I know, I know. Inflammatory headline is inflammatory. Chances are I have your attention though! My goal is not to incite rage or start some petty fanboy war between cryptocurrency miners and PC gamers. GPU prices are ridiculous, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Tensions between the DIY PC gaming crowd and mining crowd are sky-high, with comment sections on mining-focused articles turning into a war zone of blame and anger.
The reality is that if you want to build a PC right now or upgrade your graphics card, you’ll pay through the nose. But you can offset the absurd price tags of modern graphics cards by embracing the age-old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join em.”
At least join ’em part time. Let me explain.
Let’s say you want to pick up an Nvidia GTX 1070. Depending on your location and retail preferences, it’s going to cost you anywhere from $699 to $850. So how do you make your money back on that graphics card purchase when you’re gaming with it? You don’t. I’m not even sure the concept of ROI (return on investment) crosses many people’s minds when building a PC or buying a new GPU.
As a theoretical example, let’s say you’ll be gaming on that GTX 1070 for 4 hours per day. You can allocate the remaining 20 hours per day to recouping your costs through mining. After several months, those 20 daily hours will transform into pure profit. Below I’ll walk you through a few scenarios and rock some math to illustrate what I’m talking about.
[Ed note: Investing in cryptocoins or tokens is highly speculative and the market is largely unregulated. Anyone considering it should be prepared to lose their entire investment.]
Scenario 1: The GPU Upgrade
Your GTX 750 Ti just isn’t cutting it anymore since it can’t exactly kick out 60FPS in PUBG without looking like your monitor is smeared with Vaseline. So you decide it’s time to execute a serious upgrade and go hunting for an Nvidia GTX 1070. One of the most “affordable” ones you can track down is the Gigabyte Gaming 1070 8GB for $699. You hesitate, but eventually swallow the sticker shock and press forward knowing you’ll be playing literally any game out there in its beautiful intended 1080p/60fps glory — and many more at 1440p and 4K.
But you won’t be gaming 24/7 right? So let’s put your card to work for you. Let’s assume you’re gaming for about 4 hours out of each day. Maybe that’s too generous for some, and maybe a drop in the bucket for others, but I think it’s a reasonable amount of time to use for this example. The remaining 20 hours of each day you could be using that GTX 1070 for mining. One way is to download the NiceHash software.
This is by far the easiest way to get into mining, although technically you aren’t mining. Instead you’re selling your GPU’s hashing power to a marketplace, and being paid in Bitcoin for your efforts. All that’s required is registration, a quick download and an auto-benchmark. You can then transfer your earned Bitcoin to Coinbase.com and directly into your bank account if you choose to.
(I’ll write an accompanying NiceHash guide tomorrow for those of you who don’t hate me for writing this!)
There are many other ways to start mining, but I’ve found NiceHash to be the easiest — though not most profitable — for beginners who want to “install it, set it and forget it.” Gaming? Click stop. Away for awhile? Click start.
As of this writing here’s what you can earn on NiceHash with a single GTX 1070 broken down into day/week/month.
But in my example you’ll only be mining roughly 83% of the day, so let’s adjust these numbers to $1.18 per day. That’s approximately $430 per year for the single card. Money you wouldn’t otherwise have. At this rate you’d have your GTX 1070 fully paid off in about 19 months. It’s very loose math since these rates can fluctuate based on the value of Bitcoin and other altcoins, but look at it this way: before it’s even time to upgrade your card again, it has paid for itself.
By the way, I already baked an average energy cost of $0.10kW/h into these profit calculations. If you happen to be in a dorm or living somewhere where electrical is included, then go you!
You can estimate your own profits for a wider range of hardware here.
Scenario 2: The GPU Upgrade + A Dedicated Mining Card
Does your motherboard have an extra PCIe slot for a secondary graphics card? Let’s imagine when you buy your new GTX 1070 you also pick up a GTX 1060 — which is incredibly energy efficient — and dedicate that to mining 24/7. I found the 6GB GTX 1060 version of Gigabyte’s Windforce model on Amazon for $359. Again, yea that’s pretty high. But guess what that card can bring in mining 24/7?
That’s $504 per year, meaning that card pays for itself in less than 10 months when purely dedicated to mining, and then you’re cranking out pure profit with it running quietly in the shadows. $42 per month in year 2? That’s a reasonably priced game on Steam, 21 Overwatch loot boxes, etc. Or hey, that second year with it hashing away inside your gaming PC gets you a long way toward earning enough cash for your next GPU upgrade. Suddenly mining doesn’t seem so evil does it?
There are variations on this theme of course. Maybe you don’t need a GPU upgrade, but you’ve got the space and PSU headroom to accommodate a secondary GPU. Pick up that GTX 1060 and tell NiceHash to use only that card. After about 10 months, it’s pure profit for you.
Maybe you want to buy an entirely new PC? As I mentioned here, some of these systems can be way more affordable than building your own rig right now. In fact, some of them are barely more than the cost of a single midrange to high-end GPU. The same rules apply though: put it to work for you when you’re not gaming. Or devote your old PC to mining. There are lots of options for you to entertain, and I’m happy to help if you need a push in the right direction.
Some Closing Notes:
- I’m currently mining with a GTX 1060 and GTX 1070, and I can vouch for these estimated profits. In fact, if you overclock your cards they will be slightly higher.
- Running your cards 24/7 does come with an inherent risk of shortening their lifespan, though I’m unable point to any hard facts to back this up.
- My point in writing this is not to glorify cryptocurrency mining, and it’s not to bash on PC gamers. The point, PC gamers, is that you can have the best of both worlds!