Bitcoin mining -- 2103 outlook w/free electricity
August 26, 2013 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I have access to a location that has free (to me) power where I could hook up a Bitcoin mining rig or two. Is this still worth doing, or has that ship sailed?

Am I correct that even without having to pay for electricity, if one doesn't already have the appropriate GPUs, buying used hardware for GPU mining is a waste of time and money? (I have extra PCs, but would need to slap GPUs in the).

And if so, is there any point to a small scale investment in dedicated hardware? I know that electricity cost is still the big barrier to any ROI for most home mining operations, even using dedicated hardware ASICs, FPGAs, etc; but it seems like even with access to free power the increasing scale of the rigs coming out might make it unwise to set up a small personal operation -- as versus, for the purposes of evaluation, spending the same amount of money on actual Bitcoin to hold.

And before anyone gets to worried about me here, I don't consider this to be a true investment or money-making venture, it's as much about my longer term curiosity about bitcoin as an experiment or phenomenon or something. But at the same time if I do get into it, just to play around, I'd like to have some confidence I won't actually lose money at it. (I'm not talking about externalities like the exchange I'm using getting robbed or raided, etc, but rather the economics of mining in 2013.)

I've read some recent discssion on and a few articles on some of the sites most often linked there, but I'm having trouble reducing it to a 'yea' or 'nay' and would appreciate the thoughts of others who have considered or tried this recently.
posted by snuffleupagus to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The general consensus I've seen is that CPU mining is dead, & GPU mining is either dead or about to die (depending on who you ask, and whether they have GPUs to sell you), so it's all in ASIC mining.

That said, considering the cost outlay of an ASIC miner... your value/risk assessment might differ from mine, but I wouldn't touch it. The time to repayment is way too long, and (even assuming that nothing happens between now and then), you'd be left with a chunk of hardware that likely wouldn't have much use.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:03 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mining difficulty has gone up by 10x in the last five months. You'll be lucky to get even 1 BTC with a GPU rig at this growth rate (Here are some calculations)

Doesn't mean you can't do it just to satisfy your own personal curiosity.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:45 AM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: If you're not using ASICs, and you aren't-- those things are quite hard to come by -- you can fire up a machine with a couple of ATI cards (nVidia's not right for this application for reasons that're beyond my ken) and join a mining pool. It can turn into a steady income because you'll get a share of the pool's spoils based on your proportion of contributed hashes. You'll never get the big 25BTC hit (USD$2500, roughly) but you'll get a steady income. My several-years-old gaming machine, calculated earlier this year, could net about USD$15/month, which is not worth tying up my machine, but it does mean that a new machine could pay for itself in a year or so, assuming ASIC-based machines don't expand exponentially in that year (and that could happen).

I think it's a great way to gain fractional bitcoins without converting hard currency into btc. Sure you're investing in a machine with some graphics cards, but that's not going to lose all its value overnight.

If you're building a machine, generate your wallet code(s) on it before you connect it to any network, just for security's sake. It's unlikely your wallet will attract anyone's attention at the rate you're likely to be mining, but it's an opportunity for security that can't be passed up.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:35 AM on August 26, 2013

Best answer: Read articles on wired and Slate.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:06 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might consider mining Litecoin or Feathercoin (which require a GPU) and then trading those for Bitcoin.
posted by dirm at 12:34 PM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just coming by to note that I ultimately took a pass in favor of more immediately practical projects. Thanks for the advice, all!
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:15 AM on November 5, 2013

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