Antminer R4 – Complete ASIC Miner Review
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Every time someone asks how they can earn Bitcoins, a common suggestion surfaces, “mine them.”Bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, introduced the idea of mining Bitcoins in 2009. Back then, Bitcoins could be mined using a normal computer CPU.
But as professional Bitcoin miners soon realized, CPUs didn’t have enough processing power to solve the complex math problems needed to verify Bitcoin transactions in the mining process. These days, professional Bitcoin miners use ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) machines to mine Bitcoins.
There are numerous types of ASIC machines, each with a varying mining speed, energy consumption rate, and price tag. You can easily get an ASIC machine for $500, but you won’t make a lot of money with it. You can also purchase an expensive ASIC and still not make enough money from breaking even.
The following review explores one of the most popular, best rated ASIC machines for Bitcoins: the Bitmain Antminer R4.
What is the Antminer R4?
The ASIC R4 is an advanced Bitcoin ASIC mining machine launched in August 2017 by Bitmain, a popular Chinese ASIC manufacturer. The machine was highly awaited for by many Bitcoin miners perhaps because Bitmain had promised it would be powerful, power efficient and yet cheap from as early as January last year.
Although the R4 is Bitmain’s latest ASIC, it’s not the most powerful ASIC from the company. The Antminer S9 is the most powerful Bitcoin mining machine from Bitmain with a mining speed of 14 Tera hashes per second. Nevertheless, the Antminer R4 has many unique features that make it work checking out.
Its nanometer technology (16-nanometer FinFET), for example, makes it so efficient that it’s tied together with the Antminer S9 among the most power efficient ASIC machines. The miner also uses Bitcoin SHA-256 mining algorithm, meaning that it can be used to mine coins with a similar algorithm. Here is a list of some coins you could mine with this machine:
The Antminer R4’s Price
The ASIC R4 was a highly hyped mining machine for several months throughout 2017. When it finally came out, it was sold for $1395 contrary to the $1,000 Bitmain had initially promised. After few weeks, the price was lowered to $1,000, and all the produced machines were purchased.
Now that it’s difficult to find the Antminer at the moment, here is how it compares to other ASICs based on price and hash power.
At the current price of around $1,000 and a hash power of 8.6 TH/s, the price is fair. However, Bitmain seems to be paying more attention to the Antminer S9. One S9 version with a hash power of 13 TH/s, for example, was being sold for $1070 as recently as April 2018. It’s now sold out.
The 14 TH/s S9 is also being sold for as low as $1,288 on the official website, making it a much better deal than buying the Antminer R4 at $1,000. However, if you are determined to buy the R4, read on to learn about its profitability.
Antminer R4 Profitability
There are several factors that determine how much money you get from your mining machine. For starters, you need a power supply that connects to your power units to deliver the more than 800 watts the R4 miner requires. This unit costs in between $100 and $200.
A power supply unit like the Antminer RPW3 1600-watts unit works with both 110V power units and 220V-240V power units. The ASIC consumes 845 watts to be specific. To calculate the Antminer R4 profitability, you then to have to consider the ASIC’s hash power versus Bitcoin’s mining difficulty versus your electricity costs every month.
For the purpose of this guide, we shall use US’ estimated electricity costs of 12 cents (0.12USD) per Kilowatt. Bitcoin’s mining difficulty changes frequently and there is nothing you can do about it. With that in mind, the R4 will consume $2.61 worth of power every day or $79.47 every month.
With Bitcoin’s mining difficulty at the start of May 2018, the R4 can mine 0.0005215 Bitcoins per day or 0.01703 Bitcoins per month. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $9,244, which means earning 0.01703 per month would be an income of $157.45 a month. However, that’s only the income. When we deduct the electricity costs of $79.47, you now have a profit of $77.98. Still, there are more deductions.
If you are like most people and you will be mining within a Bitcoin mining pool, there will be fees. Most mining pools charge between 1% and 3% per payout. A good mining pool like Slushpool shares both the transaction fees paid by traders and the block reward. Slushpool charges 2% per payout. Based on our $77.98 profits with the miner per month, a 2% fee would set us back to approximately $75.46. However, Slushpool also charges transaction fees. If the transaction fees paid are simply 2% of the $77.98 we earned earlier, we can offset the 2% payout fees, meaning we earn exactly $77.98 at the end of the month.
The Antminer R4 price is $1,000 and the PSU cost on average $150. Assuming you have a computer at home (you’ll need one to connect the Bitcoin mining software, to join a pool among other things) then your total expenses on the ASIC will be $1,150. With an income of $77.98, you will break even in 15 months.
For someone who lives in a country where electricity costs $0.2 per kilowatt hour, they can only earn $24.97 per month with our calculations. Such an investor would take nearly four years to break even, which is not worth it.
The Antminer R4 Power Consumption
The R4 ASIC machine was designed with the same power-efficient technology as the Antminer S9. For both, Bitmain used a 16-nanometer mining chip, which is one of the most efficient chips in the industry. By comparison, most ASICs use chips with 20nm and above. With the R4’s power efficient system, it consumes 845 watts of power hour. Since we use joules where energy is spent and not watts, most Bitcoin mining power calculations are done using joules per GH/s. For simplicity, 1 joule equals 1 watt.
The process of mining Bitcoins consumes energy at nearly every step. When you set up your Antminer R4 and connect to the Internet, it takes some time as it fetches data from your mining pool. This process may take up to 5 minutes, and the ASIC will consume 50 watts or more. If you have a slow Internet connection, you may end up wasting more than 100 watts for nothing.
Once set up, the rig starts to solve complex math problems in a guesswork process. ASICs and all Bitcoin mining machines use the SHA-256 hashing language, which is a proof of work algorithm. When the ASIC finally finds a genuine Bitcoin transaction, it’s verified through a six-stage process before being added to the blockchain.
The Antminer R4 machine consumes 845 watts per every transaction confirmed or 1 joule per GH/S as per most statistics. There are several ASICs that consume slightly less power to complete the same task, but they take much longer than the R4. The Antminer S9, by comparison, consumes the same amount of power as the R4.
The Setup of the R4
Unlike setting up a GPU mining rig, setting up an ASIC machine will take less than 30 minutes. The machine is compact in shape and has all the areas you need to connect to external devices clearly marked. Here is an explanation process.
Step 1: Set up to the PSU
Bitmain sells their ASICs with a power supply unit for a slightly higher price. Their PSUs are better off because they work well will their machines. But if you choose to buy a different PSU, ensure it can handle more than 1000 watts. Setup your power supply unit to the ASIC machine by connecting the PCIe cables on the PSU to the appropriate miner’s ports. Connect the PSU to a 110V or 200V-220V power unit and power it up.
Step 2: Setup Internet Connection
Setup an Internet connection using an Ethernet cable from a router or modem. The R4 needs an Internet connection to synchronize with a Bitcoin mining software program, the blockchain, and your mining pool. This means that you must also have a personal computer ready. Many experts recommend that you use a PC with at least 4GB RAM.
Step 3: Setup Everything Else
Download a Bitcoin mining software program, join a mining pool and have your Bitcoin wallet address ready. The ASIC solves the complex algorithms, but it’s the mining software that communicates data between the blockchain and your mining pool.
To complete the setup process, you need to scan for the ASIC’s IP address so that you use it to find your account. Bitcoin mining software programs also scan the ASICs you have so this should be an easy process. The program also takes you through the setup process so that you enter details about your mining pool and your Bitcoin address successfully. Once this is done, your ASIC should start mining Bitcoins.
Antminer R4 Power Supply
To convert the Alternating current (AC) power from your power supply to usable direct current (DC), the power has to go through a power supply unit. The Antminer R4 needs at least 845 watts to mine Bitcoins. This demands a powerful PSU that could handle more than the ASIC needs.
Bitmain recommended their own APW5 PSU which could handle 2600 watts when connected to a 220V unit and 1300 watts while in a 110V unit. The power supply unit cost $240 at the time. Currently, the PSU is not available on their website. Instead, Bitmain sells the APW3++ PSU that can be used with several ASICs. This PSU handles 1200 watts when a 110V unit is used and 2600 watts when a 220V power unit is used. It’s also cheaper at $105 on the Bitmain website.
If you want a more powerful PSU, Bleev.in sells a PSU that can work with the R4 at $140 on Amazon. It handles 1600 watts and 2500 watts when you connect to a 110V and a 240V power unit respectively.
Since the R4 is one of the most power efficient units out there, it’s also one of the coolest. It operates at temperatures of between $300C and 400C. The average temperature for most R4 miners is 350C. The Power Supply Unit can also get hot, which will add your room’s total temperature. If you live in the same house where the ASIC will be located, look for a cooling fan. The R4 will also come with its own cooling fan, but you might need an extra. A good cooling fan costs $20 on Amazon.
The Antminer R4 is a low sound device and has an automatic cooling fan that produces just about 51DB of noise. To put it into context, a typical human conversation produces about 63dBA. With that in mind, the ASIC machine won’t be dangerous or too noisy to disrupt you while you watch TV or read.
In a Nutshell
The Bitmain Antminer R4 summarizes everything about a good ASIC. It has an admirable hash power of 8.6 TH/s, it is more energy efficient than most ASICs, and it is affordable. In fact, so pleasing is the ASIC that it sold out in the first four hours of being made available on Bitmain.com last year.
The device’s plethora of features will work fine for any hobbyist Bitcoin miner or professional miner who can find free or cheap electricity.
- Highly energy efficient.
- Has a good hash power.
- Operates at standard tolerable temperatures.
- Light and convenient to carry and install.
- Bitmain is selling a 13 TH/s ASIC for nearly the same $1000 price.
- Not profitable if your power cost rises above $0.24/KWh.
Finally, should you buy Antminer R4? As already emphasized throughout this guide, the ASIC is a hobbyist’s machine especially for people who can get power free of charge. In fact, with no electricity costs, you will break even in 6 months, and the rest will be profits.
However, if you pay for your power and it costs more than $0.1/KWh, it will be difficult to make decent profits for long. The Bitcoin mining difficult keeps on increasing, and this will affect your profits negatively. Within two years, it probably won’t be possible to make profits at all with the R4 because the mining difficulty will be too high to handle even your electricity costs don’t change.
Thanks for reading our guide. If you liked it, visit our website often. We have more ASICs guides and lots of informative content about cryptocurrencies.