How Profitable Is Monero CPU Mining: Why It Isn’t Worth It

Published: November 27, 2023 | Last Updated: October 20, 2023

Markos Koemtzopoulos

Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

In this post, I’ve crunched the numbers to see what is the maximum profit you can make from mining Monero and the results don’t look great. Using the most efficient CPU on the market today the most you will be able to make is 30 cents per day. While this is technically profitable it means it will take more than 5 years for you to break even on your investment. Unless you can procure extremely cheap electricity or the price of Monero (XMR) goes back up to above $200 it does not make sense to mine Monero. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

How Profitable Is Monero CPU Mining

Monero mining profitability for different CPUs

I took a look at the most popular Monero mining hardware and plugged the following metrics into my Monero mining calculator:

  • Miner Hashrate in kH/s
  • Power consumption in Watts
  • Electricity cost in $/kWh
  • Pool fees

Here are the results across different mining rigs

Monero mining profitability

CPU Profit per year Breakeven in years Yearly ROI
Bitmain X5 $305 12 8%
AMD Threadripper 3990X $136 22 5%
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 68 7 15%
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X 103 6 18%
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 35 16 6%
AMD Ryzen 7 5800X3D -40 never -13%
AMD EPYC 7742 16 56 2%
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X 12 38 3%
Intel Core i9-10900K -90 Never -32%
AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950X -119 Never -11%

The table above assumes one XMR coin is worth $150, electricity costs 0.12 $/kWh, pool fees are 1% and mining difficulty is 362G. I have assumed software fees are 0% but some software such XMRig will cost you a further 1%. Check out my post on the best monero mining software for more details.

Given these inputs, the maximum profit you can make is using the Bitmain X5 which is a monster of a machine.

However, the Bitmain is still very expensive.

The best hardware for XMR mining is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X which delivers $103 per year but an 18% ROI and just under 6 years for breakeven.

Update: I have run an analysis on the best CPU miner for Monero and the numbers above are a little optimistic as they are based on lab data. Using real benchmark data you can expect to get maximum 6-8% ROI per year and a break even horizon of over 10 years. You can find the analysis here.

AMD Ryzen

But isn’t 18% good?

Yeah sure, give me 18% on a stock or ETF any day of the week and I will be turning cartwheels.

However, in the cryptocurrency mining industry, large mining companies look to break even in under a year.

Let’s take a close look at the inputs to help decide if it makes sense to mine Monero.

Factors that affect Monero mining’s profitability

XMR Price

Surprisingly your mining operation won’t be as sensitive to price movements as you expect.

You need to see big price shifts for the fundamentals to change.

Given that XMR has been trending around $150 for more than a year I believe it is a good number to use.

XMR price
XMR has been hovering around $150 for the past year. Source: Coinmarketcap.com

Electricity

The cost of electricity varies a lot.

If you are based in Europe where the average price of electricity is more than 0.28 $/kWh you can forget about making any profit from Monero mining.

If you are based in the US it depends on the state.

California is expensive but Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas are cheap at just over 12 cents per kWh.

Here are the states where you make a decent profit margin mining Monero

Cost of electricity US

State Cost of electricity
Idaho 10.35 ¢ / kWh
Louisiana 12.40 ¢ / kWh
North Carolina 12.50 ¢ / kWh
Texas 12.79 ¢ / kWh
Utah 12.78 ¢ / kWh
Washington 11.67 ¢ / kWh
Washington D.C. 12.81 ¢ / kWh

Source: energysage.com

If you are able to procure electricity for even less then that will make a difference in how much you make.

For example, the MD Ryzen 9 7950X which we identified above as the best CPU for XMR mining will deliver 32% ROI and a 3-year break-even if you are able to procure electricity at 0.05 cents/kWh which is what the large mining farms are able to get.

The graph below shows how profitability drops as electricity costs increase.

Monero Mining Profits vs Electricity Cost Graph

Graph of monero mining profits vs electricity costs
The graph above shows how yearly profits change as electricity costs increase. You see that for most miners a high cost of electricity results in a negative profit margin. Also be careful of getting too excited about the Bitmain X5 because its real electricity costs are going to be much higher and off the chart since it consumers about 10 times as much electricity as the other miners.

Mining Difficulty

Network or mining difficulty refers to how hard it is for miners to solve the cryptographic problem so as to be allowed to add new blocks to the Monero blockchain.

Monero is a proof-of-work blockchain which means miners have to expend energy in the form of computing power to solve complex cryptographic puzzles.

Mining difficulty is a dynamic metric that changes depending on how many Monero miners are mining.

If miners pause mining because it is not profitable to do so then the mining difficulty will drop and vice versa.

The Monero network mining difficulty adjusts so that there is a new block approximately once every 2 minutes.

How does mining difficulty affect XMR profitability?

Fortunately, it doesn’t affect your margin too much.

The unit economics of XMR mining are less sensitive to the network difficulty than you would expect.

For example, since 2021 the mining difficulty for Monero has hovered between 300 and 350 G.

Even if it were to go up to 400G our ROI in the best-case scenario would only drop 2 percentage points to 13% and our break-even would be 7 years instead of 6.

XMR monero network difficulty
Monero Mining difficulty has remained between 300-400G over the past 2 years. Source: Coinwarz.com

Pools fees

When you mine you have two options 1) join a Monero mining pool and 2) mine solo.

Solo mining means you have to be lucky enough for your machine to solve the cryptographic puzzle.

It’s kind of similar to playing the lottery and you have a 50% chance of solving one hash in a year.

The good thing about being a solo miner is that you get to keep the whole crypto-mining reward plus fees.

This will work out to about 0.61XMR.

The problem with solo mining is that your revenue will be much more volatile while your costs are going to be steady.

You are still going to need to cover those monthly electricity bills.

Pool mining entails joining a pool of miners where you are selling your hashing power to a pool coordinator who takes between 1-2% fee.

In return, you get a smoother and more predictable income stream.

This is because whenever a miner in the pool adds a block the reward is shared proportionately with members according to the hashing power that they contributed.

Given that the largest publicly traded mining companies use a pool I have assumed you will too.

In any case, 1-2% is not what’s going to make or break your profitability.

Important note: There is a third option which is to use cloud mining services.

In this scenario, you rent a Monero mining rig from a cloud provider.

There have been lots of scams in this space so I have not included them as part of my analysis.

RAM

The amount of RAM you use will also influence the hashrate you can get as well as your energy consumption. See How Much Ram Is Needed to Mine Monero for more.

Cooling systems

The CPUs on the Monero mining rigs that I’ve come across tend to work fine on their own as they have built-in fans.

However, if you live in a warmer climate you may need to account for the additional cost of further cooling.

cooling fan
Rainbow colored cooling fan

Is it worth mining Monero using GPUs?

Thank you for asking but no.

GPU mining makes absolutely no sense as GPUs just don’t have the computational power necessary to mine Monero.

The only thing that makes sense is CPU mining.

What about ASICs

No, Monero’s RandomX mining algorithm was purposely made to be ASIC-resistant to make the currency more decentralized.

Having said that Bitmain has produced the X5 which specializes in mining XMR coins.

However, while it looks like an ASIC it actually contains CPUs.

bitmain X5

How long do CPUs last?

So I did some research around this and it depends on who you ask.

The consensus however is that if you don’t let your CPUs overheat above 176 Fahrenheit ( 80 degrees Celsius) you can make them last for up to 20 years.

What’s a good Hashrate for mining Monero?

It depends on the machine but you would need at least 15Kh/s to make the economics work. See my analysis here for more details

Why do miners still mine XMR if it’s not that profitable?

For a few reasons:

#1. Better negotiating power

Large miners benefit from economies of scale.

They may be able to negotiate better pricing to power their machines.

In addition, these guys have no other choice.

They already made the upfront investments in machines and are now reaping whatever block rewards they can get.

#2. Botnets

There are lots of rumors going around on Reddit that a large proportion of Monero mining is done by hackers who inject malware and hijack people’s computers to mine XMR for them.

According to research done by King’s College in the UK, 4.32% of all Monero in circulation in 2019 was mined by botnets.

#3. If you have an idle CPU you might as well mine

For data centers that own a large number of CPUs, they can optimize their use to mine Monero when they are idle.

data center example
A datacenter that’s sitting idle can easily mine Monero in its spare time

The fact that it is affordable to invest in Monero mining rigs and that there are already a large number of miners who can mine at scale means that Monero is always only going to be marginally profitable.

Are Monero mining profits taxable?

Technically yes in countries such as the US and Japan where crypto is well regulated, you should treat mining rewards that enter your Monero wallet as taxable income if you want to stay compliant.

Your tax will depend on your income bracket plus you have to account for any capital gains between the time you acquire new coins and the time you sell them on a crypto exchange.

FAQs

What is the most profitable CPU mining Monero?

The AMD Ryzen 9 7950X delivers $103 in profit per year which results in 18% yearly ROI and just under 6 years for breakeven. The cost of the miner is around $581 dollars at the time of writing.

Can I mine Monero with CPU?

Yes, you can only mine Monero using CPU. Unlike with Bitcoin mining, Monero was designed to be ASIC resistant so that more people can participate in mining it. Using GPU is also no longer profitable so the only way to mine Monero profitably is to use CPUs.

Is mining Monero worth it in 2023?

The best Monero mining CPU will give you an 18% ROI assuming an XMR price of $150 and that you can procure electricity for $0.12 per kWh.

Do you mine Monero with CPU or GPU?

The only way to make a return on mining Monero is by using a CPU. Mining monero with a GPU is technically possible but GPUs are not as efficient in hashing the RandomX algorithm that Monero uses.

How many Monero coins are left to mine?

Monero does not have a fixed supply and inflates at 0.6 XMR every two minutes when a new block is created. This inflation is used to reward miners for adding new blocks of transactions.Hence, 157,680 new Monero coins are added to the supply each year.

Is it worth mining Monero on laptop?

Technically you can do this and there is even malware that attempts to do this. However, practically it's not the most efficient option plus you may damage your laptop because it is not optimized for cooling that amount of processing.

Why is Monero so easy to mine?

The Monero community decided to use the RandomX mining algorithm to prevent big mining companies from concentrating processing power. By allowing anyone to easily mine Monero the blockchain is more decentralized and less dependent on a few large players.

How quickly can you mine Monero?

A new block gets added to the Monero Network once every two minutes. If you are solo mining you can expect to win a reward once every 2.3 years on average. If you join a pool you will receive daily mining rewards.

How much Monero can I mine in a day with CPU?

The most powerful processor will mine you 0.027 XMR per day. Assuming the price of XMR is 153 this works out to $4.27 on a daily basis.

Can you mine Monero alone?

Yes it is easy to buy and set up a CPU for Monero mining on your own. In terms of rewards you can chose to solo mine and get rewarded the whole 0.6 XMR plus fees when you succeed or you can join a mining pool who pay out a more steady stream if rewards in exchange for a small fee 1-2%.

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Markos Koemtzopoulos is the founder and main writer of ElementalCrypto. He has been a lecturer at the University of Nicosia on cryptocurrencies and DeFi and has taught two courses on crypto and blockchain technology.

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