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GPU mining is the way to go, as at August 2011, until something better arrives on the market. There are plenty of GPUs out there, but only a handful offer the best performance when comparing total number of Bitcoins generated vs. power consumed vs. initial purchase cost of the chip.

Which GPUs provide the best performance in regards to Bitcoin Generation vs. Power Consumption?

  • FYI, I've posted this question with the intent that it can become a Community Wiki. This is a question with a dynamic answer. – RLH Aug 30 '11 at 21:15
  • This question may no longer be relevant as acquiring GPUs for mining purposes is no longer seen as being a good business decision. – Stephen Gornick Mar 27 '13 at 12:23
  • @StephenGornick: Even still, it's an old question that was valid in 2011. There is no need to down vote it. Just post a new answer stating the change in the network. Such answers are acceptable on StackExchange because many questions can have differing answers as they age. Post an answer and remove the down-vote and I'll give you the check. – RLH Mar 28 '13 at 10:22
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According to https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison the best GPU in regards to power consumption is the 5970, the tricky part is finding one of those for sale.

  • 1
    lets stop linking back to the wiki, the wiki sucks – Buckhead_Comp_Ser_Co Aug 30 '11 at 21:48
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    The wiki may "suck" but it's also the best source we have at the moment. In time I hope that this very site will become the new "best source" but for the moment we have to cite what sources we have or cite no sources at all. I even know college professors in the anti-Wikipedia camp who prefer a Wikipedia citation to no citation at all. – David Perry Aug 30 '11 at 22:17
  • @DavidPerry - And if this was just a reference with other pertantent information then I would agree. The entire content of this post is the Wiki. It doesnt really summarize more than to say that the 5970 but not why. – Chad Oct 5 '11 at 15:04
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This depends quite a bit on your cost for electricity. In general, the ATI 6990 (758 MH/s) is fastest, but it consumes quite a bit of energy. The ATI 5970 (655 MH/s) runs at 86% of the speed of a 6990, but consumes less power. If you have a limited number of slots on your motherboard with cheap electricity, choose the ATI 6990. If you have unlimited PCI-E slots and relatively expensive electricity, choose the ATI 5970.

NOTE: There is no such thing as "free" electricity. Someone is paying for it. If you believe you have free electricity (i.e. a dorm) it is likely that someone is paying a cost for that power.

https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison

  • lets stop linking back to the wiki – Buckhead_Comp_Ser_Co Aug 30 '11 at 21:48
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    sure.. if that's our protocol here - but what's the logic? – httpagent Aug 31 '11 at 21:05
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For price/hash the 5830 and 5850 have been the champs for a while. The 6990 is argueably better because of depreciation... right now it is probably better to buy bitcoins instead of rigs. Or have diversity and split between the two options.

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    The above statement has kwh factored in – Alex Waters Aug 30 '11 at 21:34
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Currently the 5970 is the undisputed champ. It is much cheaper than the 6990 and offers better performance per watt. Being a two GPU design it has high density. Only the 6990 has higher density but that comes with higher capital cost and energy cost.

So best in terms of Hashes/$ = 5970 best in terms of Hashes/W = 5970 second best in terms of Hashes/system = 5970

The hard part is finding them as they are no longer being produced.

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In the long term, the lifetime of the hardware may also become a significant factor in calculating the ROI (Return On Investment), especially if technological developments reduce the power consumption to a negligible level.

  • Technology will never reduce power demands to a negligible level because then difficulty will rise requiring more hardware and thus more power to generate the same amount of blocks. – DeathAndTaxes Oct 6 '11 at 20:27
  • Not necessarily - you're assuming the production cost and expected lifetime of hardware somehow ties to its electricity consumption. Admittedly, the power consumption probably does closely tie to the expect life right now, but there's no guarantee things won't change. Even if a GPU used no power at all, it may still only have an effective life of 2yrs and an initial purchase cost of $200. – Highly Irregular Oct 7 '11 at 8:03

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