Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The most profitable graphics card for mining

If you've been thinking about getting into cryptocurrency mining using GPUs, you're probably wondering what graphics card has the best rate of return. For a long time, AMD GPUs have been the go-to choice, but over the past year a lot has changed ... and right now, AMD GPUs are almost completely sold out! So I've run a bunch of calculations looking at the various mining options, including NiceHash, as well as directly mining alt-coins and trying to trade.

Let me just state once more that chasing the alt-coin-of-the-day can be a full-time job, so if you're not interested in constantly monitoring the cryptocurrency market, just save yourself the headache and lease your hashing power on NiceHash. Of course doing it that way means you miss out on stuff like the Ethereum bubble -- who could have predicted the jump from $10 to nearly $400 during the past six months!? -- but it also means you don't get stuck with a bunch of worthless cryptocoins that aren't worth the processing power it took to generate them.

For this summary, I'm going to assume you want to build a complete mining rig, targeting the best return. That means skimping on the CPU but getting a good motherboard and power supply, and then using as many GPUs as you can reasonably run off of the power supply. For most GPUs, that means you can do six cards off a single rig, but if you have a 250W GPU like the GTX 1080 Ti, you'll need to limit yourself to four cards per rig, or use multiple (smaller) PSUs. Here then are the rate or returns (going by the past week's average payout) for the various GPUs:

BASIC MINING RIG:
Pentium G4560: $85
MSI Z270 SLI Plus motherboard: $140
8GB DDR4-2400 memory: $75
240GB SSD: $85
2x 750W 80 Plus Platinum PSU: $275
6x PCIe Risers: $70
TOTAL: $730

If you look back at some of my recent posts from a month or so ago, you'll notice that for effectively the same basic build, prices have increased by about 10-15 percent on several of the parts. The reason is simple enough: cryptocurrency fever! (I may or may not have contributed to the phenomenon. *cough, cough*) So to hit the break-even point, you need to earn $730 in addition to the cost of the rest of your graphics cards.

Let's talk graphics cards, then. I'll just put all the usual suspects in order, here, going with the assumption of six GPUs for the mining rig. Note that the 2x750W PSU configuration is only really required if you want to run six 250W GPUs (like GTX 1080 Ti or R9 390X or similar). The following is only an estimate, and actually income will vary, but it's a good baseline for the time being. If you want to be pessimistic, cut the income in half -- we likely won't fall below that amount over the next year.

GPU Price (6x) NiceHash Best Alt-Coin ROI
GTX 1080 Ti $4200 $40.92 $45.05 110-120 days
GTX 1080 $3000 $31.14 $34.25 109-120 days
GTX 1070 $2400 $27.78 $30.56 102-113 days
GTX 1060 6GB $1500 $18.90 $20.79 107-118 days
GTX 1060 3GB $1200 $16.20 $17.82 108-119 days
GTX 980 Ti $1980 $26.28 $28.91 94-104 days
GTX 970 $1200 $19.62 $21.58 89-98 days
RX 580 8GB $3000? $23.28 $25.61 146-160 days
RX 570 4GB $2400? $20.82 $22.90 137-150 days
R9 Fury X $2700 $31.32 $34.45 100-110 days
R9 390 $2700 $24.30 $26.73 128-141 days
R9 380 $1500 $14.40 $15.84 141-155 days

And the winner is... well, forget about the old cards that you have to buy on eBay -- they might be flaky from already mining for a couple of years, and inventory is low. So looking at the current cards, your best bet is Nvidia's GTX 1070 card. Still. And all those AMD miners should probably branch out a bit rather than just buying tons of RX 570/580 cards, especially at these inflated prices! (Note: if you could actually buy RX 570 for $200, it would be an amazing card for mining -- which is why it's all out of stock.)