Monero is one of the few cryptos which can still be mined via a CPU. GPUs can provide significant performance improvements and also more value.
Pros and cons of GPU mining
- Support for multiple GPUs
A computer or server is able to support two CPUs, but using the appropriate hardware, it can also support up to 19 GPUs. Buying an inexpensive motherboard and more GPUs will be able to provide more hashing power.
It’s also worth noting that most motherboards come with a limited form factor and they will only support particular types of CPUs. Now, higher performing CPUs will need an entirely new build for an upgrade. GPUs interfaces are using the PCI-e specification, and almost all modern motherboards support this specification. GPUs can be added, removed and also replaced with various models which is another benefit.
- Specific use cases
A CPU is a general purpose machine, and it can be re-purposed for anything, but on the other hand, a multi-GPU rig that is built for mining will not turn out useful for other purposes. For a gaming system, one or two cards should be enough, but a 19-card rig is useful only for niche cases such as machine learning.
- Purchase options
GPU mining is widespread, it’s also profitable, and the current demand for GPUs is really high.
It’s true that Windows has excellent support for both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. The drivers are available, the configuration software works really well, and the overclocking is quite simple. This means that mining using Windows with GPUs will turn out to be an excellent choice with purchased Windows licensing, experience with the operating system and also the availability of a GUI based setup.
Mac also comes with powerful support for both Nvidia and AMD graphics cards. The hardware is usually more expensive, but if it’s already available it can be repurposed easily to mine Monero.
Regarding Linux, it has struggled to support GPUs along the way, but these days it works great with almost every modern GPU architecture. Drivers for both Nvidia and AMD are widely available, and multiple mining software options are supporting Linux. Other great benefits of using Linux include that it does not require any licensing, it can be easily changed, and it works really well in headless environments.
Solo mining vs. pool mining
Solo mining requires a connection to a full Monero node and a large mining environment in order to be feasible. Miners will probably go long periods of time with no rewards, but they will not be required to pay anything once a block is found.
For instance, a miner who is using the six GTX 1060 GPUs will have about a 1% chance of finding a block every 24 hours. In other words, this means that a miner will only get rewarded every 100 days. This will also be a subject to change according to mining difficulty.
A pool, on the other hand, is a collection of miners who combine their hashing power and then they share their rewards. Individual miners don’t really have to maintain a full Monero node. All they have to do is connect to a mining pool via mining software. Miners will usually be rewarded more frequently but in smaller amounts. It’s also worth noting that pools can have fees associated with them in order to cover the overhead of running the pool. They also have minimum payouts in order to reduce the cost and network fees of low payments. Also, most mining software is created to use a pool by default.