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The Last Gasps of GPU Mining - NOT!

By Thomas Wolf | Thomas Wolf's Den | 14 Apr 2021

Is GPU mining really dead with Ethereum in constant delay and alternative currencies that are still profitable to mine?

“Renewable energy is a clear winner when it comes to boosting the economy and creating jobs.” Tom Steyer

I recently wrote about The Great GPU Scalper Scandal, highlighting the ongoing scalping crisis with popular tech products, particularly graphics cards, gaming hardware, and gaming consoles.  Ethereum has long promised with failed delivery to move away from PoW (Proof of Work) and to PoS (Proof of Stake).  So, should we truly count on Ethereum 2.0 coming as soon as this summer?   I don’t think so.  In fact, I am currently mining cryptocurrencies on renewable energy, which is not much more expensive than traditional electricity costs, and I am averaging $5+ a day in profit with overclocked settings and a custom cooling arrangement on a single GPU.

Currently, Ethereum is highly profitable to mine using an array of graphics cards.  Even somewhat older line AMD graphics cards like the RX 570 are capable of making roughly $2.25 per day in profit, while high-end, heavily scalped cards like an NVIDIA RTX 3090 can put out in excess of $9.00 a day, per card.

ASIC miners were all the rage for a while with Bitcoin (BTC) and some other currencies, and now an old-line Antminer D3 would put you into the negative $-2.32 USD per day, though modern ASIC lines are still quite profitable; the ROI (return on investment) could take even longer to pay off than a scalped GPU due to their extremely high price point.

The best bang for your buck is with an NVIDIA 3060 Ti, but good luck getting your hands on one anywhere near the retail price.  Scalper bots target these cards the hardest as they have the best return on investment, which is related to their power efficiency.  They are selling steadily for about $1,400 to $1,500 on eBay, up from an MSRP of $399 USD.  Highway robbery!

I don’t support purchasing from scalpers; I broke my own rule *one time* to ensure a PC I built custom would have the exact graphics card I wanted in it, and I am a gamer looking forward to his summer after a rough go with COVID; I believe I have earned the right to be a little hypocritical.  I opted for an ASUS ROG STRIX RTX 3070 as the 3080 and 3090 were well outside my budget or needs, and I highly doubt one would have fit into my mid-tower computer chassis (case); the 3070 is just over 13” long and has to have vertical weight support.  The higher the model, the more space, weight support, and power they require.

I achieved 62 MH/s in mining hash rate with my RTX 3070 with some quick overclocks in MSI Afterburner, up from 46 MH/s with the factory settings, while making sure to watch for any voltage issues in GPU-Z, which have not occurred.  They are beautiful pieces of hardware, but they are not worth nearly what I paid.  The only sure way to stop scalpers is for everyone to make a stand and deny their prices and force them to sell the products back at a loss over time, so I will not pay for another scalped card, and it would be a poor return on investment, anyway.  The scalper boycott is now official; I’d rather buy a pre-built and gut it for profit, especially when 1000 and 2000 series NVIDIA cards are still profitable for both mining and resale.

Since then, I have looked to Newegg shuffles (I haven’t been selected out of several yet), site stock reminders, and browser plugins to try to get a card closer to MSRP as I have a second rig halfway built already to supplement my summer income.  I’m also keeping close watch on display models at my local Walmart and BestBuy for when they become outdated and go up for sale per their store display sale policies, though I suspect the employees plan to grab them before me.  They typically won’t sell them until they are not getting new stock in that model.  Open-box returns for a discount are another option, but again, no luck in my area.  I will likely buy a pre-built directly from Best Buy during an upcoming release.

The best deals seem to be with prebuilt computers for your average gamer, and they seem to stay active during new releases long enough to get one through checkout, which won’t likely happen with a GPU itself.  You can buy a prebuilt with the graphics card in it for less than the price of the graphics card itself on eBay, Amazon, or Newegg - or for a marginal price difference that is well worth the cost of the other components like the CPU, motherboard, RAM, and more - for scrappers (NOT scalpers), this is quite lucrative.

The problem with this comes down to quality control on pre-builts, as well as resale value as the inside GPU will not have a box, and most of the time, they are factory original GPUs that are not designed for overclocking and are therefore not ideal for mining, though adequate for gaming and still technically quite profitable for mining, just not as much as their counterparts made by ASUS, MSI, PNY, and other top of the line manufacturers.  You can also run into power supplies sufficient for gaming at 500-600 watts, but not enough for overclocked mining in a safe zone that should be closer to 750 watts or more, depending on the GPUs specific power requirements.

That being said, pre-built gaming computers are still the best way to go for many people - mainly inexperienced PC builders who just want a gaming computer, not for mining purposes.  However, even for someone who is experienced, scrapping the parts on eBay and mining the card out could be profitable without even selling at scalping prices, which would help your items sell faster and get a great review during a time of scammers and scalpers flooding the marketplace.

While I had long regarded typical GPU mining as dead along with many others, I have again found myself in a position where it is profitable and very much alive… but for how long?  When (or if, I should say) Ethereum transitions to Proof of Stake and mining is no longer required to deal with insane market congestion, will that be it for the profits?

It doesn’t look like it.  Multiple currencies are mining at a profit due to Bitcoin’s high mid-market price surging the alt market.  You may have noticed Ethereum Classic doing well when the rest of the market is down; that is not by accident - it’s still efficient to mine.  Additionally, you have currencies like Monero (XMR), Ravencoin (RVN), Beam (BEAM), and Komodo (KMD), which will exchange out to Bitcoin or fiat quite nicely for some time to come.

There is also the fact that Ethereum sucks something fierce at doing anything in a timely fashion, so for miners, this is a good thing.  I dislike Proof of Work currencies because they use a lot of power which typically comes from fossil fuels and is terrible for the environment.  By mining on renewable energy, I am doing my part in staying green while the massive carbon footprint the size of Ecuador that Ethereum leaves in its wake continues to thrive against all logic.

I figure if they are going to be dumb enough to keep using a currency with fees that high, I might as well profit off of the market congestion - the right way.  Then I’ll do something brilliant, like putting that money into KuCoin bot trading, which has been kicking ass for me while I’ve been busy finishing school.  In my mind, very little in life beats a steady stream of passive income, especially with compounding interest.  Even better, the mining more than covers the credit card payment used to purchase the GPU, has 0% APR and builds my credit as it pays itself off all while helping to speed up and lower the prices on Ethereum transactions.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it; with Bitcoin surging the crypto market on repeat and modern GPU’s handling mining algorithms far more efficiently, mining on renewable energy may be my new bread and butter side-hustle.  I implore more people to transition to renewable energy if they want to continue to mine; it’s a marginal price difference of a few pennies a day per GPU.

Ethereum 2.0 is coming, you say?  I’ll believe it when I see it, but either way, so long as Bitcoin doesn’t fall through the floor, I am covered on my investment through renewable mining.  I’m confident Bitcoin isn’t going anywhere low anytime soon.

As always, comments, suggestions, and friendly debates are highly encouraged.

Stay smart & Stay safe.

-Thomas Wolf

Pronouns: He/Him/His

I am not a certified financial, tax, or legal advisor, analyst, or planner.  The above information should not be considered advice but as an opinion intended to share information and ideas for entertainment and independent research purposes.  Cryptowriter and its writers are not responsible for any losses or damages incurred as a result of misinterpreting personal opinions for professional advice.

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