So you want to be a Bitcoin miner, huh?
The road to mining cryptocurrency isn’t particularly complicated, though it can be overwhelming at times. First, let’s establish what a desktop PC with a powerful graphics card will let you do: 1. It will let you mine some kinds of cryptocurrency. 2. It will let you play PC games with great graphics. 3. It will allow you to edit videos and photographs easily and smoothly. 4. Profit… maybe.
While Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining is exploding in popularity, the trees deserve some separation from the forest. There are no graphics cards on the shelves because people are mining crypto in record numbers, but don’t mistake the lack of shovels (or the shovels’ overly inflated price) for instant profits. Like most businesses, the majority of the profits goes to a few big players. The truth is that for most of us mere mortals without endless racks of GTX 1070s, we’re lucky to break even.
Disclaimer out of the way, mining cryptocurrency can be fun and it can be profitable. If you’re solely doing this to make money, I’d recommend you stick with buying and holding. Still, there is something special about mining. It feels exciting and ultimately, it’s what cryptocurrency is really about: decentralized transaction verification! In all seriousness, there is one advantage to mining and that is that if you are willing to put time into finding the rights coins to mine, you can (in theory) mine a fair number of them well before anyone else is really able to buy them. We’re talking pre-Binance, people. We’re talking pre-ShadyExchange.com. That’s the biggest benefit. I am currently dabbling in Garlicoin and have made almost $20 dollars in three days (and made my room very hot). This isn’t a gold rush, but it is fun.
You cannot mine Bitcoin itself profitably, but we’ll talk about this more at the end of the article and I’ll provide you with some resources to get started.
All that out of the way, here’s the top 5 best desktop PCs for cryptocurrency mining.
1. HP Pavilion (GTX 1060, 3GB)
For the price of one overly inflated GTX1060, one can get this nice little HP machine. The specs are nothing too mind-blowing, but it does boast a subdued yet futuristic exterior, 8GB of RAM, and a decently sized hard drive. It will allow you to play modern games at low to medium settings, and it will allow for some light mining. With a GTX 1060, one can expect to pull in over $1.50 a day using NiceHash. That’s not bad. Of course, if the price of crypto falls, then things would change significantly. Still, for a relatively small investment, this machine offers a fair amount of return on investment, and is pretty practical for day-to-day use.
- Relatively cheap
- Fine for editing photos
- Good general purpose PC
- Can play games at low to medium settings
- In the second half of its life for gaming
- Not a great machine for video editing or processor intensive activities
2. Omen by HP (GTX 1070)
Now this HP Omen is really heating things up. It boasts a nice 1TB hard drive, new 8th gen Intel processor, and 8GB of RAM. The real sweet spot, however, is that this PC is one of the most cheap (yet all around usable) PCs with a GTX 1070. This graphics card will pull in around double that of the GTX 1060. This PC also boasts a sleek aesthetic, with a black finish and red interior lighting.
In terms of overall value mining cryptocurrency, the GTX 1070 can be expected to pull in about double that of the GTX 1060, around $3 per day. Of course, looking at things strictly this way ignores that this is a much more robust PC overall and will be much better for a variety of computing tasks.
- Cool exterior
- Ridiculously fast processor (over 15,000 on Passmark)
- Reasonable price
- Acceptable manufacturer with good customer service
- 8GB of RAM is a pittance
- Hard drive will go fast if you store videos or play many games
3. Lenovo Cube Gaming Desktop
For just a few hundred dollars more, one could step up their crypto and functionality game and get this PC with a GTX 1080. For crypto, this machine is going to yield perhaps a 20 to 30% increase in mining capability, but again, it’s better to look at this PC with the holistic picture in mind: this is a very attractive and powerful machine. A GTX 1080 means that you’ll be able to play modern games at the highest settings possible. Plus, this PC also boasts 16GB of RAM, which will make multitasking a breeze.
- Reliable PC from great manufacturer
- Plenty of RAM
- Can play modern games at high to ultra settings
- Solid for mining
- Great price for a GTX1080
- 128GB goes fast on the SSD; that’s basically full when you buy it due to the size of the operating system
- Data drive could be bigger
4. CyberPowerPC Xtreme VR (Editor’s Choice)
This model from CyberPowerPC may not be the cheapest on our list, but it offers a ton of value for the price. It boasts 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM, a GTX 1080 Ti (11GB), a 240GB SSD, and a 1TB data drive. What more could one ask? This PC is the editor’s choice because it brings a lot of GPU power to the table for mining crypto, but more importantly, this is just a very well-rounded machine. It boasts the new i7-8700K, which is capable of running a lot of apps and doing things like processing photos or exporting videos faster than ever. This PC will last years with specs like these.
Regarding crypto specifically, the GTX 1080Ti is the top of the line for Nvidia cards. One can expect it to pull in about 30% more than a GTX 1070, about $3.82 per day (at the current price of Bitcoin).
- Blazing fast single graphics card
- 8th generation processor from Intel
- RAM is robust
- Cool exterior
- Beloved model
- SSD will fill up very quickly
5. CyberPowerPC – 7800X with Dual GTX 1070 (Miner’s Choice)
OK, so you don’t want to build a dedicated mining rig, but you do want the most possible mining power from one PC. That’s an understable desire. In that case, this is the PC for you. Dual GTX 1070s cannot be matched by any single graphics card or model on this list. You’ll also note that the effective price on each card is around $1100, meaning these are the cheapest GTX 1070s on this list. If you’re dead serious about crypto (but not serious enough to build a miner from scratch), then this is a great way to go.
That said, I feel obligated to inform you that I went down this very path and chose against it. You see, as awesome as “dual graphics cards” sounds, most production software (namely Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects) are not capable of exploiting this awesome power. As such, a machine like this is essentially dipping one’s toes into the crypto waters, but not really doing it the right way. That said, if you’re a hardcore gamer and want to play games on settings a GTX 1080Ti won’t get you too, then perhaps dual cards are somewhat practical.
This PC isn’t for everyone, but for a chosen few, it does bring about as much mining power as one can pack into a normal PC.
- Plenty of RAM for multitasking
- i7-7800X is a very fast processor
- Data drive for ample storage
- Attractive black exterior
- Best value for mining
- Can play video games unbelievably well
- Bigger SSD would be nice
As mentioned before, the easiest way to mine cryptocurrency is to use NiceHash. This offers a turnkey solution that will make many of these PCs profitable within six months (depending on the price of Bitcoin). Nicehash pays its users in Bitcoin, but one does not actually mine Bitcoin; one can use graphics card to mine certain types of coins, but because Bitcoin is not “ASIC-resistant” it cannot be mined without dedicated hardware. Basically, all of the Bitcoin is already being mined by farms of dedicated hardware and it’s impossible for anyone to compete. With graphics cards, however, one can competitively mine for less staked-out cryptos.
This is the more potentially profitable strategy. If one is willing, one can keep an eye out for newer coins and mine them as soon as they come out. This takes more diligence and effort (you may need to even ask for help in mining some of these coins), but the rewards are potentially much greater.
Some sites to keep an eye on include Coinwarz.com (shows profitability of various coins), the GPU Mining Reddit, and this exhaustive Medium post which will take you through running profitability calculations yourself. Happy mining.