So you’ve been bitten by the Bitcoin bug and you want to build a mining rig – and you’re looking for the best GPU for mining Bitcoin? Seems simple enough, but first, let’s clear something up.
You can’t use a GPU for Bitcoin mining. Well, you can, but you won’t make any money. Back in 2014 and 2015, people were still using high end video cards to mine bitcoin, and then a Chinese computer company invented an ASIC miner. ASIC miners are purpose built computer chips that can mine Bitcoin very very fast! This essentially made all of the GPU mining rigs worthless, except that by then other cryptocurrencies had popped up (like Litecoin, Ethereum, etc), and there were no ASICs built for them. All of the people who had been using a GPU for mining bitcoin then pointed their graphics card mining rigs at the other coins and left the ASICs to battle things out amongst themselves over Bitcoin.
So, in short, if you really want to mine Bitcoin, you’ll have to look at buying some ASIC miners. Here’s our roundup of the best bitcoin miners for 2018 you can buy right now.
If you want to mine something kinda like Bitcoin with graphics cards, you might be in luck – and actually, that could be how you ended up here. Just a simply omitting a short word (gold) and you would’ve found this page: recently, in late 2017, a split of Bitcoin occurred which created a new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Gold – it was a big enough change that it can be mined with GPUs. Currently, profitability for mining Bitcoin Gold is fairly similar to mining other GPU based coins like Ethereum and Zcash.
If you’re looking for the best mining GPU for a gpu-worthy coin, then check out our write-up on the best GPUs for mining in 2018. From there, you can jump off to a specific graphics card and find specs on hashrate and power usage, as well as the best overclocking settings for that particular GPU.
How to choose the best GPU for mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
Whether you’re looking for the best GPU for bitcoin mining, or for mining any other cryptocurrency, the rules are all the same. Here’s some basic things to keep in mind as you begin your research:
- The first step, and I think an often overlooked decision, is to determine what you think the future of the cryptocurrency market is, and what your purposes in mining are. There are many different reasons people want to get into mining Bitcoin, and that reason will dictate what GPUs you will choose to buy. Here are some of those reasons, and some of the considerations related to bitcoin mining:
- Do you like the idea of cryptocurrencies and want to support Bitcoin by contributing to a decentralized worldwide network that processes Bitcoin transactions and records to the ledger? If so, the cost or speed doesn’t matter near as much to you – purchase an ASIC mining machine that you like, and that has a price that you are willing to spend to be part of the distributed ledger.
- Are you interested in mining to strike it rich?
If you are hoping to invest a little bit of money in order to hopefully make a windfall (of course you’re assuming the price of Bitcoin will keep increasing), then you might want to consider skipping the whole trouble of using a GPU for mining Bitcoin, or an Asic for bitcoin mining, and instead simply purchase 1, or a portion of 1 Bitcoin.
Another option is to buy a cheap Bitcoin mining rig that won’t produce a lot of coin, but will give you enough that you can profit if Bitcoin goes to $1 million. In fact, many of the large mining companies in China have publicly said they are not selling any Bitcoin they mine, they are simply holding it expecting the price to skyrocket in the future. Those mining operations have ASICs mining Bitcoin, and they find the best GPU for mining cryptocurrencies that aren’t Bitcoin – any coins the GPUs mine are sold to cover their costs.
- Are you looking at GPU mining as a side business, or as a possible replacement for your day job? First of all, you aren’t alone! In recent months, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of people around North America building their own GPU mining rigs, and then investing profits and buying more and more GPUs (which may have contributed to the current GPU shortage!).
If you’re looking at it as a business, then you need to completely detach from emotions, and measure everything in dollars. When looking at finding the best GPUs, you need to consider purchase cost, electricity cost, lifespan and warranty, and a host of other things. Please don’t get worried that you’ll miss out, jump in at current inflated prices, and spend way too much money on mining rig equipment that you’ll have a hard time paying off. Calculate your costs, determine what sort of payoff period is acceptable, and do lots of reading.
If you are considering a mining operation as a business, you’ll also need to look at what the crypto market is doing, as you’ll be mining, selling at current prices to cover electricity and original investment costs, and then reinvesting profits in more mining equipment. It’s a whole different set of calculations than for someone who wants to set up a small GPU mining rig and hodl coins for the long term.
- How big do you want to go – how many GPUs would you dream to have? If you’re only ever thinking of running 2 or 3 GPUs, then you can save a ton of money on the motherboard – don’t buy one of the best mining motherboards that have up to 19 slots for GPUs (and cost more). Instead, you can look at using an old/used desktop and running 2 or 3 GPUs on that. Same goes for the other components, and especially the power supply. If you only have a few graphics cards running, you don’t need near the juice of a 19 GPU rig!
- How much do you have to spend? On the other hand, if you are thinking of building out some big GPU mining rigs, and you have the cash up front, it can be cheaper to buy a single 19 GPU mining motherboard, rather than building out 4 or 5 smaller 3 GPU rigs.
- How much does your power cost? Are there any other expenses to consider? Using a GPU for mining Bitcoin takes some serious power – especially once you get multiple graphics card mining rigs going at once. And electricity creates heat. Make sure you’ve considered things like:
- Do you have enough power running to where you want your rigs? Or will you have to pay an electrician to add a new 20 amp circuit?
- Will you be able to keep your GPU mining rigs cool enough, or will you have to add air conditioning, or some large fans (which also may require new power circuits, and add cost)
- How much does your electricity cost? If you are only paying $0.02 per kWh, you’re going to be able to pay way to get the best GPUs for mining BTC then people who are paying $0.10 per kWh
All in all, deciding to start mining Bitcoin is a very personal decision. Please take the time to consider all different angles and possibilities for your profit and your costs, as well as the time it takes you to start and continue your mining operation.
It’s a lot of fun, but it can also be costly. Once you’ve done your homework, you’ll be able to make the right decision for you.
If you do decide to start GPU mining, check out the extensive research I’ve done to collect and organize hashrates and power usage data for the best mining GPUs here