Bitcoin mining for dummies

This page will give some basic information how somebody with little or no experience at all (absolute noob) can start Bitcoin mining with his computer. As already mentioned, mining bitcoins with your computer (CPU or GPU) is no longer profitable (or even possible), but luckily you can mine other coins. Now what to do with these other coins? There are two approaches: first where you would keep alternative coins and sell when their price increase or instantly convert alternative coins to Bitcoins.

First Approach: I’m fine with other coins and will sell them myself once the price is right

This approach is for enthusiasts who have limited hardware resources or for the risk takers who want to try it and make it this way. If you have no problems with mining other coins, keeping them and waiting for their price to rise and then selling these coins yourself or exchanging them for bitcoins than I suggest you join MinerGate pool. Registration is pretty straight forward and after you register you can download their amazing mining software with beautiful user interface and amazing features. Installation is pretty straight forward (just click next) and once you’re done, start the program, login with your email and password and there you have it: the best mining software out there:

This software is so simple to use that a child could use it and on top of that it’s super powerful and very flexible. All you need to do is start it and click the start smart mining button (but even that can be done automatically on machine boot). Picking the most profitable coin is done by their system. Of course you can manually pick what coins do you want to mine or what coins do you want to opt out entirely. The application allows you to mine with your CPU and GPU or just one of these and you can also limit it by CPU cores so you can keep mining active all the time on your computer (or even laptop) on a single core and work almost normally on your computer without having any performance problems (this is in case you have a modern processor with more than one cpu core). You can also mine different coins at the same time so you can assign a different every CPU core to mine a different coin and also your GPU to mine some other coin. This amazing app also supports merged mining (Merged mining is the process of allowing two different crypto currencies based on the same algorithm to be mined simultaneously) , so while mining for example Monero you can simultaneously mine FantomCoin or DigitalNote with no extra effort. How cool is that! The pool takes 1% to 1.5% depending on whether you’re using PPS or PPLNS. MinerGate is available for Windows, Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora) and Mac.

PROS:

  • super simple to use and nice GUI and features
  • you can start mining within 3 minutes
  • miner can work in background minimized in system tray
  • miner is available for Windows, Linux and Mac operating system
  • you can limit the miner  to some CPU cores or GPUs and still work on your computer at the same time
  • if you know what you are doing (or are just lucky) you could later sell these alternative coins and make a fortune
  • you might mine coins even with lower hardware since on many new coins difficulty is still quite low

CONS:

  • not all the coins you want to mine might be available on MinerGate
  • you have to maintain different wallets for each alternative coin
  • you have to exchange alternative coins for bitcoins or sell them your self on exchanges
  • you might lose money if the price of alternative coins never rise or you miss the time when to sell or exchange them
  • you have no idea how much money are you making at the moment or are you even profitable
  • you can’t plan your expenses and have no idea when your mining hardware will payoff

Second Approach: I don’t care about other coins I want only BitCoins

This approach might be more suited for people that might have more equipment and more bills to pay so they need to know if they are profitable at any point. Also it may be interesting to people that have no interest in other coins than bitcoins and don’t want to mess up with exchanging alternative coins for bitcoins. If you are one of them I suggest you register at NiceHash pool. This site is not as clean and as simple to use as MinerGate’s but I guess you’ll find your way trough. Take a not that on this site you can also buy or sell hashing (mining) power but that’s some other topic and right now we’re only interested in mining for now. To start mining you can use different software but they recommend using their NiceHash Miner (available for download from GitHub). There is no need to install (can be used as portable application on USB stick) this program since all you need to unzip the archive and you can start it. On the first start it will download some other components and I suggest you run the benchmark. After it’s done all you need to do is copy/paste your bitcoin address (if you don’t have one I recommend getting free one from CoinBase) pick the devices (CPUs and GPUS you want to use for mining) and click START.

Now this miner doesn’t looks as good as MinerGate but it also has some pretty cool features. Most important one is that it shows you right away how much bitcoins (and how much is that in USD) will your hardware generate if you keep NiceHash miner running for 24 hours. This is really good since it allows you to know if you are profitable right away and you can plan your expenses (electricity costs, hardware replacement or upgrades etc). As you can see my Intel i5-3570K CPU and my AMD R7 200 GPU would make roughly $1.2 for 24 hours of mining. Also you have no idea how many and what alternative coins did you mined since these get automatically exchanged for bitcoins and you’ll get bitcoin payments to the address you have copy/pasted into the application, so you don’t have to worry about it at all. If you have more rigs you can use different addresses so over time you’ll be able to track how much bitcoins each of these made. Also you can pick to use just some of GPUs you have and you can pick to use or not to use the CPU. Also there is an option to stop mining when computer is in use and to resume once it’s idle. Also there is an option to hide these ugly windows and to minimize the entire application to system tray. On the NiceHash website if you click Miners/Sellers in topmenu and then select My Miner you’ll see addresses your rigs are using. Clicking on each one will give you detailed mining statistics and predicted date and time when you’ll get your bitcoin payment made to that address.

 

PROS:

  • quite simple to use, some handy features
  • you can start mining within 10 minutes (takes some time to download components and complete the benchmarks)
  • miner can work in background minimized in system tray
  • miner can start working once computer is idle and stop once computer is in use
  • miner is available for Windows and Linux
  • not having to worry about different wallets/coins
  • you know exactly how much BTC (and how much is that in USD) will you make for 24 hours of mining
  • you can predict your costs and how quick you’ll payout your bitcoin mining hardware

CONS:

  • user interface is not that nice to use
  • you can only mine for one coin – Bitcoin (can’t even mine Ethereum or LiteCoins)
  • needs modern mining hardware (high end gaming GPUs) so mining can be profitable
  • it might not be profitable at all to mine it you have slow hardware
  • mining can become unprofitable even if you have good hardware over time if BitCoin price keeps to grow
  • you  might loose money (compared to MinerGate mining) if bitcoin price start declining or simply slows down and some other alternative coins keep rising

 

The verdict

If you have read both approaches you probably already have an idea what path do you want to pursue. In any case, my advice is to try both and continue using what works out for you the best. Either path you chose today is better than not doing anything. Keep mining and good luck!