GPUs are much better at mining cryptocurrencies compared to CPUs, although not better than ASICs for this purpose. Well, there are many reasons you might want to mine cryptocurrencies with CPU instead of a GPU such as cost issues because a GPU costs more initially, and uses more power or has a higher power draw than CPU, but it will be much more efficient in the long run and will render more hash power than a CPU and therefore more profitable. On a normal setting, you would expect a mining rig that comprises of two to multiple CPU or GPU cards combine together to improve effectiveness and outputs. Some aren't profitable alone but will work better when combined but some are, alone.
Whether you use a GPU, CPU or ASIC may depend on the select coin you wanna mine, as much as it would depend on your profitability goals. Some coins do not allow GPU, some allow both GPU and CPU mining. But there is a wide variety in both cases. For instance, some of the coins you can still mine today with CPUs include: Monero, Bitcoin Cash, Dogecoin and ZCash among many others and with GPU, you might consider mining Bitcoin Gold, Aion, Energi, Zencash, Zclassic, ETH, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin, Monero, Ubiq, Bitcoin Diamond, and many others as well.
With online mining profitability calculators, you can get a glimpse of the amount of profits you would expect when mining a certain crypto that employs a certain mining algo with a certain GPU/CPU/ASIC and hashing algorithm on the fly, although these calculators are far from perfect because profitability has to do with among other indeterminacies like future prices of coins.
And because the GPUs cards cost less and save more power compared to ASICs, GPUs are popular in the cryptocurrency mining arenas. Of course, an ASIC card will deliver a very high hash rate for specific coin due to the fact that it is much smaller and lighter for similar performance, and has a higher profit margin compared to GPUs. GPUs are, however, more flexible in their applications compared to ASICs, which are application specific for a given coin.
That said, there are GPU cards specifically made for mining cryptocurrencies and Nvidia and AMD are still the most popular manufacturers of GPUs used for cryptocurrency mining.
If you are assessing performance, the criteria are almost the same when accessing performance. You are going to look at power consumption, which will affect performance, noise output, and reliability; hash rates; memory, speed, etc. Remember to also consider the resale value: if the card can't play games good, then it may mean the resale value will drop significantly if you find it not worthwhile for mining crypto or want to dispose of it later.
A miner's hash rate performance will depend on the type and the version of the miner used as well as the type of VRAM used, and other factors. Therefore, even if values are quoted in this article, they are far from ideal for later versions of miners, software, and VRAMs. Miner versions and software versions keep coming up. These values are only meant as guidelines.
AMD Radeon VII
The AMD Radeon VII is AMD's high-end graphics card, which introduced a 7nm GPU architecture or process node into gaming and now, crypto mining. This architecture allows it to be faster than its earlier models. AMD said that the new 7nm allows the device to increase performance by 25% overall over last year's model without having to draw more power.
Launched in February this year and becoming available in retail centers last month April, Radeon VII renders a hash rate of 90 MH/s without any overclocking or with stock settings, which is 50% more power compared to Vega's 64 MH/s for crypto miners with stock settings. It is also around 30% faster than the Vega 64.
Radeon VII has 16GB of video memory (VRAM), memory bandwidth of 1TB/s, Base or Core Clock of 1,400 MHZ, and a boost clock of 1,800MHz. The GPU comprises of 3840 stream processors and it has a power rating of 300 watts. It delivers 10% more in peak engine clock compared to the RX Vega, and given its open air cooler and revised SMU, Radeon VII can boost to and sustain its higher clockspeeds often. It has 4 lesser CPUs compared to RX Vegas and same ROPs, but delivers more throughput across the board.
Radeon VII also doubles the memory size and more than doubles the memory bandwidth of the Vega.
According to recent tests done by VoskCoin with the Radeon VII for mining different cryptocurrencies, it could manage an average hash rate of 90 Mh/s at 319 Watts when mining Ethereum with the Ethash algorithm. Phoenix Miner 4.2c, which is the latest stable release version of the miner; manages a 2970 H/s @ 245 Watts when mining Monero on Cryptonight R. Other results were published on this medium link or as shown in the figure below.
In comparison, RX Vega 64 manages 32 mh/s with stock configurations when mining ETH on the same miner, according to a report by Wccftech, while Titan V manages only 69 MH/s and Radeon VII 100MH/s when mining ETH. That's even as Radeon VII is cheaper than Titan V (which is within $3000 range) while achieving a higher hash rate per watt.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 is an excellent mining GPU because it manages a considerably high hash rate of about 30 MH/s without needing too much power.
It has a core clock of 1506 MHz (Boost Clock 1683MHz), memory size of 8GB, memory bandwidth of 256GB/s, and a power rating of 150 w. Having a lower power draw means it is cost effective to maintain in the long haul, although it has a higher price tag at $549 on Walmart and Amazon or $299 at Newegg compared to many in this list for instance compared to the GTX 970 which sells for £250.
In comparison, GTX 1070 is faster than Titan X, 41 per cent faster than GTX 970, 35 per cent faster than GTX 1060, and by extension faster than the GTX 980 Ti too, although the GTX 1080 is 25 per cent faster than it on average. GTX 1070 has a better speed and latency of the memory subsystem and performs better in mining than even the GeForce GTX 1080 that has GDDR5x.
The GTX 1080 and GTX 1080Ti are considered of a lower cost/performance ratio than the GTX 1070 and hence not popular for crypto mining, same with the RTX 20 series which was released last year -- THIS is based on some tests by reviewers of the devices. Therefore, RTX 20 series is not considered a better option for mining crypto because of such issues.
Nvidia has announced that it will stop making RTX 2080 and 2070 GPUs that aren’t so well-suited to overclocking.
With Claymore Ethereum Miner, the GTX 1070 has been found on some tests from reviewers, to achieve a hash rate of around 32 Mh/s at 125w power draw when mining Ethereum; 31.8 Mh/s for Ethereum and 157 Mh/s for Decreed when mining both Ethereum and Decreed on Claymore Ethereum Miner; and Ethereum 31.7 Mh/s and Siacoin 317 Mh/s when mining both Ethereum and Siacoin on the same miner.
AMD Radeon RX580
Radeon RX580 is not very easy to get now a days given its previous popularity in cryptocurrency mining.
The card has a core clock of 1,257MHz, 8GB GDDR5 memory, and at a power draw of 185 W and very good cooling performance, it manages a low power consumption and efficiency. It is also less costly compared to the GTX 1070 above for instance only that 1070 will deliver higher hash rates as would be seen above.
RX480 and RX580 GPUs manage a hash rate of between 22-29 MH/s, depending on model and settings, and thus are great for mining Ether and other crypto. They are among the best value GPUs because they are quite power efficient if tweaked. You can adjust them to the tune of 150W TDP for the same high performance.
The excellent price-to-performance ratio (they were retailing at around $200) caused these GPUs to sell out in a blink of an eye so they can be a bit expensive now if you land on them at Amazon and eBay and other e-stores.
For mining cryptocurrencies, one of the preferred option is the Sapphire NITRO+ Radeon RX 580 Limited Edition which comes with higher factory clocks compared to most other RX 580 GPUs and has improved cooling solution such as spare fans although priced on the higher side a bit.
It has a 1450 MHz GPU Boost Clock (which can be overclocked to about 1500 MHz), 2304 stream Processors, 8.192 GB GDDR5 Memory and power consumption of 225W.
With stock settings, it can deliver around 22.5 MHS when mining Ethereum on a Claymore Dual ETH miner, with a version 9.2 algorithm; 296 H/s when mining ZCash (ZEC) using Claymore ZCash AMD GPU Miner 12.4; CryptoNight (XMR): 600 H/s; and Decred (DCR): 1.220 GHS. The newer version called Sapphire Pulse RX 580 has been found to manage 670 H/S hast rate for one GPU and that means 6 GPU rig can deliver more than 4000 H/s.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
The GeForce GTX 1060 is an alternative to the AMD Radeon RX 480 and features Core Clock of 1,506MHz; Memory Clock of 8Gbps; 6 GB GDDR5 of memory (which is 2GB less than the AMD Radeon RX 480); it uses 16nm technology; and it has a power draw of 120 W.
For crypto miners, it can deliver great mining results given its huge overclocking potential and other aspects even compared to the GTX 1050Ti that uses a better 14nm technology. Based on some tests using Claymore’s Dual Ethereum AMD+NVIDIA GPU Miner v9.6, EWBF’s CUDA Zcash miner, Nvidia Optimised Ethminer and Nicehash algorithms, the GTX 1060 6 GB manages a mining hash rate of 19 Mh/s with a power consumption of 100W when mining Ethereum with stock clock settings.
Overclocking the card memory to 4,700 MHz renders Ethereum mining hash rate of 23.7 – 25 Mh/s while the power consumption is at around 120 W. This makes it a more profitable option for miners at electricity cost of $ 0.1 per KW/h.
Overclocking it further to 10 GHz, which can be done using the MSI Afterburner utility or similar, will result in better hashrates although it will under these conditions proves unstable.
If power cost is too high, you can still consider lowering the power target for the card in addition to overclocking it. For instance, cutting power usage by -30% (70%) reduces hashrate by around 0.3 MH/s (from 4,700 MHz memory clock) to get an output of around 23.5 – 24.7 Mh/s while drawing 80 Watts. Reducing the power target also allows you to drop the GPU temperature to 58C (136 F), hence you could switch off fans for a 100% silent mining experience.
Based on some crypto mining tests done with GTX 1060, at overclocked settings, it can delivers 23.5 Mh/s and 75 w power draw on Claymore Ethereum Miner when mining Ethereum only; and 25 Mh/s and 80w on Nvidia Optimised Ethminer Miner. With the same miner, it delivers 22.7 Mh/s for Ethereum and 227.5 Mh/s for Decreed (and 95w) when dualmining Ethereum and Decreed; and it renders an equal hashrate and power consumption when mining both Ethereum and Siacoin on the same miner algorithm. Mining Zcash on a EWBF’s CUDA Zcash miner will deliver a hashrate of 320 Sol/s and 100 w power consumption with overclocked settings.
At $156.99 on Newegg ($323.47 Walmart and $329 at Amazon), it is considered an affordable option.
AMD Radeon RX Vega
Radeon RX Vega 56 is among AMD's top five performers at core clock of 1,156 MHz; memory clock of 800 MHz; memory of 8 GB HBM2; and power draw of 210 Watts. It manages a very good performance in mining although it registers high energy consumption and heating up meaning it does not beat others ahead of it in this list.
Although it has low initial cost compared to many alternatives, its higher power consumption means it is more expensive to run in the long run. However, it is faster than Nvidia GTX 1070 and some reviewers report hash rates of as high as 1940H/s when mining Monero on CryptoNight mining algorithm with Radeon Vega 56 and 1800 H/s on the Vega Frontier Edition.
For this card, based on some crypto mining tests done by Tomshardware.com when mining Ethereum on Claymore's Dual Ethereum AMD+Nvidia GPU Miner and when running benchmarks at a DAG epoch of 90, the RX Vega 64 at overclocked speeds managed a hashrate of 100 H/s above Vega 56 at 87 H/s.
Vega 56 and Vega 64 beat the likes of GTX 1080 Ti FE, Titan X Pascal, GTX 1070 FE and Radeon RX 550 (optimized). Radeon RX Vega 64 hash rate increased by more than 27% from 44.12 H/s after tweaking the settings.
The two (56 and 64) also showed superiority in performance per watt (efficiency) compared to the rest of the GPU miners in the tests, but Vega 56 led Vega 64.
Other reviewers report having achieved over 2000 H/s on Vega 64 graphics testing when mining Monero with CryptoNight algorithm. For instance, it can manage around 2009 H/s with the XMR-STAK-AMD miner according to one reviewer, although Cast XMR miner can manage higher hash rates than these. In comparison, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 will do 700 H/s with the same mining algorithm, GeForce GTX 1080 around 650 H/s, and GTX 1080 Ti around 900 H/s.
However, some other tests show that the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 will not do well with mining cryptocurrencies that employ memory intensive algorithms and with the Claymore Dual Eth miner that has Vega support, it will pull only around 31-32 MHS when mining ETH, and this comes alongside its high power consumption and high temperature and heating. When mining Zcash (ZEC) mining, it manages 475-480 H/s which is not so great performance even with a HBM2 memory.
Radeon RX Vega is low cost compared to some cards in this list though, at between $240 and $615, depending on where you buy, although it is also very hard to find nowadays.
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti can deliver hash rates in the range of 32 mh/s with some tweaking of the clock settings, but falls behind other GPU miners before it in this list because of its higher power consumption meaning lesser returns in the long run.
It has a core clock speed of 1,480MHz; 11GB of GDDR5X memory (as compared to the more common GDDR5; GDDR5X memory supports 10Gbit/s data rates which reflects in how the miner performs with memory-intensive algorithms); 11GHz memory clock and power rating of 250 w.
Although it has 250 wattage for power rating on non-synthetic operations, it is possible to push up that limit by 20% or up to 300 w with the Founders Edition. It is also possible to underclock the GPU in order to push the power consumption down.
Based on some reviewers' tests posted online, the GPU performs best with NiceHash EQM miner delivering an average hashrate of 620 H/s for ZEC mining algorithm coins. On the Claymore’s Ethereum miner on stock GPU settings, tests revealed hashrate outputs of 31.8 MH/s and 625 H/s on EWBF CUDA miner. However, according to the review, tyhe GPU will not work with BMW and Cryptonight at default intensity until the intensity and hashrates have been lowered.
Earlier tests with ccMiner fork released in 2017 showed that it had a low output hashrate of just 48.5 MH/s using the ccminer, and did not work at all with Jackpot, Quark and Wildkeccak at all. Otherwise, outputs for Ethhas is 37 MH/s, Equihash is 700 solutions, LIBRY 500 MH/s, Lyra2REv2 70000 kH/s, and Lyra2Z 3200 kH/s.
This GPU costs between $799.99 and $1,200 and therefore has high initial cost compared to many and this combines not so well with the poor power performance in the long run.
It also comes with variants such as the Gigabyte Aorus GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, Founders Edition, EVGA GTX 1080 Ti, MSI GTX 1080 TI Duke OC, and Xtreme Edition 11G. The latter features 3 fans and a thicker heat sink compared to other variants; and the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme, which also has 3 fans and thickest heatsink than all variants hence providing extreme cooling capabilities.
The Aorus can hash as much as 800 sol/s on the Equihash mining algorithm but, overall, is not impressive in this particular case, and hence more profitable for coins such as Bitcoin Gold and Zencash.