Want To Profit From Crytpo-Mining? Have A Rig Ready & Get In Early
With your mining machine running, you'll want to figure out if it's profitable or just an expensive space heater.
The first thing you need to know is how much crypto currency your machine is capable of mining. Each of my GPUs does about 29.5 MH/s, for a total of 59 MH/s on the system (They did when I first started. They're now down around 28.7 MH/s due to rising hash difficulty). My pool estimates I can mine 0.565 Ether each month. At today's exchange, that's almost $130. But we're just getting started.
Raw hashing performance doesn't mean anything if it means your entire paycheck goes to the power company. My machine averages a draw at the wall of 585W. Multiplied by 24 hours yields a daily consumption of just over 14kWh. That's 98.28kWh every week and 421.2kWh each month. And this doesn't account for the extra power I spend on additional air conditioning to keep my home cool.
I pay about $0.115 per kWh to run the miner. That's because my power company uses a tiered system where rates increase once you use more than 400kWh in a month. Even my lowest power usage in winter is just under 400kWh, so this miner is always going to cost the higher rate, totaling $48.62 every month. If my mining pool's estimates hold true, I should net $80 each month. But once again that's not the whole story.
The temperature in my home office, where the mining rig resides, is now above 28°C. Working in there now is rather uncomfortable, and the heat spreads to the adjacent rooms as well. It's in an open case with no acoustic barriers and puts out a constant 40 dB at 1m. That's not terribly loud on its own, but it definitely adds to the noise when another system is turned on. It would also be much louder and shriller without the liquid loop replacing a second set of small GPU fans. And one big reason system temperatures are relatively low is because it sits right below an air conditioning vent.
The question you've got to ask yourself is whether inconveniences like these are worth such a small amount of extra income.
Conclusion & Observations
Is mining for "free" possible? Technically yes, it's plausible that someone does indeed have all the parts necessary to build a mining rig without needing to buy anything new. The biggest question is the power supply. It's realistic that someone might have enough leftover parts to build an entire computer, even with reasonably high performing GPUs. The odds that someone also has a high capacity PSU gathering dust in a closet is much less likely. If anything must be purchased, your return on investment gets very difficult. Even if you scored a great deal on the PSU, it would still take a few months to break even. At this point, you can't bank on the same rig being profitable for that long.
While most people are looking at Ethereum's price, the rising hashing difficulty is the bigger problem for crypto miners. The higher the difficulty goes, the slower it is to earn Ether. If it rises too high, it makes it impossible for anyone without a crypto farm to mine anything. Even if Ether prices jumped back up, it wouldn't matter to many people, because they couldn't earn it anyway. And that doesn't count the GPUs that become useless to Ethereum miners once the DAG size surpasses their VRAM capacity.
That's not to say Ethereum's volatile price is not a complication. In the time it's taken me to build this miner, gather data, write this article, and have it go through the editing process, Ethereum has varied more than $60 up and down. As of now, it's valued around $225 per Ether, which is about $20 higher than when I started this project. However, during the bulk of the mining portion, I saw it drop as low as $150, only to jump to $180 the next day. And since Ether is not tied to a stock exchange, it's traded 24/7 and never has a closing value. All of these numbers are out of date as you read these words. If Ether drops below $100, it would cost me more to run my miner than I would actually bring in. The model shifting from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake in the coming months will likely make it drop further.
Further, it's critical to address the question of where you will keep a 24/7 mining system. The system will put off a lot of heat and noise. It needs good ventilation to keep it from overheating and preferably some acoustic isolation to not annoy everyone in the household. More importantly, it needs proper electrical wiring to handle the draw. Most homes are fine with a sub 600W computer like mine, but miners can easily go over 800W or even 1000W. Putting such machines on the same circuit as other high draw appliances can trip the breakers all day long. Not everyone has an air-conditioned basement to stash a mining system where it won't affect everyone in the household.
I'm not intending to paint a picture of doom and gloom for all crypto mining. Other currencies are still profitable even if they don't get all the media attention like Ethereum and Bitcoin before it. Chances are we'll see another crypto currency arise in the near future. If that new currency behaves in a similar fashion, those who jump in early will profit the most. Perhaps that's reason enough to hang onto leftover GPUs and computer parts.
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