Dennis Y.Wed, May 19, 2021 4:08 PM
Minefield: Pros and Cons of Cryptocurrency Mining Hardware
Continuing our series of guides on the basics of mining, let's talk about cryptocurrency mining hardware, let's discuss the advantages and disadvantages of its main types, on which today both individual miners and big players can mine.
ASIC mining hardware
The obvious benefit of ASICs is their high performance. The downside is that ASICs are designed for a very specific algorithm: SHA256, Ethash, Equihash, and others.
Certain ASIC miners are capable of working with several algorithms at once, but their list is limited.
One of the most famous model lines is Antminer. Here is a timeline of its development from 2013 to the present.
Up-to-date models are expensive, noisy, and consume a lot of electricity. In addition, they require a special approach to cooling. So it is not the best option for home solo miners. Nevertheless, if you invest in decent ASICs and if you get cheap electricity they can be very profitable.
What is GPU mining?
It's one of the most popular mining methods for crypto-enthusiasts or those who have a limited budget. GPUs are not as fast as ASICs, but they are universal, i.e. they can work with any cryptocurrency. For better effect, you may build a mining farm consisting of 6-8 AMD or Nvidia graphics cards with a massive power supply and Internet connection. All that remains is to properly set up GPU mining software.
Since Ethereum mining on video cards is quite profitable now, it is better to choose video cards with 6 GB of memory or more onboard. It is related to the increased DAG-file of Ethereum (see the DAG calculator for different coins).
Also, we would like to add that graphics cards are easier to sell on the secondary market and they are not as quickly becoming outdated as ASIC miners.
Comparing ASIC vs GPU mining: the big picture
Is ASIC mining worth it? ASIC miners offer higher computing power than graphics cards and can mine Bitcoin (SHA-256), Litecoin and Dogecoin (Scrypt), Monero (Cryptonight), Dash (X11), and other digital coins. ASICs, as we mentioned above, are usually used for Ethereum mining (Ethash algorithm).
Maintaining a single ASIC miner is always easier than a set of multiple video cards.
On the other hand, the entry-level for ASIC crypto mining is much higher than for cryptocurrency mining on graphics cards.
It is suggested to buy ASIC miners only if you are organizing your own mining farm because, in the long run, it will be the most reasonable and profitable decision. Moreover, it is often easier to invest in already existing farms. They have a ready-made infrastructure, which lets you avoid additional costs. If you can invest a large amount of money (starting with several $ million), you can consider creating your own data center.
Other mining types
CPU crypto mining
For most cryptocurrencies, home mining on the PC CPU is a thing of the past. With a high hashrate network, it becomes useless. However, if the cryptocurrency has not yet had a chance to develop, then even an average CPU performance will give some results. In this case, the CPU performance, of course, plays a key role.
The best CPU coin mining profitability (with proper CPU mining software, for sure), in this case, will be on processors such as Intel Core i5/i7/i9, AMD Ryzen 7 and 9.
HDD and SSD drives
This method of mining comes from the shortage of video cards. Instead of them, a hard disk is used. The efficiency of mining, in this case, depends not on the number of devices, but on the total memory size. Cryptocurrencies based on the Proof-of-Capacity (PoC) algorithm can be mined this way. However, this type of mining is not very popular due to its low performance. It is almost impossible to make money on it.
Anyway, you may have heard lately of the new cryptocurrency Chia, which requires HDDs and SSDs for mining. The news about it immediately provoked a shortage of hard drives and an explosion in their prices.
However, there are already researches showing that SSDs deteriorate very quickly as a result of SSD mining.
Read about other mining software in our article: Ravencoin mining software.
Graphic cards are better for beginners with a limited budget, and ASIC miners are suitable for mining cryptocurrencies on an industrial scale. There is no universal advice on the choice of mining hardware: the return on investment also depends on its dedication to specific algorithms. To be continued.