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How To Mine Ethereum Now

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.


MORE: The Ethereum Effect: Graphics Card Price Watch


MORE: Best Graphics Cards


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Eric Vander Linden is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews motherboards, specializing in high-end Intel chipsets.
  • rush21hit
    Us mere mortals wouldn't have an R9 290X level of card lying idle. Heck, suppose we do have unused GPU it would be something from 2 gen before it and a mainstream oran entry level card of its time at that, at the very least.

    That said, I do have HD7750 and HD6670 on a closet somewhere, only its from HIS with a common HIS problems; the fan.

    So suppose anyone does have some mainstream or high level card at least the level of HD5850, as an example, they'd still faced with power bill issue, which in some case outweigh the profit. As we all know how much of a sucker old gens are compared to what we have now. That is assuming they are somehow emotionally attached to it and not decided to sell it, even after buying later gen.

    This article still has a point. But a very unlikely one.
    Reply
  • Neuspeed
    This article didn't address the mining difficulty of Ethereum. At this point, is not a good idea to mine ethereum unless people have hash rates in the GH/s or at least MH/s. It's better to mine other alt coins such as: XMR, LTC, and many others. Overstock.com will now accept 40+ different Altcoins as form of payment. Won't be long before other companies do as well.
    Reply
  • why_wolf
    As with every gold rush. The real profit lies in selling shovels.
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    20050808 said:
    Us mere mortals wouldn't have an R9 290X level of card lying idle. Heck, suppose we do have unused GPU it would be something from 2 gen before it and a mainstream oran entry level card of its time at that, at the very least.
    I think you read this wrong. I didn't write this saying "These are the exact steps and parts list you need." It's simply saying, "Here's a basic idea you can possibly adapt to your own circumstances." No, not everyone has a 290X in storage. But a lot of people do. My current "leftover" GPU is an R9 280. That's plenty strong for some hobbyist mining.

    20050808 said:
    So suppose anyone does have some mainstream or high level card at least the level of HD5850, as an example, they'd still faced with power bill issue, which in some case outweigh the profit.
    All of which I cover fairly extensively in the last page, or did you not bother reading the whole thing?

    20050808 said:
    As we all know how much of a sucker old gens are compared to what we have now. That is assuming they are somehow emotionally attached to it and not decided to sell it, even after buying later gen.
    You're attributing much too broad a brush to people. There are plenty of reasons to keep around leftover computer parts, other than sentimentality. You might want a backup incase your new hardware gets damages, is a lemon, etc. You might hang on to some stuff because you've got friends or family that might want it when they finally decide to ditch their current dinosaurs.

    20050808 said:
    This article still has a point. But a very unlikely one.
    Never said it didn't have a few restrictions, was only saying it is possible.


    20050892 said:
    This article didn't address the mining difficulty of Ethereum.
    Actually, I did talk quite a bit about the rising hash difficulty. Did you not read the last page? Did you not see on the front page where I talked about the ballooning DAG files making it harder to use older mainstream GPUs ( since most of them are 2GB VRAM or less )?

    20050892 said:
    At this point, is not a good idea to mine ethereum unless people have hash rates in the GH/s or at least MH/s.
    You don't need a GH/s rig to do it, as I've already demonstrated. It may not be hugely profitable, but you can make a little at it even using something as lowly as a 4GB 1050 Ti.


    20050951 said:
    As with every gold rush. The real profit lies in selling shovels.
    Too true. Just ask Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
    Reply
  • g-unit1111
    20050951 said:
    As with every gold rush. The real profit lies in selling shovels.

    Yup those that got rich are the ones selling the mining equipment! :lol:
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    As much as I despise miners and the very idea of cryptocurrency, I found this article interesting and a little enlightening why people are getting into it late in the game. Even if ETH crashes and burns tomorrow, eventually there will be another to take its place. I don't see this cycle changing anytime soon either unless governments get involved and start banning mining in their nations.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    Oh and one more thing: not all is bad for we PC gamers. Those of us who have previous generation GPUs have enjoyed watching the values of said cards go up. A friend of mine sold his 8GB RX 470 for $320 on eBay last month, or nearly $100 more than he paid for it. I sold my SLI pair of GTX 970s for $420 or about $120 more than they were worth combined a few months ago. We both upgraded to a GTX 1080Ti with the spoils.
    Reply
  • derekullo
    What about integrated graphics cards?

    From what I'm reading the Intel HD Graphics 630 can address up to 64 gigabytes of ram allowing you technically keep mining even after the Geforce 1070 is forced out when the DAG finally exceeds 8 gigabytes.

    Or is there hash rate efficiency not high enough to offset the electricity used for the Intel HD Graphics 630?

    My reason for asking is I have a lot of computers not being used but without graphics cards.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    thanks for the article. i'll be pointing the 100 users a day in the forum asking about getting into mining toward this article. good basic info that can be easily adapted to individual users.
    Reply
  • LalitMUFC
    Very nice article. Can you provide guide for part-time mining on my gaming rig?
    Reply