At the beginning of this unusual and sometimes difficult year, the cryptocurrency world reminisced about the crypto mining boom and whether it was now over. But soon, the fears were washed away as large companies registered on Nasdaq expressed clear interest in mining Bitcoin (BTC) for additional earnings.
It has been said more than once that this year’s sharp rise in mining is directly related to the significant increase in cryptocurrency prices. During the summer, Bitcoin could be bought at just above $10,000; now, it’s priced at well over double the amount. Altcoins are not lagging behind, either. Ether (ETH) reached the $650 mark this month and Litecoin (LTC) was above $117 recently, although six months ago, the latter could be bought for just $41.
As price analysts expect the bullish market trend to continue into 2021, the most up-to-date hardware offerings are likely to be in high demand. So, here are some of the most interesting products on the hardware market that miners should expect to see on the shelves in 2021.
On solid ground
When it comes to Bitcoin mining, ASIC miners are the main choice for hardware. An ASIC, or application-specific integrated circuit, is a ready-made device that is easy to set up and program. When mining Ether and Ethereum-based tokens, things start to get more interesting, since they require putting together a rig that consists of a motherboard, GPU cards and several other components.
So, what was in use this year and what did the world’s miners spend the most money on? Most recently, Riot Blockchain purchased 15,000 variations of the Antminer 19 series, to be delivered in 2021. Nathaniel Justin Yu, manager from International Marketing team at Bitmain, confirmed to Cointelegraph that the Antminer 19 Series models released in May 2020 were in high demand among Bitcoin miners:
“We have been seeing a growing demand for mining hardware, especially for our Antminer 19 Series models (Antminer S19 Pro, S19, and T19). 19 Series delivered a industry-leading market performance this year as it is equipped with a new generation custom-built chip, achieving a power efficiency as low as 23 J/TH. Our Antminer products have been purchased until July of 2021.”
For those who decided to put together mining rigs by themselves, the list of the most in-demand equipment for mining this year naturally starts with the GPU cards. Two long-time rivals presented their newest lines this year: Nvidia with its top-end GeForce RTX 3000 Series GPU cards in September, followed by AMD’s Radeon RX 6800.
Miners are still divided over which of these cards is better, but the main question is when will these cards be available to everyone, as demand significantly exceeds supply. While Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti and AMD Radeon RX580 are still top-end cards, the interest around the new offerings will likely spill into 2021.
Next year, Bitmain will continue to delight users with series 19 ASIC miners. According to the manufacturer, new solutions will be implemented that help increase the efficiency of mining.
Another Chinese manufacturer, Canaan Creative, introduced a new model of the miner AvalonMiner 1246 in September, which claims to have 30% better efficiency than the previous model. According to the producer, AvalonMiner 1246 could reach 90 terahashes per second, while A11 series process at an average of 60–68 Th/s.
The miner will be available starting in January. Although this model is inferior in performance to Antminer 19, it’s cost is slightly cheaper. At around $3,000 it’s still worth a second look for those wishing to mine Bitcoin.
New GPU cards
While Nvidia was having difficulties with the release of its flagship GeForce RTX 3060 Ti, AMD is already working on the next one, having just presented its 6000 series. The company announced the release of the next series with a new RDNA 3 architecture in late 2021. According to the manufacturer, the GPU should surpass the previous one in performance by 50% and will require less power and cooling to run.
But Nvidia should not be written off just yet. Despite some delays in launching its GeForce RTX 3000 cards, the company may be preparing to present new products during the event scheduled for Jan. 12, 2021. Presumably, the manufacturer will unveil Ti and Super modifications, which should please miners. In any case, the line will expand with cards of different price categories, and this will allow users to have more options when putting together mining rigs.
If GPUs are the preferred method for mining, a good motherboard is an absolute must. The main feature in this case is the number of slots GPU cards can be installed into.
Given what’s already available in the mining motherboard market, with the likes of MSI H310-F PRO, which has 13 GPU card slots, or the Asus B250 Mining Expert with 19 slots, miners should not expect to receive any special presents from manufacturers in 2021.
However, new goods are on the way. Biostar, one of the biggest hardware producers, recently introduced a new TB360-BTC D+ motherboard designed for cryptocurrency mining. The motherboard has eight PCIe x16 slots, which is sufficient for a standard rig. However, the price and the sales start date are not yet clear.
Hardware that shouldn’t be overlooked
For efficient mining, the choice of each component is crucial. Apart from the correct GPU card and motherboard, uninterrupted internet and electricity is a must. Additionally, equipment for mining cryptocurrencies is very noisy and can get hot, so miners need to follow safety precautions. When mining at home, running the rig in an air-conditioned room is the best option for when it’s warm and a balcony when it’s not.
On top of that, it’s worth choosing a powerful power supply with sufficient power and, most importantly, with protection against power surges and other electrical problems. One such option that will be shipped at the start of 2021 is the EVGA SuperNOVA 1000, which costs almost $200.
Choosing a frame is not the last task, because it affects the level of noise generated by the rig. Guntis Vitolins from Mineshop company, which offers both ready-made rigs and equipment separately, noted to Cointelegraph that miners’ tastes in frames have changed this year:
“GPU mining industry has changed since 2017, most of the miners prefer the server type riser less GPU cases over open air frames with risers. As the cooling is better in closed case and also installation is much faster. Only downside on these cases is they could be a bit noisy at 50–60db.”
For those who do not want to figure out the complex topic of designing a mining rig, GPU card selection and so on, there are companies that offer turnkey solutions. This year, experts have been discussing the growth in sales of these ready-made rigs, dubbed “mining 2.0.”
Vitolins further stated that “sales have increased dramatically since March 2020,” adding that GPU miners built with AMD graphic cards (the best cards for mining Ether) have been a particular hit.
Is 2021 good for mining?
Looking at the growing cryptocurrency prices and the excitement around mining equipment gives hope that 2021 will start off no worse than the previous year for the industry. However, it is impossible to predict whether crypto mining will stay in fashion due to economic uncertainty amid the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.
But, it is safe to say that miners in 2020 have become more experienced and battle-tested following Bitcoin’s mining reward halving and the not-so-smooth rainy season in China. Today, miners are no longer babies seeing the world around them for the first time, but ready for market shocks and able to adapt to any conditions. Furthermore, as large, public companies are starting to enter crypto mining, 2021 should further solidify the adoption and acceptance trend.