As cryptocurrencies become more popular and widespread, more and more people in the world want to learn how to mine them. The problem is, it becomes more difficult for newcomers because of the rising complexity of the process. Besides the fact that it is necessary to understand hashing algorithms and theory, an equally important aspect is the technical component. After all, it is precisely the choice of equipment for mining that will determine its profitability.
For mining cryptocurrencies, you can use several types of equipment, varying in size, configuration, efficiency, energy consumption, and level of setup difficulty.
To choose equipment for mining, first, you need to decide on the budget and the ultimate goal. If you don't have much money, inexpensive modern processors or video cards for $150-300 will help you mine few bucks here and there. But if it is a real passive income you are after, you will have to spend several thousand dollars to buy the most productive miners - GPUs or ASICs to achieve it.
It is also important to choose just the right cryptocurrency for your needs since the performance of different devices can vary significantly depending on the algorithm they are working with. Powerful processors and video cards can be used for mining coins on the CryptoNight algorithm. For Ethash, Equihash, and Zhash - both video cards and ASICs can be used. But if you are after Bitcoin (SHA-256), Litecoin (Scrypt), or DASH (X11), only ASIC miners will be up for the task.
Also, it is necessary to pay attention to the power consumption of each device under your consideration and the computing power available onboard. The final choice should be made based on a comparison of the potential productivity and cost of the best models in each of the available categories of mining equipment. The ROI will depend on this.
Hardware for bitcoin mining
Different types of equipment can be used for Bitcoin mining, though for a long time economically feasible is to use only ASICs. The largest supplier of such devices is the Chinese company Bitmain, known for its Antminer line. A significant part of the market is occupied by the AvalonMiner series from Canaan Creative, Ebit from Ebang Communication, and ASICs from Bitfury.
Let's look into more detail of the equipment the leader of the market has to offer:
ASIC Antminer S9
Despite ASIC Antminer S9 being released in the spring of 2016, this model is still used as a budget option for low-profit bitcoin mining. The initial processing power of the device based on the 16nm chip BM1387 was 14 TH/s, and the power consumption was 1450 W. Now the Antminer S9k model is sold on the official Bitmain website for $63 and the advanced S9 SE for $95, which hash rate is increased to 16 TH/s.
This ASIC is one of the lightest on the market in its category (4.5 kg), but far from the quietest during operation (75 dB).
ASIC Antminer s17+
The ASIC Antminer S17+ that you can order from April of 2020, 2 times more productive than its predecessor - 67 TH/s and weight increased to an impressive 11 kg. The saving mode, which has already become familiar to the new Bitmain users, involves reducing power consumption to 1470 W with a decrease in performance to 35 TH/s.
Ethereum mining equipment
Profitable Ethereum mining today is possible only with the help of ASICs and video cards combined into a mining farm of 6-12 or more devices.
ASICs for Ethereum mining are present on the market in much smaller quantities than for Bitcoin. As for the mining of Ethereum with the help of GPUs, it's probably isn't worth trying. Mining, using even on the most powerful graphics accelerator, will not bring more than $1-2 profit per day.
Equipment for mining popular altcoins
The use of video cards as mining equipment can be justified for the Cryptonight algorithm: Ethash - Expanse (EXP); Equihash - Zcash (ZEC) and Horizen (ZEN); Zhash - Bitcoin Gold (BTG); X16r - Ravencoin (RVN); X17 - Verge (XVG); Lyra2Rev3 - Vertcoin (VTC).
But mining popular altcoins with the help of ASIC devices can bring much more profit than using other types of mining equipment. However, there are not so many similar devices on the market. Among the major manufacturers, only Bitmain seems to have decent models: Antminer L3+, Antminer Z11, Antminer D3, Antminer DR5.
Asics for mining altcoins are also issued by smaller companies, like Baikal (BK-G28 (28 GH / s, 1300 W) - Dash (X11); BK-B (160 GH / s, 410 W) - Decred and SiaCoin (Blake256 / 2B) and Innosilicon (A5, A6, A8+, A9++, D9+, G32)
There is no one definitively right answer to a question of what is the best hardware for mining. So you should keep that in mind while reading about the mining hardware comparison. You can say that both ASICs and GPUs may be the right option, depending on the circumstances. If we are talking about quiet "home" mining with a small starting budget and a desire to mine different cryptocurrencies, then video cards are the right choice. But in the case of cryptocurrency mining on an industrial scale, ASICs, of course, is taking the prize.
You should also consider the amount and price of electricity consumed, the efficiency of the mining equipment, as well as the costs of installation, configuration, and maintenance.