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Monday, February 17, 2014

Quick GPU Price/Performance Update

If you're still chasing the dream of building rigs with R9 290X or even R9 290, you might want to reconsider as the pricing right now is way out of line with the performance being offered. Here's the short rundown of the currently shipping AMD GPUs, their prices, and their expected performance. All of these are linked via my Amazon Affiliate account, so if you're shopping there I'd appreciate you sticking with my links! I know they're not always the least expensive option, but if you have Amazon Prime you can potentially get free shipping as a bonus (if you can find an appropriate GPU in stock, that is).
GPU Price Performance KH/$
R9 290X $799 900KH/s 1.126
R9 290 $640 800KH/s 1.25
R9 280X $430 700KH/s 1.628
HD 7970 $450 700KH/s 1.556
HD 7950 $444 600KH/s 1.351
R9 270X $250 440KH/s 1.76
HD 7870 $220 425KH/s 1.932
HD 7850 $196 380KH/s 1.939
R9 270 $236 400KH/s 1.695
Now hopefully it's clear that those performance estimates are a rough ballpark of what you can expect, so don't complain if you only get 850KH out of an R9 290X -- and I've seen a few people pulling close to 1000KH with a 290X, though I'm not quite sure why/how (they were MSI cards, if that helps). In some cases, you can expect to slightly beat a few of the figures. The main point is that in terms of performance per dollar, right now the best options appear to be the old (basically discontinued) HD 7850 and HD 7870 cards, and if you can't find those in stock than the R9 270X and R9 270 are the next best choice, with the R9 280X coming in fifth overall. The R9 290 and 290X are so overpriced right now that they're not even remotely worth considering in my book.

Of course you have to factor in the cost of the rest of the system -- if I just copy an old post from last month,  with a bit of tweaking, here's what you'd need -- and keep in mind that with these lower power/performance GPUs, I'm not as hesitant to try going with five or even six GPUs in a rig (though the risers do get expensive). Get two PSUs, six GPUs, and six risers if you want six GPUs, or stick with a single PSU and three risers to keep it simple:
MotherboardGigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3/UD5 AM3+$137-$175
ProcessorAMD FX-8320 Vishera$159
MemoryCrucial Ballistix Sport 4GBx2 DDR3-1600$80
Power SupplyRosewill Capstone 750W 80 Plus Gold$100 each
Storage2.5" 60GB Kingston V3 SSD$50
Risersx16 to x16 and/or x1 to x16 powered$20 each
Case?Build it out of wood or PVC pipes!$40
Total Cost$626-$824
It's still by no means an inexpensive system, but total cost we're looking at roughly $1286 for a system built with HD 7870 GPUs that would do 1275KH -- and that CPU is still available to mine something like Darkcoin. Bumping up to a six-way rig would increase the price to $2144 (plus tax and shipping as appropriate), for around 2550KH. If you were to try for similar performance with R9 290X, three GPUs would cost $2400 just on their own! It might be more efficient in terms of space to go with R9 290/290X, but for price/performance it's better to take a step or two down from the top dogs.


  1. 980kh/s on 3 of my 290Xs:

    GPU 0: 77.0C 3860RPM | 981.1K/969.5Kh/s | R: 0.4% HW:0 WU: 872.3/m I:20
    GPU 1: 79.0C 4656RPM | 949.0K/937.6Kh/s | R: 0.2% HW:0 WU: 854.9/m I:19
    GPU 2: 77.0C 4048RPM | 981.6K/969.5Kh/s | R: 0.1% HW:0 WU: 849.4/m I:20
    GPU 3: 78.0C 3729RPM | 981.5K/969.7Kh/s | R: 0.7% HW:0 WU: 872.9/m I:20

    1. Do me a favor and let me know what you're running -- specifically:

      What brand GPU are you using, what voltages are the GPUs running at, and what clocks are you using? Also, how much system RAM, what CPU, what motherboard, what OS, and which miner software?

      I have a theory that perhaps you need either the right motherboard, or the right CPU + motherboard, or maybe CPU + mobo + OS or R9 290X doesn't work as well. I have tried to help people with probably 20 or so R9 290/290X GPUs so far, and while two of them seemed to run effortlessly at higher hash rates (925-1000 MHash/sec), most of the others seemed stuck at around 800-825 MHash/sec. That's a huge gap, especially considering in many cases the GPU clocks were within a few percent of each other.

    2. I used to get similiar results as him ~980 khs on 3 r9 290x sapphire reference cards (1000/1500 clocks). I added a 4th r9 290x so I had to tune down the clocks or else it would consume more than 1200W. I'm getting 950 khs at the moment with 4 cards.

      Specs: 4 GB ram, AMD Athlon II X3, Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 mobo, Corsair AX1200i PSU
      Xubuntu, cgminer 3.7.2.
      Stock voltage, 975 GPU clock, 1450 Memclock.

    3. Which specific GPU model do you have (brand name), and if you know, what type of GDDR5 does it use? I now think it might be Elpida (slower) vs. Hynix (faster) RAM.

    4. Sapphire Radeon R9 290X 4GB GDDR5 DUAL DVI-D/HDMI/DP PCI-Express BF4 Edition Graphics Card (21226-00-53G)

      Theyre all Hynix RAM. I did read that people got slower (<900 khs) hash rates with Elpida RAM though, so that's probably it.

    5. CPU:

      8gb ram, 1028/1500 for GPU settings, BAMT1.5.2 (13.12 driver version), SGminer4.0.0

      This is definitely the Hynix memory on all 4 cards.

  2. Great post as always! Thanks.
    I wonder if it is worth spending the extra money for a rather expansive CPU like FX-8320 compared to a slower one like ie AMD Sempron 145 (35$ @ Amazon).
    How much KH/s CPU mining power can i expect from the different CPUs?

    1. It depends on whether or not you want to try CPU mineable coins. Early on, if you mined DRK with an FX-8320 at around 250-300 KHash, you could have accumulated a lot of coins in a short time. Even if you don't want to bother with CPU mining anything, I'd still go with at least a dual-core CPU -- the Semprons just end up feeling very sluggish on a lot of things, and I think some coins end up requiring a bit more of the CPU.

  3. Wow, you're in the US i'm guessing? You guys are really getting screwed on the price-bump on AMD cards.

    One of my rigs with 3 x R9 290's cost me the equivalent (in Euros) of $2160, only $473~ per card! That rig gets me 2,654KH, rock stable. The numbers are only slightly better than the 6 card rig you noted above, but it also has room for more cards later.

    That said, i had a lot of hassle getting 5-6 290's to play nice together, that alone made me wish i'd gotten 280x's, which i heard were easier to get running smoothly.

    If i expand later, i'll probably just add 1-2 cards to each of my rigs (i have 2 of the above) and call it a day at that, which should be 7-8.8MH. It's the power costs each month that put me off more than anything, since we pay $0.30/KW here!

    1. Oh and just a note, i could probably get this rig down closer to $2k, if it didn't have a decent board, 8Gb RAM + i3 CPU. That said, i use the CPU for DRK mining, and the 8Gb is essential for Scrypt-A N Factor mining. So it's a good all-rounder.

    2. Yeah, I'm a little surprised the US (North America?) has been hit so hard with the GPU prices while Europe has escaped relatively unscathed.

    3. I was worried a made a bad choice with the 290s. They were a pain in the butt to configure more than 3 in a rig, and I was also worried that the price:performance compared to a 270x or 280x was bad.

      I've checked the numbers now though and done the math, with the extra KH, i should break even on the initial costs AND the higher power consumption, within about 2-2.5 months. Which is about the same period of time as my ROI for the entire rig would be anyway. After that, i'll actually be getting a better cost-efficiency altogether from these cards vs other models, which has put my mind at ease (yay maths)!

      Of course, if i was buying the cards in the US instead of the EU, that would be more like 5-5.5 months. And with rising difficulty over that period of time, likely a fair bit longer altogether.

      Personally, i think you guys are more in to the crypto scene than what i've seen over here. I'm living in Germany and pretty much nobody i know or work with knows what cryptocurrency/BTC is, and i work in IT, so that says a lot...

    4. Demand / Supply. It never fails to set the price up or down...

  4. At these prices some of the Nvidia cards are actually starting to stack up :)

    GTX 780 = $499 and works out to ~600 kHash/s give or take @ 250 W TDP
    750 Ti: = $149 and works out to ~300 kHash/s give or take @ less than 100W

    1. Yeah, I know -- I think the GTX 750 Ti might actually make for a really decent price/performance GPU going forward. I'd still be hesitant to invest in $500-$700 GPUs, but the lower costs parts are looking decent.

    2. Is this with the new CUDA version i heard about? Pretty impressive power/hash ratios for Nvidias!

    3. Yeah, the updated CUDAminer has actually closed the gap quite a bit. I need to do a bit of testing to see just what sort of KH/W I can get from NVIDIA now. :-)

  5. Here in the Netherlands I can get a 7950 brand new for 275USD including all taxes etc.

  6. Hello,
    My one 290 is giving me 900Khs and I could bump it up to about 925.
    My two 290X are giving me 925Khs and I could bump them up to about 950.

    I can run them even faster but they tend to crash in less than 24hrs and I don't need to kill them so quickly, I prefer some stability and longer durability plus less power consumption.

    I'm only using 2 cgminer settings to get high speeds, mem-speed 1480/1500 and under volting 1.090. Everything else is at 0 (zero).
    I had powertune to 50 but soon I realized that it doesn't make a positive difference other than increase the temperature and fan speed/noise. I'm using Sapphire and Gigabyte brands all on PCIe x16 slots with non-powered risers and 750W PSU.

    1. Plenty of memory ram.

      12GB with just one 290. W7.

      24GB on the rig running 2x290X, 7850 and 7950 with 2x750W PSU. W7, AMD 4.2Ghz processor.

    2. Edit: My R9 290 (not X) needs powertune 40 in order to get to 900+ Kh/s...

  7. Regarding the cost/profit calculation, it's pretty accurate but I think it is necessary to add the processor, motherboard, HDD, memory and PSU costs into the equation because when I built my rig I realized that I was spending about $1500 just to build a good computer so I thought to myself that I should focus on getting the most out of my one mining rig computer. Long term I think it's better to have the fastest cards and also if I want to exit the mining business then I have far higher chances of reselling my computer and cards if they are the newest at the moment.

    More than being the financial cost, I think the real issue with the R9s is the noise and heat! Oh boy, these cards are so noise and create so much heat it's just VERY annoying. Sometimes I wish I had six 7950 instead of 4 R9s... :-{

    1. True, I could include the system cost into the KH/$ estimate, but then you have to ask: how many GPUs? So I went with looking just at the GPUs because in theory you can run up to four or maybe even six (depending on your motherboard). You could also go really cheap on the parts, and factoring in the power use would also be important.

    2. Hi again, I wanted to come back and give you more credit for your hashrate estimates on the R9s because I just recently started using CGwatcher which gives far better hashrate estimates and on my 290 at 910Kh/s I was getting about 92% accepted shares for a true 837Kh/s and at times it drops below 90%. I haven't tested my 290Xs yet but I know I'm getting a bunch of stales and rejected...


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  9. Wow I am happy with my 4 x 270 rig. Hashing stable at 1798 Khs for a week with little noise and heat. And I got them for $210.
    Went to buy more today and I can't find any less than $250-270. Decided to go with 4x 270x for $295 given the slightly better hash/dollar.

    I really enjoy your mining and crypotocurrency articles. I've been doing this for a year now and I still learn something new and interesting every post.

  10. 270/7870/270x are all the same cards with the same performance.
    Only difference is clock speeds and PCI-E power connectors.
    Even then the Gigabyte 270 has that as well

  11. Yep, they run about the same. Maybe 3% higher stable.