch more GPUs at well below the MSRP (which would mean below $299 for the 280X). Then they can take a bit of a loss on the ones they already purchased and end up delivering GPUs at a reasonable price. It would actually be super cool to go buy new hardware with GPUC (or BTC), especially if the price was below normal online pricing, but that would take a lot of work and a big warehouse to store inventory I suspect.

I should note that the GPUcoin store also has an open market where users can sell items. This is getting closer to the ideas above, but it's more like eBay with additional risk -- you send your GPUC, then have to wait/hope you didn't get scammed. And if you don't receive the product you orders, TOO BAD! Mwahahaha.... Yeah, I'd be a little leery at the least. If you're curious about pricing, though, someone is offering a 2MH scrypt rig for 10M GPUC -- that works out to about $1850. Buying the same hardware online (5x R9 270, ASRock H81 mobo, 4GB RAM, Intel Celeron CPU, 1000W PSU, 5 x16 risers, and a power button) will set you back about $1500. So sadly, no, there are not good deals to be had there right now it seems. And if you actually want to buy 10 million or more GPUC fast, you'd probably pay at least 25% more than the price I've just quoted.

As an alternative, you can already go through Gyft.com and buy a $10-$2000 Amazon.com gift card with Bitcoins, and then you could buy GPUs that way -- or anything else you might want to buy at Amazon. (And you get 3 Gyft points back for paying with BTC, compared to 2 points with Paypal or 1 point with credit cards -- basically a 3% "cash" back reward.) See the problem with all these new coins claiming to improve on the existing options? Some will likely succeed, but there's a lot of "reinventing the wheel" going on.

If you're struggling to find good coins to mine, my newsletter is always available -- and a quick side note to subscribers is that if you haven't received today's full newsletter, send me a note and I'll make sure you get it (or potentially let you know your subscription is expired). Another alternative is putting your rigs up for rental on LeaseRig where often there are people willing to pay a bit more than what you might mine normally to borrow your rig and chase some new coin (or boost hashing power for their new pool, etc.)

There was plenty more information that only went out to subscribers, along with the above commentary; want to see what you're missing? Start with a 2-day $5 trial, and if you upgrade to a week ($10) or month ($30) I'll count your initial payment towards the total! Let me sweeten the pot for all subscribers as well with this offer: when I hit 100 active subscriptions (I have fewer than 50 right now), I'll start sending out a daily newsletter with current charts to all active subscribers. I'm also looking into other ways to provide data in a real-time fashion (i.e. sharing a Google Spreadsheet). In short, the more people subscribe, the more it becomes worthwhile for me to spend time on the newsletters.

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