Gareth Johnson
Gareth Johnson
Updated on October 1, 2021

There are two main ways for getting some Bitcoin (BTC). You can either be a crypto investor and buy bitcoins online or you can set up your own BTC mining operation. Creating a mining rig and engaging in crypto mining can be quite expensive, because of the initial investment in the appropriate hardware.

Most parts of a mining rig aren’t that expensive, but the main component, the GPU, is what can really cost a lot if you want to build a strong and efficient machine that will earn you some serious cash.

Let’s take a look at how Bitcoin mining works, what is the role of GPUs in mining, and can BTC mining damage your GPU.

Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining is the key process behind Bitcoin transactions and it is also vital for the production of new bitcoins. The BTC blockchain is a fully decentralized network without any central authority or server that has the role of a transfer validator. Instead, the network nodes, which are miners and their mining rigs, are the ones responsible for checking every transaction on the blockchain and making sure it’s legit and not some sort of scam.

Each time a transaction is initiated on the blockchain, the transfer data goes to a memory pool from where mines select transfers and then process them, searching for the appropriate 64-digit hash for every transfer. Searching for the hash takes a lot of time and computing power, which is measured in hashes per second. Once a miner finds the appropriate combination for a transaction hash, their rig automatically sends that hash to the rest of the network as proof-of-work, so that additional, independent miners can confirm its validity.

Hand holding wire and GPU to connect to mining rig

When the validity of a transaction hash is finally approved, that transfer gets added to a new block of the Bitcoin blockchain and the block is then added to the chain once it reaches the 1MB data size limit. After the new block is added to the network, the miner that successfully finds the appropriate hash gets rewarded with freshly mined bitcoins.

This is how new BTC is produced and these new coins are the main incentive for miners to work as transaction validators on the network. There are thousands of miners and only the one who finds the winning hash combination gets rewarded. Because of this huge competition between miners, mining pools have been invented. In these pools, miners join their computing power to solve hashes faster and they share the block rewards by splitting up the new BTC between pool members.

Role of GPUs in Bitcoin Mining

Back in the early days of Bitcoin, people used to mine BTC with their CPUs on their PCs and laptops, because mining wasn’t consuming much energy. But, as the popularity of BTC grew, more and more people started mining it and the complexity of the hashing process grew. Bitcoin has a built-in feature that raises the difficulty of mining by halving the block rewards approximately every 4 years, making the currency more scarce.

Because of this, CPUs soon became insufficient for mining, and crypto miners soon shifted to GPUs because they have much more computing power. While GPUs are mostly associated with PC gamers as the most important computer component for advanced gaming, graphics cards are also vital for cryptocurrency mining. 

Mining rigs, the computers that are specialized for mining cryptocurrencies like BTC or ETH, are simply computers that usually have between 2 and 8 GPUs, which are connected to a processor and motherboard. Rigs work 24/7 with a single purpose – to mine cryptos and generate profit for their owners.

Although it’s quite expensive to put together a strong GPU mining rig, it can be very rewarding after the miner pays off the initial investment expenses. 

If you’re thinking of getting into it yourself and you want to put together a rig, you can use websites such as Nicehash.com to calculate the potential profitability of a mining rig based on the GPUs in it. Just don’t forget to calculate the cost of power consumption based on the GPUs power draw as an extra expense when calculating the potential profits.

Crypto Mining Hardware

Crypto mining hardware can be very expensive. The usual miner puts together several strong GPUs for a rig, but many companies that actually invest in Bitcoin mining as a core business don’t even use classic mining rigs. They use ASIC miner machines which cost far more than rigs but are also much stronger. 

ASIC mining rig

ASICs are usually out of the financial reach of crypto enthusiasts, who mainly stick to good GPUs as the foundation of their mining rigs, plus, they join a mining pool in order to share computing power with miners around the world.

The two key producers of GPUs are AMD Radeon and NVIDIA and some of the best GPUs for mining BTC include the following models:

  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Ti
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
  • AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 SUPER

Can Mining Damage Your GPU?

The big question of whether BTC mining can damage your GPU has a bit of a complex answer. In short, mining itself doesn’t damage a GPU but bad or lack of maintenance of the GPUs that are used for mining can lead to severe hardware damage.

When GPUs are running 24/7 in a mining rig, they generate very high temperatures of up to 80 to 90 degrees Celsius (176 to 194 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s a lot of heat, and if such temperatures last for a long period of time without adequate cooling, your GPUs will literally stop working. The key to avoiding such a catastrophic scenario is to create a good cooling system for your mining rig. You need to have an adequate number of cooling fans installed in the rig and each GPU within the rig has to have enough space for its own airflow.

The airflow needs to be adequate to prevent any overheating of the GPUs and you should also regularly clear the cooler fans from any accumulated pieces of dust.

If you take good care of your mining rig and maintain an efficient cooling system for the GPUs, then you don’t have to worry that any of the components of your mining rig are going to get damaged. Also, if you are overclocking your GPUs to improve their hash rate, make sure not to do it too often, because it can lead to GPU malfunction.

A Few Final Words…

While most crypto enthusiasts grow their BTC portfolio by trading, the smaller portion of Bitcoin users who are active miners play a vital role in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Without miners, the whole blockchain wouldn’t work because they are both the transaction validators and the moving power behind the production of new bitcoins. Bitcoin mining won’t stop anytime soon since there is a long way to go until the last of the 21 million bitcoins that are yet to be mined enter the market. 

In case you’re thinking of becoming a BTC miner and researching what could go wrong, we hope this guide resolved some of your questions about Bitcoin mining in general and GPUs in particular.