Massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) systems are cellular networks where the base stations (BSs) are equipped with unconventionally many antennas, deployed on colocated or distributed arrays. Huge spatial degrees-of-freedom are achieved by coherent processing over these massive arrays, which provide strong signal gains, resilience to imperfect channel knowledge, and low interference. This comes at the price of more infrastructure; the hardware cost and circuit power consumption scale linearly/affinely with the number of BS antennas N. Hence, the key to cost-efficient deployment of large arrays is low-cost antenna branches with low circuit power, in contrast to today’s conventional expensive and power-hungry BS antenna branches. Such low-cost transceivers are prone to hardware imperfections, but it has been conjectured that the huge degrees-of-freedom would bring robustness to such imperfections. We prove this claim for a generalized uplink system with multiplicative phasedrifts, additive distortion noise, and noise amplification. Specifically, we derive closed-form expressions for the user rates and a scaling law that shows how fast the hardware imperfections can increase with N while maintaining high rates. The connection between this scaling law and the power consumption of different transceiver circuits is rigorously exemplified. This reveals that one can make the circuit power increase as p N, instead of linearly, by careful circuit-aware system design.