- only worth it if your electricity is REALLY cheap compared to global average
- if you have an NVIDIA card: close to no setup necessary, very easy to set up.
- if you have an ATI card: a bit more setup necessary. Don't fret, I'll walk you through it.
- This guide is for windows, there are always linux variants of the same programs, usage is mostly the same, you will figure it out. On Mac, read up on the supplied sources after finishing this post.
Cryptocoin mining consists of letting your gaming graphics card (GPU) or maybe even the processor (CPU) do calculations to earn coins/money. Since your graphics card is really bored when you are doing Desktop work, if you have several CPU cores the only thing you should notice during mining is an increase of noise (and heat in notebooks on your lap).
Ideally, you have a recent GPU:
Amazing ATI cards: 7000 series+, 270, 270x, 280x, 290, 290x
Amazing NVidia cards: new maxwell ones (750 ti, 970, 980)
Good NVidia cards: 600 or 700 series (f.e. 660 GTX, 760 GTX, 780 GTX)
If you have less than that, you are probably wasting your time but can still set it up for the fun of it. If you have no idea what hardware you own, free programs that require no installation like GPU-Z or hwinfo are your friend.
It is also great for heating in cold countries. I would advise you to not use your notebook since it simply is not worth it. It heats up and strains your hardware far too much (except for probably some huge high-end gaming notebooks with exceptional cooling).
What are Cryptocoins?
2 years ago, this section still needed this introduction. I am fairly sure you have heard of them by now. Bitcoin being the first of them, Cryptocoins are a currency system which store your wallets in encrypted files. Losing the file or backup keys means losing your wallet. Computer Hardware is used to create the currency by, mostly otherwise needless, calculations. Noteworthy exceptions where the calculations are actually useful for something else exist, such as Primecoin and Curecoin. They are, sadly, always mostly ignored by the general public and not very profitable to mine.
The current state of the Cryptocoin community is this: New coins are created almost daily, 99% of them without any innovation, by simply changing the name and image of the program. People state "huge" plans, create marketing hype on Twitter etc., and often never deliver and sooner or later leave with a lot of money. There is easy money to be made by following these banker type people on Twitter, but this is not my cup of tea. The bitcointalk forum, the main information hub of the community, has already turned into a whirling shitstorm of price manipulators and bullshit. I advise not to use it anymore.
Every once in a while, a new algorithm to create the coins pops up. This is a continuing arms race. Hence, you sometimes will have to revisit your miner setup and install new software to remain profitable. You see, a GPU is far more efficient than a CPU. But it is more difficult to write code for it. A chip that is only built for a single purpose (called ASIC), however, outshines them by FAR.
There is thus a huge incentive to create such chips to mine cryptocoins, as it has already happened for Bitcoins (sha256 algorithm) and its first successor, the scrypt algorithm (Litecoin, Dogecoin etc.).
Since the idea behind cryptocurrencies is that the general public can ensure the stability of their system with their consumer hardware they use anyway (instead of huge companies building halls full of hardware, which is happening anyway), and since GPU miners want to continue making profits, new algorithms always aim to make it difficult or impossible to ever build ASICs for that particular algorithm.
This arms race continues on and on. The simplest way to mine Cryptocoins (how much money you make vs how much time you spend on keeping up to date) is to choose a recent algorithm, set up your miner and check the blogs again after a month or so. At the time of writing, fairly profitable algorithms are called X11,X13,X15,NIST5 and NeoScrypt. X11 is most widely used and easiest to set up so I will focus on this.
Right now, there simply exists no no-brainer service where you install a program and it automatically mines something worthwile. Services like Eobot and Cointellect make these promises, but actually mine completely outdated shit with your GPU so that you earn 0$ and only pay electricity.
You will have to install a regular mining tool and set it up. Basically, you simply install the mining program, sign up for a mining pool website to connect it to (2 mins), and then tune the program for your GPU (the only slightly harder part and unnecessary for NVIDIA cards). Let's go.
Signing up for the pool
I recommend Coinking as it is easiest to use and supports recent algorithms. Sign up here.
After logging in, head to the Workers Tab:
Add a new worker. You can simply call it 1. No need to change anything else. Your worker's name will now be YOUR_COINKING_ACCOUNTNAME.1 and its password is x.
Navigate to Account > Wallets next:
In the top right corner, choose to convert all your earnings from other Coins to Bitcoin straight away:
Installing the Miner
This is where the path diverges for NVIDIA and AMD cards. There are constantly being new versions released, so I can only post those that are best at the time of writing.
For NVIDIA cards, I recommend ccminer. There are special versions for the new MAXWELL cards (750 ti, 970, 980 GTX) Cards (Download at time of Writing) and the normal one for all other/older cards (Download at time of writing).
For ATI cards, I recommend SGminer (Download at the time of writing). Since I can not possibly keep this up to date, you should DEFINITELY head to the Crypto Mining Blog and read up on the latest version for yourself: SGminer CCminer
Set Up NVIDIA CCminer
Extract the files into a directory of your choice. There may already be some .bat files in the folder - you can edit them with a notebook or create a new .bat file (right click > new file > text file > replace .txt ending with .bat ending). Your file should look like this:
ccminer.exe -a x11 -o stratum+tcp://eu1.coinking.io -u YOUR_COINKING_USERNAME.1 -p x
That is all. You only need to substitute in your coinking account name for the red text.
You can OPTIONALLY replace the blue text with an URL fitting for your location:
North America: stratum+tcp://us1.coinking.io
Save the file and try to open it. Everything should work out of the box. You should now be mining the x11 algorithm! No need to set up NVIDIA Cards. The Mining Program will display your speed as "kh /s":
You should do a google search for "YOUR GPU NAME hashrate x11" to check if you are fairly in line with others. If you are far slower, you might have to try some other ccminer versions (just scroll through crypto mining blog). If you find a table of x11 values for NVIDIA cards, please post. :) Also, feel free to post with any kinds of problems on your way.
Set Up ATI/AMD SGminer
Extract the files into a folder of your choice. There will most likely be a sgminer.conf file you can edit with a notepad/text editor. It should look something like this:
You will have to change the fields I painted yellow. Take care to keep all the " ", commas, brackets etc. exactly as they are.
"url" is easy:
North America: "stratum+tcp://us1.coinking.io"
"user" is "YOUR_COINKING_ACCOUNTNAME.1"
(mind the .1 at the end)
"pass" is "x"
"kernel" should be "darkcoin-mod" if it isn't already
Sadly, you will have to look up fitting parameters for your specific AMD card for at least "thread-concurrency", "intensity" and "gpu-threads" and maybe "worksize". There is a table of recommendations for some ATI cards here. (send me a better one if you find one!)
I = Intensity (up to 19 for gpu-threads=1, up to 13 for gpu-threads=2, I recommend these values)
w = worksize (64, 128, 256 or 512)
g = gpu-threads (1 or 2)
thread-concurrency = the value you will have to fiddle around with most, google for your card (i.e. AMD 280x thread-concurrency) etc. and try out value combinations...
Look up your GPU and try some value combinations from the site. Ignore other parameters they supply.
When you are done, save the .conf file and try to run sgminer.exe. It should connect and start mining and display your speed as kh/s or even MH/s (here 250.3 kh/s average)
Check with the table if your speed is somewhat in line with the expectations (not toooo far off ... less than half or so - the people that supply these infos are mostly tuning enthusiasts). Google for more parameters for your card. Try them out. Write down the speeds. Settle for good enough and let it mine.
Feel free to post with any questions/problems!
Use your Bitcoin
Now you can mine and watch your earnings in the Coinking Login Area. You can quickly create an actual bitcoin wallet on a site like BLOCKCHAIN.INFO and store them there. Bitcoin Addresses are long strings of text, such as 13E26XFomEcJhDPwGZp9HR5qk65vbduc5s. You will figure out how to withdraw them from Coinking and send them around, it is fairly easy.
Or you could directly transfer them to a Bitcoin Exchange that supports your Country and turn them into your currency (some possibilities here). Or you could simply use them to buy Stuff online via ... Bitcoins. :)
Stay up to Date
Another great site for mining is Nicehash, however it is a bit more difficult to use - but well documented. Just read their stuff and do it.
Hit up Crypto Mining Blog every few days to stay up to date. With the basics you learned here and some googling you should be able to get every miner to run and try everything they have on their blog.
Please feel free with any suggestions, improvements, problems along the way.