Best mining GPUs in 2021, an optimist's guide

nanoguy

Posts: 713   +12
Staff member
In context: Most people who wanted to buy a high-end graphics card last year had trouble acquiring one, and it doesn't look like that situation will improve anytime soon. Part of the reason why both new and second hand graphics cards are so hard to find or inexplicably overpriced is that cryptocurrency enthusiasts are snapping each and every model that can be used for mining purposes on coins that use a proof-of-work consensus algorithm to confirm transactions.

If you're looking to do some mining of your own, choosing the right hardware for the task won't be easy, and it's not just because of the GPU drought. Because of the way things work in the crypto mining space, blockchain developers introduce limitations for what you can use. The best mining GPUs need to backed up by enough VRAM, and gaming performance isn't necessarily a good indicator of mining performance. Power consumption is also a major concern, as it will directly impact how much profit you can make.

Before we take a look at the best graphics cards for mining, it should be noted that even as cryptocurrency prices have recently surged to record levels, their volatile nature makes it hard to predict what will happen in the near future. Chances are the current situation is just a repeat of what happened in 2011, 2014, and 2017, with a good probability that it will crash again. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are used to the rollercoaster ride, but you may not be and as such it's best to temper your expectations.

We also know that not everyone is happy about the use of graphics cards to mine cryptocurrency, but the situation won't change much until at least 2022, when Ethereum's multi-phase transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake will be completed.

You can also think of it from a different perspective -- assuming a best case scenario, you have the possibility of recouping some or all of the cost of your graphics card and even make a small profit, by using it to mine when you're not using it for gaming.

Top performance: Nvidia RTX 3090

If you're looking for the absolute best mining hash rate per graphics card, Nvidia's Ampere architecture is a good place to look for it. In the case of the RTX 3090 graphics card, it happens to excel at both gaming performance and mining performance.

Mining on an RTX 3090 using the DaggerHashimoto algorithm (Ethereum mining) can yield around 120-125 MH per second, at an average power consumption of 285 watts, given some overclocking and voltage tuning.

Given the high price of the RTX 3090 that's further inflated by GPU drought and scalpers, breaking even on it may take between 237 and 278 days depending on the cost of electricity in your region (assuming $0.10 to $0.12 per kWh), and assuming the price of Ethereum doesn't dip below $1,900.

Time spent gaming on it will also eat into your potential profits, but this card will run most games out there at 4K, with the notable exception of Cyberpunk 2077, where even the magic of DLSS won't help it muster a smooth 60 frames per second at all times.

High performance: RTX 3080 and Radeon VII

Nvidia's RTX 3080 is a close second to the RTX 3090, with a hash rate of 95-100 MH per second. Again, this is what can be achieved with proper overclocking, voltage tuning, and cooling solution, and that will also depend on the silicon lottery. However, the typical power draw for that hash rate range is 220-250 watts.

Like the RTX 3090, the price is the highest disadvantage, as you would be hard pressed to find it at the MSRP of $699. Anywhere between 216 and 267 days of mining on it is what it would take to break even, but this will also make a quick profit once it reaches that point.

Some of you may not think much of the Radeon VII, and rightly so. This was AMD's second attempt at making the Vega architecture shine, and ended up underdelivering on its promise to be competitive with Nvidia's RTX 2080. But thanks to AMD's use of HBM2 memory, this is a great performer for mining Ethereum.

Careful tuning can yield 95-100 MH per second, at a power consumption of 190-200 watts. That said, the Radeon VII can be very hard to find, and eBay prices are currently hovering above $1,500.

Moderate performance: RX 6000 series, RX 5700 XT, RTX 3070, RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3060, RTX 2080 Ti, RX Vega 64/56

AMD's Big Navi definitely doesn't disappoint when it comes to gaming performance as you've seen in our reviews of the Radeon RX 6800 and RX 6800 XT, with the RX 6900 XT being just a slightly beefed-up version of the latter. But for mining, its performance leaves some to be desired. AMD confirmed as much when they said had no plans to nerf the mining capabilities on its graphics cards, like Nvidia supposedly planned to do with some RTX 3000 series chips.

The most you can expect to get out of these cards is 60-65 MH per second with a power consumption of 160-190 watts. If you can get your hands on an RX 6800, that's the clear winner among the three in terms of price and energy efficiency, so it should yield the best mining results. Time to break even is around 180 to 236 days, assuming you can get your hands on one.

For people who are holding on to RX 5700 or RX 5700 XT, these two cards can achieve a respectable 50-56 MH per second, all with a power draw of 120-155 watts. They are certainly among the best GPUs in terms of hash rate per watt, while also being great performers in 1440p gaming.

The same can be said about Radeon Vega 64 and Vega 56, both of which can achieve a respectable 45-52 MH per second with proper tuning, which will mostly depend on how much you can overclock the HBM. Power consumption figures vary a lot with these GPUs as it will depend a lot on the silicon lottery, but typically they need 130-165 watts. Getting these cards second hand can cost more than they did at launch, but breaking even with mining on them can be done within 6 months, which makes them a less risky proposition given the volatility of crypto prices.

Nvidia's RTX 3070 and 3060 Ti are quite close in terms of both gaming and mining performance, with the latter also costing a bit less. When properly tuned, they can achieve around 60 MH per second with a power consumption of 120-130 watts. However, due to their inflated pricing, time to break even is anywhere from 225 to 242 days. These are among gamers' top choices for a gaming PC upgrade, so their availability may suffer more as a result.

The RTX 2080 Ti wasn't great value when it launched, and that hasn't changed. It was always a great 4K gaming card and it also manages to achieve a mining hash rate of 55-60 MH per second, at a power draw of 155-180 watts. Buying one at the moment requires an arm and a leg -- around $1,300 on eBay -- but you can break even on it in after mining for 180-190 days.

Honorable mentions: RTX 2070, RTX 2060 Super, GTX 1080 Ti, GTX 1060 6GB, RX 580/570/480 8GB

When looking at the most recent Steam hardware survey, we see the GeForce GTX 1060 is still powering a lot of gaming rigs out there. If you happen to have the 6GB version, you can achieve a modest, but still respectable hash rate of 25 MH per second, with a relatively low power draw of 90-100 watts. The same can be said about AMD's Radeon RX 580, RX 570, and RX 480 graphics cards -- we're talking about the 8 GB variants, of course.

Even with inflated pricing, these graphics cards allow you to break even in 4 to 5 months. It's also worth looking at the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super, which can achieve a hash rate of 26-32 MH per second at a power draw of 70-90 watts.

Better yet, AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT can reach as high as 42 MH per second while drawing 105-115 watts. These are great 1080p gaming cards, and assuming you can find them at around $300-350, they might pay for themselves in 5 months of mining.

The RTX 2070 Super, RTX 2070, RTX 2060 Super, and GTX 1080 Ti can all achieve around the same hash rate of 40-43 MH per second. However, the 1080 Ti will draw close to 200 watts, while the other cards will draw around 110-130 watts, which is no small difference. They're grossly overpriced at over $700 on eBay, but they're capable of 1440p gaming, and it would take 6 months to recoup their cost with mining.

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envirovore

Posts: 74   +177
TechSpot Elite
On the one hand, informative article.
On the other...as one that's been unable to even get close enough to put a card in a cart just to have it be removed since they've launched, this stings.
 

letsgoiowa

Posts: 14   +33
Very handy. Those lucky guys who got 5700's before the boom must be doing really well with a hashrate around that of my 3070's. I'm raking in about $175/month in profit at the moment off my single 3070 while I'm not playing on it--why not--and it helps me pay my wife's medical bills.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 636   +883
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What's your game, Techspot

As for GPUs, my next upgrade isn't going to be an Nvidia GPU, no matter how good they are. Their shenanigans trying to artificially designate "gaming" and "mining" GPUs are the last straw for me.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,241   +2,357
TechSpot Elite
Hahaha, man, too many people on the internet who see crypto mining and let emotions take over.

First, the article is not advocating mining farms. It suggests that while you're not gaming, you mine to recoup costs. No harm, no foul.
Second, miners are going to mine with or without a TS article. People give articles/videos like this waaay too much credit. And it's not like it's giving details on how to do a multi-GPU setup....
Third, scalpers (and crappy online retail checkout systems) are still a big cause for the stupidity with cards (with silicon shortages hurting supply). I don't get the tunnel vision here towards this case (not farming).

That said, I am against people buying gaming GPUs solely for crypto farming. But if you get a card that you're not going to game one 24/7, then who cares if you mine in the downtime to subsidize the gaming hardware. It's practically a no-brainer...
 

Cycloid Torus

Posts: 4,713   +1,517
Can someone help with this article. I gather that if one plunges into a big GPU card that payback time is about 2/3 of a year if you look only at the card. There seems to be something missing.... overheads like connection to the internet and system power, parts, repairs and replacements would seem to make it longer than a 2/3 of a year.

What is the real payback time if it is fully burdened? Would the miner be better off to have merely paid down his credit card?
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,241   +2,357
TechSpot Elite
Can someone help with this article. I gather that if one plunges into a big GPU card that payback time is about 2/3 of a year if you look only at the card. There seems to be something missing.... overheads like connection to the internet and system power, parts, repairs and replacements would seem to make it longer than a 2/3 of a year.
If you can get your electricity cheap (near a hydro-electric dam, for example), the electricity cost would be pretty low (5-15% of the profits?). BUT if you use it while in a cold season, it will be even lower (as what normally is waste heat, is used to heat your home a little).

Internet usage is minimal (assume you already pay for it, not a real factor).

Maintenance shouldn't be an issue. As long as you don't overclock it (or do so improperly) and take care of it, a gaming rig isn't going to have much extra wear because of mining. The silicon is made to handle the temperature limits set by the drivers.

It probably would take close to a year to recoup just the GPU. But anything after that is profit. My current 4 year old 1070 gaming laptop is looking at around $800 yearly (so, probably ~$720 after paying for electricity).

What is the real payback time if it is fully burdened? Would the miner be better off to have merely paid down his credit card?
If you're far in debt and don't have a job, then you have other issues to worry about first lol
 

Linoleum77

Posts: 51   +68
Hahaha, man, too many people on the internet who see crypto mining and let emotions take over.

First, the article is not advocating mining farms. It suggests that while you're not gaming, you mine to recoup costs. No harm, no foul.
Second, miners are going to mine with or without a TS article. People give articles/videos like this waaay too much credit. And it's not like it's giving details on how to do a multi-GPU setup....
Third, scalpers (and crappy online retail checkout systems) are still a big cause for the stupidity with cards (with silicon shortages hurting supply). I don't get the tunnel vision here towards this case (not farming).

That said, I am against people buying gaming GPUs solely for crypto farming. But if you get a card that you're not going to game one 24/7, then who cares if you mine in the downtime to subsidize the gaming hardware. It's practically a no-brainer...

Finally someone that gets it... I recently started mining because I was using my home computer 10 hours a day for spread sheets and power points while my 3060 Ti was just sitting there doing nothing. Might as well put it to good use!
 
Because crypto is by its very nature such a volatile and unpredictable sector, graphics card manufacturers won't take the commercial risk of producing bespoke mining-only GPU SKUs, and crucially, ALSO gimping the hash-rates on their GPUs intended for gaming, which would be the necessary two steps to see that miners were compelled to purchase cards fit for mining and only mining, whilst gamers could get their hands on products that were only compelling purchases for gamers and no good to miners. Miners would have to wear their losses if the crypto bubbles popped or when PoW switches to PoS, they wouldn't be able to flood ebay with clapped-out GPUs at ridiculous second-hand prices, because the card would be useless to gamers. They need to make their cards as attractive to as many people as possible, at as high a price as possible (to wit, Nvidia apparently scoring an "own goal" and breaking their own code for the 3060 to enable high hash rate mining on it by "accident"...a likely story!). This all tells me that the GPU manufacturers don't care WHO buys their cards, or that they're paying through the nose to do it - the only thing that matters is that the stock is going UP, UP, UP....
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,410   +1,026
Techspot, please ignore the haters in the comments. This isn’t gamespot. Mining on a GPU belongs on a tech outlet like this just as much as gaming benchmarks do.

Personally I am interested in both mining and gaming content. Definitely more so gaming content. But I’m not nasty or stupid enough to verbally abuse miners or mining just because I can’t get a graphics card for a low price.

As for all you gamers in the comments leaving nasty remarks at miners. You bring yet even more shame to the dark dingy basement that is the PC gaming community!
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,410   +1,026
I bought two 3090 FTW3's and I would NEVER use them for that crypto garbage.

If for nothing more than to not encourage others.
Why would you be proud of not mining on a 3090? You do realise if you purchased them on release day at MSRP you would have paid them both back and probably made enough money to cover your next overpriced GPU at this point?

In fact the 3090 is a really really stupid buy for a gamer but actually a very good buy for a miner.

What’s wrong with you! And why would you think you not mining discouraged others? If anything the less people mine the more there is to be made by miners!
 

Knot Schure

Posts: 339   +155
You not using your cards to mine is influencing absolutely nobody. You could've had them both paid for themselves if you weren't so thick headed.

Indeed.

My main rig has 1x 3090, and 2x 1080Ti FTW's.

When I'm not using it, I kick off my miner script, and I've a thousand dollars currently in my crypto wallet.

Since the 1080Ti's are w/c, they take up only two slots, so I'll drop in another 3090 when the crypto wallet is full enough (assuming availability).

That will be all four paid for by crypto currency...

I've a pile of 1070s/1080s that I'll put into a miner case I bought long ago, and get that up & running, me thinks. Might bring the next 3090 along quicker.
 

jbc029

Posts: 117   +213
Some of those numbers a bit off, too. A Radeon VII will not do 95-100 MH/s for 200 watts on stock bios. You'll top out at around 90, if you keep the power limited to 200w.
 

Faelan

Posts: 54   +42
In fact the 3090 is a really really stupid buy for a gamer but actually a very good buy for a miner.

I must admit, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse over getting a 3090 at MSRP right at launch. Felt a bit stupid paying that much extra for such a small bump in performance, but all the 3080s were gone and I lacked the patience and had money to spend. Boy am I glad I didn’t wait. I have zero remorse now or any feeling of being stupid with how the GPU market has just imploded. Funny how things can change.
 

NightAntilli

Posts: 493   +547
I applaud this article. The best thing you can do with your system when you're not using it is mine crypto. It is a benefit to yourself and the crypto space.

The sooner crypto becomes mainstream, the earlier we can do away with the parasites. "Quantitative easing" sounds a lot more friendly than "stealing your wealth by increasing the money supply", but it's the exact same thing.
 

Shadowboxer

Posts: 1,410   +1,026
I must admit, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse over getting a 3090 at MSRP right at launch. Felt a bit stupid paying that much extra for such a small bump in performance, but all the 3080s were gone and I lacked the patience and had money to spend. Boy am I glad I didn’t wait. I have zero remorse now or any feeling of being stupid with how the GPU market has just imploded. Funny how things can change.
Oh don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a stupid buy but I can understand why someone would buy one! I certainly want these expensive parts, who wouldn’t?