Best ASICs and GPUs for Mining Cryptocurrency in 2021 | EMCD

May 7, 2021
12 min read

As Bitcoin prepares to storm $65,000, you may be thinking that now is the best moment to try yourself at ASIC or GPU mining. However, it’s crucial to pick the right Bitcoin mining hardware – or you risk losing a lot of money. What is better, an ASIC or a graphics card, what is the best cheap ASIC miner, and can you even make a profit mining crypto in 2021? In this article we’ll answer all these questions – and more.

The difference between an ASIC and a GPU

ASIC is the acronym of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit. Simply put, it’s a computer chip optimized to perform a single task. The algorithm is built into the chip at the factory, so an ASIC cannot be reprogrammed.

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By contrast, a GPU, or graphic processing unit, is a regular video card found inside any computer. GPUs and CPUs can perform an unlimited variety of tasks, but they are less efficient at each of them than an ASIC.

What should you mine with: an ASIC or a GPU?

Which type of miners hardware  you should choose depends on which coin you want to mine. If your objective is Bitcoin, don’t even try to mine it on a GPU. The hashrate (computational capacity) and difficulty of Bitcoin mining have reached such proportions that, even if you have the world’s best GPU for mining at your disposal, you’ll never find a single block.

Mining BTC on a GPU as part of a pool won’t work, either: the amount of shares you’ll send to the pool (i.e. your input) will be microscopic compared to that of ASICs – and so will be your share of the pool’s earnings.

Luckily, Bitcoin isn’t the only mineable coin. Many cryptocurrencies can be successfully mined with GPUs, including ETH, LTC, XMR, and others.

The pros and cons of ASICs and GPUs

Before you decide to buy an ASIC or a powerful graphics card, you should consider the strengths and weaknesses of these two mining hardware types.



Mining Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The majority of mining ASICs are designed to mine cryptocurrencies that use the SHA-256 hash function algorithm, mostly BTC, BCH, and BSV (Bitcoin Satoshi Vision). Miners can switch freely between these coins depending on their relative profitability at a given moment.

Bitcoin’s attractiveness to miners lies in its high block reward: after the halving event in May 2020, the reward per block is 6.25 BTC, or more than $350k. Moreover, miners earn transaction fees (circa $30 as of late April 2021).

High efficiency. ASICs do consume a lot of electricity, but the best ASIC miner will also produce many more hashes per joule of energy than a GPU. So, when trying to decide which ASIC is the best investment, you should consider the price-efficiency ratio, not just the power.


Hard to mine at home. In theory, you can install ASICs in a garage, but you’ll need a cooling system, air humidifiers, an extremely stable broadband connection, power supply protection in case of voltage spikes, and very cheap electricity. If you don’t have all this at home, you’ll need to get the mining hardware hosted at an external mining farm, possibly even abroad.

Import rules. Depending on your country, importing an ASIC can require a lot of documents, customs fees, etc. If you do decide to buy one and have it shipped from abroad (usually China), you may have to contract a specialized agency to help get the device through the customs.

Impossible to switch to ETH mining. As we pointed out before, you can use a Bitcoin ASIC to mine BCH and BSV, but you can’t reprogram it to hash ETH or ETC (which use the Ethash algorithm) or LTC (which uses Scrypto), for instance.

Frequent upgrades. Manufacturers keep churning out ever more efficient models, so that even the most powerful ASIC can stop yielding a profit in a couple of years. For this reason, it’s also difficult to sell an old ASIC: nobody wants a machine that doesn’t make money anymore.



A wide range of coins. The coins you can mine with a GPU include Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic, Grin, Ravencoin, Monero, etc. And since most of these coins have network hashrates that are thousands of times lower than the hashrate of Bitcoin, the most efficient GPU for mining can generate a higher income than Bitcoin ASICs: there is simply less competition between miners.

You can mine at home. Lots of people assemble and run GPU rigs at home, and you can find detailed instructions and videos online.

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Easy to sell. A good used GPU can be sold for almost the same price as a new one. If you wait for a spike in the popularity of crypto, you may even make a net profit selling a GPU. Besides, a graphics card can always be repurposed for gaming.


You can’t mine Bitcoin. While technically possible, Bitcoin mining with a GPU will never yield a profit, even if it’s the best graphic card for mining out there.

High market prices. When the popularity of mining surges, GPU prices spike, too. According to Tom’s Hardware GPU Pricing Index, an Nvidia mining GPU now sells for about three times the official price, while AMD GPUs are offered at twice the official price.

The verdict

Comparing mining GPUs and ASICs is like comparing cars to airplanes. They have different purposes and applications, and in most cases they aren’t interchangeable.

ASICs generate several times as many hashes per unit of energy, but they are also utilized to mine the coins with the highest network hashrate. If you buy the best ASIC miner as soon as it’s released, you’ll have an advantage for a while, but soon others will upgrade to the same model, the overall hashrate will grow, and so will the difficulty. For this reason, a 100W GPU used as part of a small home rig can yield the same daily revenue as a 800-watt ASIC.

Besides, you can install quite a few GPUs at home, but you won’t be able to run many ASICs due to the limitations on domestic electricity consumption and the cooling requirements.

The conclusion is that as a beginner with a budget under $10,000, you’ll do better to buy several quality graphics cards and mine those coins that yield a profit on a GPU, such as ETH, LTC, XMR, etc.

However, if your budget exceeds $10k and you have a good understanding of the mining market, as well as access to cheap electricity, an ASIC mining farm can be an interesting option. If electricity costs more than $0.07 where you live, you should consider hosting ASICs on a remote farm.

How much can you earn with ASIC and GPU mining?

You can use free online calculators to get an idea of how much revenue a device will earn. Enter the hashrate in MH/s (for GPUs) or TH/s (for ASICs), the power draw in watts, and the price of electricity in USD per kWh.

калькулятор прибыльности майнинга CryptoCompare

Keep in mind that calculators use the current crypto prices and difficulty and project them into the future. But in reality, these values can change suddenly and dramatically: for example, a surge in prices can cause an inflow of mining power, followed by an increase in difficulty and a fall in revenues.

Another important point is the risk of a price collapse soon after a peak. For example, if the price of ether grows to $2,800, miners and investors will rush to sell ETH to lock in the profits, and the price will soon go down. If you don’t sell your own coins fast enough, your mining profit in fiat currency will be much lower than expected.

The 5 best mining GPUs in 2021

If you are planning to start mining cryptocurrency soon, try to purchase one of the best mining GPU models – this way you’ll recoup the costs and will start earning a net profit sooner. Our ranking includes only GPU cards for mining with a payback period of less than 7 months and a price below $600 when bought used on eBay.

Each GPU’s revenue was calculated based on a price of electricity of $0.066 per kilowatt-hour and the price of $2,400 for one ether, and assuming that the level of mining difficulty remains unchanged.

The best GPU for mining on a budget: Radeon RX5700 XT

Ebay price: from $550, including shipment cost
Payback period: 4 months

This GPU can reach 50 MH/s with a reasonably low power consumption (135W). Be attentive when comparing the offers on eBay, though: sometimes the RX5700 XT sells for the same price as the less performant RX 5700.

AMD RX580 8 GB

Ebay price: from $450, including shipment cost
Payback period: 6 months

It’s relatively easy to get the RX580 to 29 MH/s, and it also produces little heat for a budget GPU, so you won’t spend too much on cooling if you build a rig of these cards. The GPU consumes 158W of power, which is more than Nvidia Geforce GTX 1070, but at one third of Nvidia’s price this is hardly a flaw.

AMD Radeon RX590 8GB

Ebay price: from $470, including shipment cost
Payback period: 6 months and 1 week

Just like the RX580, this is an old model with a modest hashrate of 28.5 MH/s (the most powerful GPUs reach 125 MH/s). However, it also costs 5 to 6 times less, meaning that you’ll recoup the expense pretty quickly.

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GeForce GTX 1660 Super

Ebay price: from $550, including shipment cost
Payback period: 6 months and 2 weeks

This GPU has a similar hashrate to the RX580, but it consumes less than 80W of power. However,  its higher price means that the payback period won’t be shorter: rather, it’s a good alternative for those who can’t access cheap energy.

Radeon RX6800

Ebay price: from $1,100, including shipment cost
Payback period: 6 months and 2 weeks

The card has the same power draw as the cheapest GPU on our list (AMD RX580) but produces 65 MH/s. Moreover, if you get disappointed with mining, you can use it to play hardware-intensive computer games.

The 5 best mining ASICs in 2021

Just like with GPUs, you need to know which ASIC is the most profitable rather than just look for the highest hashrate. Manufacturers’ stocks are normally sold out months in advance, ans some of the models on our list of the best ASIC mining hardware can be hard to buy even on eBay.

Antminer S9

Price: from $700, including shipment cost
Payback period: 8 months
Specs: 13.5 TH/s, 1323W

S9’s hashrate is 6.5 lower than that of the new S19 model, so miners are trying to get rid of it, making a pre-owned S9 easy to buy. If you find an offer under $800 with a power supply unit thrown in, the payback period can turn out to be shorter than for the S19. By the way, this ASIC also generates less heat than the new model.

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AvalonMiner 1246

Price: from $7,300, including shipment cost
Payback period: 8.5 months
Specs: 90 TH/s, 3,420W

This well-known model by Canaan is quite efficient at 38 joules per terahash. Also, this ASIC is easy to install and service. Canaan began producing ASICs even earlier than Bitmain, but for some reason is less known as a brand.

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WhatsMiner M32-62T

Price: from $6,300, including shipment cost
Payback period: 8.5 months
Specs: 62 TH/s, 3,348W

This model by Pangolin Miner can offer a shorter payback period than the S9. Though this ASIC consumes a lot of energy, the built-in fans do a good job keeping it cool. Moreover, the device is shipped with a power supply unit. The manufacturer gives a 12-month warranty, but buying a new M32-62T is hard.

Whatsminer M32-70

Price: from $6,200, including shipment cost
Payback period: 11 months
Specs: 70 TH/s, 3,360W

This ASIC’s advantage is that it’s almost always available from the manufacturer. It’s also quite small - important when building a rig – and is sold together with a power supply unit and fan. However, you pay extra for the opportunity to buy a brand-new ASIC without queuing.

AvalonMiner A1166 Pro

Price: from $8,00, including shipment cost
Payback period: 11 months
Specs: 781 TH/s, 3,400W

This Canaan model is both powerful and energy-efficient (42 joules per terahash). Unlike AvalonMiner 1246, it’s shipped with a power supply unit.

We hope that our short guide helped you figure out which is the best miners hardware to buy in 2021. The most important thing to remember is that mining hardware prices correlate with cryptocurrency prices, so you should try to purchase the equipment during a market correction.
Happy mining!