Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?

Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?

Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?

It is easy to assume that cryptocurrency mining is only profitable on GPUs or specialised ASICs, after all, we are not seeing a CPU shortage in today’s market. This assumption ignores one critical factor of the crypto market; it’s diversity. 

Today some currencies are only profitable to mine on ASICs, like Bitcoin, while others are not suitable for ASICs and are more commonly mined on GPUs. Others can be mined bog standard CPUs, without much need for mining specific system optimisations. This mining potential leaves an opportunity for PC enthusiasts to profit from their hardware when it is not in use, without the need for a dedicated mining setup.   

This untapped potential is why AMD decided to contact us, not only to inform us that CPUs are profitable cryptocurrency miners but that the company’s Ryzen and Threadripper series CPUs are uniquely equipped to deal with such tasks.  

AMD wanted to talk to us specifically about CryptoNight-based cryptocurrencies, like Monero, which are profitable on AMD’s Threadripper series of CPUs (and Ryzen to a lesser extent). This gave us the opportunity to talk to some of AMD’s top technical boffins, most notably AMD’s technical marketing director Damien Triolet, who went into a lot of detail about how Threadripper owners could be earning some money on the side through cryptocurrency mining.  


Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?

(Who said that only GPUs and ASICs were profitable for Cryptomining?)

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we will start by saying that investing in cryptocurrencies are an inherently risky venture. Things in this market can change quickly and as such anyone who has ambitions to make money from the cryptocurrency market should be prepared to lose their investment. Today alone we have seen the value of Bitcoin drop from around $9,000 US to under $8000 to only jump back up to $9,000 again when the next hour.   

Now, back on topic. CryptoNight is an algorithm that relies on random access to low latency memory, with each instance requiring around 2MB of memory to function correctly. This memory access makes CryptoNight unsuitable for ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) as such a large amount of cache is inherently expensive for a chip, making these calculations more suitable for CPUs and GPUs.   

GPUs are not the best-suited products for these kinds of jobs, as the GDDR5 memory that is included in most of today’s GPUs is designed primarily for bandwidth, not latency, making this task better suited to CPUs with large amounts of L3 cache.  

This is where Threadripper comes in, offering 32MB of L3 cache on their Ryzen 1950X and 1920X series CPUs, offering 2MB of L3 cache or the 16 and 12 respective cores in each of these Threadripper products. This huge bank of L3 cache classes AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper series of CPUs in a different league than Intel’s current consumer offerings, giving them a considerable advantage when mining any CryptoNight-based currencies. 

Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?


To put things into perspective, we will compare Intel’s i9 7900X to AMD’s Threadripper 1950X, both of which sell for similar prices online. Intel’s 7900X comes with  13.75MB of L3 Cache and ten total cores, whereas the 1950X comes with 32MB of cache and sixteen cores. This allows Intel’s 7900X to mine effectively with up to 6 CPU cores, whereas the Threadripper 1950X can use all of its 16 cores.     

To quantify this, we were able to source some data regarding the relative mining performance of these two CPUs.  An Intel i9 7900x should offer a hash rate of around 494 Hashes per second (H/s) with 166 watts of power, whereas the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X is capable of about 1360 hashes per second with a power consumption of approximately 214 watts. This gives the 1950X a hash efficiency of 6.35 hashes per watt while the 7900X offers a hash rate efficiency of about 2.97 hashes per watt. These values will vary based on your exact system setup. The GPUs in both systems are at idle, with power rating coming directly from the socket, making PSU efficiency a potential factor.

AMD’s Damien Triolet compared the Threadripper 1950X to an unoptimised RX Vega when mining a CryptoNight-based currency, with the Vega requiring time-consuming overclocking and undervolting to achieve higher hash rates.     

On the next page, we will detail exactly how these high hash rates can be used to make money from the cryptocurrency market. 

Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?


To calculate profitability, several factors need to be considered, such as power consumption, power cost and the price of the cryptocurrency that you are mining. Areas with low-cost power will be able to profit from Cryptocurrency mining a lot easier, as electricity costs your power cost is the only outgoing when cryptocurrency mining, provided that you already own the hardware that you intend to mine using. 

Those who are familiar with the cryptocurrency market will know that the price of Bitcoin and other digital currencies are incredibly variable, with today alone seeing Bitcoin move from $9,000 down to $8,000 and then back up to $9,000, making the time you sell your cryptocurrencies extremely important. 

The calculations used below are based on the NiceHash profitability calculator, which uses their current payout rates, Bitcoin’s current pricing and calculated power costs to give users a ballpark figure for profitability. These factors make the profitability of mining with NiceHash changes with the Value of Bitcoin and their current payout rates. 

NiceHash is not a normal mining app, as instead of mining a specific currency it adds a users mining power to a pool of compute resources, paying users for their system’s performance with Bitcoin at regular intervals. NiceHash will move systems to the currency that is most profitable for them, giving NiceHash a hands-off approach to mining, though newcomers should be aware that the company was hacked in December, losing over $60,000,000 that belonged to their users. This article is not an endorsement for NiceHash, though will use their calculator for illustrative purposes. 


Can you make money using Threadripper for mining?


When compared certain parts of the world the UK has high energy prices, with my current rate per kilowatt hour being around 15 pence (£0.15, or $0.21).  In the calculations below we will also include numbers for electricity cost of approximately $0.10 (£0.7) to account for some of the cheaper electricity markets.     

For a Ryzen Threadripper 1950X, we will use a hash rate of 1360 H/s and 214W of power consumption, and we will also use values of 1221 H/s and 187W for a Ryzen Threadripper 1920X. This data will also be compared to NiceHash’s default calculations for a GTX 1080. Power consumption values are for the whole system except for the GTX 1080. 

In these calculations, a value of around $8800 is used. The values below are approximate. 

  Hash Rate CrytoNight Power Consumption Bitcoin Earned Per month (In £/$) Electricity Cost per month if £0.15 per KWH Electricity Cost per month if $0.10 per KWH
Threadripper 1950X 1360H/s  214W  £61 ($86)  £22.79 ($31.68) £10.63 ($15.19)
Threadripper 1920X 1221H/s 187W  £55 ($79) £19.02 ($28.07) £9.36 ($13.37) 
GTX 1080 N/A 198W (Just GPU)  £70 ($99) £20.34 ($29.52) £9.84 ($13.66)

(Remember to take away the power costs to calculate potential profits)

As we can see here, the Threadripper 1950X and 1920X are currently profitable within the UK market, though they are much more profitable for areas with lower electricity prices. Even so, these profits will not offset the cost of the hardware quickly, acting as more as a potential earner on the side than a possible business option or “get rich quick” scheme. Don’t expect a Threadripper shortage anytime soon. 


What can be seen here is that Threadripper can be used to profit while mining, especially in areas of the world where power is cheap and plentiful. Even so, the amount that can be earned will not offset the costs of the hardware requires quickly, making Threadripper unappealing for a dedicated mining PC. 

AMD’s spin on this was that Threadripper users could utilise the untapped potential of their systems to profit from the mining craze, enough to pay for a new game a month or partially offset the cost of the hardware over time.

Unless users are rendering or conduction other heavy workloads the 16 cores on Threadripper are likely untapped most of the time.  This opens up the option to dedicate 12-14 cores to mining while using your remaining cores for basic daily workloads or gaming or to allow their systems to mine outside of working hours for profit. 

AMD’s Ryzen Architecture also offers the potential to be profitable when mining using CryptoNight, though Threadripper provides higher levels of efficiency due to the lower percentage of performance is lost to the user’s OS. Combine this with the fact that a single motherboard and set of memory and be used to power up to 16 cores rather than up to eight on AM4. 

The only real downside to all of this is that Bitcoin’s value could be much lower tomorrow, potentially cutting down your profits to a meaningless value or make the enterprise a net loss. This is the risk that people take in the cryptocurrency business, ignoring the potential for online wallets to be hacked and other such problems. 

To end here, there is potential for users of Ryzen or Threadripper to profit from Cryptocurrency mining, with Threadripper offering enough of a profit to be potentially worthwhile. Just make sure that you are aware of the risks involved before starting your crypto-journey.

You can join the discussion on Threadripper’s potential for Cryptocurrency mining on the OC3D Forums.