How much will these Bitcoin mining configurations cost you in power?

Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them.

Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them.  At the time we were much more interested in the performance of these configurations but now that we have that information and we started to look at the potential profitability of doing something like this, look at the actual real-world cost of running a mining machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week became much more important. 

This led us to today’s update where we will talk about the average cost of power, and thus the average cost of running our 16 different configurations, in 50 different locations across the United States.  We got our data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website where they provide average retail prices on electricity divided up by state and by region.  For use today, we downloaded the latest XLS file (which has slightly more updated information than the website as of this writing) and started going to work with some simple math. 

Here is how your state matches up:

The first graph shows the rates in alphabetical order by state, the second graph in order from the most expensive to the least.  First thing we noticed: if you live in Hawaii, I hope you REALLY love the weather.  And maybe it’s time to look into that whole solar panel thing, huh?  Because Hawaii was SO FAR out beyond our other data points, we are going to be leaving it out of our calculations and instead are going to ask residents and those curious to just basically double one of our groupings.

Keep reading to get the full rundown on how power costs will affect your mining operations, and why it may not make sense to mine AT ALL with NVIDIA graphics cards! 

The second thing I noticed is that doing a graph for each of the 49 remaining stats (and the District of Columbia) would create a mess of graphs to present.  Because of that we came up with the idea to group the states into four divisions and take the averages.  You can see our break down here:

We took the 12 most expensive states, from Connecticut to Maryland, and found the average price between them.  The next group of 12 was averaged, followed by 13 more and then 13 more.  The averages we used for our calculations were:

  • Group A: $0.15809 / kWh
  • Group B: $0.11606 / kWh
  • Group C: $0.09813 / kWh
  • Group D: $0.08246 / kWh

* Hawaii residents, you should double all costs from Group A to get a good estimate from here on out.

If you are in a state from Group D (as I am) you are getting power for about half the cost of someone from most of the northeast or California.  The question is though: does this affect the capacity for profit when Bitcoin mining?

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These results show each of our GPUs used in our initial performance evaluation of Bitcoin mining but instead in terms of cost per day to run them.  Each grouping of states is presented on each card or configuration and the results are interesting.  For reference you can see our power consumption results here in terms of performance per watt.  The AMD A8-3850 APU uses just $0.305 / day to run its mining operation while "The Beast" takes $2.112 / day to do its work in the Group D states.  If you happen to live in the more expensive area that power will cost you $0.584 / day and $4.048 /day (!!) respectively.

Just so you can see it easily and in graph form, here is the same data but scaled up to a month (30 days) and a year.

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If you are running "The Beast" as your mining system you can expect a price for power as high as $1,477 each year which will obviously affect your profit margins to say the least.  Even the Radeon HD 5830, one of the community’s most popular cards, it can cost you anywhere from $169 / year up to $325 / year – as much as three times the cost of the GPU itself!  

And just for a good reference point, here is the graph of the "potential" profit of each mining configuration from our previous performance centric article.  For the Radeon HD 5830 you can subtract the cost of power of $169 or even $325 from the $538 total Bitcoin mined value for a total profit range of $369 all the way down to $213.  A system like "The Beast" sees a similar drop in overall profitability going from $3,637 after paying for the hardware itself down to as little as $2,160 in those more expensive states. 

Closing Thoughts

If you are in the market to build a system for Bitcoin mining you should obviously be aware of how the cost of power will affect your profits and loss.  If you decided to Bitcoin mine on a GeForce GTX 590 you would actually lose $776 in your first year living in the northeast, California, etc.  In fact, NO cards from the GeForce lineup would make you a profit in the first 365 days after purchasing the card.  Even if you already own the card today, the power it costs to run the GTX GPUs might exceed the value of the Bitcoins you can mine over that same period.

Maybe this image should have Bitcoins being taken BY the GeForce instead…?

The AMD lineup is obviously a much better option in terms of power efficiency and cost efficiency, making them the hands-down winner in this battle.  Even with that in mind, you should be sure you are aware of all the costs and potential pitfalls (lowering or rising exchange rates, higher power rates during the summer) before starting into the world of Bitcoin mining. 

P.S. – If you live in Hawaii….just go to the beach.

Questions or comments for us?  Let us know in the comments section below!  (No registration required.)

Further Reading