GPUs are everywhere now. Even your phone probably has a GPU in it as most SoC (System on Chip) designs include them, and more and more devices we use daily need them for various tasks. One of the main reasons is that they’re incredibly good at parallel computing – though there are many other reasons too – which makes them very effective at running all kinds of different algorithms and tasks that benefit from code being spread across several cores.
This means modern GPUs make pretty decent cryptocurrency miners; but what do you need to know about mining with a GPU? And, given their widespread availability these days, what makes one GPU better than another? You can find out by following our comprehensive guide!
What Is a GPU? So, What’s The Difference Between A CPU And A GPU?
The first thing to understand is that GPUs are specialised computers that do one job really well – running parallel tasks. CPUs on the other hand were designed as general-purpose computing chips, which means they’re not very good at running several tasks at once. Although modern CPUs run parallel processes very well (and now have many cores), they still can’t compete with GPUs when it comes to truly parallel code – code distributed across multiple cores. CPUs make up for this by having more cores – typically 4 or 8 – whereas GPUs tend to have fewer (1–3) but these few cores blow the equivalent number of CPU core’s out of the water!
How Does Mining With A GPU Work?
One of the downsides to mining with a GPU is that it’s not as simple as setting up your software, clicking start and walking away. Unfortunately, mining still requires some understanding of how things work under the bonnet if you want the best results possible – but don’t worry, we’ll walk you through everything!
GPUs are designed for parallel computing. They can run multiple threads at once without slowing down performance, unlike CPUs which have only one thread per core. When it comes to cryptocurrency mining this means they’re excellent at running all kinds of code simultaneously in order to solve problems very quickly – which benefits us because crypto algorithms are based on maths functions that need to be solved in order to receive coins.
Mining Crypto Coins With A GPU
There are many cryptocurrencies that can be mined with a GPU, but the two most prominent are Ethereum and ZCash. Both of these mine ‘effectively’ on consumer cards at their current network hash rates, but both have unique requirements if you want to maximize your profits depending on your setup or budget.
ZCash is a slightly different proposition. There are two versions of the protocol currently in use, and these have important differences for miners. Zcash uses Equihash as its hashing algorithm, although this can be modified depending on the client you’re using to mine it. This means that AMD cards tend to perform better than their Nvidia counterparts when mining Zcash, but there are ways to get around this.
GPU Role In Gaming
GPUs are so much more than just graphics cards now. The line between a gaming GPU and a mining/rendering one is blurred as GPUs have become increasingly good at parallel computing – the key to cryptocurrency mining success! However, if you’re interested in detaining your latest graphics card for gaming purposes then there are a couple of things to consider.
Firstly, and as we mentioned earlier, the latest generation of AMD cards (and some Nvidia cards) perform better than their older counterparts when it comes to mining. This is because they’re designed for parallel computing; meaning they have several small cores rather than one large core – which means they can do more things at once without slowing down.
Secondly, it’s important to remember you’ll only see real-world gaming performance for your card on games that can run several tasks at once. While many modern games will do this well, the latest DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs are designed specifically to take advantage of parallel computing – which means even older games may struggle with weaker mining cards.
One final thing to consider is that GPUs will require the best settings and most demanding games in order to achieve their maximum framerates. A high-end card like a GTX 1080 or Radeon Vega RX has no problem running modern games at 1440p or 4k with the latest graphics turned up, but they may struggle on older titles at lower resolutions and graphical settings.
In summary, if you want to game with your GPU rather than mine don’t worry too much about the mining performance of your card as it should be able to handle games really well – provided you’re not looking for high framerates on very demanding titles at 4k resolution (in which case an RTX 3090 Ti would probably be a better choice!)