CPU or GPU for Monero Mining? Definitely Not GPU in 2024

Published: January 2, 2024 | Last Updated: October 22, 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.

The only way you can mine Monero profitably is to use a CPU. GPUs are very inefficient at mining the Monero blockchain. In this post, I will show you just how bad GPU mining is compared to CPU mining.

is mining monero better with cpu or gpu

Why mining Monero with a GPU is wrong?

Mining Monero with a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) results in much fewer hashes per second.

The average CPU (Central Processing Unit) can mine about 10 times more hashes for XMR than the average GPU.

However, it’s not that GPUs are cheaper than CPUs. Plus, Graphics cards have the same range of electricity consumption as CPUs.

So you end up getting the worst deal: both low hashing output and the same input costs. I am generalizing but I will show you specifics further down.

You’ll see way better results by mining XMR with a CPU rather than a GPU.

infographic GPU vs CPU monero mining

Why are GPUs so bad for mining XMR?

Monero uses a hashing algorithm called RandomX.

This algorithm was made to be ASIC-resistant. ASICs are what the big boys mine Bitcoin and other large proof-of-work blockchains with.

ASIC antminer
This is what an ASIC miner looks like

However, ASICs require high upfront capital investment and large miners benefit from economies of scale.

The Monero community wants to avoid large mining companies taking over.

They feared this could lead to centralization and threaten the independence and security of the Monero Network.

To counteract the threat they forked the original version of Monero which used the Cryptonight algorithm and introduced an algorithm called RandomX, that ASICs can’t mine.

The thing is that GPUs are also pretty bad at mining RandomX.

So the only way forward is to use CPUs.

Mythbusters about mining Monero with GPU

Unfortunately, you will come across many sites recommending you mine Monero with a GPU.

These people do not know what they are talking about. They have been written to appear in the first results on Google search but are completely misinformed.

Hopefully, this article will help put things in perspective

Sometimes people think that because a GPU has a high hashrate on another coin it will perform well for Monero. But having a high hashrate, say for mining Ravencoin, doesn’t mean your hashrate will be as high when mining Monero.

Let’s take a look at some concrete numbers to see why CPUs are superior.

GPU vs CPU XMR Mining stats

In the tables below I have estimated the annual profits and breakeven for some of the most popular GPUs and CPUs.

As you can see the GPUs end up with negative profits and never break even.

So while you can technically mine Monero with a GPU you are never going to make money out of it. In fact, if you mine with a GPU, you will only be spending money.

Breakeven and 1-year profits for different GPU miner models

GPUs Profit per year Breakeven in years Yearly ROI H/s Power Consumption (Watt) Cost
NVIDIA TITAN RTX -$606 Never -25% 8,500 650 $2,407
AMD RADEON VII -$300 Never -35% 1,400 300 $850
ASUS STRIX RTX 2080Ti -$274 Never -22% 1,692 277 $1,234
AMD RADEON RX Vega 64 -$297 Never -59% 1,160 295 $499
EVGA GTX 1080 Ti Kingpin Edition -$616 Never -49% 750 600 $1,249

As you can see you are never going to make any money if you set up a Monero mining rig with GPUs.

Even with high-end NVIDIA GPUs, you will lose about -$600 per year to be able to mine XMR.

CPU Monero miners breakeven and 1-year profits

CPU Profit per year Breakeven in years Yearly ROI H/s Power Consumption (Watt) Cost
Bitmain X5 $285 13 8% 212,000 1350 $3,749
AMD Threadripper 3990X $131 23 4% 53,000 280 $2,999
AMD Ryzen 9 5950X $66 7 15% 22,000 105 $449
AMD Ryzen 9 7950X $101 6 17% 31,000 140 $581
AMD Ryzen 9 3950X $34 16 6% 18,000 105 $550

The best CPU out of this selection is the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X which breaks even in 6 years with a yearly ROI of 17%. Check out What Is the Best CPU for Monero Mining for a larger sample of data.

For more precise stats on performance check out the XMRig benchmarks.

XMRig is the most popular Monero mining software for CPUs and the source is frequently referenced by the Monero community.

You will see a lot of variance for the H/s for each machine.

This is because:

  1. The top Monero mining rigs are using more than 1 CPU
  2. There is inherent variance in the processing capabilities of each machine. It depends on how they have been manufactured.
  3. You can tune processors to higher clock speeds which is what the high-performant ones are doing but this translates into higher electricity costs.
  4. The Operating system that you use will also affect your hash power.
  5. The amount and quality of your RAM will also affect how well your mining operation performs.

Assumptions:

For the calculations above I have assumed the following:

  • You can get electricity for 0.12 $/kWH which is on the lower end of residential prices.
  • I have used the current hashing difficulty of 360G. Difficulty has hovered between 300G and 400G for the past 3 years now.
  • I have not included the cost of peripheral hardware such as RAM, Motherboards, power supply, and so on.
  • I assume a 1% fee for the Monero mining pools that you join. Solo mining does not make sense here as you will be able to mine less than 1 XMR every 2 years on average. Pool mining will deliver a more predictable income stream. There is also the option of doing cloud mining where you rent or lease the CPU/GPU to mine XMR but a lot of those are scams.
  • Mining rewards are 0.61 Monero coins. That is 0.6 XMR plus fees.

If you want to play around with the inputs I have a spreadsheet where you can do so on my Monero Mining Calculator page.

About Monero

Monero is a privacy coin which means that, unlike other blockchain coins, transactions are confidential and can’t be traced. You can find out more on their official website.

Monero’s coin ranks consistently in the top 30 coins by market capitalization.

Monero mining process

Like Bitcoin, the Monero blockchain is a proof-of-work blockchain.

This means that for new blocks to be added to the blockchain network miners need to use their computing power to solve complex mathematical problems.

The first miner to solve the puzzle gets to add the new block and is rewarded in newly minted XMR plus fees for doing so.

What is unique about Monero’s mining system is that you only need a CPU to mine Monero blocks.

This makes mining much more accessible.

It essentially means anyone can mine Monero and they do which is why Monero is barely profitable.

It’s just so easy to do.

Useful resources

How Profitable Is Monero CPU Mining: Why It Is Not Worth It

How Profitable Is Monero CPU Mining

In this post, I take a look at what is the maximum return you can make mining Monero and the numbers 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. Read more.

15 Best Monero Mining Hardware: Your Ultimate Guide

best monero mining hardware

In this article, I review the best hardware to mine Monero. Let’s dive straight into it. Read more.

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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