GPUs as money makers: everything about cryptocurrency mining

What is mining, and which GPUs deliver the best results?

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Mining software

Of course, you also need software for mining. Mining can be done under Windows, Linux or special OSs that are intended to mine one specific coin. For Windows, depending on the currency you want to mine, different programs are available. For example, for Ethereum, Etherminer and Claymoreminer are popular programs. Both of these are command line programs that you configure using a .bat file. In this batch file you tell the mineral through which pool it should mine, and to which wallet address the proceeds should be transferred. Popular pools give clear examples of what a .bat file should look like.

setx gpu_FORCE_64BIT_PTR 0
setx gpu_MAX_HEAP_SIZE 100
setx gpu_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS 1
setx gpu_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT 100
setx gpu_SINGLE_ALLOC_PERCENT 100

ethminer.exe --farm-recheck 200 -G -S eu1.ethermine.org:4444 -FS us1.ethermine.org:4444 -O ethereumadres.rigname

Above you can see an example of the contents of a .bat file to mine Ethereum with ethminer.exe, via the mining pools of ethermine.org. At the place of 'ethereal address' you fill in the public key of your ether wallet, while at 'rigname' you enter a self-conceived name for your PC(s).

Nicehash

However, it could be even easier. If you find it difficult to work with batch files and do not necessarily want to mine a specific coin, but if you are interested in yield in general, Nicehash is a popular alternative. Nicehash is a company that enables you to 'sell' the computing power of your PC to other people who want to buy certain coins. On the Nicehash site you can download the mining software of this company. This program is nothing more than a shell to bundle a large number of miners for different coins.

If you install the nicehash miner, it will first run a series of benchmarks on your system, where the hashpower is calculated for different cryptocoins. If you have multiple video cards, this will be done separately for each card, where it is possible to combine AMD and Nvidia cards in one system. The software then looks at the current value of the coins to be mined several times an hour, and automatically selects the coins that you can mine most profitably. So, at one point, Nicehash allows your computer to mine Ethereum, and then automatically switch to Zcash or another coin when that yields more profit. If you have multiple video cards in one system, they can also mine different coins, depending on their specific performance. However, this does not happen to your own wallets, but to Nicehash's wallets. Depending on how fast your system is, the yields are converted to bitcoin once in a few days and transferred to you. The advantage of Nicehash is that it is very easy to install. Simply create a Bitcoin wallet and you're ready to go. The advantage is also that they continuously check which coin is best for you to mine, so that your daily earnings are always optimal.


Nicehash combines multiple minting protocols and continuously selects the most cost-effective ones. However, payment is always done in bitcoin.

A potential disadvantage is that the coins that you mine actually don't belong to you, but you always get paid in bitcoin. So in the long run you don't benefit from large price increases of the mined coins, but on the other hand you don't suffer from price decreases either. Of course, price changes of bitcoin do affect the value of your wallet, although the price fluctuations of bitcoin are generally less extreme than those of smaller coins. Nicehash has also been in the news negatively in recent months, after a major hack in which bitcoins were captured for millions of euros, after which miners were more or less left out in the cold. Meanwhile, Nicehash has continued and the company has also started to gradually pay compensation, but it will still be a long time before all users will be fully compensated.

Optimizing performance

Although there are dozens of currencies to mine, they often use a limited number of algorithms. Ethereum uses ethash / dagger-hashimoto, for example, but other coins such as Expanse, Musicoin, Ubiq and EthereumClassic also use the same hash protocol. Zcash, Zencash, Hush, and Zclassic, on the other hand, all use equihash, while Monero uses Cryptonight and Zcoin uses Lyra2Z.

These protocols have varying requirements for the hardware. On the whole, Nvidia cards show better results than AMD GPUs, but with Cryptonight, for example, it is the AMD Vega cards that are king. Also, overclocking and increasing or decreasing of the power limit has very different results depending on the protocol. 

For example, both ethash and equihash appear to benefit most from a low latency of the memory of the graphics card, a high clock speed of the GPU is not necessarily necessary. Overclocking the memory combined with lowering the power limit of the video card can therefore result in lower energy consumption and higher performance. Tuning performance is easiest with an overclocking tool, such as MSI's Afterburner. 


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