Bitmain are (in)famous in the Bitcoin world, not only for producing the fastest available ASIC miners but for their AsicBoost and Antbleed scandals. With the powerful L3 Scrypt miner, Bitmain have expanded into Litecoin mining. Once again, their products supply the most hash for your cash… But as the L3 was quickly sold out on Bitmain’s store, should you try to buy it elsewhere or opt instead for Bitmain’s improved model, the L3+?
A rare L3, being sold on eBay. Note the single-fan design and exposed boards. It weighs 2.5 kg.
Both L3 types use the same BM1485 chips; only their number differs. The Antminer L3+ is essentially an L3 with twice the hash rate and twice the power draw. Nevertheless, deciding on the right model and buying from the right seller is still a pretty tough call!
If you’re interested in serious Scrypt mining, this review aims to give you enough information to come to an informed decision between the various L3(+) options.
The dual-fan L3+ looks really similar to the SHA256 mining S9 but is about 1 kg heavier.
5 Important Things You Should Know Before Choosing an L3
The Antminer L3 has a Competitive Hashrate
The L3’s hashrate is an impressive ~255 MH/s. This rate is surpassed by the ~504 MH/s of the L3+ and the ~280 MH/s of the A4 Dominator by Innosilicon.
Raw hashrate doesn’t tell the full story however. Whether you go for an L3 or L3+, you’ll have a major efficiency over other miners, like the A4, KnC Titan or any remaining GPU miners. As a result, you should make considerable profits – at least until L3 models become widely distributed… Of course, profitability also depends on getting the L3 at a good price!
According to the mining calculator, at Litecoin’s current price and difficulty and assuming a baseline 10c per kWh for electricity costs, an L3 will produce: 3.5 LTC, worth $165, per week!
In a year, the L3 could make as many as 183 LTC, or $8641 – although achieving such returns is unlikely, as Litecoin’s difficulty will surely rise as more of these products hit the market.
The Antminer L3 Consumes Little Electricity
Working from the above calculations, the Antminer L3’s modest 400W power consumption should amount to only 10% of your profits – $16.80 over a week and $876 over a year.
Comparing the L3 to the A4 Dominator, it’s clear that the L3 is nearly twice as efficient. Whereas the A4 burns around ~1000W to achieve 280MH/s, the L3 manages to get nearly the same hashrate from only ~400W. Over time, the L3’s greater efficiency (1.6 J/MH) will result in an ever-increasing profit differential.
According to Litecoin creator, Charlie Lee, the L3 is 2.5x times as efficient as the A4:
The L3+ consumes around 800W to get ~500 MH/s; double the power for double the hashrate. This means that in terms of pure efficiency, there’s very little to choose between an L3 and L3+.
Note: the L3 does not come with a PSU. It’s recommended that you use a good, electrically-efficient power supply unit (PSU) for running an L3. The PSU must have and five 6-pin connectors and should have plenty of spare capacity; between 600W to 750W is recommended. Efficiency also depends on PSU performance.
Antminer L3s are Light
Weighing in at only 2.5 kg (or 3 kg including its packaging), the L3 is a lot lighter than the A4 Dominator, which weighs a hefty 9.2 kg. The L3+ is also fairly chunky, weighing 6.5 kg (packaging included).
The L3 definitely wins here, as its lightweight design keeps the shipping costs down and also allows for the safer stacking / shelving of multiple miners.
Antminer L3s are Relatively Quiet
The L3’s single-fan design produces a minimum of 60dB, whereas the dual-fan L3+ emits from 75 dB to 95 dB, depending on ambient temperature.
The L3 isn’t whispery enough to run in your bedroom but it shouldn’t keep the neighbors awake either.
The Antminer L3 is Very Compact
The L3’s dimensions are a modest 23 cm by 13.5 cm by 16 cm. This compares favorably with the slightly larger A4 Dominator, which is 28 cm by 26 cm by 13 cm. The L3+ is the biggest by far, measuring 35 cm by 13 cm by 19 cm.
Antminer L3s are Scarce and Therefore Often Expensive
For those who didn’t pre-order the Antminer L3 from Bitmain in the run-up to its initial release, it’s now only available on secondary markets, such as eBay, Amazon, AliExpress or dedicated crypto mining distributor sites.
Several offers, particularly from online markets, will absolutely gouge you on price, charging well above Bitmain’s initial price on the L3. Particularly if purchasing from a new, unknown crypto miner site, ensure that you only order from a reputable supplier! Several scam sites have set up in the past, promising – but never delivering – Scrypt ASICs.
As the next batch of L3+s will sell for just under $2000, it wouldn’t make sense to pay much over $1000 for an L3, given their relative power. However, as the L3 may be delayed and will likely take weeks to ship, it might make sense to pay as high as $1500… This is especially true if you’re assured of fast delivery and can get a warranty comparable to Bitmain’s original 180 days (this will also apply to forthcoming L3+ units).
As for pre-ordering the L3+, it should be fairly safe. While crypto mining hardware pre-orders are notoriously dodgy, Bitmain have always held up their side of the bargain thus far.
Run the numbers and assess the risks before making a purchase decision!
Is the Antminer L3 worth the investment?
The Antminer L3 is a very solid all-round performer, with some definite size, weight and noise advantages over the L3+. In terms of efficiency, it’s nearly identical to the L3+. As the ageing A4 Dominator is outclassed on most fronts, your choice of an ASIC Scrypt miner will come down to either the L3 or L3+. Price and availability are likely to be the best determinants.