Is it worth it to start mining Ethereum? [June 2017]


“Is it worth it?”

That’s the constantly-repeated question in the mining community when a coin is starting to become profitable. Ethereum this year, for example, saw a big jump in price, which led lots of people who would have otherwise not thought twice about cryptocurrency to become suddenly interested.

When this happens, though, most of the biggest profits (at least for that bubble) have already been made. People had been mining the coin for months or years prior, and they certainly saw some decent gains, especially if they had a decently-sized holding. For many, their entire wallet of Ether jumped 10x or 20x its value.

So back to the question: Is it worth it to start mining? If you’re just now hearing about Ethereum and interested in maybe jumping on board, that can be a hard question, and it depends on a lot of different factors.

Ethereum difficulty update

Difficulty is slowly but steadily rising, that’s undeniable. Here’s the current chart from Coinwarz:

For those unfamiliar with how mining works, this is basically the rate at which you will see rewards for the amount of energy your GPU puts into mining the coin. The same amount of energy (or time the GPU is running, in this case) put in a couple months ago would have given the miner far more return than today.

As we go into June 2017, Ethereum’s difficulty is reaching all-new highs, passing 500T and nearing 600T. That compares to an average of around 350T for the month of May, although that number steadily rose throughout the month to the numbers we’re seeing today.

All this considered, however, profits for miners have remained steady (and perhaps even grown) in recent months with the continually-rising price of 1 ETH. As of this writing, a 150 Mh/s 6 GPU mining rig consuming roughly 1,000W of electricity at a rate of $0.1 per KW/h is turning almost 1 ETH per week.

Want to learn how to build a 6 GPU rig for Ethereum? Click here.

Is it worth it to start mining Ethereum in June 2017?

So is it worth it to start mining Ethereum in June 2017? That depends. With 6 GPUs, you’ll get about 150-180 Mh/s, and that’s the best case scenario. At current rates that’s about 1 ETH per week. That’s a pretty good return, considering 1 ETH is currently running around $220. A $2,000 rig, assuming current rates, would pay itself off in just about 3 months if you keep it running 24/7. That’s temping.

However, it’s probably best to not assume that ETH will stay at this price short term (theoretically, it could crash at any moment). If ETH halved or more in price, everything would be out the window for the time being and people would be dumping their GPUs all over eBay and Craigslist. It’s also wise to consider that if the difficulty continues increasing and the price doesn’t increase in step, revenue will be thinned even more.

At the time of this writing, the network is basically bottlenecked by the number of GPUs that AMD can manufacture. As AMD slowly gets more on the market over the next few months, it’s not crazy to think that we could see a rapidly increasing difficulty without much increase in price (or any increase at all). That would put those who are just now getting into Ethereum mining in a tough spot as they watch their profit drop.

Finally, I must remind you that Ethereum’s switch over to proof of stake is coming, although we’re not sure when or what that will look like. Some believe that Ethereum will switch entirely to proof of stake overnight and that it will come in the next month, while others think it will go hybrid (proof of work mining would stick around, in part) and that it might not come until 2018. No one knows for sure, but when it comes, it will mean no more GPU mining at all.

Don’t just do it for the money

If you’re interested in mining because you want to make a long term investment or because you want to make a quick buck, you’re going to be disappointed with mining. If that’s you, then I would say to stick with just buying some Ethereum on Coinbase and holding onto it. My mantra is this: Don’t just do it for the money. If you want to start mining, it’s probably a good idea for you to care about it as a hobby as well. It might not ever make you big gains, or you could see huge gains, and wish you just bought into cryptocurrency trading instead.

If you do know for sure that you want to spend the time finding GPUs, building a rig, maintaining a rig, repairing a rig, dealing with the noise and heat from the rig, keeping an eye on your rig while out of town, don’t mind the increase in your electric bill, want to play with software and tweak your cards, and generally just see this as a fun hobby, then go for it. For those people, long term, it’s probably better than just spending tons of money on ETH and hoping to make it big.

Want to learn how to build a 6 GPU rig for Ethereum? Click here.

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Ethereum: 0x51984c8b295e6ee46d0d0fba0fd5548cff632327

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