Now that we are at the end of 2020, the big hardware manufacturers are starting to announce their latest and fastest offers which will be released before the holiday season. Meanwhile, the cryptocurrency mining market continues to expand rapidly against all odds. Here is an overview of which manufacturers offer the best graphics cards on the market and which cards suit specific types of mining.
Bitcoin or Ether?
In terms of choosing a cryptocurrency to mine in 2020, there have been no significant changes. This year, most video cards continue to be able to mine Ether (ETH) or its forks. As for Bitcoin (BTC), mining the world’s first cryptocurrency stopped being available to ordinary people a few years ago, as it requires serious investment, special equipment, and access to large amounts of cheap electricity.
This is even more true now, as BTC mining is driving revenue in half after the reward halving occurred in May. Mining difficulty continues to increase and, in September, was updated to an all-time high of 19.31 trillion at block 649.152.
As a result, many popular devices such as the Antminer S9 have become obsolete. After the halving, the most profitable miners became the Chinese company MicroBT’s Whatsminer M30S ++, which can deliver a hash rate of up to 112 terahash per second and bring just over $ 8.50 per day in profit, and Antminer S19 Pro of Bitmain, which can reach a hash rate of 110 TH / s and see a daily profit of just under $ 8.50. But the prices of these miners are quite high: a Whatsminer M30S ++ costs $ 1,800 and the Antminer S19 Pro comes in at $ 2,407.
When it comes to Ether and its forks, graphics card mining is becoming popular again for several reasons. First, over the past two years, Ethereum’s hash rate has dropped by 15% (compared to August 2018), now standing at 256,221 TH / s. This means that Ether is now easier to mine.
Secondly, both modern and old card models can still be used for mining. For example, the Nvidia 1050 Ti, released in October 2016 and the Radeon RX 580, released in April 2017, are still very popular. The prices for these old cards steadily drop as newer cards come out, which encourages miners to get back on the market. Most importantly, the price of ETH has tripled since early 2020 to early September, making Ether still very profitable for mine.
There is another factor that attracts the interest of miners: the imminent transition to Ethereum 2.0 and a proof-of-stake algorithm, which is expected to start before the end of the year. A spokesperson for WhatToMine, a popular web-based calculator for evaluating the profitability of mining cryptocurrencies, told Cointelegraph that Ether will continue to be in demand, not just this year but also into 2021:
“From this cycle we can expect further expansion of DeFi projects, which in turn will make the ETH network increasingly popular. As a result, the block reward per ETH (the commission part) should increase in cycles with an overall upward trend, making mining ETH the most profitable for GPU miners. “
What to buy?
Earlier this year, Cointelegraph reviewed graphics cards from two major manufacturers, Nvidia and AMD, and Nvidia cards seemed to have the upper hand in mining. However, taking into account that Ether mining has gained a second life, AMD cards should not be wiped out, as the company’s Vega and RX generations are still very suitable for Ethash algorithms.
Regardless of the manufacturer, the most important factor is the return on investment, as any miner must first invest a fair amount of money before making a profit. A standard rig requires six graphics cards, and as a result, a miner can spend over $ 9,000 if they buy the popular Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti with 8GB or 11GB of RAM. But what about those who can’t afford the top shelf but still want to make a profit? Here are the most popular graphics cards right now for Ether mining that cost less than $ 400.
Nvidia GTX 1660 Super
This card was released in October 2019, which means the technology is still fresh. The graphics card has 6GB of memory and the Turing architecture, which runs more clock rate, uses less power and has 20% better performance than the GTX 1660. The price of this model ranges from $ 240 to $ 250.
AMD Radeon RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT
In the summer of 2019, AMD introduced a new line of RX 5700 series graphics cards to the market. These cards use fin field effect transistor technology, or FinFET, which results in better energy efficiency when extracting a due to the small size of the electronic components and the lower current consumption.
The specifications of the RX 5700 include 8GB of GDDR6 memory and a power consumption of 180 watts. The RX 5700 XT has a power consumption of 225W, but the base frequency is also 10% higher than the RX 5700 model. These cards are slightly more expensive, costing around $ 430, but can be purchased at a discount of about $ 400.
Nvidia RTX 2060 Super
The RTX 2060 Super card may not be an obvious choice, as in addition to having 8GB of memory, it is no different from the RTX 2060. But at the same time, it uses five different algorithms: GrinCuckarooD29, GrinCuckatoo31, DaggerHashimoto, X16Rv2 and BeamV2 – which makes it more stable, safe and suitable for mining.
Indeed, this is an intermediate option between the RTX 2060 and the RTX 2070, but it can be found online for just $ 399, while the RTX 2070 will set you back around $ 530 – and a $ 130 difference is a lot of money in this area.
AMD Radeon RX 580
AMD’s RX 580 was released in 2017 and is still one of the best low budget GPUs for mining, priced between around $ 180 and $ 230. The card is mainly used for Ether mining and has 8GB of memory, but consumes little power at just 150 W. The only potential competitor might be the RX 570, but those cards with only 4GB of memory will no longer be able to mine Ether in 2021.
Nvidia has a dedicated series of graphics cards for crypto mining. The Nvidia P106-100 “mining edition” is based on the Nvidia GP106 GPU (Geforce GTX 1060), which is almost the same as a regular Geforce GTX 1060 but with some minor changes. The P106-100 has no video outputs or rear panel and the card comes with 6GB of memory.
The “mining edition” in the name does not mean that the new product is better for mining than the usual version, but rather that it is designed specifically for miners, as everything considered non-essential has been removed, allowing it to be sold for around whole $ 170 less than a GTX 1060 unit.
So which is the best to buy?
How long will it take for these budget cards to recoup their initial price? For comparison, one of the most popular cards for mining today, the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti, brings in around $ 1.66 a day when mining Ether. When purchased for an average price of around $ 1,400, this graphics card will take around 28 months to pay for itself, regardless of the cost of electricity.
So here’s what the calculations say: The Nvidia GTX 1660 Super, which can be bought for $ 240, would carry $ 0.65 a day and take 12 months to pay for itself. The AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT costs $ 400 and would have a payback time of 8.5 months while earning $ 1.56 per day.
The Nvidia RTX 2060 Super can be purchased for $ 399 and will bring $ 0.92 per day when mining for Ether. This card will pay off in 14 months. The Radeon RX 580 is a very popular card thanks to its rather low price point of around $ 200, and this card will bounce back in just seven months, bringing in nearly a dollar ($ 0.96) per day. Made specifically for mining, the Nvidia P106-100 will bring in $ 0.85 per day and, at a cost of $ 320, will pay off in just over 12 months.
However, this is not an exact science and every miner should keep in mind that the algorithms of any cryptocurrency are constantly becoming more complex, which makes mine harder and longer to recover their investment in their mining equipment.
New cards now?
Given the enthusiasm for decentralized finance, a cryptocurrency boom is looming once again on the horizon and new products on the way could take it further. In September, Nvidia released its new generation of GeForce RTX 3000 graphics cards, with some people already claiming that it can produce 81-89 MH / s when mining Ether. And the top-class model, the GeForce RTX 3090, is expected to demonstrate 120–122 Mh / s. If so, Nvidia may face a shortage of cards, as miners will buy everything, leaving players with nothing.
But AMD is not lagging behind and will unveil its Radeon RDNA 2 line at the end of October, which will compete directly with Nvidia’s 3000 series. The emergence of new cards will be of great interest to the crypto mining community. Andrej Škraba, head of marketing at NiceHash, a cryptocurrency mining and trading platform, is confident that technology innovations from AMD and Nvidia will bring increased productivity:
“Nvidia just launched the 3000 series, but current availability is very low. The new RTX cards will bring higher hash rates and miners will update their used 1060 and older AMD cards (480/580). We still have to wait for AMD’s announcement to see what they will bring to market. “