Cryptocurrency mining is not something that’s going to go away any time soon. With blockchain technology looking to disrupt several industries in the coming years, computing power spread across the globe in a decentralised network will be one of the ways that it will operate via the proof-of-work method.
Have a look at our best gaming graphics cards for 2018.
There are other ways for cryptocurrency transactions to be validated, such as the proof-of-stake method, which is seen as a more green alternative as it doesn’t require such a large amount of energy to operate, as well as being more resilient against attacks.
While proof-of-work may lose ground to proof-of-stake at some point, there will always be projects that deal in the commodity of decentralised computing power – such as DeepBrainChain, which will use nodes all over the world to help AI startups process the massive amount of data required when researching, without having to shoulder the massive upfront cost of buying all the hardware themselves.
It is these projects that mean there will always be a requirement for mining rigs, so it's certainly still a solid investment if you know what you're doing.
Proof-of-work vs. Proof-of-stake
The proof-of-work method requires your hardware to solve difficult maths problems (algorithms) in competition with other miners across the world. The fastest miner to solve the problem will gain the reward and encrypt the block of information into the chain.
The proof-of-stake method will allow nodes that hold an amount of the currency to validate each transaction. This means that ‘miners’ aren’t doing the work, and the task falls to ‘forgers’ who validate the transaction, the idea being that nodes who hold larger amounts of the currency have an inherent interest to uphold its integrity.
How much should I spend on a graphics card to mine cryptocurrency?
While more powerful cards will complete the algorithms at a faster rate due to their faster speed, larger amounts of ram and better IPC (instructions per cycle), they will also be more expensive and draw more power to function – increasing both the upfront and running costs.
If you’re looking to mine as efficiently as possible, which is usually the best way if you’re concerned about making a profit, then you’re going to want a card that gives a good amount of PPA (performance per watt). This is the measurement of the amount of computation that your computer can deliver per watt of power consumed, and is a very important metric to consider when creating a system specifically for mining.
We’ve put together the best cards for cryptocurrency mining. Some are fast, and some are more efficient, but any of them are an excellent choice for mining.
1. Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
The Nvidia GTX 1070 comes top of our list because it hits a sweet spot of having great performance, lower power draw and a reasonable price. It's also a fantastic gaming GPU, but luckily is still middle of the pack in Nvidia's 10 series offering so it shouldn't be too hard to get your hands on one.
We've chosen the MSI variant, as it makes this already great card that much better. While the card is on the pricey side, it's certainly one of the best cards to use moving forward, so if you're willing to take the initial hit on startup price it will serve you very well.
2. AMD RX 480
AMD graphics cards are considered fantastic for mining, as their initial cost to buy isn't as high as their Nvidia counterpart, but their performance is still fantastic.
The RX 480 is certainly an older card, but it's performance at this price point is outstanding. The power draw is a little high comparatively, but nothing too extreme. The biggest problem you'll find with this card, is actually getting your hands on one, as most have been snapped up for mining projects already.
If you can find one at a reasonable price however, it's a great investment for any mining rig.
3. AMD RX 580
The RX 580 is the bigger brother to the 480. It's more expensive, more powerful and draws more power.
It is also considered one of the best cards for mining at the current moment, but is a little further down our list because it's just so hard to get a hold of. This is currently one of the hardest to find cards on the market, and finding one new is next to impossible.
However, if you can get your hands on one you won't regret it. Cheaper than the 1070, but still with some fantastic peformance, it is a little power hungry but that goes for most AMD cards.
4. AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
The Vega 56 is one of the best value graphics cards currently on the market for both gaming and mining.
Like other AMD cards it can be difficult to track a new one down, and buying one second hand can be risky as it's likely the card has already been used for extensive mining and so might not be in the best condition.
However, if you can get one, the performance is fantastic - although it does run a little hot, and draws a considerable amount of power. It's certainly worth considering.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
The GTX 1080 Ti is the best graphics card of 2018.
The amount of power this thing throws out compared to every other card on the market is absurd. With 11GB of RAM and a core clock about 1500MHz, it can approach a hash rate of 32 mh/s.
However, with great power comes a great purchase and running cost. This thing will not be cheap to buy and run, but it will outperform every other card in raw performance. If you're a gamer too, you quite literaly can't do any better.