Mining is a process that has existed for many years. We, of course, know it as the primary method of extracting valuable minerals from the Earth. While that continues to be an ongoing practice, the term ‘mining’ has also become recognizable in the field of cryptocurrency. Today, we describe this type of mining and take an indepth look at cryptocurrency mining hardware.
But how is that possible? Digital currency is not a physical object, so how would extracting it even work? Well, that’s because mining in the context of cryptocurrency is not actually mining in the traditional sense.
Cryptocurrency mining – alternatively ‘crypto-mining’ – is the procedure that is responsible for generating digital currencies. With this process, transactions for various types of cryptocurrency undergo verification and are added to the blockchain digital ledger. This operation goes by other names, such as crypto coin mining, altcoin mining, or bitcoin mining, which is exclusively for Bitcoin.
Over the years, cryptocurrency mining has been increasing as both a topic and activity. With cryptocurrency usage itself growing exponentially in recent years, the gradual prominence of mining was a forgone conclusion.
Cryptocurrency mining is a great way to garner a profit while also giving your support to a new, developing industry. Yet, you simply cannot just start mining from your home computer and hope to make a profit. As a matter of fact, cryptocurrency mining is becoming very competitive. So much so that it requires extraordinary hardware to carry this process out successfully. Without these special hardware devices, you are likely to waste a lot of your time. Moreover, you could potentially lose money as well.
To prevent such unfortunate circumstances from happening, this article will function as a handy guide pertaining to mining hardware.
How does crypto mining work?
First and foremost, you need to understand what exactly crypto mining entails. Verifying transactions and adding them to the blockchain is one thing, but there are more technical details to cover.
Whenever a cryptocurrency transaction is made, it is the responsibility of a cryptocurrency miner to ensure the information’s authenticity. Furthermore, they need to update the blockchain with that transaction. The mining process itself consists of competing against other crypto-miners to solve complex mathematical problems with cryptographic hash functions. These functions are associated with a block that contains the transaction data within it.
The first cryptocurrency miner that is able to “crack the code,” so to speak, receives a reward. This reward comes in the form of being able to authorize the transaction. In exchange for their services, crypto-miners will earn small amounts of newly minted cryptocurrency of their very own. In order to be able to compete with other crypto-miners, it is imperative for a cryptocurrency miner to have the right tools. To elaborate, they need a computer that possesses specially designed hardware.
The significance of this hardware
Back when cryptocurrencies were – for the most part – obscure, people did not have the intricate hardware we have now. There was once a time when people were mining for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum with the use of their own computers. Alternatively, they would use relatively small devices. However, that all began to change as the crypto industry’s popularity was beginning to increase. Eventually, it became a lot more difficult to mine with nothing more than personal computing devices.
The primary reason for this outcome stems from more people entering the mining market. As the number of participants grew over time, the difficulty of mining did as well. This was out of a desperate need to ensure that the mining of blocks was at a specific rate. One that was preferable by the network. Therefore, when more computing power is trying to solve a block, then the difficulty to solve it would increase accordingly.
This noticeable expansion in mining difficulty, despite being beneficial network security, has proven to be difficult to work with. Suddenly, it was becoming comparatively harder to successfully mine cryptocurrency on a majority of leading blockchains. The increase in mining would also result in an increase in the ‘hashing power’ of a network. In other words, the power a network is consuming in order to operate on a regular basis by solving a cryptographic function.
It takes so many attempts to try and solve this function. It’s because of this that major blockchain networks were experiencing a colossal increase in the amount of computer processing power. This power is a requirement for the task of completing hash functions. Specifically, at a rate that would provide substantial profitability in mining.
What does it do?
Crypto mining equipment has a specific design. It is what gives them the ability to solve blockchain hash functions at a faster rate than most hardware solutions. The construction of traditional computers includes the incorporation of a certain processor, which is a Central Processing Unit (CPU). This piece of technology has the ability to calculate the functions that a standard computer needs to function properly.
Alternatively, building mining hardware is done with an array of comparatively more complex processors. However, these are more than just high-powered computers. In fact, crypto mining equipment is more efficient than your run-of-the-mill hardware. Unlike typical hardware, crypto mining equipment solves computational hashes that are mandatory for successful blockchain mining.
When purchasing cryptocurrency mining hardware and equipment, you want to make the right choice. In order to do that, you need to take some factors into account. There are two crucial things to look out for when you are browsing through your options.
First of all, these machines need to be more than just powerful and stable. It is equally important for them to be energy efficient as well. The number one cost when it comes to crypto mining is electricity. Because of this, a good piece of mining equipment has to be able to consume less power. Moreover, it needs to do this all while preserving its high-power usage. Therefore, an essential factor in crypto mining hardware hashes per second per watt of power. This determines how much power consumption there is for a certain amount of hash power.
Second of all, it is important to note that cryptocurrency mining is done 24/7/365; all day, every day. Thus, the equipment that’s ideal for mining needs to be capable of operating on a continuous basis. In essence, this means that the equipment needs to have optimal cooling so it does not overheat from continuous use. Moreover, properly setting up equipment in such a way that it will allow for the most optimal cooling.
If you are uncertain about how to go about doing this, it would be wise to outsource the installation and hosting of your mining hardware. Specifically, to that of a third-party provider who has the appropriate tools and resources for servicing mining equipment.
The price of the equipment
Along with energy efficiency and the capability of functioning continuously, the price of the mining hardware is also very important. Keep in mind that a majority of cheap mining hardware will bring in only a handful of bitcoins. Expensive bitcoin mining hardware, on the other hand, is unique, fast, and incredibly efficient. In order to make a solid fortune from the bitcoin mining business, you need to be ready to invest. It would be best for you to aim for value and quality when you are purchasing hardware.
Take some time to come up with a general idea of the factors to look for as previously mentioned. As soon as you do that, that is when the search for the best hardware for bitcoin mining commences.
Mining hardware comes in three distinct types:
- GPU (General Processing Units): Electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out instructions that creates a computer program.
- FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array): A circuit set up by a customer or designer after manufacturing.
- ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit): A circuit meant for a specific use, rather than for general-purpose use.
The type of hardware being used is heavily dependent on the blockchain that you are mining. ASIC hardware is arguably the most powerful hardware for a good chunk of blockchains, such as Bitcoin. However, they become relatively useless in other blockchains, such as ZCash. In these particular blockchains, the design of the hashing algorithm makes it impervious to ASIC hardware.
Choosing the correct piece of mining hardware is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of the cryptocurrency mining process. If you make the wrong choice, it could very well lead to a substantial waste of both time and potential profits.
Overall, during the past several years, it has become clear that cryptocurrency mining hardware is extremely necessary. Anyone looking to make a profit in mining needs to have this kind of equipment at their disposal. Making the decision of which piece of mining equipment is most suitable for your preferences relies on many factors. These include such things as your budget and the blockchain that you are mining.
What sets CPUs, GPUs, and ASICs apart from each other?
A simple comparison that can be made between CPUs, GPUs, and ASICs is a difficult thing to think about. This is because CPUs and GPUs can technically be interpreted as a type of ASIC. Fortunately, Motherboard writer, Daniel Oberhaus, was able to compare and contrast the three pieces of technology. He states that:
“The main difference between mining ASICs and CPUs and GPUs is that the mining ASICs don’t have all the extra ‘bloat’ that makes CPUs and GPUs so versatile. You can’t run an operating system or play a video game on a Bitcoin ASIC because the chip is meant to do only one thing—mine Bitcoin. So a mining ASIC’s efficiency is gained because all of its computing resources can be optimized for a single well-defined task.”
ASIC is defined as being customized fragments of computer hardware. Each fragment has a specific design that is solely for performing one particular type of function. A notable example of this would be that the storage of the telephone circuitry built within your smartphone is usually in a separate chip. The general purpose of this chip is to make calls, as well as receive calls.
When it comes to mining with greater speed, the role ASIC miners play is exceptionally large. Generally speaking, they are far more productive and economical than the more conventional bitcoin miners. Bitcoin mining is a procedure that is effective, but only when there is a net benefit pertaining to productivity. That and low costs for running the operation. To reiterate an earlier point, they are excessive when it comes to consuming power and electricity. In fact, there are users who typically combine rigs and ASIC chips just so they can further lower the costs.
The overall design of ASIC miners allows them to work and basically unify with the mining rigs. There is a notable advantage that comes from including the ASIC chips to the mining rigs. That being they will be able to make mining the coins with the rigs comparatively more efficient. The ASIC chips are capable of surpassing a stack of GPUs at any point in time. When putting them up against each other, the ASIC chips hash the transactions 100 times faster than a GPU stack.
If you want to learn more about ASIC mining, read “The Basics of ASIC Mining.”
Evaluating cryptocurrency mining hardware
We have covered the basics of what you need to keep in mind when assessing a potential miner. The key takeaways concerning the factors we have been discussing are the following:
- Power consumption: The main question you must ask is how much electricity does the miner consumes? This is something of great importance, seeing as how you’re going to run a huge electric bill when mining bitcoin. The typical measurement of this is in watts. Put simply, the lower the number is, the better.
- Hash rate: This is basically how much power the miner has for solving the complex mining math problem. What it does is measure approximately how many guesses the miner is able to make per second. A personal computer is capable of making roughly a few million guesses per second. Meanwhile, present-day ASICs are able to make 1 x 10 ^ 12 guesses per second. All in all, the higher your hash rate is, the better.
- Energy efficiency: Having a high hash rate is good, no doubt. However, if you are needlessly wasting a lot of energy in order to acquire it, then you’ll inevitably lose money.
Efficiency is, technically speaking, gauging how much power there needs to be to generate a single-use of hash rate. There is a requirement of considerably less electricity for an efficient miner to properly mine Bitcoin. The calculation of efficiency is by dividing energy consumption with the hash rate. With this method, you have the ability to effectively measure miners against one another.
The best crypto mining hardware
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for in mining equipment, you can start looking for hardware. However, even with the important factors in mind, choosing the right equipment can be daunting. To make it a little easier for you, below is a list of some of the best miners that are available. With these selections, you can determine the best bitcoin miner hardware and finally start mining for bitcoins.
1 – Bitmain Antminer S5
Admittedly, the Antminer S5 is not exactly the latest Bitcoin mining hardware. There are several other models – such as the S7 and S9 – that have come after it. That being said, it is still a popular piece of hardware that’s still in use. In fact, its efficiency and function are quite admirable.
One of the Bitmain Antminer S5’s notable features is its power supply, which is labeled 115 volts. Moreover, it manages to draw approximately 560 watts. Overall, the mechanism has low power needs and consumption. This small power supply – akin to those running desktop computers – is able to accommodate the Antminer S5.
When it comes to efficiency, the unit produces roughly 1 GH/s for every 0.51 watts that it consumes. Overall, this translates to about 0.51 J/GH. When you compare it to its predecessor (the S3), the S5’s efficiency shows evident improvement. All these features result in it being the most powerful bitcoin miner in the current market.
Now, how about the weight? In total, the S5 weighs 2.5kgs. The reduction in weight is thanks to its lightweight material. What’s more, there is the fact that its design is open from top to bottom. The setup is not too complex and it requires no prior tech experience.
2 – Bitmain Antminer S7
In 2015, the market was introduced to the Bitmain Antminer S7. Since then, it would go on to become one of the most popular Bitcoin hardware miners. It continues to dominate the market due largely in part to its low power consumption in comparison to the S5.
The power supply unit that is ideal for the S7 is the 1600 watt APW3. This power supply unit is, inarguably, one of the best that’s available on the market. Its design is precise and suitable for Bitcoin mining. The miner is capable of running even the most effective mining hardware; that is the Antminer S9. However, it requires a minimum of 205 volts in order to properly function. The optimal power consumption is what makes it the most competent bitcoin miner.
S7’s efficiency depends heavily on the general effectiveness of both the power supply and the ambient temperature. At room temperature of approximately 25 degrees Celsius, the S7 will be able to produce about 1300 watts. It is here that you should remember that every generation of the Antminer is almost twice as efficient. This is especially evident when you compare it to its predecessor.
Its weight equals out to 7.5 pounds. It features a sturdy metal casing with a groove and tongue system. The unit is noisy, so realistically speaking, it is not a good idea to have it inside your home. In addition, it is imperative that you put it in a cool environment. This will ensure that you spend less energy whenever you are trying to cool it down as it mines.
3 – Bitmain Antminer S9
At this point in time, the Bitmain Antminer S9 is the best bitcoin mining hardware on the market. It has the highest hash rate of roughly 14 TH per second and is the most efficient mining hardware available. This high hash rate is possible courtesy of three circuit boards that feature a grand total of 189 chips. For all the power that the S9 has to provide, you should expect to pay a considerable amount for it.
You can efficiently use the Antminer S9 with the Antminer 1600 watt power supply. In regards to efficiency, the S9 is popular for being the most efficient mining hardware that is available. Even though it consumes 300 watts more in comparison to the S7, it is twice as efficient. To elaborate, the count is 0.1 joules per gigahash.
The unit possesses a durable design and has a weight of 10.4 pounds. The sturdy design is beneficial when a miner needs to organize multiple miners on a single shelf. When using the S9, it would be smart for you to put it in a garage or a warehouse. The noise it produces is insufferable.
4 – Antminer T9
Antminer T9 is another excellent bitcoin miner. For all its quality, it is important to note that it resides on the higher price range. When one compares it to the S9, miners are pretty divisive on which is the better product.
The amount of watts that the T9 consumes for approximately 11.5 TH/s for Batch 23 is roughly 1450. It possesses an efficiency of about 0.126 J/GH. Based on these numbers, the S9 is comparatively better than the T9. Be that as it may, remember that the quality chips in the S9 were of a slightly lower value. This is what results in their diminished stability, though the T9 Miner has since fixed this issue.
5 – AvalonMiner 741
There’s a good chance that, after seeing the price of most of these miners, you will want something more affordable. If you are looking for an excellent bitcoin miner that is also inexpensive, then the AvalonMiner 741 is for you.
This is the latest addition to the industry by the company, Canaan. It provides those who use it with a solid hash rate of about 7.3 TH/s. What’s more, it features an air forming cooling system that allows 88 chips to operate as a single unit. In addition, it aids in keeping the miner running continuously.
The unit has an efficiency of about 0.16 J/GH. This efficiency rating is exceptionally better than all of the other products within its price range.
6 – Antminer L3+
The L3+ dons four boards that consist of 288 chips, which is a number that doubles that of its L3 predecessor. The design as a whole permits the arrangement of the unit to be done with ease. Specifically, when multiple miners are using it simultaneously.
The L3+ is a very easy mining hardware to use. However, it packs a lot of power, similar to most of the mining hardware on this list. It has a hash rate of roughly 504 MH/s and uses up approximately 800 watts. Moreover, it displays an efficiency rate of about 1.6 J/MH.
The power supply that you should use with this miner is the Antminer L3+ Power Supply. You can also use this unit with the S9 miner.
7 – Bitmain Antminer D3
This mining hardware entered the market in 2018. When discussing Dash ASIC miners, you need to at least mention the Antminer D3 because it is among the best.
Most miners are employing the use of this hardware to first mine dash coins. They later convert these coins into bitcoins and consequently garner huge profits in the process. The Antminer D3 provides its users with a hash rate of 15 GH/s and uses up to about 1200 watts.
Overall, its measurements are 320 x 130 x 190mm. This makes it entirely possible to have a neat arrangement while also running several miners at the same time.
8 – Dragonmint T16
Dragonmint T16 is the first cryptocurrency mining hardware for bitcoin that was able to achieve the hash rate of 16 TH/s. It requires 1600 watts power supply, but it consumes only 0.075J/GH against Bitmain Antminer S9’s 0.098J/GH. Due to the ASIC BOOST algorithm, it’s possible to boost the Dragonmint T16 efficiency by 20%. It is among the best Bitcoin mining hardware available.
9 – Pagolin Miner M3X
Pagolin Miner M3X is admittedly not as energy efficient, nor is it as effective as its contemporaries. However, it is a considerably bigger unit mostly because of its installed ASIC chips. It is the most power demanding bitcoin mining equipment that is currently on the market. The draw rate of this miner ranges between 1.8kw and 2kw. It is appealing primarily because of its incredibly high hash rate of about 13 TH/s.
10 – Avalon6
Avalon6 is right up there with the best bitcoin mining hardware made specifically for beginners in the field. The setup process is straightforward and it is one of the more lucrative miners. From the 1050 watts it draws, it is only able to generate roughly 3.5 TH/s. Unfortunately, Avalon6 does not have its own power supply and you can purchase them separately.
That being said, the Avalon6 makes a very good unit to operate in an office or even at home. It could potentially lose money, but it serves an otherwise benevolent purpose by effectively securing the network.