You may have noticed that everyone under the sun is talking about Bitcoin following its meteoric rise to $30,000. But far less people are talking about GPU mining. Maybe because the idea of turning on your computer and having it magically generate an income feels elusive to you. And maybe because GPU mining and cryptocurrency are considered dirty words to PC gamers.
Especially to PC gamers looking to build their own rig in a retail landscape that’s seen the prices of graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia inflate once again to atrocious levels.
But for those of you who already own a gaming PC, you might be surprised how much money you can make mining with it, and just how effortless it is.
Back in 2013 when I first started mining, getting a client up and running was a serious challenge. Basic knowledge of Linux and terminal commands were hard requirements. But now it’s a snap to get up and running on a Windows PC using software called NiceHash.
No command lines, no messy configuration files — although they’re there if you need them. Just an installer, some quick auto-benchmarks, and then your GPU gets to work.
The software even generates a Bitcoin wallet address for you, and lets you start mining automatically when your PC is idle.
3 Important Things About NiceHash
Never take any advice blindly. Read these notes before deciding to dive in.
- First and most importantly, NiceHash does not actually use your PC’s hardware to mine crypto coins like Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum. Instead, you’re selling your PC’s hashing power to other miners who are mining those coins, effectively contributing to a pool’s combined power. The reward? NiceHash pays you in Bitcoin at regular intervals. You can then transfer your earnings to an exchange like Coinbase and buy crypto coins if that’s what you’re after, or simply connect a bank account and cash out.
- Your hashrate — or the power at which your GPU can mine — is always being directed to what the most popular crypto coin is. It’s completely hands-off. Before your first launch or whenever you update your drivers, the software will benchmark your GPU hashrates for a variety of algorithms that correspond with those coins. Then at regular intervals it auto-switches to the most profitable one (to see these on your own, visit a site like WhatToMine.com). This means you’re maximizing profit without needing to invest time in constant research or speculation. Time is valuable to me, and probably to you.
- If you do want to get serious about mining, NiceHash may not be for you. Users can see higher hashrates and thus higher profits when doing things like flashing their GPU’s BIOS, using command-line based clients, overclocking and undervolting, and installing alternate drivers. But if you just want to click a button and start generating a profit, NiceHash is the easy button.
How Much Can Your GPU Make?
So, let’s talk money.
For the values below, I used the NiceHash Profitability Calculator and assumed a 0.13 USD/kWh electricity cost (the national average in the US as of December 2020), meaning you’re seeing profits after paying for the power consumption of that GPU. Your mileage may vary is an understatement here. And kudos to you if your electricity costs are cheaper!
The value of Bitcoin is in constant flux, and these calculations are based on a Bitcoin to USD exchange value of $31,392.98 on January 5, 2021. As the value of Bitcoin climbs, so do your potential profits. The reverse is of course true, so always exercise caution.
But it’s worth pointing out that 3 years ago in January 2018, 1 Bitcoin was worth “only” about $11,000. . .
All of the GPUs listed below were tested in the company’s labs, and are pulled from actual profit numbers from users, not estimated ones.
I can personally vouch for the accuracy of the Radeon VII, Radeon RX 6800 XT, and RTX 2080 Super estimates.
Monthly profit for select Nvidia GeForce cards:
- Nvidia RTX 3080: $225.90
- Nvidia RTX 3070: $138.60
- Nvidia RTX 3060 Ti: $136.80
- Nvidia RTX 2080 Super: $89.40
- Nvidia RTX 2070 Super: $94.50
- Nvidia RTX 2060 Super: $95.10
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti: $107.40
- Nvidia GTX 1080: $80.70
- Nvidia GTX 1070: $66.30
While I don’t advise buying any GPUs exclusively for the purpose of mining (costs are much higher than MSRP and your ROI — return on investment — would take quite some time), right now the RTX 3060 Ti seems to be best overall value. If you can find one…
Monthly profit for select AMD Radeon cards:
- Radeon VII: $211.20
- Radeon RX 6800 XT: $147
- Radeon RX 6800: $145.80
- Radeon RX 5700 XT: $126
- Radeon RX 5600 XT: $85.20
- Radeon RX Vega 64: $98.40
- Radeon RX Vega 56: $77.70
- Radeon RX 580 8GB: $67.80
Yes, believe it or not the Radeon VII is still the compute king. And AMD’s last-gen RX 5000 series still puts up excellent numbers. Even Polaris cards like the RX 480/580 are performing decently, provided they are the 8GB VRAM models.
What About CPUs?
Yes, you can use higher-end CPUs (Nicehash will primarily use these to mine Monero and convert it to BTC), but it will render your PC unusable for day-to-day tasks. Unless you’re rocking newer AMD Ryzen Threadrippers, the daily profit for most gaming CPUs (less than $0.50) probably isn’t worth the hassle.
What About Gaming Laptops?
You can use NiceHash with your gaming laptop, but that doesn’t mean you should. If it’s your only option and you want to give it a shot, I caution against putting both your GPU and CPU to work simultaneously due to thermal and throttling concerns. The majority of gaming laptops don’t have “full-fat” GPUs either.
Obviously these profit numbers will fluctuate for you, especially since you’re probably going to use your rig and not dedicate it solely to mining. Then again, if you have a spare GPU you’re not using, you can easily slot that into your PC and tell NiceHash to use that one and not your dedicated gaming GPU.
Better to have it collecting Bitcoin than collecting dust.