Crypto Mining on a Budget: Best Used Mining Rigs

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Crypto mining rigs aren’t ordinary machines. They use a combination of specialty hardware and Graphical Processing Units (GPUs) to support the complex calculations required to verify transactions on a Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain. Accordingly, the parts for these machines are in high demand in the crypto community.

But there is an option for enthusiasts who like a little DIY while keeping their budget low. That option is used crypto mining rigs.

In this guide, you’ll discover how you can mine on a budget with used mining rigs that you can easily purchase online in 2024.

Do People Still Mine Crypto?

The short answer is yes, they do. But, the practice has evolved over the years.

During the bitcoin boom in 2017, we saw the price of BTC rally from $1,000 to $20,000, which led to a shortage of graphics cards and mining rigs due to the high demand for digital currency mining equipment.

Fast forward to 2021, a similar scene unfolded, mainly thanks to Ethereum (back when it was PoW). This surge accounted for nearly 25% of all GPU sales, with miners spending around $15 billion on GPUs in just 18 months.

Amidst this frenzy, bitcoin miners weren’t left behind.  Manufacturers like Bitmain, for instance, in 2021 doubled their hardware prices. Yet, their strategy didn’t deter buyers; they pre-sold months’ worth of inventory within mere weeks.

As of this writing, Nvidia’s top-tier graphics card, the RTX 4090, regularly faces stock shortages and price increases when in stock. While it may be premature to sound the alarm, there is a noticeable shift in the market, with significant shortages (not necessarily caused by crypto mining) observed in countries like Japan.

With shortages and rising prices for GPUs the norm in recent years, and expected to continue, what’s a miner (or prospective miner) to do?

Picking up some used GPUs at bargain prices is the answer, and we’ve compiled a list of the best used mining rigs for miners to consider in 2024.

The Best Used Mining Rigs of 2024

We have compiled a list of seven digital currency miners that can be bought second-hand on major retail platforms such as eBay or Amazon. To rank the machines, we looked at the current (used) market price, hash power, how much energy each machine consumes, how user-friendly they are, and when they were initially released. Note that since these are used rigs, prices can vary significantly based on supply and demand, and the prices we found may no longer be available.

Used Mining Rigs Reviewed

antminer_t9Antminer T9+

Price: $110
BMJ Score: 4.0

Bitmain unveiled the Antminer T9+ in January 2018, targeting miners who prioritize efficiency. The rig uses the SHA-256 algorithm, making it suitable for mining over 40 different coins. Although it offers a modest hash rate of 10.5 TH/s, the T9+ is decent in terms of efficiency, with an energy consumption of up to 1423W. This balance ensures that while the hash rate might seem lower compared to some other rigs, the reduced power consumption can translate to higher potential profits for miners.


DragonmintDragonMint T1

Price: $480
BMJ Score: 4.0

Following in the footsteps of miners with lower hash rates, like the Antminer S5, the DragonMint T1 emerged in April 2018. Manufactured by Halong Mining, this miner offers a hash rate of 16TH/s, which matches its relatively low power consumption of just 1480W. Such efficiency positions the DragonMint T1 as an attractive option for those looking to mine bitcoin without excessively high energy costs.


AvalonMiner 1246AvalonMiner 1246

Price: $479
BMJ Score: 3.5

A successor to Canaan's earlier model, the AvalonMiner 1246 was introduced a year later in 2021. The rig tries to build on the foundation laid by its predecessor by enhancing the blend of performance and affordability. While its hash rate of 90 TH/s might not lead the pack in sheer performance metrics, it's still more powerful but draws slightly more power than its predecessor at 3420W. The rig can mine over ten types of coins, including BTC and BCH.


AvalonMinerAvalonMiner A1166 Pro

Price: $835
BMJ Score: 3.5

Canaan Creative Technology Company, another leader in the mining hardware industry, introduced the Avalon Miner A1166 Pro in August 2020. Built with the SHA-256 hashing algorithm, the rig mines over 40 different ASIC SHA-256 coins, including notable ones like bitcoin, bitcoin SV, bitcoin Cash, and Peercoin. With a hash rate of 81 TH/s the mining rig draws significant power of 3400W.


whatsminerWhatsMiner M32

Price: $600
BMJ Score: 3.0

MicroBT introduced the WhatsMiner M32-68T, an SHA-256 miner, in July 2020. This rig boasts a hash rate of 62TH/s, though with a notable power consumption of 3348W. As mentioned, such a pronounced power requirement signifies that while the M32 is a powerhouse in terms of mining capability, it also demands higher operational costs, especially in terms of electricity. Similar to its successor, this miner might be a worthy choice for people with access to affordable energy.


Antminer S19Antminer S19 XP

Price: $3,075
BMJ Score: 3.0

Bitmain, a renowned mining hardware manufacturer,  launched the Antminer S19 XP in July 2022, optimized for SHA-256. The rig comes with a hash rate of 140TH/s and power consumption of 3010W, which is less than some other high-end bitcoin miners. It's one of the most power-efficient rigs in the market, therefore helping miners reduce electricity costs and boost potential mining profits.


whatsminer m30S++Whatsminer M30S++

Price: $1,299
BMJ Score: 2.5 

MicroBT unveiled the Whatsminer M30 S++ in October 2020. The rig boasts an incredible hash rate of 112TH/s, though it comes with a considerable power draw of 3472W, making it one of the more power-hungry units in the market. While its performance metrics make it a standout, new miners, especially those on a budget, should approach it with caution due to its high energy consumption. It's a miner best suited for those who have access to affordable electricity.


antminerAntminer S5

Price: $1,500
BMJ Score: 2.0

Bitmain's Antminer S5, launched in 2014, was a favorite among the mining community for its efficiency and affordability. Employing the SHA-256 algorithm, it delivers a modest hash rate of 1.155TH/s, while operating at a power consumption of 590W. At the time of its release, the S5 was one of the most efficient and swift ASIC miners in the market. However, like all tech products, newer models have since emerged, overshadowing its once-dominant presence. Nevertheless, the S5 remains an option for miners looking for a cost-effective solution.


What Is a Crypto Mining Rig?

A crypto mining rig is a specialized hardware setup used by crypto enthusiasts to participate in a Proof of Work blockchain to earn coins.

In PoW blockchains, transactions are verified via a pool of users known as “miners.” Each miner provides computational power to the blockchain to verify blocks of transactions via complex cryptographic calculations. The “winner” of each block (the miner who solves the calculations the fastest) earns a set number of tokens.

Suffice it to say miners have a leg up on their competition when they have more computing power to provide to the blockchain. But this computing power doesn’t come from an enthusiast at home with an off-the-shelf machine–blockchain calculations are immensely difficult and require specific hardware tailored for these problems.

There are three approaches one can take to crypto mining rigs:

GPU Rigs

GPUs are specifically designed to handle a volume of parallel calculations typically found in graphical design and gaming. This processing configuration makes them uniquely suited for other problems, including crypto mining. GPU rigs are the most common form of rig, as GPUs are relatively available for consumers (even if price and availability fluctuate).

CPU Rigs

Initially, the creators of bitcoin expected users to mine crypto with their CPUs. However, a traditional CPU is built more for serialized processing and multitasking rather than high-volume parallel processing. As such, CPU mining isn’t competitive in the bitcoin space.

ASIC Rigs

Application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) are highly specialized hardware where internal circuits for processing, storage, and memory are custom-built with a single application in mind. This gives them plenty of power to accomplish their specific task (in this case, crypto mining) but makes them unsuitable for any other use. ASICs will often surpass their GPU counterparts, with the caveat that they are hard to get, expensive, and only suitable for one use.

What Should I Look For in a Used Crypto Mining Rig?

When considering a cryptocurrency mining rig, several factors come into play to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, and return on investment. Here's a comprehensive breakdown:

  • Hashing Power: The speed at which a mining rig can solve the cryptographic puzzles required to mine a block, known as the Hash Rate, is crucial. A higher hash rate increases the chance of solving a block and earning rewards.
  • Power Efficiency: Lower electricity consumption for a given hash rate is preferable, as it reduces operational costs. Power efficiency is often expressed as Watts per Gigahash (W/GH).
  • Hardware: The right rig should have a powerful processor (GPU or ASIC), a motherboard that can handle heavy workloads, sufficient memory and storage, and high-level colling systems (like liquid cooling) to handle processor heat.
  • Manufacturer Reputation: Look for reputable manufacturers with positive reviews and reliable customer support. Ensure the manufacturer has a track record of delivering quality products and honoring warranties.

Check Mining Profitability Before Buying Mining Hardware

Before jumping onto the digital currency mining bandwagon and launching a small at-home mining operation, check mining profitability for the miner(s) you intend to buy and the coins you intend to mine. Digital asset prices change every second, and mining difficulties adjust on an ongoing basis. Mining profitability can, therefore,  quickly move from profitable to unprofitable.

Hence, it is highly advisable to check mining profitability using specialized online mining calculators, such as the CryptoCompare calculator, before making any purchases.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a crypto mining rig?

A crypto mining rig is a computer system used for mining cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It can be a specialized piece of hardware designed solely for mining or a more general-purpose computer with multiple graphics cards. They process and verify transactions on a cryptocurrency's network and, in return, are rewarded with a small amount of that cryptocurrency.

Which hardware is best for bitcoin mining?

The best hardware for bitcoin mining are ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) miners like Bitmain Antminer S19 XP and MicroBT Whatsminer M30 S++. These are specialized devices designed solely for mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Can I mine bitcoin on my PC?

Yes, you can mine bitcoin on your PC, but it's not recommended for several reasons. The computational power of average PCs is significantly lower than that of specialized mining equipment, meaning you'd earn very little reward for a lot of electricity consumed. Additionally, the wear and tear on your computer's hardware from continuous mining could shorten its lifespan.

Are bitcoin miners worth buying?

It depends. The profitability of bitcoin miners varies based on several factors, including the cost of electricity in your area, the current price of bitcoin, the total computational power of the bitcoin network (hash rate), and the efficiency and cost of your mining equipment. Before investing in a miner, it's essential to do thorough research and calculations to determine potential profitability.

How do I build a crypto mining rig?

To build a crypto mining rig, decide on the cryptocurrency you want to mine. Then, select a compatible motherboard with enough slots and invest in powerful GPUs tailored to your chosen crypto. Secure a high-wattage power supply, dependable RAM, and a CPU. Ensure you have efficient cooling solutions like fans or liquid cooling. Once set up, install the relevant mining software. Finally, consider joining a mining pool to increase your chances of earning rewards. Always weigh power costs and profitability before diving in.

Investor’s Takeaway

Crypto mining, while a competitive space, can still prove a lucrative one for enthusiasts and investors. However, buying a significant rig for the process can be costly and, in today's world of evolving technology, time-consuming process. Used rigs can get your foot in the door of crypto mining with a rig you can update without busting your budget.

However, mining is still a way to generate some revenue on PoS blockchains, and rigs are still available to support such mining efforts on bitcoin or other PoW blockchains. With the right rig, you can participate in crypto, earn a few coins, and generate revenue for yourself.

 

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