Since Bitcoin’s phenomenal rise in 2017, many people have been wondering how they can get in on the cryptocurrency action. One way to get involved in the revolution is by mining cryptocurrency.
However, before you can get started with mining, you first need to know the basics and get the equipment. In this guide, we’ll cover some of the best GPUs on the market that you can use to mine cryptocurrency.
GPU stands for ‘Graphics Processing Unit’. For a time, GPUs were incredibly popular in the mining space. These days, Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) are used for more efficient Bitcoin mining as they are better at handling the ever-increasing amount of power involved in mining Bitcoin. However, many popular cryptocurrencies still utilise GPUs, such as Ethereum. While this means you may struggle to mine Bitcoin with GPUs, they are more popular for beginners as they require less power to use and are a lot cheaper than ASICs, and they can still be used to mine a huge number of altcoins efficiently.
What is cryptocurrency mining?
Mining is the process of solving mathematical algorithms that serve as a puzzle to successfully add a cryptocurrency transaction to a blockchain. Transparency is one of the most vital aspects in this space, so legitimate transactions being recorded on a blockchain is essential. When a transaction occurs, it is broadcasted to everyone on that token’s network. This informs the miners that there is work to be done.
Miners will then begin solving the puzzles to play the role of a ‘digital accountant’ and add the transactions to the blockchain. This is the process of cryptocurrency mining. The incentives for miners to complete this work are the transaction fee offered by those who want to record their transaction and the block reward. A block reward is awarded to successful miners for completing their job. For example, Bitcoin’s current block reward is 12.5 Bitcoin, whereas Ethereum’s reward is 3 Ether.
Different cryptocurrencies have different algorithms for how they function, and as such, is it important to ensure you do the correct research before you embark on a mining quest.
What do you need to start mining?
- A coin wallet or private database
- A free mining software package
- Membership to an online mining pool
- A full-time, high-speed internet connection
- A location to set your hardware up
- A desktop computer designed for mining with a powerful processor
- A house fan to blow cool air across your computer so it does not overheat
- A specialised processing device
The best GPUs on the market
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070: Gaming enthusiasts may recognise this popular graphics card, but this GPU isn’t just good for gaming. It is also an excellent mining GPU. The GTX 1070 can manage a high hash rate of 30 mh/s without using much power. This is particularly useful in the case of mining because the process involves a lot of power consumption, so a GPU that doesn’t eat too much power is ideal. This GPU is not cheap, though. But as a long-term investment, it might be a good choice.
- AMD Radeon RX580: This is another popular product that has become something of a household name outside of crypto mining. This beast has a minutely lower hash rate than the GTX 1070, clocking in at 29 mh/s, but it maintains low electricity consumption and is much cheaper than the GTX 1070. However, it would require you to tweak its settings to optimise it for mining, and stock has become increasingly scarce as of late, at least in comparison to the GTX 1070.
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti: If the 1070 is one of the best on the market, then the newer GTX 1080 Ti could be considered ‘God Tier.’ It is perhaps one of the best GPUs ever for crypto mining. It serves as a 4K gaming graphics card in the world of video games, but for mining, the 1080 Ti boasts an impressive 36 mh/s. As you might expect from an impressive GPU, its price and power consumption is notably higher in comparison to lesser GPUs.
- AMD Radeon RX Vega 56: Like the 1080 Ti, this AMD product is a newer, more powerful GPU compared to the older RX580. It is reported that the hash rate for the RX Vega 56 is between 35-40 mh/s, but it does consume a fairly large amount of power. It is a reasonable product for those wishing to mine 24/7. It is cheaper than the 1080 Ti, but it is also tricky to obtain one.
- Hash rate: Refers to the amount of power a miner uses to solve a mathematical algorithm that mines for the desired token.
- Power consumption: The power consumption informs the user how much electricity the mining hardware will use when operating. Power consumption is measured in Watts. To avoid using a lot of power, you’ll want to find hardware that uses a low amount of Watts.
- Energy efficiency: This is measured in Joules. Similar to power consumption, the lower the amount of energy a miner uses, the better. For instance, if the number of Joules is low, it tends to suggest that the miner will consume less power while still putting out the same amount of work.
- ALU: This stands for Arithmetic-Logic Unit and refers to the part of a computer processor that conducts arithmetic and logic operations on the operands in computer instruction words. This is therefore the part of the processor that solves the mathematical algorithms for crypto mining.
As you might have guessed, the GPU market is dominated by Nvidia and AMD. In general, AMD typically make faster products and get better performance rates from their GPUs by adding more ALUs that function at a lower clock speed. However, Nvidia make use of more complex ALUs that are more powerful. Another thing worth noting is that Bitcoin, for example, uses an SHA-256 encryption algorithm, and AMD products only need a single hardware instruction to mine using the SHA-256 hash, whereas Nvidia needs three.
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