At the start of a new year, I typically look through our investments, calculate annual returns, and figure out our general financial situation. Back in October, I mentioned that I started mining zcash, a cryptocurrency (like bitcoin). So, this year, I looked at how much money we made from crypto.
I’m using an EVGA 1070 graphics card for mining. Though the 1070 chipset has been out for a while, my 1070 is quite a good card. Until Nvidia released their new GPU last month, the 1070 chipset was Nvidia’s second best consumer video card chipset, just behind the 1080. My card is powerful enough to do virtual reality, one of the most computationally taxing tasks the typical person would want a graphics card to do.
So, when I mine cryptocurrency, I’m using one of the best graphics cards available. I haven’t actually tried cryptocurrency mining on my CPU on this machine. But if I did, it wouldn’t surprise me if the graphics card produced 100 times more currency than the CPU.
This would be true partly because the graphics card is powerful, and partly because graphics cards generally are optimized to do mathematical computations quickly in parallel. So if I wanted to multiply 100 numbers in my CPU, I might need to do 100 operations, while on the graphics card it could do it in one operation. Since cryptocurrency mining is essentially doing a bunch of math, graphics cards mine much faster than CPUs.
Effectively, this means that there’s no point in mining with my CPU, only the graphics card.
I’ve been mining probably 98% of the time on this computer. I shut down my miner when playing certain games or using spreadsheets, since it can impact the performance of those applications. I’ve also had late-night Windows updates cause reboots that terminate my the miner.
Nevertheless, over the 3+ months, I’ve mined about 0.6 of a zcash coin. Back when I started, zcash was trading in the $250 range (all currencies in US dollars). So, my mining would have generated about $150.
However, cryptocurrencies fluctuate quite a bit. I’ve been holding onto zcash rather than following my initial plan to convert it to ethereum, and zcash has risen to $700. So, at this point I’ve made about $420. When I looked at it over the weekend, zcash was above $900, so yesterday, I was at about $550.
Of course, from this revenue, it’s necessary to deduct the cost of electricity. Unfortunately, without equipment, it’s difficult to determine the amount of electricity my computer uses. What’s more, before I was mining, I’d typically leave my computer on all day, only shutting down at night. So, even if I did keep track of the exact amount of electricity my computer uses, it would be tricky to determine the increase in my computer’s electricity usage as a result of mining.
What I do know, however, is that my electricity bill actually fell year over year over those months. I don’t know exactly why. It might be weather-related, or my perhaps my new computer is actually more efficient than my old computer at using electricity, or perhaps our usage patterns have just changed. Regardless, it’s clear that mining didn’t cause a massive increase in our electric bill.
The bottom line
One other interesting thing to note is that you can buy my 1070 graphics card for about $540. So, if I had decided to buy two graphics cards with my computer, I would be close to paying off the second graphics card after only three months. Thus, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to buy a graphics card today and hope to pay it off in under 6 months just by mining cryptocurrency. There’s a large degree of speculation in doing that—if cryptocurrencies crash, you might not be able to make enough to pay for the card. But if you want a good graphics card anyway, this is a good way to get one.
Besides, mining crypto is fun.