Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining is exploding in popularity. There are many different kinds of cryptocurrencies one can mine. Most people have heard of Bitcoin and therefore assume it must be the best to mine. However, because Bitcoin is so popular and so established, it is actually not possible to mine Bitcoin profitably without an enormous investment (we’re talking millions, folks).
Bitcoin can not be mined profitably for two big reasons. The first is that it is susceptible to ASIC-mining. Essentially, this means that one can build specialized Bitcoin mining hardware and this hardware will outperform any other hardware at mining Bitcoin. Perhaps your next question is, “Well, why don’t I just buy an ASIC then?” That brings us to the second reason: Many people and even governments already have. China is covered in Bitcoin farms (largely because they have cheap electricity). Mining Bitcoin directly is over, but that’s OK.
The good news is: you can still build a machine gets you Bitcoin without purchasing it directly. The machines and tools this list describes will help you mine alternative currencies. You can trade these currencies for Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any crypto you’d like.
Since many people are involved in crypto to earn money, let’s talk about it. In terms of financial success, it is generally recommended that one just invest their money in cryptocurrency for maximum profits within this space. For purchasing, I recommend Coinbase for getting USD into crypto, then trading into Binance for diversification. Speaking of finances, cryptocurrency is extremely risky on every level. Do not invest more than you can afford to lose. Mining is emphatically NOT risk-free. So while it is a “money tree,” in our typical imagining of such a plant, it does not cost $7,000 (estimate on price of a high-end mining rig) and grow progressively less money as many other money trees compete with it. That said, with mining, you can get some crypto (not much compared to straightforward spending) and essentially risk close to nothing, perhaps increasing your electricity bill by a few dollars each month.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you are someone who is interested in the mechanics of cryptocurrency rather than simply investing, however. Mining cryptocurrency comes in a variety of different forms, but in this list, let’s go through the easiest to the hardest.
Here’s the 5 best ways to build a Bitcoin machine, from easiest to most challenging (and it’s not that hard).
1. Easiest (But Worst) Way: Use the Computer You’re On Right Now (CPU-Mining)
As mentioned before, you can use graphic cards to mine cryptocurrency. However, you can also your PC’s processor (assuming you have a desktop or laptop PC). While this isn’t the most efficient or effective way of getting the job done, you can start right now (if you’re on a Windows PC). While there are a variety of coins you can mine using your CPU, it can be tough to figure out which, and then even more difficult to figure out how.
While I hate to be cast as a shill, I recommend Garlicoin because it’s a “memecoin” easy to mine, and most of all, there are a few easy-to-follow tutorials. For a text guide, check out this article, How to CPU Mine Garlicoin.
The video below also shows how one can mine Garlicoin with their Windows 10 PC.
So why is this “the worst” way? Well mining on your CPU won’t get you much of an investment worth in cryptocurrency and it will likely shorten the life of your processor. Perhaps if you CPU mine a whole year, you can acquire a few hundred dollars worth of cryptocurrency (at current prices). That said, it’s also very possible that that few hundred dollars worth will rise in value, and then it’d be very worth your while. I CPU-mined Dogecoin in 2014 and had I held, I would have made a fair 10x profit, but I did not hold.
Another benefit of mining: it’s safe! Once you set things up and get Garlicoin in your wallet, for instance, there’s no one you have to trust with your precious cryptos. This eliminates having to put your ID card online, submit to any kind of identity verification, or anything of that nature. That can be nice too.
Potentially, you may have a PC with a graphics card already installed. To see if you have one, hit the Windows key, type “Run”, and then in the Run app type “dxdiag.exe”. Run that. It should bring up a box that tells you some details about your PC’s hardware, including whether or not you have a graphics card. If you do, congrats, you already have a great way to mine, far better than CPU mining. If not, that’s OK too, you can still join the fun, but you’ll have less access to the potential profit (and loss).
Once you get your Garlicoin or other CPU-minable coin (see a list of more options here), you can trade it for Bitcoin or any other crypto you’d like on an exchange.
2. Purchase a New Desktop PC
While this way isn’t particularly effective, it is easy. Plus, there are certain perks. As you may recall from above, the best way to mine crypto currency is by using graphics cards. The problem, however, is that all the graphics cards on the shelves are overpriced. This is for a few reasons. There are essentially three groups of people fighting over graphics cards. They’re the noble gamers, who just want to play video games on their PCs, the industrious miners who are building mining rigs with six or so graphics cards, and the flippers, people who buy cheap graphics cards to resell at higher prices. Everyone hates the flippers.
Because of this graphics card supply war, the easiest way to buy one at a reasonable price is buying one within a new desktop machine. The GTX 1070 is generally considered the most affordable card that yields great results. The PC above, the HP Omen, is a certified refurbished model that only costs $999. While this is still far and above the cost of a standalone GTX 1070, it’s only about $400 more expensive, plus you net all of the benefits of a solid desktop computer!
Another option would be to go with a GTX 1080 machine. While it’s not quite the bargain that the Omen above is in terms of price/performance, this is a super nice PC.
This GTX 1080-boasting model also includes the new i7-8700K, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 240GB SSD and a two terabyte disk drive.
The best part of buying a graphics card in this manner is that you get a nice PC as well. So this option is particularly great for those who are looking to upgrade their computers in the near future. Needless to say, for video editing and gaming, having a graphics card like this can be very helpful to your PC’s performance.
That said, I recommend you go with a GTX 1070 model; the GTX 1080 can mine about 30% faster, but the PCs tend to be considerably more expensive. Hence, less mining bang for one’s buck.
A final option, to maximize your mining power (but not necessarily your value) is a dual graphics card machine. For instance, this HP Omen boasts two GTX 1080s and costs $3,000. While this is on the pricey side, this PC will deliver on every level for virtually any use case. It’s not as efficient for mining power to the dollar, but if you’re a gamer or video editor, any SLI PC like that could be worth your while.
3. Add an External GPU to Your Current PC (Easy, but they’re hard to find)
This is probably the easiest and most efficient option short of building an entire rig. That said, I feel obligated to report that I used this method and my external GPU failed after only three weeks. Still, many people have successfully used EGPUs for sustained mining so don’t let my anecdotal evidence curb your enthusiasm completely.
The most bottlenecking aspect of this option is that your PC must have a Thunderbolt 3 port. Essentially, this port has extremely fast throughput, which is key for running an external graphics card in this manner.
You can check your PC for a Thunderbolt 3 port by using this link, How to Check My PC for Thunderbolt 3.
There are two sorts of EGPUs. You can buy one type of unit which already contains a graphics card, or one can purchase a housing that then can hold a normal graphics card inside of it. For instance, the unit I owned was an Aorus GTX 1070 (pictured above). Check out other eGPUs on Amazon, including this Sonnet eGFX unit, which includes an RX 580 (AMD graphics card).
Set-up couldn’t be easier. One just plugs in the unit, the PC should detect it automatically (though you may have to open the Thunderbolt 3 app, or download it), and then it will install the relevant drivers. Again, I recommend Garlicoin strictly because it has good, easy documentation. This will be a fine starting point so you have the confidence to mine more complicated coins (though the process is very similar or a vast swath of coins).
4. Install An Additional GPU In Your Current Desktop
If you already have a desktop PC with zero or only one graphics card, it’s possible your system will allow you to add an additional or first graphics card. As mentioned before, getting the graphics card is the most difficult part. Installing the graphics card is fairly easy, depending on your case. If you feel intimidated, however, you can have it installed at Geek Squad or by a local PC repairman (I’ve used Yelp to find these guys, they can be much cheaper and more helpful).
The two most popular cards with cryptocurrency miners are GTX 1070s and GTX 1080s, though this is because most of the AMD cards have long been off the shelves. Check on Amazon for 1070s, 1080s, and AMD graphics cards. GTX 1060s are a bit less effective, but still worth your while. Once you start to dive to GTX 1050s, you’re really not looking at a lot of power BUT it is still considerably more than a CPU.
Price:$400 – $600
5. Build a Dedicated Cryptocurrency Mining Rig
While this isn’t for the faint of heart and involves a variety of skills, diligence, and plain hard work, this is the best way to go if you’re serious about crypto mining and have the capital (and time) to make it all work. As I said in the beginning of the article, it is colloquial wisdom that investing beats mining every time.
Mining is a stressful, demanding, and mostly unprofitable business unless you have some prerequisites like advanced hardware or free power – preferably both. It has many risks and few gains – our opinion is that it’s much better to earn money by purely investing
I personally have tried the eGPU, use my GTX 1070 desktop to mine, and have dabbled in CPU mining. These are simple methods that allow me to participate with very little risk and effort. That said, there are many people who like going much farther with mining and if you are so inclined, it can be rewarding, interesting, and it’s certainly more intellectually stimulating than passively investing. As usual, you’ll need a bunch of graphics cards and a host of other parts, but for the most part, the devices are all plug and play. It’s mainly diligence plus trial and error, not exactly hacker skills!
Check out the video above or this written guide. Keep in mind that it is LIKE having a money tree, but the money tree can become wildly unprofitable, costs $7000, and takes a lot more thoughtful work than a normal tree!
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