With huge potential gains in GPU power potentially on the horizon, now is a time for patience when it comes to buying GPUs for cryptocurrency mining.
The world of GPUs is always changing fast these days, and it appears that NVIDIA overestimated how long the cryptocurrency demand would last, which might cause downward pressure on the pricing before the new generation of GPUs comes out.
While GPUs are back to MSRP prices for now, we would still advise waiting before buying a new graphics card for cryptocurrency mining, if at all. The reason?
At this point we are close enough to Hot Chips 30 August 19-21 that it is worth the wait to find out what NVIDIA has scheduled to talk about:
NVIDIA’s New Generation of GPUs: 40-50% More Powerful?
NVIDIA might be about to make some big leaps forward with graphics cards that make it worth waiting for the next generation. While questions are looming about exactly when the new generation of GPUs will come out and exactly what their specs will be, we’re going to go over the latest information and what it means for cryptocurrency mining.
NVIDIA GTX 1070 Current Champ (At least for NVIDIA)
The NVIDIA GTX 1070 has been the star of the NVIDIA lineup by most accounts for the GPUs that are presently available, as it is more efficient from both a cost and power usage to output perspective to its more advanced brethren, the 1080 GTX. According to techradar and Bitcoin Exchange Guide the NVIDIA 1070 was the top choice for cryptocurrency mining, and according to Tom’s Hardware it was the top NVIDIA option.
We will take a look at the AMD options that outpaced the 1070 later in the article, but for now we are going to take a look at the new potential releases that could leave all of these GPUs in the dust.
The GTX 1170 to Replace the GTX 1070 in 3rd Quarter of 2018?
Recently rumors have started spreading that NVIDIA will be releasing their new graphics card lineup in the third quarter of 2018. Also keep in mind that the NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang said that it will be a ‘long time’ before the next generation comes out, but failed to offer more context. Another article was just released by Wccftech confirming that there will be at least a limited release of new GPUs in late August or September, making it close enough that there is no reason to buy a graphics card now.
With Intel’s recent inventory problems it is also clearly in Huang’s interest to tell people the next release isn’t for awhile to try and get people to buy more of the current generation of cards.
The speculation about the release of the new cards was partially based on a big order of new fans to go with the cards, but now it has also been confirmed (in rumors at least) that there are going to be small amounts of the new cards shipped in August or September.
Not all generational jumps are big ones, but techradar is predicting the replacement of the GTX 1070 (presumably the 1170) to allow for true 4K at 60 frames-per-second gaming with one GPU.
For comparison sake, an article from gamespot.com came to the conclusion that:
“But is the 1070 a 4K card? Aside from the most graphically-demanding games/poorly optimized ports, it will be able to max out the majority of games with at least 30FPS average.”
Keep in mind, this is talking about UHD, which is a 2160 x 3840 resolution, and is not the true 4k that techradar is talking about. True 4K is also sometimes known as Cinema HD, and is 4096 x 2160. This is only 6.66% bigger than UHD, but it will make at least that much of a difference in performance.
If they are saying the 1070 can handle at least 30fps at UHD, that means it can probably handle Cinema 4k at 30fps, and maybe even up to 40fps on some games.
Even if we are giving the 1070 the benefit of the doubt and saying it can do 40fps at Cinema 4k, if the 1170 GTX can truly do 60 fps this would be a 50% increase in performance!
Here’s another assessment from techgage.com on the performance of various AMD and NVIDIA cards, including for 4k gaming:
Notice that for gaming the Vega 64 lines up well with the GTX 1080 and the Vega 56 lines up well with the GTX 1070 and GTX 1070 Ti. As you can see, some of the top of the line cards are already hitting the 60fps mark on 4K, so this isn’t necessarily a huge jump from the top of the line cards right now. However, both the GTX 1070 and the 1070 Ti perform at a ‘poor’ rating, and the main new card we are looking at is the successor to the 1070, meaning it should be at a similar price point.
Here’s a sample of what some prices are on these cards from Newegg to give you an idea:
And here’s the AMD cards:
The NVIDIA Titan X (Pascal) is in a league of it’s own, as take a look at this refurbished model:
At the moment the 1080 Ti certainly looks like the king for gaming, as it is delivering similar performance as much more expensive models. However, as with the AMD Vega line, the most powerful GPU is not always the best for cryptocurrency mining.
GTX 1170 Could Set new Standard for Consumer GPU Crypto Mining
While these benchmarks are for gaming and not for cryptocurrency mining, since we don’t have any actual models to test we can’t just look up their hash rate, so we’re working with the information we have.
TechRadar Guesses at New Specs Suggest 40-50% Gains
TechRadar published some guesstimates at specs and Wccftech also published this table looking at the GTX 1080 and the speculated specs for the GTX 1180:
Quick Overview of GPU Generational Changes
It is not often that a new set of graphics cards comes out, so each time there are relatively big jumps in at least some of the specs. As you can see, the GTX 970 and the GTX 1070 were relatively similar with CUDA cores and TMUs, but there was a huge jump in TFLOPs and VRAM.
Despite these minimal changes in CUDA cores and TMUs the other changes are still large enough that the GTX 1070 is over 50% improved from the GTX 970:
Comparison on Relative Performance between GTX 1070 and GTX 970
Even if the new specs fall short of what NVIDIA actually comes out with, it seems safe to say that we can still expect in the neighborhood of 50% gains in performance, if not more. If VRAM stays the same then this number might be limited for the 1170, but in that case the 1180 may end up setting the new standard for capability.
However, with cryptocurrency it is all about efficiency per watt of power used over the long term, and not necessarily about gross capability.
Even if 50% Gains Fall Short: Wait to Buy
Mining cryptocurrency is already a risky endeavor, so the last thing you want to do is buy an overpriced graphics card right before a new card comes out that is 50% better. Even if NVIDIA’s new cards are only 25-40% better, this would still mean massive changes in the amount of profit made over the long run, and could easily be the difference between making a profit and just paying money to your power company.
However, from what we can tell it seems the new generation will likely be 50% better with performance, it is just the timing that is still a wildcard. Even then it is still necessary to do the math to see if it is worth buying a graphics card just for cryptocurrency mining, as there is a good chance it won’t be.
Due to the nature of cryptocurrency and how it gets continually harder to mine more value, when a new supply of GPUs comes on the market that is 25-50%+ more powerful than your GPU that just means the amount of value you’re getting per watt of power is even less than it was before, pushing you ever closer to the brink of only breaking even or even losing money on mining due to initial costs + power costs.
It is a delicate balance, but the most important piece of the equation that you are missing if you buy a card now is information about the near future. That is why we advise you to wait at least until after NVIDIA’s talk in August to decide the best course of action.
New NVIDIA Cards More Expensive?
TechRadar has also published speculation that NVIDIA might experiment with higher price points for their new line of GPUs, which could potentially give older graphics cards a chance at still being viable on a per dollar cost basis.
In the long run it would likely still be well worth it to purchase the new graphics cards, they would just take longer to pay themselves off (if at all, remember, this is essentially gambling). This article suggests the 1180 might be $100 more than the 1080, which is unfortunate but still well worth it in the longer run if you can afford it.
Presumably NVIDIA would still be keeping their price points within range of their predecessors, but time will tell. With AMD having released their last set of GPUs in August of last year NVIDIA probably has some time before the next AMD release (early 2019?) so if they wanted to they could potentially price these cards at higher MSRPs.
This would potentially throw a virtual wrench into cryptocurrency miner plans for the future, but at this point the potential gains to be had on a month over month basis from the increased processing power make it worth the wait to find out.
What about AMD Vega GPUs?
AMD has a couple of Vega GPUs that have been very popular with cryptocurrency miners due to their slightly different design than the NVIDIA graphics cards. The current champ for AMD is the AMD Radeon Vega 56, as it delivers better performance on a per watt basis than the flagship AMD Radeon RX Vega 64 and it is cheaper to buy.
The Vega 56 is best for delivering higher hash rates than either the NVIDIA 1070 or 1080, but it also comes at a cost: it eats more power, tends to be more expensive, and is hot and loud. Keep in mind that if you plan on getting an AMD GPU (and can manage to find one for a decent price) that it will be very important to optimize your GPU for mining.
These GPUs are much more power hungry than their NVIDIA counterparts, and while they can be better for mining, they aren’t right out of the box.
The AMD GPUs are similar enough to their NVIDIA competitors that if the new NVIDIA cards do have the promised gains they will be leaving both the last generation of NVIDIA and AMD cards in the dust.
Stay the Course: Wait for the News About new Release of GPUs
If you already have a setup with older GPUs, make sure you have everything optimized for maximum efficiency for cryptocurrency mining for your particular currency. Keep in mind this is often not the same as max performance, which tends to be less effective on a currency mined/per watt basis.
If you don’t have a setup yet and are looking to get into cryptocurrency mining, do yourself a favor and wait. While there is always a chance you could end up making more by acting now, there are a lot of signs that you’ll probably live to regret the decision.
Cryptocurrency mining is already risky enough as it is without bad market timing for new GPUs, so do yourself a favor and don’t go all in right before the goalposts are moved. If nothing else when the new cards come out the older cards should get a lot cheaper (if there are any left), and then you maybe then it will be worth it to scoop up a bunch of the old ones.
Or if the all the rumors come true (hopefully except for NVIDIA charging more) you can grab a new card and increase your capability 40-50%+ right away. That type of thing adds up quickly, as if there are 50% gains in capability after two months you would already make what you did in 3 months if you bought an old card!
Cryptocurrency mining is all about the numbers, and don’t be fooled into buying a new graphics card right now just for mining. Once the official release comes out with the specs of the new generation of NVIDIA cards and the price you can make a much more informed decision on what is best.
Even if it ends up taking a year for the new cards to come out, you can rest assured that it will be quite awhile before the next generation of GPUs comes out from NVIDIA and your card will have a much better chance at remaining relevant for longer.
While AMD has become more competitive on the high end GPU market as of late, even if they have their new releases in early 2019 they will be likely be releasing cards that are similar to the new NVIDIA cards or slightly worse. AMD has had a hard time competing at the upper echelons with NVIDIA, so we will need to see their next generation of GPUs being amazing before we believe it.
Best GPU Only Part of the Battle for Profitability with Mining
Always remember, that even if you get the best GPU(s) out there for mining, there is always the danger of more specialized ASICs which mine much faster than GPUs and render them relatively useless, as their power draws quickly end up costing more than what they can mine.
Selecting the proper cryptocurrency to mine with the right setup and time frame is no easy task, as it is important to pay attention to a number of different considerations. Those other considerations are beyond the scope of this article, but regardless of what is going on with the rest of the cryptocurrency world we encourage you to make decisions with the utmost caution and skepticism before buying a potentially overpriced GPU today that might be outdated in two months not only by ASICs and antminers, but just by the next generation of GPUs.
Overclocking Bad for Lifespan and Resale Value of GPUs
While most people are trying to make as much as they can right now on GPUs, for those that have a more skeptical approach or that are looking to hedge their bets, avoid overclocking your GPUs as much as possible.
Used GPUs can be useful for a lot of things beyond cryptocurrency mining, but if they have been consistently overclocked their value goes through the floor. While most people plan on making their ‘millions’ so that they don’t have to sell their GPUs and it makes sense to maximize for the best efficiency you can, just keep in mind that there can be benefits from choosing not to overclock your GPUs as well.
Getting Rid of Old GPUs?
We have an upcoming article about where and how to sell your used GPUs if you’re ready to get rid of your old GPUs.
Exit Technologies is an ITAD (Information Technology Asset Disposition) company, but we want to make sure people know all of their options for getting rid of their used computer equipment. We generally buy used computer and server equipment in bulk, so we aren’t a great fit for most miners or other individuals looking to get rid of old GPUs. For anyone with bulk GPUs to get rid of you can look at how to sell your graphics cards to us here and we also have a more specific page for mining setups and graphics cards.
However, we still like to do our part and help give people answers they can trust on where and how they can sell their used computer equipment so it can be put to the best use and make you the most money!
Computer parts that are thrown away are bad news for the environment, so the more they can be reused the better!
Have something to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!