Although laptops and cell phones are famous for their quick depreciations, there might not be anything else on the planet which loses its value faster than an ASIC miner. In this piece we’ll cover the price depreciation of one of the most well-known ASIC ever produced, Bitmain’s Antminer S9, and what that means for hobbyists looking to buy their first Bitcoin miner.
The Antminer S9, Then and Now
When the S9 was released on Amazon in mid-2017 it came with an initial price tag of $2,100 per unit, not including shipping. Fast forward to December of 2018 and the landscape is entirely different. The same S9 miner could now be bought secondhand for less than $200 on Amazon. That represents a 91% price drop in a little over a year.
What happened? The difficulty of mining Bitcoin steadily grew and the price of Bitcoin plummeted. In January of 2018 a Bitcoin was worth about $15,000 and by December of 2018 only about $3,500. That, combined with the introduction of more efficient miners, was a perfect storm that led to a huge value decay in the S9.
The Amazon price tracker CamelCamelCamel.com shows the price of used S9s over time, including a brief spike over $7,000 during the peak of the bullrun.
The Good News
As the next generation of ASICs come onto the market, large mining operations are dumping the old hardware en masse. That’s good news for anyone who wants to start mining as the equipment has never been cheaper. Is it still profitable to do so?
Annualized estimates for mining profitability for S9s at current price and difficulty levels come out to $311. That’s more than the cost of second hand S9 itself. However, large changes in mining difficulty and price can cause profitability to drastically change in either direction.
The first calculation shows a profit while the second shows a loss mainly owing to the second calculation taking into account the growing hash rate on Bitcoin. Thus it’s hard to say exactly what the profits will, or will not, be as it depends largely on how fast the network difficulty rises.
There are hundreds of second hand S9 miners available on Amazon and eBay for prices below $200 each. When bought in bulk prices are even lower. For instance, this seller on Alibaba has an offer for $130 miners on orders higher than ten pieces.