Graphics cards have long been a popular option for crypto mining rigs. However, in recent years mining has become increasingly competitive and specialized. This begs the question — does GPU mining remain viable or worthwhile today? By examining key factors, we can determine if GPUs still warrant consideration for building mining rigs in 2023 and beyond.
The Case for Using GPUs to Mine Crypto
- More Accessible Entry Point — GPU rigs only require an upfront investment of several thousand dollars. Specialized ASICs can cost tens of thousands for large mining farms. This allows smaller hobbyists to participate.
- Mine a Diverse Range of Coins — GPUs can mine various cryptocurrencies using algorithms like Ethash, KawPow, RandomX etc. ASICs are mostly limited to SHA-256 coins like Bitcoin.
- Resale Value — Gaming and deep learning demand for GPUs gives them decent resale value after mining. ASICs quickly become obsolete and worthless as difficulty rises.
- Lower Power Scalability — A GPU rig usually draws 1-6 kW. ASIC setups often use over 20 kW. Home mining is viable with GPUs but not power-hungry ASICs.
- Improved Availability — Ongoing supply shortages make the latest, most efficient GPUs hard to obtain. But mid-range last-gen cards are still easily accessible.
The Case Against GPU Crypto Mining
- Lower Hash Power — GPU mining is limited to hash rates in the tens of megahashes per second (MH/s). ASIC machines can reach over 100 terahashes per second (TH/s).
- Overall Efficiency — Measured in hash per watt, ASICs dramatically surpass GPU efficiency. GPU rigs end up consuming far higher electricity costs.
- Elevated Difficulty — Networks like Ethereum have difficulty levels so high now that only the top GPUs have any viable efficiency. Profitability suffers.
- Proof-of-Stake Shift — Coins like Ethereum are transitioning to staking which eliminates mining entirely. The scope of mineable coins shrinks.
- Complex Setup — GPU mining requires properly configuring drivers, overclocks, infrastructure. ASICs are designed specifically for easy mining out of the box.
For large commercial mining operations, ASICs are now mandatory to achieve profitability. However, for smaller hobbyists, GPU mining remains an appealing avenue with the right setup and expectations. With some coins still mineable profitably using GPUs, they can deliver returns using a simple entry-level rig. But mining is becoming increasingly harder for amateurs without room to scale. Careful due diligence remains warranted on the viability of GPU mining.