For years, I’d dismissed the suggestion that I should start mining ‘bitcoins’ (read: altcoins) as something that wasn’t worth the effort. I was under the misconception that it would require significant effort to stay on top of which coins were most profitable altcoins, and expected it would be difficult to exchange niche coins for useful currency. There was also the perceived risk that whatever most profitable altcoins I’d spent weeks mining could collapse in value, leaving me with nothing.
Meanwhile, I’d be knackering my expensive GTX 1080 by constantly running it at 100% load, whilst driving up my electric bill.
It turns out, the crypto-mining game is way ahead of me on this. There is no shortage of mining pools that, combined with the right software, allow you to always mine the most profitable altcoins, and have them auto-exchange to Bitcoin, Litecoin, or a cryptocurrency of your choice.
First, I found Nicehash. The most incredibly simple of miners, this software benchmarks your GPU to measure performance against multiple mining algorithms, then sets about mining to the Bitcoin wallet address you’ve provided. It estimated around £2-£3 returns per day, and I worked out the payout threshold to be about £75. Intrigued by how simple crypto-mining could be, I looked into more advanced solutions, and found, then setup Awesome Miner. Nicehash got hacked the next day and all users mining profits were stolen.
Awesome Miner is a much more complex bit of software, although the guides on their website are very helpful. You want to set up want they call a ‘managed profit miner,’ and then benchmark your GPU. After running benchmarking, make sure to save the results to your GPU profile. This will save a reference hashrate to each algorithm based on your specific GPU, which is what Awesome Miner will measure against fluctuating crypto value.
Awesome Miner will then automatically switch to mining the most profitable altcoins / algorithm when you run your ‘managed profit miner.’ This works across all available algorithms from multiple mining pools, such as ZPool, MiningPoolHub, HashRefinery, even the hacked Nicehash once it begins operating again. This method is giving me much higher returns of around £8 per day, with minimum payouts on most pools of around £25 in BTC. Alternative coins, such as LTC, offer a much lower payout threshold and reduced transaction fees or wait times. Changing the Awesome Miner Payout currency is covered in this guide. CPU mining seems to return about 20p a day on a recent, high-end i7, so I’m leaving that turned off for the sake of a cool CPU.
It’s worth noting the daily/monthly estimates shown whilst mining are based on rapidly fluctuating live prices, which can cause the daily estimated returns to change from roughly £5/day to £20/day and then back down to £5/day in the space of 30 minutes. This is the correct behaviour, as it’s basing it’s daily profit on the current prices at that moment. The only way to get a true assessment of your daily profit is to spend a few days mining and see how much you end up with. The daily estimate is however a useful indicative metric to show current profitability, as it’s far easier for me to understand than any measure of BTC against a hash rate.
The wildcard in the profitability is an explosion in the value of the crypto in which you store any profits. As whatever coins are auto-mined are instantly exchanged for say, BTC or LTC, you stand to benefit massively should the value of that coin explode. Bitcoins and Litecoins are both worth ten-fold what they were worth a year ago, so had I been earning £5 of BTC each day last November and stockpiled the coins, I’d effectively had earned over £50 of BTC mining.
I really wish I’d looked into this properly sooner. I’d probably have invested in a dedicated, multiple GPU mining rig by now. Live and learn.