When Bitcoin was first introduced to the world, people saw that Blockchain technology has the potential to change each and every industry. And this is how Ethereum was born.
Ethereum is a blockchain-based platform that allows users to create decentralized applications (dApps) and deploy “smart” payment contracts.
Where Bitcoin aims to eliminate banking and traditional payment methods, Ethereum tries to facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value through the use of smart contracts.
Also, similarly to Bitcoin mining, Ethereum mining is based on PoW. This means that miners receive Ethereum as a reward for having their nodes solve complex mathematical problems on the Ethereum Blockchain.
However, unlike Bitcoin, the best Ethereum miners are much more accessible to the public.
Considering that Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency and can still be mined using consumer-grade hardware, it presents a great opportunity for crypto enthusiasts.
Before we delve into the details of what makes the best Ethereum miner, let’s first clarify whether or not Ethereum mining is a venture you might wanna look into.
Why you should be mining ETH
The goal of mining is to generate new Ether (ETH). Even though this might be the main incentive for miners, the process has another crucial role.
Without mining, the Ethereum Blockchain would simply not be able to function. Miners power up the network by solving the mathematical problems that confirm transactions.
Simply put, mining Ether equals to a secure and well-functioning network.
Also, in order to use the Ethereum blockchain and deploy smart contracts, developers need to use Ether (ETH) as fuel. As such, mining is a good way for developers to acquire the needed fuel to run their dapps on the Blockchain.
Another reason to mine ETH would be its inherent value. Ethereum’s price seems to have stabilized in the 180-200 USD range in the past year (2019). This price stability makes it a reliable cryptocurrency to mine.
In short, the biggest incentives to mine ETH are summarized as follows:
- Ethereum has real-world applications by providing smart contracts and the ability to create decentralized applications. Mining provides the fuel (ETH) to run applications on the Ethereum Blockchain.
- ETH is a popular cryptocurrency and can be easily converted into Bitcoin or hard cash.
- Building a good position in Ethereum now will deliver interest on your holdings when the consensus ultimately shifts to a proof-of-stake system.
Now that we have a good idea of the background of Ethereum mining, let’s take a look at how the Ethereum mining process actually works and how you can take part in it.
How does mining work?
When a transaction is executed on the blockchain, this is what essentially happens:
- Transactions are bundled together into blocks
- Miners verify these transactions by solving math equations
- A reward is offered to the miner that solves the last math equation of the block
- Verified transactions are stored in the public ledger
As previously stated, Ethereum mining is very similar to Bitcoin’s. It is based on a proof-of-work process that awards newly created Ether to the miners when they solve a new block.
Its uniqueness lies in the mining algorithm and hardware that is used for solving mathematical problems.
Where Bitcoin uses the SHA-256 algorithm, Ethereum uses the Ethash proof-of-work algorithm. This algorithm has been designed to be ASIC-resistant.
Ethereum miners use the processing power of their graphical processing units (GPUs) to solve the cryptographic puzzles instead of the much more expensive ASIC miners that are used for Bitcoin mining.
This also means that mining rigs aren’t interchangeable between Bitcoin and Ethereum, although there is a variety of cryptocurrencies that can be mined with GPUs.
Without going into too much technical detail, what you need to know is that these mathematical problems are difficult to solve. This difficulty is measured by hash rate, a unit that we will be talking about when we are trying to determine the best Ethereum miners.
To avoid the creation of too many ETH tokens, this difficulty is dynamically adjusted. The more participating miners, the harder it is to solve the blocks.
Essentially, the bigger the hash rate of the GPU, the higher the potential to receive the rewards.
But this is only one of many parts that you need to consider when choosing the best GPU for mining Ethereum. Here are a few more:
- Since mining uses a lot of electricity, you will need to choose a power-efficient GPU, that is still powerful enough to mine effectively.
- You will need to analyze the initial investment and how long it will take for you to start profiting.
So now that we have explained the basics of Ethereum mining, let’s see what you need to get started.
Getting started with Ethereum mining
First of all, we need to check out the prerequisites for any Ethereum mining venture which are split in two categories:
Software Requirements for ETH Mining
Let’s look at the software requirements for Ethereum mining.
Requirement #1: An Ethereum Wallet
First and foremost, you need to create a digital wallet where you will be storing your Ethereum. MyEtherWallet (or MEW) is the most popular one and is very easy to set up. A hardware wallet like the ones we’ve reviewed in this previous article is a great alternative, and it can even be linked with MEW for additional security.
Requirement #2: Installing Geth
Before you start communicating with the Ethereum blockchain, you will need to install Geth. This is open-source software that is available for almost any operating system out there.
Geth will serve as a communication hub. I will link you to the Ethereum network while coordinating your hardware. It will also report any new development that requires action on your part.
If you’ve never used Geth before, we advise you to check out this handy guide. It will help you get started with the installation and configuration of the Geth client on your mining rig.
Requirement #3: Installing Ethminer (or any other mining software)
After installing Geth you will need to install Ethash mining software. Ethminer is one of the most popular ones and is regularly updated. Follow the instructions on their Github page to get started.
Well, that’s pretty much it. It seems pretty simple, right?
Once these two requirements are met, you can safely say that you are ready to start mining your first Ethereum at least when it comes to the software side of things.
Hardware Requirements for Ether mining hardware
Other than the aforementioned GPUs, you will need the basic components of every PC:
- Hard Disk
- Power Supply
Aside from that, having a stable internet connection is also a must. We recommend that you don’t rely on wireless connections but instead connect your machine directly to the modem/router with an ethernet cable.
Additionally, you might want to add more than just one GPU to your setup. This will increase the hash rate of your mining rig. Keep in mind that all this will not only increase the starting price but also the power consumption of your mining hardware. This means that you will have to invest in a more powerful power supply (PSU) which is also pricier.
For example, if your GPU drains 300W of power and your PSU supports 500W, you won’t be able to add another GPU. You will, in this case, need to upgrade to a PSU that supports at least 700W, considering the power drain from the other components in your rig as well.
Furthermore, not only does mining consume electricity, but it also generates a lot of heat. For that, you will need to ventilate and cool them efficiently, which will add up on your electricity bill.
There are different Ethereum profit calculators that will help you determine at what rate you should get your investment back and start making profits.
All in all, the basic hardware requirements for Ethereum mining are common and pretty easy to find in most computer stores. You should be able to easily set up a config without too much trouble.
Setting up a mining rig might seem a little expensive, but you need to understand that you are trying to invest in a passive income source that should generate profit very soon.
Before you make your first purchase of hardware, let’s go through the basics of Ethereum mining rewards and what they mean for an aspiring miner like yourself.
Understanding Ethereum mining rewards
When miners successfully solve a block on the Ethereum blockchain, they receive 2 ETH. The time required to mine one block is about 15 seconds, tallying the total of newly created Ether to about:
- 8 ETH per minute
- 480 ETH per hour
- or 11520 ETH per day
These numbers reflect the new Ethers that are created by mining a new block and do not include the additional ETH that miners receive for transaction confirmations.
Ethereum mining pools
In order to ensure that your mining is profitable, it might be worth joining a mining pool.
Why a mining pool? Well, solo mining is an obsolete technique and the chances of getting any kind of reward are slim to none.
Cryptocurrency mining is very competitive, and you will be setting yourself up against huge mining pools. As their combined hash rate will inevitably be much higher than yours, getting the ETH reward for a block before them will be akin to winning the lottery.
Having said that, let’s move on to Ethereum miners.
ETH Mining Hardware: What to Consider?
As we previously mentioned, you will first need to invest in the following:
- The Motherboard – you will need to acquire a motherboard that supports the number of GPUs you want to set up in your rig. The more GPUs you have, the higher your hash rate will be.
- The CPU – no need to go crazy here, the basic CPU of your motherboard chipset should be fine. 99% of the work will be done by your GPUs anyway.
- Storage – a small hard disk that will allow you to install the operating system of your choice plus the mining software should suffice. Aim for something around 50Gbs.
- RAM – no need for speedy memory either, anything that meets the minimum requirements of your OS should do.
- The PSU (power supply unit) – this is something that you need to adapt according to the number of GPUs in your rig and their combined power draw. Unlike the other components in your mining, you can’t really go cheap on this as it will be the juice that drives your GPUs.
With these covered, let’s move on to the characteristics that you need to be analyzing when choosing the most interesting part of your rig, the GPUs:
- Hashrate – This is the processing power of your GPU. Higher is always better.
- Power Draw – This is the power that your GPU needs to function. It will be imperative to know this parameter as it will help you choose the right PSU and allow you to calculate how much electricity you will be using.
- Hardware Cost – In order to choose the best GPU for mining Ethereum, you must factor in its initial cost. The graphics card will be the most expensive part of your mining rig, and a decisive factor in its rentability in the long term.
Additionally, your GPU must have a minimum of 4Gbs of RAM or it won’t be able to mine Ethereum. This is due to the memory heavy DAG file present in the ethash algorithm, which actually makes it ASIC resistant.
All of these parameters, plus a couple of others, like the electricity cost and the mining difficulty, should allow you to fill out those Ethereum profit calculators and get a good idea on when your rig will start turning out a profit.
Let’s put this knowledge to good use and find the best GPU for mining Ethereum within your budget.
Top 12 Best Ethereum Mining Hardware for 2020
One thing to keep in mind is that usually, AMD cards are overall better than their NVIDIA counterparts for Ethereum mining, especially within the same price range.
While this is certainly true, the efficiency of AMD graphics cards for Ethereum mining has made them very sought after and you might face another problem when looking for one – availability.
That’s right, the best Ethereum miners will be often out of stock. That’s why we wanted to give you a wide array of choices to fall upon in case this happens.
Hashrate : 46 Mh/s
Power consumption: 500w
Price: 300$ to 500$ used on eBay
This is an excellent mining card, although it’s power efficiency isn’t the best. If you are looking to build a rig with just a couple of GPUs, this might be the way to go, considering you can find it for 300$.
Hashrate : 36 Mh/s
Power consumption: 375w
Price: 250$ used on eBay
The R9 295X2 has a decent hash rate and is a great choice when building your mining rig. It is one of the most cost-efficient options. That is if you can find one.
Hashrate : 25 Mh/s
Power consumption: 150w
Price: 80-200$ used on eBay
This is one of the best GPUs an Ethereum miner can get his hands on. Very low power consumption and decent hash rate make it a mining favorite.
Hashrate : 30 Mh/s
Power consumption: 100w
Price: 250$ used on eBay
The first NVIDIA card on our list, 1070 was expensive when it first hit the markets at $380. Nowadays, however, things are different. With a decent hash rate and a tiny 100w power consumption, it’s a great choice if you can find a couple of used ones in the $250 range.
Hashrate : 45 Mh/s
Power consumption: 265w
Price: 400-600$ used on eBay
Being the fastest NVIDIA card from the 10th generation, the 1080Ti is still expensive today. But this is a top-end card with fast memory and 11Gbs of it.
Hashrate : 70 Mh/s
Power consumption: 250w
Price: 2000$ used on eBay
Very expensive card, but if you can find a good deal on eBay or another second-hand market, you would be purchasing one of the best Ethereum miners available.
Hashrate : 30Mh/s
Power consumption: 210w
Price: 350$ used on eBay
This high-bandwidth memory card can be found in the 350$ price range pre-owned. A great deal for such a fast GPU with decent power draw.
8. AMD R9 390
Hashrate : 30 Mh/s
Power consumption: 235w
Price: 150$ used on eBay
Even though the power consumption is a bit higher than some of its counterparts, you can purchase this GPU for as low as 100$, which makes it a great investment.
Hashrate : 27 Mh/s
Power consumption: 185w
Price: 220$ new – 150-180$ used on eBay
A good upgrade to the previous generation (RX480), this is an excellent option if you don’t want to risk buying pre-owned hardware.
Hashrate : 25 Mh/s
Power consumption: 120w
Price: 280$ new
Another good alternative if you want to enjoy the warranty of a new GPU, this fairly new NVIDIA card is an excellent choice. Low power consumption but still a bit expensive.
Hashrate : 41 Mh/s
Power consumption: 180w
Price: 550$ new
One of the newer NVIDIA GPUs, this card provides a great ROI considering the good ethash rate and the relatively small power consumption.
12. Radeon VII
Hashrate : 90Mh/s
Power consumption: 300w
Although at a steep price and a hefty power draw, this GPU has one of the best ethereum miners in the industry. If you can find a good deal under 700$, you should definitely consider the Radeon VII
That’s our ideal list with the best Ethereum miners currently available. And now for the verdict, our two best options and why we chose them.
How we made our decision
When choosing the very best Ethereum miners, we wanted to cover both higher and lower budgets.
At the decisive moment, you need to ask yourself if you are willing to pay cheaper for pre-owned graphics cards. This will build a rig that might start making profits sooner but it would also put you at risk. The cards might not function properly or break down shortly after.
Overall, it’s a personal preference, and you need to consider it when choosing the best Ethereum miner. This, in addition to all the parameters we talked about previously, made us decide on these two options:
Winner 1 – The AMD Radeon VII
The Radeon VII is, no doubt, the best GPU for Ethereum mining. AMD managed to construct a card that is 2x faster than its competitors, making it a great buy.
- More than double the hash rate of the NVIDIA counterparts in the same price range.
- Quick ROI due to its hash rate.
- New cards can be bought for as little as $680.
- 2-year warranty for new miners.
- Power consumption is not the best
Winner 2 – The RX 580
This card may be older, but it is still an excellent choice for ETH mining.
- Good hash rate/power draw ratio
- Can be found for 150$ pre-owned, allowing you to build multiple GPU rigs for cheap
- Risk of buying a second-hand product with no warranty
- Can be hard to find because of how popular this GPU still is for Ethereum mining
- New cards are almost as expensive as the NVIDIA 1660Ti
And that was our take on the best Ethereum miners.
As you can see, most NVIDIA cards are more power-efficient, whereas AMD cards are cheaper to buy. So, before purchasing, you should analyze all the parameters we talked about in this article to make the most informed decision in terms of the best and fastest ROI.
Always be on the lookout for good deals on cards and use Ethereum profit calculators to help you decide before purchasing.