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

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It’s been a while since we updated this series this past summer, but our answer for the “Is it worth it?” question has remained mostly the same. Ethereum saw increasing difficulty throughout the fall and little increase in price, which made mining steadily less and less attractive. But recently, Ethereum has boomed to be priced at around $700-$800, which has led to a resurgence in mining interest.

So what’s the latest answer to this constantly-repeated question in the mining community? Ethereum is becoming even more profitable now after its first huge jump in price over the summer, which has meant even more to become suddenly interested. Especially since Ethereum is currently one of the most profitable coins to mine, it’s worth considering how the landscape has changed lately.

We recommended for two months straight over the summer that people that want to minimize the risks involved with investing in the cryptocurrency space should consider getting into Ethereum mining, but that it might be a bit late in the game to set up a rig considering the many unknowns in the industry. Those that got in early and have remained steadfast in keeping their rigs online since then have made really decent gains, especially if they had many rigs or GPUs to maximize their profits.

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.

Do you appreciate this guide? Tips welcome!
Ethereum: 0x51984c8b295e6ee46d0d0fba0fd5548cff632327
Bitcoin: 
17nveRFLh833mnFjkyk9zaw9oYFudV8UKF

Ethereum difficulty update for December 2017

Difficulty moved up steadily throughout the summer (all the way up to 3,000T in mid-October, at which point mining Ethereum was hardly worth it at all), but a big change happened in October when Ethereum’s reward for a block fell from 5 ETH to 3 ETH and the block time was reduced. Because of this, difficulty dropped to around 1,300, which was still higher than it was when we last updated you.

Here’s the chart from July 2017 on 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 in terms of sheer ETH reward than today. But with a price hike, it’s possible that earnings are still high.

As we go into the beginning of January 2018, Ethereum’s difficulty is at lower-than-average levels considering trend we saw coming out of the summer, passing 3000T. And even with the current 1800T, we’re still at more than triple the 500T we saw at the beginning of June. That also compares to an average of around 350T for the month of May. Prices were also much lower then, however.

Profits for miners have steadied out over the last few weeks since the price of ETH doubled. 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 .13 ETH per week, which is far less ETH than could be earned earlier this year, but still a non-negligible profit of as much as $350 per month at current prices.

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

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

So is it worth it to start mining Ethereum in December 2017? It depends. With 6 8GB RX 480 GPUs, for example, you’ll get about 150-180 Mh/s if you optimize them with a modded BIOS. At current rates that’s about .13 ETH per week, and at current prices that’s about $81 profit. That’s a pretty minimal return, and considering the incoming “Casper” update which will slowly but surely nullify traditional mining operations, a $2,000 rig, assuming current rates, would probably not reach return-on-investment by what it mines alone in any reasonable time frame.

The time-tested wisdom in mining is that it’s probably best to not assume that ETH will stay at any given price in the short term. Theoretically, it could crash at any moment. If ETH had a sudden price crash, people would be dumping their GPUs all over eBay and Craigslist — meaning much lower resale value for your hardware. It’s also wise to consider that if the difficulty continues increasing and the price doesn’t see any major bumps in the coming weeks, revenues will only be thinned even more.

Finally, it’s always worth reiterating that Ethereum’s switch over to proof of stake is coming, although we’re not sure when or what that will look like.

Don’t just do it for the money

If you’re interested in mining Ethereum because you want to make a quick buck, you’re going to be disappointed. If that’s you, then I would say to stick with just buying some Ethereum or Bitcoin on Coinbase and holding onto it for several years. My mantra with mining 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, but it’s fun and helps minimize risks

For some people, long term, it’s probably better to mine than just spend tons of money on ETH and hope to make it big. As of December 2017, the most impending threat is probably the Casper update. If you’re not worried about that — or you think it might take longer than expected for Buterin and co. to roll out the update — then maybe building a rig and starting to mine ETH is for you.

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

Do you appreciate this guide? Tips welcome!
Ethereum: 0x51984c8b295e6ee46d0d0fba0fd5548cff632327
Bitcoin: 
17nveRFLh833mnFjkyk9zaw9oYFudV8UKF


Have feedback or thoughts? Leave a comment. Or, if you want free hands-on help with getting up and running with a mining rig, be sure to head over to the forums.

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We teach humans how to mine cryptocurrency.

  • Nice Shot

    The balance of power, so to speak, lies in the price of Ether continuing to go up with the difficulty to mine it.