Antminer Z9 vs Z9 Mini vs ZMaster (Profitability & Risks)

On July 10th 2018, Bitmain released the Antminer Z9, an ASIC miner for mining Equihash-based cryptocurrencies such as Zcash. There's been a lot of controversy around this and the smaller version of this miner called the Z9 Mini.

Below we explain what this miner is, how it compares to similar ASICs, and if it's profitable/worth buying.


How to buy Antminer Z9?

If you want to buy the Z9, it's available as a pre-order on Bitmain's website here, currently priced at $3319 with 40.8k sol/s of hashpower (sometimes you'll see this displayed as 40.8kH/s, 1 sol/s = 1 h/s). You need to pay 50% of the cost upfront, and then the other 50% around 1 month later.

Before you consider buying this, look through the rest of this guide. Due to competing miners and increasing difficulty of Equihash-based coins, the Z9 is a very high-risk investment.


Antminer Z9 vs competitors

In July 2018 there are several ASICs available for mining Equihash; two of these are from Bitmain, the Z9 and Z9 Mini, and one of these is from a manufacturer called Innosilicon, the A9 ZMaster. A technical comparison of these 3 miners:

Antminer Z9:

  • Cost: $3319
  • Hashpower: 40.8k sol/s
  • Power usage: 1150W
  • Power efficiency: 35 sol/s per W

Antminer Z9 Mini:

  • Cost: $850
  • Hashpower: 10k sol/s
  • Power usage: 300W
  • Power efficiency: 33 sol/s per W

A9 ZMaster:

  • Cost: $9999 (they had a deal for buy one get one free, so many people paid half of this price)
  • Hashpower: 50k sol/s
  • Power usage: 620W
  • Power efficiency: 81 sol/s per W

Some key points when comparing the Antminer Z9 to competitors:

  • The cost and efficiency of the Z9 for the same hashpower as the Z9 Mini is very similar, although the Z9 would use much less space (at launch the Z9 Mini was more expensive, but its price has since decreased).
  • The A9 ZMaster is much more efficient than both of the Z9's, around 2.4x more, so it's much less likely to stop being profitable than its competitors (although this is still possible if too many are sold). Given that on the first batch of A9 ZMaster's, 100 units seem to have been required per order, this could cause the Z9 and Z9 Mini profitability to drop very fast.
  • We've seen mention of certain Z9 Mini's having much more than 10k sol/s, as high as 16k sol/s in some cases. If you're lucky enough to get one of these higher hashpower miners you're more likely to get a positive return on investment (and this might happen with the Z9, although this is no guarantee).

Because of all these Equihash ASICs, it seems that like Bitcoin, Equihash can no longer be mined with a GPU profitably. So if you currently mine Equihash on a GPU, you should look into mining a different algorithm.


Is the Antminer Z9 profitable?

Right now on the 17th July 2018, the Antminer Z9 looks to be very profitable to mine, potentially generating $50k per year at ZCash's current price and difficulty. You need to be aware though that this will likely drop very fast over the coming months due to a number of factors:

  • Back on the 3rd May 2018, Bitmain released a miner called the Antminer Z9 Mini. This was an Equihash ASIC miner similar to the Z9, except smaller and with less hashpower. We analysed this miner here, and came to the conclusion that because this was so much more efficient at mining Equihash than existing ASICs it was a high risk miner to buy back in May 2018.
  • This is worsened by the release of Innosilicon's A9 ZMaster on 7th June 2018, as not only did Bitmain now have a competitor for the Z9 Mini, but this competitor was 2.4x more efficient at mining Equihash (although at a higher price point). This will likely drive Z9 profitability down much faster than if competitors all had similar efficiency.

As well as the above factors, be aware that the Z9 isn't shipping until the start of September 2018. Thousands of the Z9 Mini and A9 ZMaster look to already be shipping/being turned on, so between now and September there could be a significant increase in difficulty to where you might not even make back the cost of the Z9 unless you have very cheap electricity.

Like many other Antminers, you might want to wait a few weeks/months before buying the Z9, as prices often decrease as profitability decreases. If the price drops enough, you might be able to buy it at a cost where earning your money back is less risky.

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