Can your PC mine bitcoin? If you are interested in dipping your toe into cryptocurrency mining then fear not – it might be easier than you thought 🙂
Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, are red hot topics right now. I am one of those people who learns best by doing, you might be like me and need to do to really grasp a concept.
So I am learning about Cryptocurrencies in a couple of ways. I have read white papers. Done some programming. I am engaging in the Steemit community. Purchased a bit. Sold a bit. And I am mining.
What is Cryptocurrency Mining?
Mining is essentially proving you have done the work that has been asked of you. Using your computer power to solve math problems so you can be rewarded with cryptocurrencies for your “work”.
The obvious reason to do this is for the rewards. You get money in the form of the currency you are mining or in another currency as payment. As you will see below, you need a lot of hardware to make a large living wage at it, but you can make several dollars a day with more humble equipment.
My reason is I want to know about it, as mentioned above.
The reason I want to know about it is that I think the related concepts of the blockchain, digital currency, and the cultural changes will be profound, and unexpected.
The bad news
Now, before we begin, let’s get a few caveats out of the way:
- Check your power expenses. I am fortunate that where I live our kwh price is capped. Don’t let the power consumption cost you more than you make, even if you are doing it for fun.
- It could reduce the life of your equipment.
- Graphics cards are expensive partly because people are doing this.
- Moving your money around incurs fees.
- You are highly unlikely to get rich, even with the caveats above. Just check out my latest withdrawal (more on the software in a bit)
How to begin
The easiest way to start (though not the hardcore way to run long term) is to sign up at nicehash.com and download their software.
This software takes all the techie bits and does them for you. It even switches to what they think is the most profitable options at any particular time.
You pay a little bit in fees in return for the convenience.
You set up a wallet (a place to store your $) and then as you mine they pay you into that.
Once you have accrued around $20 worth, you can transfer it.
As in the picture above, I move my earnings directly to Coinbase. From there you can transfer it, trade, take it out in the form of US dollars, etc.
The screen grabs above are from Nicehash running on my VR PC that I bought in order to learn about Virtual Reality. You can see three devices:
- Intel CPU
- GeForce GTX 1070Ti
- Radeon RX 580
Using your CPU is not worth mining on really.
The GTX 1070Ti is powerful, if you can get your hands on one. As I mentioned earlier, demand is so high that unscrupulous traders are price gouging. I got mine sent as a review item from Gearbest, who it turns out have a good choice of graphics cards. My advice is only to buy from big box stores if you are sure you are getting a deal or if you absolutely need it today, otherwise look around for better prices online.
While not as powerful as a GTX 1070, the RX 580 is a capable card and costs less. That is the GPU that came with my computer (seeing as I was purchasing for Virtual Reality performance).
Strangely your RAM, hard drive and such do not have as much impact. 8gb of RAM is plenty. If you are going to have multiple GPUs you will need a good power supply that can handle the combined draw, and you might need PCIe risers. My second GPU is added via a riser.
If all your hardware matches then you can progress from Nicehash to something like simplemining.net or another custom operating system distribution, but many people skip that and go directly to diving into a particular coin community.
While you might make some money, and I fully expect the value of Bitcoin and the other favorite alt-coins to rise, don’t go in thinking you are going to make enough to quit your day job and you will have fun 🙂