- Pros and Cons of Mining vs. Investing
- Mining Profit Calculators, and How To Use Them
- How to find hashrates for Graphics cards and Processors
- Different Types of Mining
- How Should You Store Your Coins?
- Mining Communities
- Recommended Coins To Mine
- My Advice To Newbie Miners
- Final Summary
If you’ve ever heard of cryptocurrencies, you’ve probably heard of mining. The sole reason most cryptocurrencies can function is due to mining. Without miners, the blockchain can’t be validated every time someone wants to make a transaction. If the blockchain doesn’t get validated, there is simply no way to know which transaction is legitimate and which is not.
Becoming a miner doesn’t come without reward, however. There are two things which your reward is based off of.
- The block reward
- Transaction fees
For example, whenever you decide to send some Bitcoin, Ether, or whatever other currency you’re using, you’ve probably noticed the added fee, which can either be listed as a “transaction” or a “mining” fee depending on your wallet. This fee gets tacked on to whichever miner “cracks” the code and completes the block.
Though this reward is quite minuscule, the real treat is the “block reward,” which for Bitcoin is 12.5 Bitcoin equal to an astounding $48,314 USD!
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One of the benefits in investing a couple hundred, or a thousand into a mining computer instead of into the currency you are eventually going to mine, is the fact that in the very unlikely event that the headline in the morning is “United Nations Ban All Forms Of Digital Currencies,” you can still sell your mining computer. At a loss nonetheless, but it’s still better than nothing. However, if you invested that amount into a currency instead, that currency will most likely be worth nothing. Although there still is the chance that the currency goes up by 100% overnight, leaving you in the dust with a mere mining rig.
Another benefit is that in case the currency you are mining drops in value, you can easily swap to another coin and regain your profits that way. Take Ethereum for example. One year ago and with a small mining operation, it was very easy to mine 1 or 2 Ethers a day, while at the time it was only worth a couple of dollars. If you kept it today, you could sell each Ether for $330 USD, making your investment very worthwhile.
Even though currency mining seems to be an easy get rich quick scheme, it does not come without risk, the main risk being: fire. If you have a relatively large mining operation with poor cooling, and you’re using bad power supplies with multiple extensions cables going into one outlet, something could catch fire very easily, making not only your rig worthless, but most likely your house too. As long as you use parts from reliable companies, and keep your rigs cool and dust free, this shouldn’t be an issue. Another risk to watch out for is if you have young children or small animals. They could easily break your rig by accident, either by throwing something at it or giving it a static shock.
The next risk, while not severe, is power. Mining computers draw a lot of power, and depending on the size of the rig, they can easily draw upwards of 1,000 watts. Depending on where you live this could mean that you are mining at a loss everyday.
Another risk, though small, is that if you decide to mine on the ETHash algorithm you have to make sure you have enough VRAM (Video Random Access Memory) on the graphics card, as the networks DAG (Directed Acrylic Graph) will be stored on the VRAM. So if you do not have a large enough VRAM size on your GPU you will not be able to mine that coin. At the moment, Ethereum’s DAG file size is 2.1 GB meaning that you will have to mine on a card with more than 2 GBs of VRAM. You can check the DAG size for some popular coins using this website.
In conclusion, while there are many risks, all can easily be avoided by either implementing standard safety procedures, or by making sure that your rig will last a long time by buying the best parts you can. But all in all, while you will receive a great amount of rewards for mining, you can also lose a lot of money if your rigs break down due to misfortune or just plain old bad luck.
Getting started with mining is relatively simple, especially if you already have a desktop PC with a graphics card. Building a mining rig is the main cost, as these can cost thousands of dollars.
The next cost is power cost, though this shouldn’t be an issue unless you are using inefficient graphics cards (cards with a low hash rate and high power draw) and living in a country with high power costs. To find out how much you will spending on power each month, you can use this simple website linked below. Here you can input how many watts your computer will be using, and the website will tell you how many kWh that is per month http://www.rapidtables.com/calc/electric/energy-consumption-calculator.htm
After you calculate the amount of kWh you will be using every month, multiply the kWh per month by the amount you pay for electricity in your country, and then you will find out the cost. Take your monthly power cost away from the value of the amount of the currency you mine to find your monthly profits. Though most mining calculators include this calculation for you, it can be very useful to find the exact amount you will be spending on power.
Here is our formula for working out monthly profit: M – W = P. M is the value of the amount of coins you mine per day, this can be found through sites like coingecko where it will tell you how much your crypto is worth. W is the amount you will be spending on kWh every month. This will then give you P which is your monthly profit. You can also find your daily profit by inputting your daily mined crypto into M and daily power usage in for W, the same can be done for weekly calculations. To find your real profit however, you first need to pay back the first investment into your mining rig. To find out how long this will take, you must use this formula: C / P = D, where C is the cost of your mining computer, P is the same as before (monthly profit), and D is the time it will take to pay back your computer, either in months, weeks or days. This depends on what you use for the first calculation. After you pay back the rig, every cent you make will go towards your total profit.
Though this guide is mainly focused on the Proof of Work (PoW) side of mining, you should be wary of Proof of Stake (PoS), as Ethereum will be swapping over to this method in the near future. The difference between PoW and PoS is that PoS does not require graphics cards, nor does it require a very powerful system at all. PoS relies on you “staking” your coins to the network; the more coins you stake, the higher chance you get of receiving the transaction fees of other Ether investors. Another benefit of PoS is that the computers are not very expensive, nor do they draw lots of power, making PoS a far greener alternative to PoW. There are also no block rewards in PoS, thereby making the transaction fees the only reward.
Proof of Work is where you have to run powerful computers that have high hash rates. Hash rates are the number of “hashes,” or numbers a computer can come up with every second, needed to solve a block. Both of these types of mining have a difficulty factor to them where the more miners there are on the network, the lower the chance you have of mining a block. In other words, the lower your reward is. Here is a good website which has lots of information on the major cryptocurrencies, including their difficulties, block times, and block reward. If you want to check when the last block was mined, and who mined it, you can use this website for Bitcoin, and this one for Ethereum.
Mining works by connecting to the blockchain and verifying transactions by verifying new blocks in the blockchain. By doing this they are securing the network and preventing errors from happening such as double spending. The miners put these blocks through a process by applying a mathematical formula to it, turning the numbers into a shorter, random looking sequence of numbers. This number is the blockchain’s hash. Producing hashes from the data of a blockchain’s block is easy, however it is impossible to work out what the starting data was just by looking at the hash. Each hash is unique and changing even a single character in the hash changes it completely. Here is an excellent video which explains what your computers do when its mining that uses pen and paper as an example (This method is extremely inefficient so do not expect to make a profit off of it.)
One of the most simple to use calculators is the Crypto Compare calculator. You simply choose the currency you would like to mine then input your hash rate along with the wattage of your system and power cost, then the website will show you what your profits are every day, along with the amount of the currency you will mine. The main problem with this site is that it does not factor in the network’s difficulty. Everyday new miners join the network, which in turn increases the difficulty. That means that if you are solo mining, you will have a lower chance of solving the block, and if you’re pool mining, this will lead to lower rewards.
The My Crypto Buddy calculator is another useful calculator which has the option to include difficulty into the calculations. This means that it decreases your mining profit each month depending on how much the site estimates that the network’s difficulty will go up or down. For example, if the difficulty goes up by 100 GH/s in one month, the calculator will then assume that every following month will incur a difficulty increase of the same amount. This leads to a problem. If in one month the network receives an abnormal difficulty bump, whether due to a price increase of the currency leading other miners to join the network, or if AMD or NVidia release a new graphics card with a big hash rate boost, the MCB calculator will then use that abnormal value as the absolute value for every month, making the calculator unreliable. Though it is still useful to know that your mining income will decrease every month due to difficulty. This calculator also includes the mining pool fee.
The Coin Warz calculator is another useful calculator, though more complicated than the rest, it comes with some quite unique features, such as allowing you to input your hardware cost. The calculator will then use this information to estimate how long it will take to pay back your computer. Another unique feature is that it if you’re solo mining, it will tell you how long it may take to mine a block by using your hash rate. A third useful feature is that it shows you how much you can trade your mined coins for in Bitcoin, which is useful if you think Bitcoin is only going to go up in price. You can use this calculator for about 100 different coins making it quite useful when trying to find out what your other mining options are.
The What To Mine Calculator is hands down, the most useful mining calculator. The reason being that you simply fill in your graphics cards models and the site will calculate the power draw, hash rate, and the most profitable coin for your set up. The site will even show you the best exchange to sell your coins on. Additionally, the site will also apply a reasonable overclock to the cards making your results even more accurate. When mining, overclocking is extremely useful so think of this as “free performance.” The only downside to this site is that it only has information on 11 different GPUs and no CPUs. You also can’t fill in your pools fee. This site is still extremely useful for finding the most profitable coin to mine, making it my preferred calculator.
Now that you know how to use the profit calculators, you now need to know how to find the hash rates of your system. If your graphics card is not listed on the What To Mine website, this can be a tricky process. Luckily I have compiled a list of sites which have this information.
This is a very useful site for finding the hash rates on different graphics cards for Ethereum (ETHash), ZCash (EquiHash) and Monero (Cryptonight). The site also shows you the power draws for the graphics cards and will even give you the Amazon links on where to buy them, as well as suggestions for other parts you’d need to improve your mining rig. Other than that, the BuriedONE’s Youtube channel has many useful mining tips and tricks.
This is quite a useful list that has the information on the hash rates of many AMD and Intel CPU’s, and this list is constantly being updated. Though the list is only for the Cryptonight algorithm (or Monero) hash rates, I don’t recommend mining other algorithms on your CPU, as Monero works very well on the CPU, compared to other algorithms which heavily favor the GPU.
Ready to start mining and become the next Bill Gates? In this section I will be recommending some of the best graphics cards for mining and addressing their power draw, cost, and their hash rates. I will also explain which coins are the best to mine with each card.
#5 – NVidia GTX 1050Ti
This is an excellent graphics card for mining as it does not require any external power, so you can easily put it into any desktop PC with a PCI-E 16x slot. With a starting price of around $150 US dollars, and a mere power draw of <75W, it makes this card not only extremely efficient but extremely effective for cryptocurrency mining. If you are to get this card, I highly recommend mining the ETHash algorithm (Ethereum or Ethereum Classic) or EquiHash (ZCash).
#4 – NVidia GTX 1060 3GB/6GB
This is another great graphics card for mining, although it pulls more power than the 1050Ti and has a steeper starting price, it pays off with its large hash rate bump. This card also has an external power connector, so you will not be able to plug this into any old desktop computer. However, this card is an excellent performer on the ETHash algorithm, as well as EquiHash. Keep in mind that if you choose the 3GB variant you should know that in the future, you will not be able to mine some coins on the ETHash algorithm due to how the algorithm functions; where the DAG file is stored in the GPUs VRAM. Even though this shouldn’t be a problem for a long time, it is worth noting. You can check the DAG size for many popular coins on this website.
#3 – NVidia GTX 1070
The GTX 1070 is an amazing graphics card, where it’s only let down is it’s expensive price. However, this card achieves amazing hash rates on the ETHash and EquiHash algorithms, and draws a mere 150 Watts. My personal rig uses 4 GTX 1070’s, so I highly recommend these cards, especially if you can get them for a good price. This card is an excellent performer when it comes to gaming, so if you decide to sell your rig, you should be able to sell these cards for a great price. With 8 GBs of onboard VRAM, you will not have to worry about an increasing DAG file.
#2 – AMD RX 480/580
The RX 480 and 580s are extremely popular mining cards due to the fact that their price is very low, especially when compared to the similarly performing GTX 1070. Another benefit of this card is that AMD allows users to flash their card’s BIOS, which can make the card run at at higher hash rates with lower power draws. However, due to the popularity of this card, it can be very hard to find at reasonable prices, but if you can find this card at a good price it’s an excellent performer for mining. This card is an excellent choice to use on the CryptoNight, and ETHash algorithms. When compared to NVidias offerings however, it’s a very poor performer on EquiHash.
#1 – AMD RX 470/570
The RX 470 and 570s are hands down the best graphics cards when it comes to mining. This is due to its extremely low price and excellent hash rate performance. Like the RX 480s and 580s, these cards can also be very hard to find at reasonable prices. These cards are also excellent performers on the ETHash and EquiHash algorithms.
Other cards and ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit)
If a card you own or plan on buying did not make this list, that does not mean that’s it’s a bad card by any means. This list is purely based on my opinions, as well as the price of the cards and the raw performance numbers. Though there are other cards which are great for mining, such as GTX 1080 Ti or RX Vega 64 (which I did not include due to their high cost), these cards on the list are just my recommendations. Another option for mining is ASICs. ASICs are devices made specifically for mining, and when compared to graphics cards, ASICs perform much better and have a much lower performance to the power draw ratio. The problem with ASICs are that they can only mine on one algorithm, so when the difficulty goes up, or the price of the coin you are mining goes down, you simply can’t swap to another algorithm, you will have to stay with that algorithm. ASICs are primarily used for SHA-256 (Bitcoin) or SCRYPT (Litecoin) algorithms.
Another option are dedicated mining cards. These cards are made specifically for miners and offer a hash rate and efficiency bump over their gaming orientated counterparts, without the need for you to do much tweaking (overclocking and undervolting). However, most of these cards do not have display connectors making them useless to gamers. This makes the card worthless for resale, so if something happens to the cryptosphere making crypto worthless, say if some global superpower outlaws Bitcoin and other currencies alike making crypto worthless, you won’t be able to get a penny back from these dedicated cards. If you are confident in the success of cryptocurrency however, and are willing to take the risk, these cards are an excellent option.
Though this article has primarily been focused on graphics card mining, there are other types of mining.
Cloud mining and ASIC mining are just two examples. I will also be talking about the difference between mining in pools and solo mining here.
GPUs while less powerful than ASICs give you the option to choose what coin to mine, as ASICs will only allow you to mine on a single algorithm. GPUs can swap different algorithms any time they like, and can also be resold to gamers, unlike ASICs which can only be sold to fellow miners.
While you will still be using your GPUs or ASICs, you have the choice to choose between mining in a pool, or by yourself, hence “solo” mining. Pool mining is where you join with a group of other miners and every miner contributes to mining blocks. The difference between this and solo mining is that your payouts are more consistent. Solo mining is hard, especially if you are running a small rig because you will most likely not find a block for a very long time unless you get very lucky. You can use the Coin Warz calculator to estimate how long it will take you to mine a block by yourself. Another benefit of pool mining is that it’s more consistent. You will get your payments consistently, unlike solo mining where it may take a very long time to get your payout. I recommend the Ethermine.org and Nanopool.org pools, each have a large list of crypto-pools to choose from. You can also check if your rig is online here, as well as how much crypto you have mined.
Cloud mining is definitely the easiest way to start mining, as you can purchase a mining contract whenever you like. You do not need to setup a rig or even have an internet connection, the company which hosts the miners will do this all for you. You’re only required to pay monthly for the hashing power, however these contracts can turn out to be quite unprofitable, as contracts tend to last for 24 months, and with the networks increasing difficulty you may start losing money every month. Another negative is that you will not be able to sell the rigs, and will not be able to cancel the contracts. However if you do decide to start cloud mining, one of the largest companies for this is Genesis Mining. Nice Hash is another cloud mining company which unlike Genesis does not lock you into a contract and allows you to cancel any time you want, making this an excellent option. Nice Hash also allows you to sell your hashing power for Bitcoins, so you can set your own mining rig to mine on the Nice Hash servers and earn Bitcoins. However, this can turn out to be less profitable than mining an altcoin by yourself. You can use this code: MRT1YF on Genesis Mining for a 3% discount on any purchase!
My personal recommendation is to keep full control of your wallets and not in the exchanges since exchanges can be hacked and you run the risk of losing your coins forever. You should also keep your coins in an offline storage for maximum security. A useful multi-wallet application which I recommend is the Jaxx Blockchain Wallet. You can store many different types of coins here including popular ones such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. This wallet also gives you full control of your private keys in case you want to move your wallet out of Jaxx. The Jaxx wallet also has mobile apps which allows you to take your cryptos with you anywhere. The Ledger Nano S is another useful multi-wallet, however it is a hardware wallet, so you will have to spend an extra portion of your budget on this. Though it does payoff with it’s increased security.
Mining can often be a quite strenuous process that is not error free. So if you are setting up your own miner, it can be useful to interact with some communities in order to get proper guidance. One of my favorite communities is Reddit, and although Reddit has a vast array of sub-communities, or subreddits, there are some for mining. Such as:
Here you can ask the community questions about your mining setup, and about any issues you may be having. Though r/EtherMining is focused on mining Ethereum, they will be happy to help you with general mining questions. The Ethereum Stack Exchange community is another useful one where you can find out about graphics card hashrates as well as ask questions. You can also ask about general Ethereum questions here.
I recommend mining the most profitable coin for you. So, if you’re using AMD GPUs then Monero and Ethereum are the most profitable option for you. If you’re using NVidia, ZCash and Ethereum are the most profitable. It’s your choice to choose which of these two coins to mine, and I recommend mining whichever one you think has the brightest future, as what you mine today may be worth $10 now, but $100 in a few months. You can always trade your mined currency for a different coin if you believe that is a better option. You can use services like Shapeshift.io for the quickest cryptocurrency swaps, or you can trade on sites such as Bittrex so you don’t have to pay as high of a fee.
My single most important piece of advice to miners is to make sure you have a near 100% uptime, because if your miner shuts down while you at school, work, overnight, or while you’re on holiday you will lose out on gaining a large portion of your profits. One of the easiest ways to secure your stability is to have safe overclocks, and by testing your rigs. Instability can often be caused by too high of an overclock, or by faulty risers. I also highly recommend the EthOS Linux Distro. EthOS is an operating system specifically made for mining Ethereum and other cryptos alike, such as ZCash, Monero, and many more. The OS is extremely stable and if your rig crashes, the OS will boot up and start mining straight away. The OS also supports up to 16 AMD or NVidia graphics card, which is a huge step up from Windows, which supports a maximum of 8.
Start out small. I don’t recommend starting out by buying hundreds of graphics cards and miners, especially if you have no previous experience with mining. If you start out small you can easily upgrade in the future by either adding rigs to your farm, or by adding graphics cards to your rigs.
It’s also never too late to start mining. New cryptocurrencies are created everyday, so in the future, if the top currency’s difficulty is too high, you can always choose a different currency. But if it does come to the point where you can’t mine enough currency to pay back your power bill, you can always sell your rig and make most your money back that way.
However, my single most important piece of advice is to have fun, and to not panic when you have issues, setting up a mining rig and managing it can be very fun, and also very stressful when it’s not working. If you are having problems you should definitely contact the communities I listed above, as someone else is bound to have had the same issues as you and can help you out.
- There are many pros and cons of mining and investing, make sure you choose the best option for you.
- It’s very easy to make a lot of money off of mining, but it’s also easy to lose everything if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
- Be wary of the networks increasing difficulty. Even though you may make $10 one day, the next day you may make $9, so you should always be open minded about mining different coins when the time comes.
- Choose the right graphics card for your budget and depending on the coin you want to mine.
- If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask the community.
- Keep your coins safe. If you lose them you could take a big loss.
- Have fun.
WARNING: DO NOT mine with laptops, laptops ARE NOT made to run at 100% load for prolonged periods of time. If you decide to mine on your laptop you can damage your laptop due to overheating, potentially causing your laptop to break and to cease functioning.