ASIC vs GPU Profitability: Which is Better?

When it comes time to mine crypto, you want to get the job done fast. Some individuals choose ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) for its ability to calculate and mine specific cryptocurrencies quickly. GPUs (graphics processing units) are general-purpose processors that can calculate almost anything. Both of these options are great, but you need to choose those that meet your needs and budget. Let’s take a look at the profitability of ASIC vs.GPU miners. 

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Comparing ASIC vs. GPU

Mining cryptocurrency needs plenty of powerful hash power. In terms of hash rate, ASIC is the better option. When the miner solves the problem, the new currency is generated. While the share of the reward is not proportional to your hash rate, you still want a machine that can quickly get the job done. Unless you have an older ASIC, it should be a more powerful option than a GPU. ASICs are designed for one job – to mine a specific cryptocurrency. On the other hand, GPUs can mine and do other valuable things. 

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For a short time, ASICs were superior to GPUs. However, many people came up with PoW algorithms that made it difficult for ASICs to solve. Even when ASICs were able to solve the puzzles, they were not more efficient than a basic GPU. In fact, some cryptos (Equihash and Cryptonight) changed their software to make ASIC almost obsolete. Keep in mind that new ASIC-resistant coins are coming to the market at a fast rate. 

If you look at the efficiency levels, ASICs do beat GPUs per hash. But you are not solving hash; you are mining for cryptocurrency. A typical ASIC can draw about 800 watts of power. Whether you have an older or newer ASIC, they will use the same amount of power for only a portion of the profits. When you compare these rigs on a dollar-for-dollar basis, GPUs are more efficient. Today, a GPU miner uses 100 watts of energy to mine a $1 cryptocurrency, while ASIC requires 800 watts for the same amount. As you look at those numbers, GPUs mine crypto more efficiently than ASICs.

A GPU mining rig is larger than an ASIC one, but physical space is not an issue in many cases. However, once you hit the power wall with an ASIC unit, upgrading can be costly. With a GPU, you will be able to mine more coins before you need to think about an upgrade. 

Related: How to Start Investing in Cryptocurrency [Like a Pro]

Ease of Use

If you are contemplating mining crypto, you probably want something easy to use. ASICs are user-friendly, and beginners can start mining in a few short steps. Just keep in mind that profitability is proportional to the ease of mining. Think of mining as a competition. When there is a barrier to those rewards, then you will be more successful. When everyone can win, your rewards will be much slimmer. Easy mining is not a positive. Everyone can compete with you at that level, leading to fewer profits for you. 

On the other hand, GPUs are more challenging to use to mine cryptocurrency. You can put together a rig with some software to start your mining venture. Keep in mind that you may want to DIY your rig instead of buying one off the shelf. Once again, the profitability is reduced when the mining process is easy. Think about using your rig to mine crypto that is not commonly mined. 

Price Comparisons

An ASIC rig is inexpensive. You can often purchase them for about $2,000 or less. However, you don’t want to go with the lowest option. Consider following this formula:

Return on investment = income – sticker price – electricity + residual value

ASICs are known as one-trick ponies – they can only mine specific types of cryptocurrency. With GPUs, you can use these miners for other purposes. When the profitability gets low, the miners can sell the rig to gamers. Since the ASIC is only used for mining, low profits mean you are stuck with a machine with no other use. Those who use GPU mining rigs are more likely to stick with mining than ASIC owners, especially when electricity rates soar. When an ASIC’s profitability no longer exceeds the electricity costs, the rig is worthless.

For the most part, your ASIC rig will have the highest profitability on the first day that you buy it. Unless you have free or cheap electricity, you will have more profitability by buying crypto or investing in a GPU unit. You actually lose more money by paying for power than you would gain mining for crypto.

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When compared to ASICs, GPUs could be less or more expensive. A full 6-GPU miner can cost more than the average ASIC, but it is a modular system. At the base, GPUs will cost around $500 to $700, but you have a plethora of options and price levels. These machines are less expensive to operate. They are easier to acquire, service, and sell since they are primarily composed of off-the-shelf computer parts. 

Yes, it can cost more to build a single GPU mining than an ASIC, but GPUs are more efficient on a dollar to watt basis. In other words, you spend less power on this rig than on the ASIC unit. GPUs have an expensive upfront cost, but that cost lowers over time. 

Remember that the crypto market is very volatile. Always prepare for the point when the market crashes and the mining is no longer profitable. Crypto prices will always continue to rise and fall. Even Bitcoin is susceptible to those problems. Many miners give up on mining during those times, but that might be the best time to forge on. With less competition, you could reap the rewards with your mining rig. 

Flexibility

If you want a flexible crypto mining rig, you cannot find that with an ASIC machine. Yes, they can mine more than one algorithm, but you cannot use them for anything but mining crypto at the end of the day. 

GPUs win this argument, hands down. With that in mind, GPUs are the best choice for small or medium-sized miners. You can convert your machine from one type of crypto, like Bitcoin, to another, such as Ethereum. While the ASIC can mine crypto, they are getting beaten by their one game. 

GPUs have the flexibility to change with the market’s needs, while ASICs continue to remain stagnant. You can remain profitable when you have that flexibility, even in an unstable market. Since the ASIC cannot adapt to many changes, you are left with a machine that has no use. At the end of the data, when the GPU is no longer useful for mining, you can convert it for other purposes

You can always tell the rig to someone who is willing to pay top dollar for its original intention – to play video games. Let’s face it; gamers outnumber miners by a large proportion. As a result, GPUs can be resold without devaluing them. The HDDs, CPUs, motherboards, and every other component can be valuable to anyone who wants those parts of their computers. For that reason, you will want to use off-the-shelf computer parts. Unless the world ceases to use computers, you can find someone to buy them for a reasonable price. 

Related: What Problems Could Cryptocurrency Potentially Solve?

Quality, Availability, and Warranty of ASIC vs. GPU

ASICs are purposely designed machines. In many cases, they are well-built but don’t have many frills. They are a basic machines. You cannot always buy them on the open market. For example, you might have to find a shipper in China, pay an exorbitant tax rate, and wait for customs. For many people, shipping a foreign ASIC rig could cost more than buying a GPU miner. With that, you could have problems paying for your new ASIC rig. Some companies will not accept PayPal or credit cards for the transaction. Along with that, many manufacturers will not stand beyond their product or only offer a 90-day warranty.

Also, remember that ASICs are extremely loud. These machines are dangerous, noisy, and hot. If you live in an apartment, you can forget about purchasing one. In many situations, the only proper place to use them is in a garage or basement, and then you still have to watch them for overheating. ASICs might look small, but they create a loud noise that is often unbearable for many people. If you want to create a mining farm, several ASICs in a room might not be a great idea. 

Like a lot of computers, ASICs have fans. However, those fans move at an incredible rate without slowing down. You will want to keep these machines in a space where no one, like children, will put their fingers near the fan. 

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Now that you know about ASICs, take a look at GPUs. You can find GPUs in all sizes and shapes. Loud or quiet, small or big, cool or hot – you can find an option to meet your needs. You can add components to make your mining rig more efficient. Plus, you can design one that looks aesthetically pleasing, unlike the big, boxy look at an ASIC machine. 

If you are willing to spend the money, you can have a solidly built rig. Cheap is not necessarily bad, especially if you want to maximize your profitability. GPUs are flexible machines because they were initially designed for the home or office environment. You don’t have to worry about the noise, heat, or dangerous components. These GPUs can be placed in a room without tributing the rest of your household. Along with that, you can create a mining farm with several of these machines. 

Related: How Does Bitcoin Mining Work? [Complete Guide]

In addition to that, GPUs are readily available on the market. You can purchase them from any big-name retailer or a local shop. When it comes time to pay, you can use your credit card or cash. Some retailers even accept Bitcoin as a payment option. Overnight shipping is available when you need it in less than a day. There are no hassles with shady dealers or customs holds, unlike ASIC rigs. 

Many GPU return policies are easy, and they have warranties that often exceed three years. In a few instances, that is the entire usable life as a mining rig. If you need to fix the GPU, all you have to do is pack it up and send it out. GPU wins this debate, hands down. 

Conclusion

If you want a profitable machine, an ASIC rig is not the best choice for those small to medium-sized miners. ASICs are built for large corporations that can use them in the right setting to make them profitable. If you don’t have access to cheap power, a cold climate, or loose regulations, an ASIC might not be your machine. These mining rigs will waste time and money since they are designed for mining crypto. 

However, small and medium-sized miners should look at the GPU. These rigs are perfect for running a few machines in your basement. You will also have a sizable advantage since you don’t need an extensive infrastructure to operate and upgrade them. When you are no longer in the crypto mining game, you can recoup some of your money by selling it to a gamer. 

With profitability in mind, your best choice would be a GPU machine

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