It seems like every month there are a whole bunch of new altcoins that are CPU-mineable only – and while most of the projects are simply not worth wasting time on, there are some great blockchain ideas that have a potential to turn into legitimate businesses. Even if they don’t succeed long term, mining them, at least for a season, can be profitable.
This collection of the best mining CPUs started in 2019, but really carries over into 2020 and until there are newer, more powerful CPUs available on the retail market.
While this mining cpu comparison chart lists things like top boost clock speed and L3 cache, it seems that the only ‘real’ metric that matters to hashrate is the number of threads (obviously a top of the line CPU with lots of threads will also have more L3 cache and a higher boost clock, as they tend to go hand in hand). Thus, it’s no surprise that AMD’s 2990wx Threadripper with 64 threads is the fastest hashing mining CPU available – it’s also currently over twice the price of the previous model so even though it hashes faster, it isn’t the best buy on our list.
What’s your CPU mining strategy?
We include this disclaimer here, because depending on your strategy for mining cryptocurrencies, you may want something different out of your mining CPU.
If you are a hard core gamer and you want to do some mining on the side, then you’ll likely be interested in the same features – the fastest CPU you can get your hands on! However, if you are a die-hard Intel chipset fan, then you won’t like what we have to say. Our comparison deals simply with the price and hashrates of the best CPUs for mining in 2019 and 2020.
Another factor can be if you are planning to mine and hold – and support your favorite projects. If so, then you’ll likely need to look into specific CPU hashing speeds for that specific coin/project. If you are happy to mine whatever is most profitable, and then swap out to a different coin or to cash, then you just need a fast hashing CPU.
Is CPU mining still profitable in 2020?
In mid-2019, as Bitcoin’s price, and the whole altcoin market pulled back about 60% from the highs earlier in 2019, many miners panicked – again. They started saying things like “is it still profitable to mine in 2019”?
If you have a doom and gloom outlook on cryptos, then you are in the wrong space. If you aren’t doom and gloom, but you do really wonder what the long term blockchain outlook will be, then consider the profitability of your mining CPU setup and make sure that the break-even timeline matches what you are willing to wait for.
In early 2019, Bitcoin is going to have its next halving. That’s when the mining reward gets cut in half. I know it isn’t worth mining Bitcoin with a CPU, but the halving will has broad implications for the rest of the market. The last 2 times this happened (and the only 2 times it happened) in 2016, and in 2012, shortly after the halving, the Bitcoin price exploded higher. A few months later, the Altcoins played catchup and some of them went to the moon. I believe the same thing will happen again in May 2020. If you do too, then your strategy might be to buy and hold quality altcoin projects. If you don’t think the same scenario will play out, then you will likely want to mine and then convert to Bitcoin or cash. Either way, I believe this halving catalyst will lead to new all-time-highs in the market, which makes before the halving a great time to get into GPU and CPU mining.
Best CPU for CPU Mining Rig
Fastest Hashrate Mining CPU: AMD Threadripper 2990wx
The 2950x has 32 threads, while this CPU has 64 threads, but the hashrates are 30% faster than the 2950x. This is a little bit of a surprise, as I expected more. However, it’s a new enough CPU that it might just be limited by mining software right now – in the future this number could increase.
Since this is the top of the line CPU from AMD, expect to pay more for it. In fact, that high cost is what made it lose it’s title as “Best mining CPU”. For better value (as in less dollars per hash cost), we recommend the 2950x or 1950x.
Best Price Mining CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 1600x
It doesn’t have blazing fast hashrate, but since it’s an older chip, the cost is also very low so if you are looking at profitability, this chip will get you to your break even point faster.
At the time of writing, the 1600x Ryzen mining processor is just over $125.
Best Price Runner Up: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920x
The Threadripper 1920x is a great mining CPU. The hashrates aren’t top of the line, and in fact, compared to the newest 2990wx, they are about 3 times slower. However, their cost is about 8 times lower, so profitability is better.
If you’re looking for a decently low priced mining CPU to put into a GPU mining rig, or a computer that you already need to buy (rather than a dedicated CPU mining rig), then the 1920x fits the bill.
Cost per hash is among the lowest available for any CPU, which is why we’ve titled it the Best Price Runner Up mining cpu.
Upgrade Option: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2950x
We’ve listed the 2950x as a second upgrade option – it has all the benefits that the 1950x threadripper has as a mining CPU, but it takes it up another step. Both of the CPUs have 16 cores and 32 threads, but the 2950X has a higher clock boost speed – 4.4GHz instead of 3.4GHz. Plus, it also has 40MB of L3 cache instead of 32MB.
All of those upgrades increase the cost by about $150, but that’s only 30% more. The hashrate, on the other hand, is more like 50% faster than the 1950X, making the 2950X a better cost per hash mining cpu.
If you have enough money to go with the 2950X, then perhaps you should wait for the 2990wx cost to come down. If you can’t wait, then this is the best mining CPU for you.
If this is a little too expensive, then the 1950x is a great choice too.
Upgrade Option: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950x
The AMD threadripper 1950x is our upgrade choice in our collection of the best mining cpus. It’s an upgrade choice because it costs around $500, but it also has the hashrate capability that means overall, your cost per hash is pretty similar to our top choice mining CPU. If you have the budget, then this upgrade option will do you well in your CPU mining rig.
With 16 cores, 32 threads and 32MB of L3 cache, the Threadripper 1950 CPU can hash almost twice as fast as the 1920 series chip.
The ‘x’ in AMD chips usually means no cooler is included, you might want to consider the 1950 without an x if you don’t already have a CPU cooler, or if you think you need one.
AMD Ryzen 7 1800x
A decent option, the 1800x Ryzen mining cpu has a respectable hashrate and a decent cost. It ends up right in the middle of the pack in both hashrates and pricing, which makes it a tough sell. It’s definitely not the best mining CPU in 2020. It’s too old, so while the cost has come down, the number of threads is only 16 and just doesn’t compete with some of the newer Threadripper chipsets.
Plus, when calculating cost per hash, this costs more than the cheaper 1600x, and it’s even more dollars per hash than the much faster 1950x and 2950x.
Intel i9 – 9900K
The number of threads seem to be directly correlated with the mining hashrate of CPUs, and the Intel i9 chipset only has 16 threads. That’s the same as the AMD 1800x chip that costs half the price. For around the same price as the i9, the Threadripper 1950X can hash twice as fast.
The only reason I can see for choosing an Intel chip is if you have a motherboard that can’t accept an AMD Threadripper.
Intel i7 9700K
The Intel chips are reliable, durable CPUs with enough power to run a bunch of mining GPUs, but they just don’t pack the hashrate punch that the Threadrippers do. For about the same price, you can get almost twice the hashrate speed, so I just can’t recommend the Intel CPU for mining.
AMD vs INTEL
We tried to be objective with this review of the best mining CPUs, but Intel chips really don’t fare well. It seems that they have a lower thread count, which means they can not mine as quickly as the AMD equivalents. The Intel i9 has 16 threads, while most of the Threadripper CPUs come in a 32 threads, with the newest 2990wx beast of a CPU having 64 threads! Thus, the Intel i9 hashrates are about 1/4 of the Threadripper 2990wx’s hashrate.
Once Intel releases CPUs with a higher number of threads, I expect the Intel CPUs to compete very well against the AMD mining CPUs. Intel chips are typically a little bit less energy hungry, which could translate into higher mining profit margins.