What is the Antminer S9 Hydro? (Specs & S9j Comparison)

On the 23rd August 2018 Bitmain announced a new water-cooled Bitcoin ASIC miner called the Antminer S9 Hydro. With 18TH/s of mining power at a power consumption of 1728W, it's actually less efficient than the Antminer S9j announced earlier in August, leading many to question what the purpose of this miner is.

Below we go through the specs of the Antminer S9 Hydro and compare it against competitors from Bitmain and other ASIC manufacturers like GMO and Pangolin.

Antminer S9 Hydro Specs

Based on the Bitmain website, this Bitcoin ASIC has the following specs:

  • Hashpower: 18TH/s
  • Power usage: 1728W
  • Power efficiency: 96W per 1 TH/s
  • Cost: $745 (this seems to exclude accessories required to cool it)

When comparing these specs to other Bitcoin ASIC miners, they don't look great. There are at least 5 competitors, one of which was released by Bitmain themselves, the Antminer S9j, which are more efficient, some of which for a similar price point:

So if your limiting factor is the cost of electricity, this miner doesn't seem to be a great investment. Bitmain's own Antminer S9j is more efficient and cheaper (especially if you take into account the extra accessories required for the S9 Hydro's cooling). In the S9 Hydro's press release, this statement is made: 'more than 95% of the power consumption can be moved external via the water circulation system'. This would seem to suggest that the water used for cooling can be re-used elsewhere, perhaps to heat a house/building, and so a lot of the cost of operating it can be offset via this (and so the high power usage is justifiable). Alternatively this may suggest that you can physically reduce the power consumption down from 1728W, but this seems less likely.

The S9 Hydro's water cooling does have one big benefit though, noise. The S9 Hydro is much quieter than any of the competitors mentioned above. We discuss this in detail below.

Is water cooling a gimmick?

Because the Antminer S9 hydro is water cooled it looks to operate at just 45dB, compared to the 72-76dB of its competitors. Be aware that 70dB is not twice as loud as 35dB, so this miner isn't around half as loud as competitors; the decibel system has an exponential element to it. 40dB for example is one-eighth as loud as 70dB.

So the S9 Hydro looks to be as much as 6x quieter than its competitors, where if you plan to have this in say your house this could be a real game changer. You could feasibly have several of these in your front room (keeping in mind 40-45dB is similar the noise you'd get in a library or a bird call). In the S9 Hydro's press release they state that the 'S9 Hydro can decrease the noise by up to 20dB compared with air cooled miners' rather than the 30dB we mention above, so it's worth double checking the above figures yourself.

A few other benefits of water cooling:

  • From the S9 Hydro's press release, 'S9 Hydro helps to decrease the maintenance cost of mining farms', where it avoids problems like dust build up (as it's more sealed than an air-cooled system).
  • The water used for cooling can be re-used (although a skeptic might say that the air used in an air-cooled system can also be re-used).

Also be aware that the Antminer S9 Hydro isn't the first water-cooled Bitcoin ASIC that Bitmain have created. Back in 2014 they released the 'Miner C1'.

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