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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Ethereum Breaks $2,000, Bitcoin at $57,000: History in the Making

 


Thar she blows! That's right: Ethereum just broke $2,000 for the first — and almost certainly not last! — time. Bitcoin meanwhile is in the high $50K range. With companies like Master Card, Tesla, and various banks investing potentially billions of dollars into blockchain technologies, none of this is going away any time soon. Which raises an interesting question: How much money does the world spend daily on cryptocoin mining?

I've run the numbers, and best-case, the Ethereum miners are using well over a billion watts of power, and Bitcoin mining is about five times that amount. That's going off how much power would be required if every miner was using the most efficient hardware possible, which obviously they're not, and so real-world power use is about three times as high as what I just estimated.

That's three billion watts, every hour of every day, just to keep Ethereum humming along, and roughly 15 billion watts for all of those Bitcoin ASICs. It's nuts! It's also completely unsustainable to keep growing at this rate, so if you're looking at mining profitability right now and wondering how long it will stay this high, I'd estimate another month or two at most, and in three to six months it will likely be less than half as profitable. But what do I know? I thought $40,000 per Bitcoin was the limit for now, and clearly that was wrong.

Anyway, back to power, at $0.10 per kWh, Ethereum would cost about $7.2 million dollars to keep running, each and every day — not including IT infrastructure and cooling, which probably makes it closer to $10 million per day. With a price of $2,000, around 6,500 ETH blocks mined every day, and 2 new ETH minted per block, that's $26 million created out of thin air. So, it's definitely got room to grow at this price. Also interesting is that there are around 1.2 million transactions per day on the Ethereum blockchain, which means each one costs something like $20 in theory — that's looking at the average of around 2 ETH per block in transaction fees.

Bitcoin is, if anything, worse. The Bitcoin network runs at around 160 million terahash per second. The most efficient ASICs do about 25TH/s using 1000W. Using only such ASICs, that would mean we'd have 6.4 million ASICs running Bitcoin, using 6.4 billion watts. But lots of older ASICs are in use, so triple that and we can estimate roughly 19.2 billion watts. Each day, every day!

Total cost at $0.10 per kWh would be about $46 million per day in power costs. Lots of big miners are getting lower cost power than that, but lost of places in the world also cost a lot more, so let's just stick with 10 cents per kWh. Bitcoin is a slow block time of around 10 minutes, so there are only 144 block per day (give or take), but the block reward is 6.25 BTC newly minted, plus around 160 BTC per day in transaction fees, so roughly 1.1 BTC in tx fees per block.

Given those stats, Bitcoin creates 900 new BTC per day, with a value of around $50 million. Notice how much closer that is to the power costs? What's more, at 160 BTC per day in transaction fees, and around 300,000 transactions per day, that means the average BTC transaction costs around $30. Fewer transactions take place, and a lot of places like mining pools and Coinbase seem to be doing transactions largely off the books — using internal mechanisms to track who has what BTC — but the net result is a lot of power and heat used for blockchain technologies.

I'm curious to see where this goes, and if we end up with a lot more regulation and at the same time more uptake of cryptocurrencies in the coming years. The potential influx of cash into the network via banks and other large companies helps ensure things will continue for a while, but we know banks and others could pull out just as quickly as they joined — manipulating the market on a large scale and trying to make a buck in the meantime.

Don't get caught holding the bag, in other words. We saw massive amounts of hype in 2017 and 2018 for blockchain, and much of that went nowhere. Then again, here we are in 2021, with BTC at more than double the previous high and closing in on triple the value. If you had and held BTC for three years and triples your value, that's a nice improvement. All the 'weak' hands that folded? Too bad for them!

Personally, I'm trying to only sell enough of what I earn to pay for power these days. Because it feels like at some point in the coming years, we'll see $100,000 per BTC, and potentially even $1 million. Also potentially $10,000 or less again, so who knows?

Monday, January 11, 2021

GPU Cryptocurrency Mining Profitability, January 2020


Bitcoin is up, and mining is making a comback. Again. At least for the time being. If you're looking for advice on the best GPUs for mining, right now, here's my breakdown and analysis, based on testing over the past few days. These are the best GPUs for mining cryptocurrency, which currently means Ethereum. I'm putting prices in as MSRP, which you probably won't find anywhere for many months. But these are theoretically prices you could pay if supply was keeping up with demand. Adjust your expectations accordingly!

All of my values are based off mining via Nicehash. That's because, frankly, I want either Bitcoin or Ethereum, not one of the other potentially garbage coins. Plus, you can easily trade BTC or ETH for a different coin if that's what you're after. You can probably earn 10% more via mining ETH directly, but then you have to manage things more and it's frankly a pain I can't be bothered to deal with. I use a standard cost of $0.10 per kWh for power, with my own power measurements taken at the outlet, using an 850W 80 Plus Platinum PSU.

Component $ per Day Power per Day Profit Break Even
GeForce RTX 3090 ($1499) $7.50 $0.96 $6.54 ~229 days
GeForce RTX 3080 ($699) $6.50 $0.86 $5.64 ~124 days
GeForce RTX 3070 ($499) $4.50 $0.62 $3.88 ~129 days
GeForce RTX 3060 Ti ($399) $4.40 $0.58 $3.82 ~104 days
GeForce RTX 2080 Ti ($1199) $4.40 $0.72 $3.68 ~326 days
GeForce RTX 2080 Super ($699) $3.40 $0.61 $2.70 ~259 days
GeForce RTX 2070 Super ($499) $3.30 $0.52 $2.69 ~186 days
GeForce RTX 2060 Super ($399) $3.10 $0.48 $1.82 ~154 days
GeForce RTX 2060 ($299) $2.30 $0.48 $1.82 ~164 days
Radeon RX 6900 XT ($999) $6.00 $0.84 $5.16 ~194 days
Radeon RX 6800 XT ($649) $5.25 $0.84 $4.41 ~147 days
Radeon RX 6800 ($579) $4.50 $0.72 $3.78 ~153 days
Radeon RX 5700 XT ($399) $4.00 $0.66 $3.34 ~119 days
Radeon RX 5700 ($349) $3.75 $0.55 $3.20 ~109 days
Radeon RX 5600 XT ($279) $2.70 $0.48 $2.22 ~126 days

So, there you have it. If you could buy the GPUs, the best options right now are the RTX 3060 Ti and the RX 5700. Neither one is readily available at the pricese listed, and we could see prices more than double the MSRP in the coming months, depending on how things develop. But if you get the right hardware, assuming you already have a PC, breaking even on the GPU in just four months still looks possible. At the outside, you might break even in a year. Assuming of course that Bitcoin doesn't go tits up again.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin, Round Four


The only thing predictable about cryptocurrencies at this point is that they're unpredictable. Sure, there are larger patterns that repeat, but knowing when a new swing up is starting, or a new trend down is on its way, is tricky business. The past month has seen Bitcoin eclipse the previous high of 2017, followed by a surge to more than $40,000. That appears (maybe!) to have been the peak, as prices dropped over 20 percent just today (Jan 10, 2020). Will Bitcoin and the other cryptocurrencies rebound and head back up? Will they collapse back to early 2020 prices? I could guess, but then I'm no better than the rest of the pundits. All I know for certain is that cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile, the past month or two being a prime example of that volatility.

I've spoken with a few people over the past week who basically wanted to know what I thought about Bitcoin. One is an investment advisor, and naturally people he advises right now are asking about Bitcoin. Others were computer enthusiasts wondering if now is the time to start mining. My answers to both were somewhat nebulous, but I'll share them here.

Should you invest in Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, right now? No, I don't think so. We're already far into the surge upward, and the inevitable collapse will eventually follow. As fast as Bitcoin rocketed to $40,000, it can drop back to $10,000. Since we're still at about $33,000 (update: now past $50K), I wouldn't want to get caught holding the bag. Maybe we'll see $50K before a crash, maybe even $100K! Maybe not.

Longer term, you could still buy in today and very likely recoup your investment in the coming years, but history suggests we'll see $10,000 long before we see $100,000. Wait for the next drop, and if you still want to buy into Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency, that's the time to make your move. Play the long game, buy when it's low, sell when it's high, but don't buy everything and don't sell everthing — I'd sell 25, 50, or even 75 percent right now, then set a target where you'll buy back in with a similar 25, 50, or 75 percent of what you put aside.

If you have 1 BTC today, then, sell half of it for $20,000 (give or take) right now and keep the other half. Then plan on buying $10,000 worth of BTC when it reaches your desired threshhold, like maybe $10,000. That theoretically gets you $10,000 of profits, plus increases your BTC holdings to 1.5 BTC. Do that a few times over the coming years and you could end up with $50,000 in the bank and 4 BTC or whatever.

As for mining, if you have the hardware available (meaning, a graphics card), I figure any time the net gains from mining are at least double the cost of the power you put into it, that's an okay time to mine. Right now, a GPU that uses perhaps 350W of power (including the rest of the PC) can generate about $5-$7 per day of BTC, using Nicehash. The power cost for running such a PC 24 hours a day is going to be 8.4 kWh, so if you pay $0.12 per kWh, that's $1 per day in power, which means it's a good time to mine.

If you pay $0.30 per kWh, that's $2.52 in power per day, which means it's still a viable time to mine ... but you really ought to consider lower power locations rather than mining in California or Europe or wherever. Cheap power can get as low as $0.05 per kWh, which means it's usually far easier to turn a decent profit.

But more on that in my next post...

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

How to Set Up Network File Sharing on Your Home Windows Network

If you're wondering how to copy files from PCs over the network on Windows, it's not too difficult. I do this for every PC I build, which has been quite a few over the years.

First, you need to know the other PC's network name. You can find this by checking your system information. Opening up the Control Panel, then System and Security, and then System will get you the appropriate page. Far easier: Press Win+X, release both keys, then press Y for System (Win being the Windows key on your keyboard).

You can see the network ID of the PC on the System page under Device Specifications, then Device name. For this particular PC, the network name is "XPS15" (it's an old Dell XPS 15, I'm not that creative with my network names). If you've never specified a name for your PC, it's probably something lame like "Desktop-A8LDK09" or something you'd never remember without looking it up. Go ahead and change that if you want, but you'll need to restart the PC for it to take effect.

You're only half way through accessing PC's storage over your network, sadly. Next, you need to share a folder on the PC. I fly fast and loose and just share the whole damn drive. It's a home network, I don't invite people over and give them the network password unless I trust them, and I also require authentication to access shared folders. You should, too!

So, open Windows Explorer (shortcut: Win+E). Find "This PC" on the left and click that. Then right-click the drive you want to share (ie, C:). Choose Properties, then click the Sharing tab, then click the Advanced Sharing button. Give the share a name (C is default), then press the Permissions button. Select "Everyone" and click the Remove button. Then click the Add button. For the name, type "Authenticated Users" and press the Check Name button. You should now have the share with access permissions set to Read for Authenticated Users. Again, I fly fast and loose so I give Authenticated Users the Full Control option. If your PC has multiple drives, you can do this for each drive you want to share.

You're still not quite done. Your user account needs a password, and you need to know the user account name. You can use the full Microsoft account email address (eg, johndoe@hotmail.com) and password, if your PC is set up with a Microsoft account. Otherwise, open your C:\Users folder to find out the abbreviation for your user name (which you'll need to use for local accounts). You also must have an account password. It can bet a dumb password, but give it something you'll remember that isn't too easy to guess, so not "password" hopefully. "ThisIsMyPassword" should be fine (except it's not now that I've publicly suggested it).

Repeat all of these steps for each PC on your network. Congratulations! You're starting to become an IT professional! (I'm not really joking. This is SysAdmin 101 stuff, but it's very useful!)


Now you're ready to access another PC over the network. Open Windows Explorer (Win+E), and in the address bar (which should say "Quick access" by default), type in the network name of the other PC, but with two backslash characters before the name. So in my case, I type:

\\xps15

Alternatively, on the left side of Explorer, scroll down to Network and click that. Hopefully the other PCs on your network show up, but without the extra step of sharing folders you likely won't be able to see anything on those PCs.

That's it. The first time, you might get a prompt for the user name and password. You can save it if you don't think any hackers or other 'bad' people will get on your PC on your home network, which is a reasonably safe bet. You should now see the "C" folder you shared earlier, which is the entire drive of your other PC. You can even map the folder to a network drive if you want it to always be accessible. Either way, if you browse to the Steam folder (or whatever other folder you want), you can now copy, paste, and delete files.

Simple! Okay, not really that simple, but I do this stuff all the time and it quickly becomes second nature.


How to Transfer Steam Game Downloads Between PCs

Anyone with multiple PCs has probably ended up in a situation where they want to transfer a Steam game from one PC to another. Steam is perhaps the easiest of all digital gaming platforms when it comes to moving games around—better than GoG Galaxy, Ubisoft Connect, and certainly much better (for now at least) than the Epic Games Store. The same process that can be used to move Steam files between two different drives on the same PC extends to copying game files between different PCs.

First, close down Steam on both PCs. Then open the Steamapps folder on the source PC, and the Steamapps folder on the destination PC. By default, this will be:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\Steamapps

If you're like me, it will be C:\Games\Steam\Steamapps, but whatever. You should see a few subfolders, plus some .ACF files. You'll need to copy over both the ACF file for whatever game you want to transfer, plus the actual game files, which are located in the Common subfolder. 


But which ACF file(s) do you need? You'll have to open them up with a text file viewer like Notepad++ (seriously, no one should still be using Notepad!) to figure out which game each file corresponds with. Alternatively, browse to Steampowered.com and search for the game you want to copy. Open the appropriate page and you'll fine the Steam app number in the URL. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 is app number 1091500. Copy the ACF file to the other computer, then go to the Common subfolder and copy the game folder (which can be quite large).

Once the copy is finished, launch Steam on the second PC and it should automatically detect the new game files. You're done! You might need to wait for Steam to sync your cloud saves, but otherwise that's it.

Of course, the above assumes you already know some basic networking stuff. If not, check out my How to Set Up Network File Sharing on Your Home Windows Network guide.

Why wouldn't you just download the game on both PCs, though? Simple: Data caps. They suck, but many of us still deal with them because we have no other alternative. Comcast / Xfinity has a 1229GB per month data cap, which is 205GB more than the unofficial data cap that's been in place for nearly 20 years. My Internet connection (via Comcast the entire time!) has gone from 50Mbps down/6Mbps up to 350Mbps down/12Mbps up over that same time.

Put it this way. Back in 2005, with a 75Mbps connection at the time, it would have required 30.3 hours of continuous downloading at the maximum speed possible to hit my old 1TB data cap. Today? I could chew through my entire monthly 1.2TB limit in just 7.8 hours! Plus, game sizes have massively increased during that same time. 2-5GB games used to be the norm, then 10GB, 15GB, and 20GB. Now, 50-75GB minimum is typical of any major game release, and there are multiple games that weigh in at far more than 100GB. Downloading Cyberpunk 2077 twice would use up 12 percent of my data in less than an hour.

Of course it's not just gaming and downloads. Windows updates, Android and iOS app updates, game updates, and other software updates all take their pound of data. But if you've cut the TV cord and are going full streaming? One hour of 4K content on Netflix or Amazon Prime represents 10-20GB, depending on the encoding quality, and between family members it's easy to use hundreds of GB per month on streaming content. In today's world of streaming video? 2TB is a reasonable data cap, especially considering I already pay $30 extra for a higher bandwidth.

How to Transfer Epic Games Store Downloads Between PCs

If you have more than one PC that you use for gaming—like, say, a desktop PC in the office and a laptop for elsewhere—you might want to have the same game installed on both PCs. For some platforms (eg, Steam, GoG Galaxy, Ubisoft Connect) it's as easy as copying the files from one PC to the other, and sometimes importing the already downloaded folder. Epic Games? Not so simple, but at least it's possible—and it's far better than the Microsoft Store, where you have no option other than to download the full game on each PC.

For the Epic Games Store, the process is a bit more painful. First, before you do anything else, make sure the Epic Games Launcher isn't running (on either PC). Next, you need to copy the game files. These are usually located in your Epic Games folder, but can be installed elsewhere. If you've done a custom install to a different folder, you'll need to put the files into the exact same location on the second PC. (Workaround below.) This is why I create a C:\Games folder and have Steam, GOG, Ubisoft, and Epic all installed in subfolders.

This guide assumes you already know some basic Windows networking stuff. If not, check out my How to Set Up Network File Sharing on Your Home Windows Network guide. Alternatively, you could copy all of the files to a (hopefully fast!) USB drive (I have a Samsung T5 1TB SSD [#affiliatelink] that works great). Either way, step one is to copy the files over:

The next step is where things can get tricky. Go to your C:\ProgramData folder (it's hidden by default, so you might need to tell Windows Explorer to show hidden files and folders). You can try to be clever about what you copy, but I find it's easiest to just copy the entire Epic folder from the first PC where you downloaded over to the second PC (and replace any duplicate files that don't have the same time and date).

Once the above is done, launch the Epic Games Launcher on the second PC and it should pick up any games you have on both the second and first PC. There's a catch, however: If you only have a game installed on the second PC, it will disappear and you'll have to jump through extra hoops. Crap. So, your first PC should be a superset of all the games you want on the second PC. But there's another possibility, which is more work and rather a pain in the rear, but it's still better than the complete redownload of a large game.


To execute the workaround, start the download of the game you want on the second PC, pause it, and exit the Epic Games Launcher (say yes to the warning message). On the first PC, of course make sure the game is fully updated, and then exit Epic Games there as well. Now, copy all of the files from the game folder on the first PC, into the game folder subdirectory named:

[Game Folder]\.egstore\bps\Install

Once the copying of all the files is complete, launch the Epic Games Store and resume the download. It should start "verifying" all of the game files. On a fast SSD, this happens at about 400MB per second, so an 80GB game can still take 3-4 minutes to verify. If you're using a slower SSD or a hard drive, it might take 10 minutes or more.

If you see your network traffic start up again, though, the workaround ... didn't work. Sorry. I'm not sure what causes that, but some games don't seem to like doing things this way. Fortnite is a good example, and it probably has difficulties because it gets updated about every other day. As always, your experience may vary, but if neither approach worked for you, leave a comment with the game name and details of what happened.

Why wouldn't you just download the game on both PCs, though? Simple: Data caps. They suck, but many of us still deal with them because we have no other alternative. Comcast / Xfinity has a 1229GB per month data cap, which is 205GB more than the unofficial data cap that's been in place for nearly 20 years. My Internet connection (via Comcast the entire time!) has gone from 50Mbps down/6Mbps up to 350Mbps down/12Mbps up over that same time.

Xfinity, your data caps SUCK!

Put it this way. Back in 2005, with a 75Mbps connection at the time, it would have required 30.3 hours of continuous downloading at the maximum speed possible to hit my data cap. Today? I could chew through my entire monthly limit in just 7.8 hours! Plus, game sizes have massively increased during that same time. 2-5GB games used to be the norm, then 10GB, 15GB, and 20GB. Now, 50-75GB minimum is typical of any major game release, and there are multiple games that weigh in at far more than 100GB. Downloading Cyberpunk 2077 twice would use up 12 percent of my data in less than an hour.

Of course it's not just gaming and downloads. Windows updates, Android and iOS app updates, game updates, and other software updates all take their pound of data. But if you've cut the TV cord and are going full streaming? One hour of 4K content on Netflix or Amazon Prime represents 10-20GB, depending on the encoding quality, and between family members it's easy to use hundreds of GB per month on streaming content. In today's world of streaming video? 2TB is a reasonable data cap, especially considering I already pay $30 extra for a higher bandwidth.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Black Friday Gaming PC 2020? Not this year!

 I like to do a special Black Friday Gaming PC build every year, but this year, component prices are completely fubar. Ryzen 9 5900X? Can't find it in stock anywhere but eBay at massively inflated prices! The same goes for the rest of AMD's Zen 3 CPU line. And don't even get me started on graphics cards.

RTX 3070RTX 3080, and even the exorbitantly priced RTX 3090? All are sold out and will likely remain in limited supply / high demand until at least February 2021. Our savior AMD, with its Radeon RX 6800 XT and Radeon RX 6800, is actually even worse. That's because AMD is trying to procure next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S console processors, plus Zen 3 CPUs, plus RDNA2 GPUs, all from TSMC using its 7nm node. Meanwhile, TSMC has customers lining up, including Apple, Nvidia (GA100), and maybe even Intel!

It goes deeper than that. The die size for one of the CPU compute dies in a Ryzen 5000 series processor is 80mm2. The die size of the Navi 21 GPU in RX 6800 series is 519mm2. So, AMD can get one GPU or about 6.5 CPU compute dies from the same wafer area. The GPU needs memory, cooling, a PCB, and more. The CPU just needs a package and some resistors and capacitors. Basically, a single RX 6800 series graphics card costs about 10X as much as a single Ryzen 7 5800X to produce. With high demand for both, AMD will make far more money by producing CPUs.

COVID-19-fueled shortages and increased prices apply to many other PC components as well. Last year I found a 550W 80 Plus Gold power supply for $67. This year, the cheapest high quality 550W PSU is about $95.

There are a few components that you can find at reasonable prices, at least. Good quality motherboards for both Z490 chipset (Intel) and X570 chipset (AMD) start at around $150-$160. You can also pick up 2x8GB DDR4-3200 memory for $50, or 2x16GB DDR4-3200 memory for $95. That's way cheaper than last year. SSD prices are also down, with 1TB M.2 drives starting at $95. There are plenty of viable PC cases, like the Corsair Carbide 275R Airflow for $65.

But without a decent price on a CPU or graphics card, it's going to be hard to build a good new PC. Even previous generation GPUs like the RTX 2060 Super and RX 5700 XT now cost over $50 more than they did just a few months back, and there are better GPUs enticing us. My advice: Save your pennies and buy something else.

And Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

RobotCache Review

There are scamcoins, and then there are coins that are basically a scam. RobotCache and it's Iron (IRON) coins fall firmly in the latter camp. They appear to be legit, but the value is a complete joke. It doesn't matter how much hardware you throw at the problem: you're going to get ripped off. I've run a few tests, though, so let's just cut straight to the chase.

The big claim of RobotCache is that you can buy games with no exclusives, and that you can earn 'free' stuff. And by stuff, we're talking about games. If you enable mining in the client, your PC will happily donate spare compute cycles for both your GPU and CPU to the mining of Iron. It's basically like Ethereum, except not actually worth anything.

I just ran a test on a GeForce RTX 3090 card (#AffiliateLink) the world's fastest GPU. It does about 100MH/s, which is a lot — about twice the speed of an RX 5700 XT. However, it also consumes a lot of power, like very close to 350W. If you were mining Ethereum, that works out to around $2.75 per day in income, minus power costs. For someone that pays $0.10 per kWh, that's $0.84 per day in power, so a net income of $1.90.

That's not great, considering the GPU costs $1,500, as it would take two full years of 24/7 mining just to break even. But compared to RobotCache? It's a damn bargain! See, RobotCache pays you in Iron, and with the RTX 3090 the estimated Iron per day is a whopping 21.3. The value of said Iron is $1.00 per 100 Iron, so instead of making $1.90 in Ethereum, you instead earn $0.213 in Iron. And that's before you have to account for power costs.

Bottom line: RobotCache is hoping to prey on innocent victims. I can just imagine some young gamer using his home PC and leaving it mining while idle. Even with an extreme GPU and CPU, it would take over two months to earn enough Iron to purchase a full priced game. Right now for example, RobotCache estimates 119 days of mining to earn enough Iron to purchase Wasteland 3. So, after four months of mining, and a cost of $130 or so in power, you'd earn a $60 game.

Except, the math is wrong. Yes, you read the correctly: RobotCache is lying on the math! Because the "~119 days" isn't based on your actual PC hardware. I don't know where they pulled that number from. (Actually, I do: it's from "Current Wallet Balance and Avg User Earnings" — suggesting there are a hell of a lot of gullible users of this software!) The reality is with a 3090 you'd actually earn 22 Iron per day (being generous and rounding up), and you need 5999 Iron to buy Wasteland 3. That means it would actually take 273 days, and a cost of about $0.85 per day. Your 'free' game thus ends up costing over $230.

Or maybe not? I still don't know where the Iron per day estimate comes from, but it's all over the place. Just watching while I wrote this post, I've seen it as low as ~12 Iron per day and as high as ~110 Iron per day. The screenshot after about 45 minutes of mining shows an estimate of 65 Iron per day. That's almost enough to break even prospect on power cost vs. game cost. But it's also one fourth what you'd make from mining Ethereum.

Also, just a parting thought: Consumer GPUs aren't really designed for 24/7 operation at 100% load. I've done it in the past, and I've killed off a lot of graphics cards. Some cards only lasted about six months before the fans failed, while others would last about two years. Neither one represents a good return on investment, unless you get the hardware for free and get free (or very cheap) power to run it.