If you're new to mining you might have the questions in your head...
Which graphics card manufacturer should I choose for cryptocurrency mining?
AMD or Nvidia?
In this piece, we'll be delving into the pros and cons for both makes of cards and outline how you should make your choice.
I'll be outlining exactly why you should choose Nvidia or AMD and why I think Nicehash is the dogs nuts.
But first here's my view.
I've never really been that much into PC games to know enough about graphics cards. There always seems to have been too many to choose from and I usually just based my GPU choice on which one came with a passive cooling system at a good price.
From time to time I did dig deep for a half decent graphics card to play games like GTA5. But as mentioned I'm not really a gamer so my interest has always been a bit meh when it comes to the card.
Do people still play GTA5?
Of course, now everything has changed. I've been researching graphics cards for over two months. Keeping a very close eye on prices and stock levels of such cards as the Nvidia Geforce 1080TI.
I've naturally been drawn to the Nvidia cards mainly because they play better with Nicehash. It's a low barrier to entry. Download the nicehash program and hit go.
The AMD cards are still supported by Nicehash's legacy program and if you want to go down the AMD route there's a bit more of a barrier to entry - which we'll get into.
With that said you can probably guess I like an easy life so Nvidia and Nicehash is a winning combo for me. Minimal setup time and usually lower power draw. That's great but there are different mining strategies you should be aware of which we'll discuss when we get into the AMD side of things.
The case for AMD
Apart from the Vega cards - AMD cards are generally cheaper than Nvidia card, but does that make them a more attractive option to mine with? Well as mentioned there's more setup involved with AMD GPUs for mining.
The cost for one, secondly some AMD cards are really good at mining specific cryptocurrencies.
I think the best example of this is Etherium, which is, of course, the 2nd most popular cryptocurrency there is.
AMD cards have a much easier time at mining for ethereum than Nivida cards.
There was a time back in June 2017 when you could quite easily get your hands on an RX 580 at a decent price. Build a rig and be mining ethereum for an extra $1000 a day.
Those days are gone now, mainly due to lack of stock at a reasonable price. You'll find this almost everywhere with certain AMD graphics cards - just hard to get hold of.
The drawbacks with mining on an AMD card are probably the time involved to setup. When I first started mining all those months ago I was not impressed with what Nicehash told me about my AMD card. Basically, tools like Nicehash no longer support AMD cards, unless you use their legacy software.
You must choose a pool and my something like ethereum - this all takes time to learn (something I've yet to do).
How the hell do you even choose a pool?
The other disadvantage of using an AMD card for mining is got to be the power consumption.
You'll find that the power output of most AMD cards is at least 1/3 more than the Nvidia equivalent. The only way to get around this is with modding your card with software like WattMan which also has a bit of a learning curve.
The third and final disadvantage to mining with AMD cards is the BIOS hacks that you have to do to gain most profit from your cards.
Most of these BIOS hacks will invalidate your warranty. And again take time to learn how to do- there's just so much more setup involved in mining with AMD cards.
This, of course, may suit some miners but my time is better spent elsewhere.
The case for Nvidia
If you've read this far then you know I'm biased towards Nvidia - for the simple reason that they are easy to set up and require minimal fuss. But the story does not end there-there are some other reasons why I prefer Nvidia for mining.
The power consumption of most of the higher end Nvidia cards like the Geforce 1080TI is a lot less than the AMD Vega equivalent. Here in the UK electricity is not really that cheap and mining with Nvidia cards is a bit of a no-brainer.
The other advantage of Nivida has to be the compatibility with Nicehash. It just plug and play.
Nicehash supports most Nvidia cards and all you have to do is run the software.
There's no messing with mining pools or BIOS settings to tweak and optimize for profit.
Nicehash does all the challenging work for you by switching automatically to the most profitable altcoin there is.
Nvidia= The simple life
The third and final advantage is that there's just more choice when it comes to Nvidia Geforce cards.
If you compare the releases by both manufacturers over the last few years Nvidia wins by a mile on the selection of cards.
In this time of limited availability on profitable mining cards and soaring prices - you just have that little bit more of a chance of picking up a decent priced Geforce card on somewhere like Amazon.
The biggest drawback mining with Nvidia based cards have to be the lack of performance when it comes mining to the ever so popular ethereum cryptocurrency. I've covered this already but Etherum is positioned to reach a higher market value than Bitcoin in 2018. This is known as the flipping and there's a website dedicated to it.
My strategy to get around Nvidia's lack of ethereum mining capability is to cash out my Nicehash bitcoin balance every few days and swap for ethereum on Binance.
I wrote an article a few weeks back in which I had hoped it was going to be useful for people starting their first mining rig build. The idea of the article was to find cards that were in stock at a decent price. However, I got halfway through writing the article and had to give in. Both Nvidia and AMD cards are hard to come by just now unless you are willing to pay a pretty penny.
The low down here is that it will basically take you longer to pay off either card you go for.
What I would remind you of though is that there's still a re-sale value attached to your graphics card. You might have to pay over the odds just now but more than likely the higher priced cards will keep some of their value longer.
There are however threats to this like Nvidia's new "Turing" card which may really hit the big boys like the 1080TI - which I hold 3 of. I'm going to take the risk though and hold on to these cards as they net me around $5 per day - something that you can't really turn your nose up at.
Holding strategy (aka HODL)
The other thing to take into consideration is your mining strategy. If you are looking for a quick profit mining using something like Nicehash is the way to go.
However, if you are mining for the actual coin and look at some of the less popular coins, then this can really affect which graphics card manufacturer you're going to lean towards.
Why is this?
Simple - AMD is better at mining some coins than whilst Nvidia cards are better at others.
Whatever graphics card manufacturer you choose just make sure you do your research.
Are you prepared for the steep learning curve of AMD? You must figure out what coin to mine, what pool to join, how to undervolt the card, how to update the BIOS, what drivers to use, what mining OS to use.
These are just some of the considerations. Others include your strategy - are you in this for the long-term? What coin looks good from a long-term perspective. How difficult is the coin of mine, when will the coin increase in difficulty, will that reduce your profit curve?
In fact, that is one thing I'm worried about - and no doubt it will come true. By the time I start generating a profit how much more difficult will the coins I am mining be to mine?
Will I even make a profit? These are all risks. With anything financial, there is a risk. Mining with either AMD or Nvidia you do have an insurance policy and that's the fact that you still own the initial investment (the hardware) so there's still a re-sell value and not all your capital will be crushed if the market crashes.
Thanks for reading!
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SCOTT MILLAR // IT Rockstar