Best Crypto Coins to Mine
There is an uncomfortable truth in the bitcoin world. Unless you live in a part of the world with very cheap electricity and unless you have access to a major mining rig, it is impossible to mine bitcoin – or most major coins and tokens – affordably. While there will always be miners willing to mine at a loss for the love of the asset, to maintain the network so that their tokens/coins do not lose value, or just out of curiosity, the notion of the “money grab” that was floated by more naïve types may be out of reach for most, as well as the notion of these cryptocurrencies being open.
With most things in life, successful mining means grabbing a stake in opportune territory often. This means paying attention to the “minor” coins and tokens, keeping an eye on their difficulties and return-on-investments, and putting the right resources in on the job. There are miners that successfully mine all new coins once they are announced, but this takes time, patience, a bit of luck, and a lot of skill.
For the casual miner willing to break in to the mining scene, there are coins and tokens that are still beginner-friendly. This guide will look at several of these.
Hash script: Ethash/SHA-3. The second-largest cryptocurrency would seem to have the same troubles as bitcoin when it comes to mining. The fact, however, that Ethereum is Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC)-resistant means that it is more difficult to set up major mining farms for the token. Additionally, the fact that Ethereum still has an open token supply means that – even though the token’s difficulty is high – Ethereum is profitable for the casual miner to mine.
Minable using both AMD and nVidia cards, one can get started mining in less than five minutes without the need of an expensive rig. Profitability is a factor of one’s rig, of course, but with a 4 GB GPU, a weekly revenue of 0.12 ETH is not unreasonable. Participation in a mining rig like Ethermine, 2Miners, or Ethpool will improve profitability.
Given the historical growth of Ethereum’s block difficulty, one may want to reconsider buying an expensive rig to mine Ethereum. It is highly unlikely that one will not be able to recoup the cost of the rig before Ethereum ceases to be profitable.
“Eventually, your rig will make less money per day than the cost of electricity to keep it running. At this point, you would have to turn off your miner, because keeping it on will lose you money,” VentureBeat writes. VentureBeat created a hypothetical four GPU, 160 Mh/s rig at $3.000 in total hardware costs to test Ethereum’s mining profitability. “Using CoinWarz’s mining profitability calculator, we can plug in a growing block difficulty to see that the profit per day goes from $18.24 to $1.60 in just one year. The calculator uses the following inputs: hash rate (MH/s), power (Watts), power cost ($/kWh), difficulty, block reward, pool fees, ETH/BTC value, BTC/USD value, and hardware costs. For our predictive profit function, we plugged a point into the calculator once every month and assumed a linear fit in between each point.”
“According to this calculator, if you started mining in January 2018, a year and a half in (day 476) you would start losing money since your Ethereum mining rig would cost more to run than it would generate in profit (again, assuming a static price in Ethereum). The total profit you would have accrued by the end of your mining rig’s profitable run would be $2,916.59. However, if you back out the initial upfront costs discussed above, you’ve actually made slightly less than you’ve invested. You could resell your GPUs to cut some of your losses, but your equipment will have lost a lot of value and that loss is only going to accelerate as newer mining equipment continues to improve at an impressive rate, something that is making GPUs from a year and a half ago already lose a majority of their value. Your GPU resale value will ultimately determine your overall mining investment return.”
Hash script: Scrypt. One of the oldest of the bitcoin clones, Litecoin is ASIC-friendly, but has managed to escape the attentions of the major mining farms. As a currency-type cryptocurrency, Litecoin has developed a cult-like following among those that seeks to escape the limitations of bitcoin. Its circulation maximum of 84 million coins, its near-instant, near-costless transactions and its larger blocks all make Litecoin attractive.
It is cheaper to buy a Litecoin mining rig than a comparable bitcoin one. Litecoin is also notably stable. Litecoin was founded in October 2011 by Charlie Lee as a modified fork of the bitcoin code. It has lasted longer than its companion bitcoin clones – like Namecoin, Ixcoin, I0coin, Solidcoin, Geistgold, and Fairbrix, which was also created by Lee – and have continued to be silver to bitcoin’s gold, as Lee once placed it.
While it is impossible to mine Litecoin profitably without a specialized rig, that was not always the case. Lee indicated that he intended Litecoin to be mined just using a computer’s CPU. When GPU mining and then ASIC-mining came to Litecoin, it took away from the myth that Litecoin was fairer and more decentralization-minded than bitcoin. Despite this, one can buy a former bitcoin rig to mine Litecoin, making it easier to get started in Litecoin than in bitcoin.
“By maintaining full compatibility with the Bitcoin API, Litecoin is very easy to integrate into existing applications that already offer Bitcoin support,” the Litecoin website reads. “One of the main advantages offered by the Litecoin network is faster transaction confirmation, making it ideal for small-size purchases.”
More importantly, the dropping price point for Litecoin will slow the difficulty growth, making it easier to mine Litecoin for longer. As Litecoin, being long-lived, is likely to rebound, Litecoin miners today are poised to take advantage of slowing demand.
Hash script: Scrypt. When Dogecoin was launched, it was largely taken as a joke. A coin named after a meme, it illustrated to the media the perceived silliness of the crypto movement in the early years. The bitcoin clone with a confused-looking Shiba Inu as a mascot, Dogecoin has marked itself as the “fun and friendly Internet currency.”
It is also a friendly coin to mine. With the coin permanently in “sleeper” mode, there has not been enough public attention to make its valuation high enough to make the coin a target for mass mining. However, its niche value keeps its valuation in the top 50 of all cryptocurrencies. Its low coin price, however, may make this coin not worth mining casually.
Where Dogecoin thrives is its ease of mining. It is relatively less difficult for a novice to install the Dogecoin client onto a desktop computer and get started mining, compared to the technical understanding needed to mine an ERC-20 coin or Ripple. This is not to say that Dogecoin mining requires some technical expertise. Dogecoin is also widely recognize, so it is easy to trade the coin for larger coins/tokens such as bitcoin or to use it as is.
Dogecoin does prefer ATI graphics cards from AMD over nVidia. While Dogecoin is largely CPU-mined and while any GPU can boost mining performance, efficient energy use may become a concern with prolonged mining. ATI’s chip architecture, which translate into better shaders for games, translate into lower energy use for Scrypt mining operations. Dogecoin, however, requires specific miners: Cudaminer for nVidia, and SgMiner or CGMiner 3.72 for ATI.
“Dogecoin is a virtual currency, the interest to which disappears and reappears,” ICOBuffer writes. “The users of ‘dogemoney’ mining were very popular at the very beginning, but now many have changed their choice in favor of other cryptocurrency systems. Dogecoin is quite problematic as a unit of payment, because it is not accepted in all payment systems. But still there are ways to convert the dogecoins into fiat money, or bitcoins.”
“Dogecoins are still popular and many are seen as a reserve asset, which is worth extracting in 2018. In any case, dogecoin does not lose value and is still supported by users. Therefore, experienced miners agree that dogecoin is beneficial to use as a kind of ‘stash’ to earn on the growth rate.”
“The recent hype around cryptocurrencies has led to substantial increases in difficulty resulting in the need for faster hardware to mine blocks profitably [with respect to] the energy costs,” the analysis reads. “To increase the chance of earning currency, miners seek to increase their available computational power. This quest for speed is currently served by GPUs, FPGAs, or even specialized ASICs. One can host substantial amounts of mining hardware in dedicated data centers. Another way is to bundle the computing power of multiple miners in mining pools that share the earned revenue for the newly mined block.”
“Utilizing the computation power of website visitors provides yet another mean of increasing the mining power. By embedding mining code into websites, a miner can make use of the visitor’s CPU resources during the visit. The website operator thereby saves energy costs and mining hardware investments. Thus, web-based mining is an alternative revenue generating model to monetize websites and services. While browser miner for Bitcoin exist, the performance imbalance between CPUs, GPUs, and ASICs poses an insurmountable challenge for Bitcoin browser mining. Consequently, browser-based mining requires cryptocurrencies with PoW functions that are only efficiently computable on CPUs.”
As one of the few cryptocurrencies using a hash script that can access the CPU through a standard operation set (that is, it does not need to directly address the chipset) and that is portable and lightweight, it is easy to incorporate Monero mining into viruses, malware, websites, or in seemingly benign apps and PC applications. The coin is ASIC-resistant, as well, preventing “farm mining.” Additionally, as the coin is relatively young – Monero was started in 2014 – the mining difficulty is still low. This leads to one of the easiest mining situations for any publicly-traded Proof-of-Work coin.
As the premier privacy coin. Monero is one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies in the world by valuation. The Monero miner is relatively straightforward to use and using a relatively quick desktop with a gaming graphics card, one can mine at a respectable level of profitability. However, as the cryptojackers would attest, the more CPUs one throw toward mining, the more successful it will be.
Hash script: Ethash.
If cryptocurrency can be argued to age like a human, the DAO hack is when crypto lost its childhood. The largest crowdfunding effort in history, the DAO was supposed to redefine how business are structured. The DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization, was a stateless, employee-less entity that existed wholly on the Ethereum blockchain and which controlled a venture fund for backing new blockchain projects. The DAO, at its height, controlled 14 percent of Ethereum’s tokens.
The DAO trusted the trustless nature of the blockchain and decentralized currencies to keep all participants “honest.” However, human nature and a vulnerability in the DAO code led to a third of the DAO’s assets, about 3.6 million Ethers, to be diverted to a subsidiary account outside the control of the DAO.
“’The DAO’ is the name of a particular DAO, conceived of and programmed by the team behind German startup Slock.it – a company building ‘smart locks’ that let people share their things (cars, boats, apartments) in a decentralized version of Airbnb,” blockchain strategist David Siegel wrote in an editorial. “The DAO launched on 30th April, 2016, with a 28-day funding window. For whatever reason, The DAO was popular, raising over $100m by 15th May, and by the end of the funding period, The DAO was the largest crowdfunding in history, having raised over $150m from more than 11,000 enthusiastic members. The DAO raised far more money than its creators expected. It can be said that the marketing was better than the execution, for during the crowdsale, several people expressed concerns that the code was vulnerable to attack.”
“Unfortunately, while programmers were working on fixing this and other problems, an unknown attacker began using this approach to start draining The DAO of ether collected from the sale of its tokens. By Saturday, 18th June, the attacker managed to drain more than 3.6m ether into a ‘child DAO’ hat has the same structure as The DAO. The price of ether dropped from over $20 to under $13. Several people made attempts to split The DAO to prevent more ether from being taken, but they couldn’t get the votes necessary in such a short time. Because the designers didn’t expect this much money, all the ether was in a single address (bad idea), and we believe the attacker stopped voluntarily after hearing about the fork proposal.”
In a contentious vote, the Ethereum community moved to fork a new blockchain that would be able to move the tokens out of “quarantine” back to their rightful owners. A vocal minority, however, felt that the rules of cryptocurrency dictate that there will be no centralist moves to correct issues like this – what happened must be dealt with organically, similarly to someone stealing someone else’s wallet. This minority refused to move to the new blockchain and continued mining and trading on the old one, creating Ethereum Classic.
This creates an opportunity for miners who feels that Ethereum is no longer profitable to mine. As a less-known coin, its difficulty is growing slower than Ethereum. However, from a mining point-of-view, the same equipment, software, and expertise used to mine Ethereum can be used to mine Ethereum Classic.
Other coins/tokens to consider: