Bitcoin Mining GPU Performance Comparison

Bitcoin mining is a new form of virtual money. The economics of it are fascinating, but the real interest for us is that you can use your GPU to accelerate the mining process, and you'll be shocked at the difference between NVIDIA and AMD GPU performance. If you want to setup a Bitcoin box, this article will get you moving in the right direction.


Bitcoin Performance - Fastest to Slowest

Here is how we setup our miner. In GUIMiner we created a new OpenCL miner. We selected a solo server, setup our username and password, and selected the appropriate display device. In GUIMiner you can setup each miner to work on each GPU you have installed in your system. In the Extra flags category we used specific flags for NV and AMD GPUs in order to yield the best real-world performance. Our settings are setup as if we were building a dedicated Bitcoin mining machine. This means you wouldn't be able to do things like play games or surf the web on this system, it dedicates 100% of the GPU to Bitcoin mining. You can of course setup a Bitcoin mining machine so that it doesn't do this, so that you can run games and do Bitcoin mining.

The Flags We Used on All Video Cards

AMD GPUs: -v -w128 -f0

NVIDIA GPUs: -f0 -w128

Performance in Mhash/s

This graph is sorted by performance, from the fastest Mhash/s to the lowest.

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What should hit you square in the face at first glance is how much faster the AMD GPU based video cards are here. Most of the red bars (AMD) are toward the top, while most of the green bars (NVIDIA) are toward the bottom.

The absolute lowest score was the i7 2600K @ 4.8GHz CPU, giving us 4.4 Mhash/s. Even the slowest video card, the GeForce GTX 560 Ti was 14 times faster than the CPU. The CPU just is not cut out for this type of work. At the low-end of performance, believe it or not, we find the current generation NVIDIA high-end GPUs slow at this. The GTX 570 and GTX 580 are at the bottom of the pack, being beat out by a Radeon HD 6850!

It takes GTX 590 or GTX 580 SLI just to reach the bottom rung of the AMD cards! A single-GPU Radeon HD 6850 is beating the dual-GPU, and highly expensive, GeForce GTX 590!

We've included two different Radeon HD 6950's, one with 1GB of RAM and the other with 2GB of RAM. You can see that the performance is very close between them, showing that VRAM capacity is not important for Bitcoin mining. We experienced about 170MB of VRAM usage while Bitcoin mining.

This is really quite an eye opener as we move up the scale. The fastest NVIDIA combination here, GeForce GTX 590 SLI (Quad-GPU) is being beat out by AMD's last generation single-GPU Radeon HD 5870! It just gets worse for NVIDIA from there, but good for you Bitcoin miners. Once you hit multiple-GPUs on the AMD side, performance skyrockets. We go from 395.9 Mhash/s on the HD 6970 to 779 with dual-GPU. Tri-Fire breaks the Ghash/s barrier at 1.165 Ghash/s. Radeon HD 6990 CFX (Quad-GPU) is just a monster, giving us 1.579 Ghash/s, compare that to the pitiful 344.5 Mhash/s with NVIDIA's Quad-GPU setup.