8 min read

One of the main ways to get Bitcoin is mining. The cryptocurrency market is developing dynamically, bitcoin is storming new heights and you may think that now is the right time to try yourself in ASIC or GPU mining. However, it is important to choose the right equipment for bitcoin mining – otherwise you risk losing a lot of money. Which is better, ASIC or GPU, which ASIC miner is better and cheaper, and can you even make a profit from mining cryptocurrencies in 2021? We will try to answer these questions.

The difference between an ASIC and a GPU

ASIC is the acronym of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. Simply put, it is a computer chip optimized for performing a single task. The algorithm is built into the chip at the factory, so the ASIC cannot be reprogrammed.

In contrast, a GPU, or graphic processing unit is an ordinary video card that is located inside any computer. GPUs and CPUs can perform an unlimited number of different tasks, but they are less efficient in each of them than ASICs.

What to choose for mining: ASIC or GPU?

The type of mining equipment depends on what kind of coin you want to mine. If your goal is Bitcoin, don't even try to mine it on a GPU. The hashrate (computational capacity) and difficulty of bitcoin mining have reached such a scale that even if you have the world's best GPU for mining at your disposal, you will never find a single block.

Mining BTC on a GPU as part of a pool will also not work: the amount of shares that you will send to the pool (i.e. your input) will be microscopic compared to ASIC – and so will your share of the pool's revenue.

Note that Bitcoin is not the only coin that can be mined. Many cryptocurrencies can be successfully mined using GPUs, including ETH, LTC, XMR and others.

Pros and cons of ASICs and GPUs

Before you decide to buy an ASIC or a powerful video card, you should consider the strengths and weaknesses of these two types of mining equipment.


  • Pros

Mining of Bitcoins and Bitcoin cash. Most mining ASICs are designed for mining cryptocurrencies using the SHA-256 hash function algorithm, mainly BTC, BCH and BSV (Bitcoin Satoshi Vision). Miners can freely switch between these coins depending on their relative profitability at the moment.

The attractiveness of Bitcoin for miners lies in its high reward for a block: after being halved in May 2020, the reward for a block is 6.25 BTC, or more than 350 thousand dollars. In addition, miners receive a commission for transactions (circa $ 30 as of the end of April 2021).

High efficiency. ASICs do consume a lot of electricity, but a better ASIC miner will also produce a lot more hashes per joule of energy than a GPU. Therefore, when trying to decide which ASIC is the best investment, you should consider the price-efficiency ratio, not just power.

  • Cons

It is difficult to mine at home. Theoretically, you can install an ASIC in a garage, but you will need a cooling system, humidifiers, an extremely stable broadband connection, protection of the power source in case of power surges and very cheap electricity. If you don't have all this at home, you will need to place the mining equipment on an external mining farm, perhaps even abroad.

Import rules. Depending on your country, many documents, customs fees, etc. may be required to import ASICs. If you do decide to buy the device and ship it from abroad (usually from China), you may have to sign a contract with a specialized agency to help get the device through customs.

It is impossible to switch to ETH mining. As we pointed out earlier, you can use Bitcoin's ASIC to mine BCH and BSV, but you can't reprogram it to hash ETH or ETC (which use the Ethash algorithm) or LTC (which uses Scrypto), for example.

Frequent updates. Manufacturers continue to produce more and more efficient models, so even the most powerful ASICs may stop making a profit in a couple of years. For this reason, it is also difficult to sell the old ASIC: no one needs a machine that no longer makes money.


  • Pros

A wide range of coins. Coins that you can mine using the GPU include Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic, Grin, Ravencoin, Monero, etc. And since most of these coins have network hashrates that are thousands of times lower than the bitcoin hashrate, the most efficient GPU for mining can bring higher income than the bitcoin ASIC: there is simply less competition between miners.

You can get it at home. Many people build and run GPUs at home, and you can find detailed instructions and videos online.

Easy to sell. A good used GPU can be sold for almost the same price as a new one. If you wait for a surge in the popularity of cryptocurrencies, you can even make a net profit by selling a GPU. In addition, the video card can always be repurposed for games.

  • Cons

You can't mine Bitcoins. Although it is technically possible, mining bitcoins using a GPU will never bring profit, even if it is the best graphics card for mining.

High market prices. When the popularity of mining is growing, the prices of GPUs are also growing. According to Tom's hardware GPU Pricing Index, the Nvidia mining GPU is now selling at about three times the official price, while AMD GPUs are being offered at twice the official price.

The verdict

Comparing mining GPUs and ASICs is like comparing cars to airplanes. They have different purposes and applications, and in most cases they aren’t interchangeable. 

ASICs generate several times as many hashes per unit of energy, but they are also utilized to mine the coins with the highest network hashrate. If you buy the best ASIC miner as soon as it’s released, you’ll have an advantage for a while, but soon others will upgrade to the same model, the overall hashrate will grow, and so will the difficulty. For this reason, a 100W GPU used as part of a small home rig can yield the same daily revenue as a 800-watt ASIC.

Besides, you can install quite a few GPUs at home, but you won’t be able to run many ASICs due to the limitations on domestic electricity consumption and the cooling requirements. 

The conclusion is that as a beginner with a budget under $10,000, you’ll do better to buy several quality graphics cards and mine those coins that yield a profit on a GPU, such as ETH, LTC, XMR, etc.

However, if your budget exceeds $10k and you have a good understanding of the mining market, as well as access to cheap electricity, an ASIC mining farm can be an interesting option. If electricity costs more than $0.07 where you live, you should consider hosting ASICs on a remote farm. 

How much can you earn with ASIC and GPU mining?

You can use free online calculators to get an idea of how much revenue a device will earn. Enter the hashrate in MH/s (for GPUs) or TH/s (for ASICs), the power draw in watts, and the price of electricity in USD per kWh.

Bitcoin mining calculator

Keep in mind that calculators use the current crypto prices and difficulty and project them into the future. But in reality, these values can change suddenly and dramatically: for example, a surge in prices can cause an inflow of mining power, followed by an increase in difficulty and a fall in revenues. 

Besides, the expected Bitcoin earnings are calculated based on the values entered and do not consider difficulty, exchange rate fluctuations, stale/reject/orphan rate, etc. These and other factors change every day/every week and can have effects on the expected earnings.

It is never enough to use one of the best calculators to count all the expenses. It would be best if you moved with the times and always checked what is new on the market.

Onramper widget can help you to count your future mining income. Use widget to check the current exchange rate and enter it into a calculator you decided to work with. 

At the same time, using the Onramper widget, you can compare real-time prices for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, offers of all fiat-to-crypto gateways (onramps), choose the best option with the lowest fees and buy cryptocurrency without overpayment using any convenient payment method (credit, debit card, bank transfer, Google Pay, Apple Pay, online banking, international and local payment systems).

Another important point is the risk of a price collapse soon after a peak. For example, if the price of ether grows to $2,800, miners and investors will rush to sell ETH to lock in the profits, and the price will soon go down. If you don’t sell your own coins fast enough, your mining profit in fiat currency will be much lower than expected.

The 5 best mining GPUs in 2021*

If you are planning to start mining cryptocurrency soon, try to purchase one of the best mining GPU models – this way you’ll recoup the costs and will start earning a net profit sooner. Our ranking includes only GPU cards for mining with a payback period of less than 7 months and a price below $600 when bought used on eBay. Each GPU’s revenue was calculated based on a price of electricity of $0.066 per kilowatt-hour and the price of $2,400 for one ether, and assuming that the level of mining difficulty remains unchanged.

The best GPU for mining on a budget: Radeon RX5700 XT

Ebay price: from $550, including shipment cost

Payback period: 4 monthsThis GPU can reach 50 MH/s with a reasonably low power consumption (135W). Be attentive when comparing the offers on eBay, though: sometimes the RX5700 XT sells for the same price as the less performant RX 5700.

  • AMD RX580 8 GB

Ebay price: from $450, including shipment cost

Payback period: 6 monthsIt’s relatively easy to get the RX580 to 29 MH/s, and it also produces little heat for a budget GPU, so you won’t spend too much on cooling if you build a rig of these cards. The GPU consumes 158W of power, which is more than Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070, but at one third of Nvidia’s price this is hardly a flaw. 

  • AMD Radeon RX590 8GB

Ebay price: from $470, including shipment cost

Payback period: 6 months and 1 weekJust like the RX580, this is an old model with a modest hashrate of 28.5 MH/s (the most powerful GPUs reach 125 MH/s). However, it also costs 5 to 6 times less, meaning that you’ll recoup the expense pretty quickly. 

  • GeForce GTX 1660 Super

Ebay price: from $550, including shipment cost

Payback period: 6 months and 2 weeksThis GPU has a similar hashrate to the RX580, but it consumes less than 80W of power. However,  its higher price means that the payback period won’t be shorter: rather, it’s a good alternative for those who can’t access cheap energy.

  • Radeon RX6800

Ebay price: from $1,100, including shipment cost

Payback period: 6 months and 2 weeksThe card has the same power draw as the cheapest GPU on our list (AMD RX580) but produces 65 MH/s. Moreover, if you get disappointed with mining, you can use it to play hardware-intensive computer games.

The 5 best mining ASICs in 2021*

Just like with GPUs, you need to know which ASIC is the most profitable rather than just look for the highest hashrate. Manufacturers’ stocks are normally sold out months in advance, ans some of the models on our list of the best ASIC mining hardware can be hard to buy even on eBay.  

  • Antminer S9

Price: from $700, including shipment cost

Payback period: 8 months

Specs: 13.5 TH/s, 1323WS9’s hashrate is 6.5 lower than that of the new S19 model, so miners are trying to get rid of it, making a pre-owned S9 easy to buy. If you find an offer under $800 with a power supply unit thrown in, the payback period can turn out to be shorter than for the S19. By the way, this ASIC also generates less heat than the new model.

  • AvalonMiner 1246

Price: from $7,300, including shipment cost

Payback period: 8.5 months

Specs: 90 TH/s, 3,420WThis well-known model by Canaan is quite efficient at 38 joules per terahash. Also, this ASIC is easy to install and service. Canaan began producing ASICs even earlier than Bitmain, but for some reason is less known as a brand.

  • WhatsMiner M32-62T

Price: from $6,300, including shipment cost

Payback period: 8.5 months

Specs: 62 TH/s, 3,348WThis model by Pangolin Miner can offer a shorter payback period than the S9. Though this ASIC consumes a lot of energy, the built-in fans do a good job keeping it cool. Moreover, the device is shipped with a power supply unit. The manufacturer gives a 12-month warranty, but buying a new M32-62T is hard.

  • Whatsminer M32-70

Price: from $6,200, including shipment cost

Payback period: 11 months

Specs: 70 TH/s, 3,360WThis ASIC’s advantage is that it’s almost always available from the manufacturer. It’s also quite small - important when building a rig – and is sold together with a power supply unit and fan. However, you pay extra for the opportunity to buy a brand-new ASIC without queuing. 

  • AvalonMiner A1166 Pro

Price: from $8,00, including shipment cost

Payback period: 11 months

Specs: 781 TH/s, 3,400WThis Canaan model is both powerful and energy-efficient (42 joules per terahash). Unlike AvalonMiner 1246, it’s shipped with a power supply unit. 

*) Note. Prices for mining equipment vary, because they depend on the market prices for cryptocurrency and the demand for a specific type of equipment from a certain manufacturer.

Sourse: emcd.io

Read more: