What is the Most Profitable Cryptocurrency to Mine?
Updated April 19, 2020
This is a difficult question to answer since it depends on a lot of factors. To start, let's introduce some mining calculators and equations for revenue and profit. We will then separately discuss mining using ASICs and GPUs (graphics cards). If you are considering mining both, then you will obviously want to compare profitability data for both to find the most profitable coin to mine.
You should never blindly rely on any calculator. They may be outdated, incorrect, and/or be subject to one or more limitations. For example, the Whattomine calculator has a few limitations – it only lists some of the available coins, it does not account for upfront hardware costs, and it uses a fixed energy cost which may not be representative of your actual energy cost (e.g., that may vary by time of day).
Instead, you should understand how to calculate revenue and profit if you are considering mining. And you should always do your own research and calculations before purchasing any equipment or making any investment decisions.
Revenue and profit calculations
The formula to calculate total revenue (RTOT) is:
RTF is the transaction fee for each transaction in a block being confirmed. Most calculators omit this term since it varies and is usually far less than the block reward. RM is the mining revenue per hour that can be calculated for most cryptocurrencies using the following equation:
RB is the block reward, h is the network hash rate (in hash/seconds), t is time (in seconds), M is the modifier, D is the network difficulty (sometimes just referred to as "difficulty"), and FP is the pool fee. M varies by cryptocurrency - e.g., it is 232 for Bitcoin and Ravencoin, 8192 for Zcash, 1 for Ether, etc. FP can be omitted if mining solo.
Profit (P) can then be calculated using this formula:
CE is the cost of energy. Most calculators assume a fixed energy cost per unit time, so you may have to account for this if your energy cost varies (e.g., by time of day). CH is the cost of the hardware including the upfront cost, maintenance cost, etc. Some calculators omit this term.
Determining ASIC mining profitability
Not all hash algorithms can be mined using ASIC mining rigs, and most ASIC mining rigs are only compatible with a single hash algorithm. The table below lists the most common hash algorithms for ASIC mining and also the most common cryptocurrencies that utilize each of the hash algorithms.
|SHA-256||Bitcoin (BTC), BitcoinCashABC (BCH), BitcoinSV (BSV), DGB-SHA (DGB), LitecoinCash (LCC), Peercoin (PPC), and Myriad-SHA (XMY)|
|Equihash||Horizen (ZEN), Hush (HUSH), Komodo (KMD), Pirate (ARRR), and Zcash (ZEC)|
|Scrypt||DGB-Scrypt (DGB), Dogecoin (DOGE), Einsteinium (EMC2), Florin (FLO), GameCredits (GAME), Myriad-Scrypt (XMY), Litecoin (LTC), Verge-Scrypt (XVG), and Viacoin (VIA)|
|X11||Axe (AXE), Dash (DASH), Euno (EUNO), and Imagecoin (IMG)|
See our ASIC Rig Guide for information on the highest-performance ASIC miners for the most popular hash algorithms. Unfortunately, the number of available ASIC mining rigs is small and the supply of those is very limited.
Navigate to the "ASIC" tab of the Whattomine calculator and adjust any of the default values for the hash rate and power. Don't be surprised if the default values are the same as those in the table above – that means the calculator is current.
You may also want to exclude coins corresponding to certain algorithms (e.g., Quark and Qubit especially since you can't easily source reliable ASIC mining rigs for those algorithms). To do so, just click on the blue button for the algorithm that you want to exclude and re-run the calculator.
If you happen to know your energy cost, you can enter it in the field labeled "Cost." If your energy cost varies, perhaps enter an average value.
When you are finished adjusting the settings, click "Calculate" to generate results. You may want to try different difficulty settings (in the field labeled "Difficulty for revenue") and see how it affects the results.
If you have more than one ASIC mining rig set to mine the same cryptocurrency, then you can use the Whattomine calculator to determine the profitability of such a setup by simply summing the hashrates and powers, respectively. For example, based on the values in the table above for mining a particular SHA-256 cryptocurrency using an Antminer S9 and an AvalonMiner 741, the combined hashrate would be 21.3 TH/s and the combined power would be 2522 W. You will notice a nice jump in profitability after you run the calculator with these combined values.
Determining GPU mining profitability
GPU mining profitability depends on your hardware setup and which cryptocurrency you decide to mine. The profitability calculators available today, including the Whattomine calculator, do not provide this information. However, you can quickly and easily determine the most profitable setup for your budget using the following 4-step process.
1. Determine your GPU budget
The majority of the cost of a GPU mining rig is going to be, not surprisingly, the graphics cards themselves. Since mining revenue is proportional to hash rate (recall the above mining revenue formula), the goal is to maximize your hashrate using as many graphics cards as you can afford. This also provides increased revenue where the difficulty rises over time as discussed on the Solo Mining Vs. Pool Mining page. So something to keep in mind is that the more you put down upfront on hardware, the sooner you will make that money back assuming the value of the cryptocurrency you mine holds its value.
These are just things to keep in mind. You can finalize your budget during the later steps.
2. Determine the maximum number of GPUs
The maximum number of graphics cards is dictated by the motherboard you choose, and in some cases, your operating system. Other things to consider include the total amount of energy you wish to consume, the total amount of heat you can deal with, and to a lesser extent space constraints (e.g., your rig case or frame may only hold a certain number of cards).
Our GPU Rig Guide lists popular motherboards for GPU mining. It shows relevant specifications including the maximum number of graphics cards that each motherboard supports. The guide also provides some recommendations on selecting other components for your mining rig.
Regarding operating systems, some have reported that Windows 10 only allows 7 to 9 cards, but there is some disagreement (hence the range). This video shows a 9-card Windows setup.
So if you want to go with Windows, you may want to error on the safe side and assume 7 cards max. You could always try more later. Else, you could opt for Linux and go with a larger number of cards.
3. Determine the optimal number and type of graphics card for each mineable cryptocurrency
This is where the profitability calculators fall short and people make mistakes. Gut impressions and advice from the Internet will likely lead you to the wrong conclusion. However, our novel Mining GPU Selector makes this quick and easy.
Simply enter your graphics card budget and maximum number of graphics cards and then select "Run." It will show you the type and number of graphics cards that you should use to mine each cryptocurrency with maximum profitability. You can then select any of the mineable cryptocurrencies to see the profitability details or a list of video cards of the optimal card type.
To illustrate this issue, let's use the example presented on this video that suggests using the Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti in a 6-card mining rig to mine Cortex (uses the CuckooCycle hash algorithm). The video doesn't mention an exact budget for the graphics cards, but let's assume that they are $979 each (least expensive unit as of April 7, 2020) which provides for a graphics card budget of $5,874. Plugging this information into our Mining GPU Selector, we see that 18 Nvidia GTX 2060 video cards produce the most profitable setup.
You can compare the results of the 1080 Ti setup to the 2060 setup. The 1080 Ti setup produces ~$6,195 less revenue per year (will vary over time) than the 2060 setup recommended by our Mining GPU Selector. Further, assuming a price of $979 for the 1080 Ti and $310 for the 2060, the 1080 Ti setup will cost you an extra $294 upfront for the cards themselves.
Everyone agrees that the 1080 Ti is a solid card, but it will not provide the most revenue and profit in every situation. It's also an older, less-efficient model that will resell for less should you decide to part the rig out at some point. Don't guess – use the CCPlug.com Mining GPU Selector!