Mining is still one of the easiest ways to get cryptocurrencies, although the difficulty is constantly increasing. If you’re new to this area, it’s worth mentioning that mining has evolved a lot since it was first announced in the Bitcoin white paper. Mining is the process by which a computer solves a complicated mathematical problem in a competition with other nodes in order to validate a block in the blockchain. The hardware used evolved from CPU to GPU and for Bitcoin (BTC) to ASICs, or equipment specifically built for that type of algorithm.
Before diving into the topic of the article, just a few prerequisites: we will try to understand what is the key concept in mining and what you need to know if you want to enter this field. We will talk about hashrate, hardware requirements, electricity requirements (or power consumption), solo or pool mining and ROI, or return on investment.
What Is Hashrate?
Simply put, hashrate is the speed at which a computer is completing an operation, or how fast it finds a hash. It is expressed in hashes per second (or h/s) and it is the most important criterion in choosing a GPU card.
What you often see named as being a “mining rig” is not your usual computer. Most of the time, a mining rig is a custom piece of hardware, modified so it can contain more GPUs that are usually required for a computer, from 3 to 6 or even 10. These cards are in communication with the motherboard via a “riser” or a piece of equipment which lines them up on top of a motherboard.
GPU mining is electricity intensive. Although you get enormously more power with a GPU card than with a CPU, the caveat is that you also consume more power. The price of electricity is the biggest fixed cost in mining.
Solo Mining or Mining In A Pool?
When you do solo mining, you get all the rewards for mining a block, but the chances for you to achieve that are very, very small (unless you really own a mining farm). When you mine in a pool, you combine your hashrate with the hashrate of all the other miners, and split the rewards. It’s obvious that mining in a pool is better from economical point of view as it is more predictable.
Return of Investment
The computation requirements for mining are changing all the time so you should really assess your investment before. At the bare minimum, you should take into account: the price of the hardware equipment, the price of power consumption, and the price of maintenance (even if it seems like once set, a mining rig will just go on indefinitely, this is rarely the case).
Top Best Reviewed Graphics Cards For GPU Mining
With that being said, let’s move forward and see which are the best reviews for GPU mining cardsso far. We compiled this data from various reputable sources on the internet just to give you a glimpse. If you’re really serious about GPU mining, we highly recommend to make your own research and due diligence.
1. AMD Radeon R9 295X2 8 Gb
At tests, it scored more than 50 MHs/s (50,000 hashes/second) which is absolutely impressive. It is clocked at 1-1,25 MHZ and is relatively old (launched in 2014) but it’s still very competitive. One word of advice, the power consumption on this card is at around 500W, which is extreme. A mining rig with 5 GPU cards will draw more than 2500W power which makes it suitable only for enterprise mining, or for facilities with professional level power circuits. Do not try this at home!
2. XFX Radeon R9 390 Black Edition 8 Gb
Clocked at 1-1,5 MHz, this card scored around 29 MHs/s, which puts it in the second place. Again, be aware that power consumption measured for this card is around 450W, which again makes it not only expensive to mine, but also safety aware, with better power circuit needs.
3. AMD Radeon R9 Fury X 4 Gb
This is the only card with 4Gb to make it in the top 5. Hashrate was almost identical with the one above, at around 29MHs/s, with the important caveat the power consumption was more than XFX Radeon R9 390, at around 475W. A mining rig with only two cards like this would draw in around 1000W, which is still risky to have around the house, so a professional collocation facility with safer power circuits will be needed.
4. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8 Gb
In tests, this GPU card clocked at 1,5MHz, scored around 27MHs/s which makes it a good candidate for a top range equipment. Keep in mind that this card has a newer version, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders, which in theory contains more CUDA cores and it should perform better. But it seems there is a specific characteristic (latency) of the mining code in Ethereum (ETH) which can’t take advantage of these cores so it’s best to stick with what works.
5. Sapphire Radeon RX580 LE Nitro 8 Gb
This card will give you a pretty decent bang for the buck, at 26MHs/s. The good news is that even under extreme heavy load, the card couldn’t draw more than 250 W consumption, which almost falls under the normal requirements for a desktop computer.
With that being said, please be aware that measurements of hashrate and power consumption are influenced by many factors, including clock speed, operating system and specific mining software.
Caution: Since we talked more about Ethereum (ETH) mining in this post, please be aware that this blockchain will move from PoW (Proof of Work, or mining) to PoS (Proof of Stake). A move which will take place with a new protocol, called Casper. No one knows exactly when it will happen, but that will bring Ethereum (ETH) mining to a definite end.