Last month, I was on top of the world. I had just finished building my dream gaming PC, and had started using it to mine crypto.
I was getting paid for doing nothing. And it felt sooooooo good.
It wasn’t making a huge profit. Today, my original setup would mine about $20 per month in crypto, at a $14 per month electricity cost. Because mining difficulty increases with time, without a huge surge in crypto prices, the setup will soon start losing money.
Losing money, on the other hand, feels sooooooo … not good.
That problem could be easily fixed, though. My PC’s motherboard supports two graphics cards. I’d only bought one. Buying a second, more-powerful card to also mine crypto seemed like a slam dunk idea, because the extra card wouldn’t jack up my electricity costs as much.
So with visions of vacationing in Ibiza with supermodels on 500-foot yachts dancing in my head, I decided to drive to my local Fry’s and buy the best graphics card I could find. I didn’t have time to wait for two-day shipping. I wanted the card now.
Boy, was I naive.
Sorry, we’re sold out everywhere
When I built my gaming PC in December 2017, finding a decent graphics card was easy.
But when I made my fateful trip to Fry’s a month later, I was met with empty store shelves. Any card that could be used for mining crypto was gone. I asked if their other stores had graphic cards in stock.
“Nope. There’s this thing called crypto mining,” he began to explain. “Heard of it?”
Nothing but bare shelves at Best Buy, either. According to the company’s website, there wasn’t a single card available anywhere in Los Angeles.
I hadn’t realized it yet, but I was shopping during one of the worst GPU shortages in history. As it turns out, everyone wants that Ibiza with supermodels life.
Here’s how I found a card, anyway
Waiting a year for the shortage to run its course wasn’t an option — I’m far too impatient. eBay wasn’t a solution either. Used (and abused) cards were selling for 50 percent more than their MSRP there!
So I turned to an incredible resource called nowinstock.net. The site constantly monitors e-commerce sites to alert you when sold-out products go back in stock.
A minute prior to my first search, Newegg put 8GB NVIDIA GTX 1080 cards in stock for $649. It was marked up over the $600 MSRP, but the cards were available.
I didn’t stop to think — there was no time. I got out my credit card and blindly bought one.
It’s a good thing I did. Another two minutes later, the card was sold out. When I checked Newegg the following day, it was being offered at $819.
Not that they had any left in stock, of course.
Here’s how much my computer makes NOW
I’ll be honest: I was real tempted to turn around and scalp my new card for a quick profit. I could have easily gotten $1,000 for it. But I didn’t buy it to make real-world money. I’m in this for internet fun money, Ibiza, supermodels, 10,000-foot yachts, and moon Lambos.
Worst case scenario, I figured, was that I now have a top-of-the-line card for playing "Overwatch" in luscious 4K. When I’m not gaming, I’d use it to mine to recoup its cost.
After the install, I ran tests on my new card. My 1080 earns crypto more than two times faster than my 1060 does. My earnings jumped from $20 to 30 a month to $60 to 100. (Over the last month, I mined roughly 0.087 ETH, or 0.007 BTC.)
Yes, electricity does still eat into my profits. I pay $0.1698/kWh here in Los Angeles. Running my computer 24/7, with both graphics cards hard at work, costs me about $31 per month according to my Kill A Watt power monitor.
I now make $40–70 per month mining crypto, net.
Here’s what I did wrong
If I had just bought a PC to mine crypto from the jump, I’d have done things very differently. For starters, I’d invest in a specialized motherboard such as the ASUS B250 Mining Expert that supports up to 19 cards. That scalable setup might cost $6,500 fully built, but people who have that setup can make $600 per month. So you do the math.
The 1080 I bought is amazing for gaming, but it’s not optimal for mining. Ideally, I’d build a machine using multiple 1060s (or an even more efficient AMD card). It’s half as fast as my 1080, but a third of the price.
Alternatively, I could have bought a specialized bitcoin mining device. These aren’t typical computers — they’re designed and optimized around bitcoin mining. A Bitmain Antminer S9 runs $2,320 (if you can get one). One S9 can mine about $4,300 worth of bitcoin (at current prices) in a year, while costing about $2,200 worth of electricity, according to Cryptocompare.
But you can’t play Overwatch on a Antminer.
Want to get started yourself? Here’s how
Getting started with mining seems daunting, especially if you’re new to crypto. But if you’ve got a PC at home, even an older one, you can definitely do this. You just need the right software and the right hardware to add on.
You can jump in blindly, the way I did. It’s a tough, expensive route, but you’ll learn a ton.
Or, better yet, you can join me back here next week and I’ll walk you through the finer details of the process, showing you the software I’m using, and how I set it up.
You won’t want to miss it.