My Graphics Cards Now Pay My Rent
At the end of last year I bought a stupidly expensive GPU, mostly for rendering 3D animations and the goal of paying it off in monthly installments.
I then happened to strike it lucky and the card paid off completely in just three months, meaning I now have a fully paid-off beast of a GPU sitting around that I use daily but only for very limited amounts of time.
But then it occurred to me that I could probably use that for something that never really made sense for me before: crypto currency mining. For a long time this was a game that made no sense to play because of the high energy costs here in Germany and the fact that the potential earnings were low. It made more sense to invest the money I would have paid for energy into crypto and that is what I did.
But nowadays the prices are high enough to make this not just fun and worthwhile but actually paying my rent now — with a handful of disclaimers.
The obvious drawbacks
- GPU prices are insane right now, it makes absolutely no sense to buy a graphics card of any kind that you don’t plan on using. My RTX 3090 now costs 400€ more than when I bought it last year — if you can even get it.
- If I had not paid off the device through other means it would take much longer to break even and start paying for my bills instead.
- The price fluctuates a lot so you never really know what’s to be expected. I could have always mined ETH at yesteryear’s prices and profited greatly if I held onto it from then till now — but there were also times when it was a clear loss instead of a massive profit. So it’s a leap of faith in the idea of crypto as a whole.
How to mine crypto for home users
Most people consider Bitcoin and cryptocurrency to be synonymous — but it actually makes no sense to mine Bitcoin with your home computer. Those are now mostly secured by servers that are purpose-built for this kind of calculation.
Instead the main way to mine is through other cryptocurrencies — of which Ethereum is the main and most popular.
From here you have two options:
- Mining directly through one of the tools like Phonixminer or lolMiner. This takes time to set up and will throw you for a loop, but ultimately earnings are a little higher.
- Or you go with the turn-key solution of downloading nicehash, registering an account and pressing a single button that magically does everything for you. With the caveats of taking a percentage of your earnings and the fact that they were hacked once and thousands of coins were stolen. But if you transfer your earnings to your own wallet (like everyone should) then this can not happen to you.
So as you can probably tell from the detailed accounts of nicehash that is what I ended up using — it saves a lot of hassle and comes with valuable benefits. I tried using individual miners and there is nothing wrong with that approach, especially if you run an actual mining farm and see no reason to pay anyone for a service that you can control yourself anyway.
But what I like is the extreme simplicity of downloading a program, pressing a button and seeing everything work for you. The main program downloads the actual miners, does a benchmark of all connected GPUs and allows you to change settings on the fly — all very useful.
Configuring your GPU for maximum earnings, lower temps and power consumption
This step is the most important part of the whole operation, it drastically increases your earnings while at the same time dropping your power consumption. It also keeps your temperatures low and your card’s longevity intact and all it takes is a one-time configuration in a tool called MSI Afterburner.
This is usually used to overclock your GPU from the factory settings for hardcore gamers and, well overclockers but we are using it instead to limit the card.
So these settings differ from card to card but for my RTX 3090 the values that I use are these:
- -300 core clock
- +1125 memory clock
- Power limit set to 90%
This puts me at a pretty stable 115–120 MH/s value for the 3090 and my old 2070 Super earns 41 MH/s. Together this puts me at daily earnings of currently 16–20€ per day, easily covering my rent of 389€ even after power cost are substracted. Obviously those numbers fluctuate wildly, we have a dollar-to-btc trading pair and a btc-to-eth pair that all influence things in various ways.
But that’s the other part where I think Nicehash is great because they convert everything into BTC and that is what I personally am most interested in. The other mining tools give you ETH and while that is a great cryptocurrency I am personally a fan of having everything in my BTC wallet as the prices of cryptos usually sink or rise in conjunction to BTC price increases.
Takeaway: If you have a powerful GPU it is currently well worth it to use it for mining
It is worth reiterating how crazy expensive the prices have gotten not just due to the current Bitcoin boom but in general: I paid 1600€ for my RTX 3090 which was already crazy and now the same card trades for over 2000€ and is still mostly sold out due to scalpers and high demand. My old 2070 Super is worth more on ebay now than what I paid for it — if I had not bent off part of the frame to make it fit in my case it would make sense for me to sell it and buy crypto from the proceeds.
But as things are I now have a pretty powerful setup that allows me to render 3D animations and videos in record time and anytime I’m not using it I can let it sit and earn money for me.
And it doesn’t get any more passive than this, it’s literally clicking a single “make money button”.