Beginner’s Guide to Ethereum Mining in 2017 – How to Mine Ethereum on Your PC?
Getting Started with Ethereum Mining the video guide
The good news is that getting started with Ethereum Mining is now easier than ever. You do not need to download the full Ethereum blockchain, which is now over 20+ GB’s and still growing! You also do not need to manage clunky command line miners with manual instructions.
For purposes of this guide, we are going to do a detailed walk-through of setting up and using the very popular Claymore Miner. Get the current version here from Claymore’s original Bitcointalk thread and then follow along with the steps in this video. The whole process of getting a wallet setup, downloading your miner, configuring things in Windows and setting up your batch file to run should take less than 10 minutes:
If you’re new to mining Ethereum, this guide covers all the important facts in a simple, low-jargon way. Let’s start with some short answers to common questions about Ethereum mining:
Q: Why should I mine Ethereum tokens (aka ether or ETH)? doesn’t mining Ether take up a lot of electricity?
A: If done properly, more money is earned by selling mined ETH than is spent on electricity. In other words, it’s profitable! You can check out the profitability with our Ethereum mining calculator.
Q: Can I mine with my CPU (Personal computer’s processor) instead of an expensive graphics card (GPU)?
A: GPUs are so much faster that CPU-mining is no longer profitable or worthwhile. Even entry-level GPUs are about 200 times faster than CPUs for mining purposes.
Q: What’s the best GPU to use for getting the most ETH for the least electricity?
A: AMD cards tend to edge out similarly-priced NVidia cards in terms of efficiency. We cover the best cards to get under the heading “GPU Hardware” further down in this post.
Q: Why point your GPU towards a mining pool as opposed to solo-mining?
A: Unless you throw a fortune into mining hardware, your odds of generating ETH on your own are low. Pool-mining allow you to earn ETH in a regular and predictable way.
Q: How do I get started with mining Ethereum?
A: If you’ve got a suitable GPU with at least 3GB RAM, it’s a quick and painless matter of making some tweaks in Windows, installing the mining app then entering a few settings from your chosen pool’s website. Further details are available in the Getting Started with Mining section.
Q: What miner should be used to easily mine ETH?
A: Previous versions of this guide referenced an old program (AlethOne) that is no longer in use – please see Step X where we discuss using the Claymore Miner.
Q: What are the OS requirements for mining?
A: This guide covers using Windows 10 (make sure it’s 64 bit). There are also various distros of Linux that can be used (not covered here). But Windows is the easiest to configure and get up and running fast. There is no Mac version at this time.
Q: The Ethereum Mist wallet is not sync’ing for me, can I use any Eth wallet address for mining?
A: You can use any ETH wallet address for mining, but some exchanges do not allow mining or do not allow very small deposits so double check with the site if mining directly to a web-deposit address. A good alternative to downloading the full Mist wallet and Ethereum blockchain is MyEtherWallet.com, which still allows you to manage your Ether wallet address and maintain control of your private keys (which is important for security and/or wallet backup and restoration if needed).
Q: Aside from the GPU, what are the rest of the system requirements for my Windows Mining Rig?
A: There could be a very lengthy post on all the hardware requirements and considerations, but to cover the important things at a high level, here are some primary considerations:
– Your Windows 10 OS should be a 64 bit installation
– You want to get a motherboard with enough PCI-E slots to support the number of cards you are running.
– If using more than one GPU, you’ll want to get a powered pci-e riser for each additional GPU
– For Power Supplies, you want to double check that your PSU has enough connections to support the number of GPU’s you are running and enough overall wattage to support your total system power draw (and to give yourself some buffer of at least 10-15%). A helpful site for identifying how many 6 or 8 pin PCI-E power connections your GPU will require is here (Realhardtechx.com) and to get a sense of your overall system power draw, this is a good power consumption calculator (outervision). Pro Tip: if building multiple rigs stick with the same brand PSU as you can use extra cables on your other systems if needed (e.g. I use only EVGA G2 PSU’s so if I have extra VGA, sata or molex cables from one build I can use them on another build).
– You want to get a simple low end CPU and at least 4GB of RAM – Tip: make sure your motherboard, CPU and RAM are compatible (i.e. LGA 1151 motherboards need an 1151 socket CPU, and DDR4 RAM / LGA 1150 motherboards need an 1150 CPU and DDR3 RAM)
– Don’t forget a power button! Pick up a simple PC power button switch which connects onto the headers of the motherboard so you can turn your system on/off
– A standard keyboard, mouse and monitor are needed. If managing your rig remotely (not covered here in this beginner guide) you will want to get a headless hdmi dummy plug to plug into your rig so it boots into Windows properly for remote access.
Q: What are the other options for mining Ethereum like with specialized ASIC hardware, gaming laptops, or Virtualized environments?
A: As long as your system meets the general requirements and has at least one GPU with at least 3GB of RAM, you can mine Ethereum. Some Gaming laptops do have high end cards, but with the considerable heat generated from mining there could be other impacts to your laptop so it’s best to go with a desktop build. Virtualized environments that you can rent usually do not have enough powerful dedicated GPU in them, or are simply not profitable if they do. There are currently no ASICs for Ethereum (as it is designed to be an “ASIC Resistant” Proof Of Work hashing algorithim, so if you see ads for one – RUN. ASIC’s are still profitable for mining some coins (Bitcoin, Dash and Litecoin), but for home built Mining Rigs, Ethereum and other altcoins are still profitable to mine (whereas Bitcoin is not profitable on a home pc – even with many powerful GPU’s do the Bitcoin ASIC technology available).
Q: I can’t seem to find any good GPU’s for sale – can I just try out one of these Cloud Mining sites I’m seeing?
A: 99.9% of Cloud Mining sites are Ponzi schemes or fractional reserve Ponzi’s. Even though there are a few that have been around a long time, there have been no 3rd party audits of the hashing power sold and profits are usually very low unless you are promoting heavily and getting others to join in (another red flag of ponzi related activity). Short Answer – Our advice is DO NOT buy into Ethereum Cloud Mining sites or related Deposit Investment/HYIP programs.
Here are some good reasons to mine Ethereum:
- Mining can be a great way to subsidize the purchase of a new, high end GPU (or two or three…).
- As Ethereum is easily traded for bitcoins (BTC), it’s a cheap way to slowly build up a hodling position in Bitcoin. Many influential people are very bullish on Bitcoin’s prospects for 2016 and later.
- BTC can be easily sold for cash so, indirectly, mining ETH can be a good way to fill up your bank account or earn cash. ETH can also be sold directly on several major exchanges, such as Bitfinex, BTC-e, Kraken, Gemini and Coinbase.
- Mining can be a cheap entry ticket to the Ethereum markets, loved by traders for their high volatility. If you’re a good and / or lucky trader, you can maximize your profits.
- Building a large ETH position now, in the Proof of Work mining phase, will enable you to earn interest on your holdings if / when Ethereum switches to a Proof of Stake
- If you believe in the Ethereum concept (despite the failure of the DAO and doubts regarding the viability of Ethereum’s approach), you can support and gain voice in the Ethereum network through mining.
Some of the above terms in bold probably require further clarification for cryptocurrency newcomers. Let’s start with the Ethereum blockchain; the distributed digital ledger which you actually mine.
Ethereum Blockchain Basics
All transactions in Ethereum (and other cryptocurrencies) are encapsulated within discrete blocks. These blocks are comparable to the batches of transactions which banks send to each other, except in Ethereum they occur every 15 seconds (on average). Blocks are identified by their “height,” starting from 0 and incrementing sequentially until the current block.
Here’s how the mining process serves to create, verify and record blocks:
- Miners listen for transactions over the network and amass all they consider valid (in terms of fees, code and the accounting history of who controls which coins) into blocks.
- Miners expend electricity hashing that block with the processing power of their GPU(s). A successful hash result produces produce a unique Proof of Work (PoW) proving that the miner worked on that block.
- If the rest of the network accepts the hashed block as valid, the block becomes part of the permanent consensus on valid transactions, known as the blockchain.
- The miner receives 5 ETH plus all transaction and code-processing fees (aka gas) contained in their block, plus a possible bonus for any uncles they include.
How Ethereum’s Blockchain Differs from Bitcoin’s
Ethereum uses a different hashing algorithm to Bitcoin, which makes it incompatible with the special hashing hardware (ASICs) developed for Bitcoin mining. Ethereum’s algorithm is known as Ethash. It’s a memory-hard algorithm; meaning it’s designed to resist the development of Ethereum-mining ASICs. Instead, Ethash is deliberately best-suited to GPU-mining.
Hashrate, Difficulty and Price
Total network hashrate has been climbing rapidly since Q2 2016. A dip occurred on news of the DAO crisis but hashrate has since recovered. Things were relatively quiet until around Q2 2017 where everything Crypto related absolutely boomed, especially Ethereum as it facilitated a wave of new projects and ICO activity. This chart from Etherscan tells the story:
So if the amount of hardware dedicated to Ethereum mining is rising, why aren’t blocks being mined ever more rapidly, such that the average 15 second block time has decreased?
The answer is Difficulty. By automatically adjusting the computational difficulty of solving a block, the Ethereum blockchain is able to maintain ~15 second intervals. You’ll notice Difficulty closely tracks hashrate and it too has seen exponential growth this year:
The next obvious question is why hashrate and difficulty have been rising in the first place? There’s a simple economic driver; price!
The takeaway here is that hashrate has followed (with some appreciable lag) the ETH price explosion, which began in late January 2016, saw some downturn in late 2016, but then exploded again in Q2 2017. What an amazing bull run! Up to almost $400 USD from just $10 USD in a few short months.
Calculating Ether Mining Profitability
With a clearer understanding of the Ethereum blockchain and important concepts like Difficulty, it’s time to perform some economic calculations:
First, head over to Etherscan’s Mining Calculator, which provides up-to-date figures for the current price, block time and network hashrate (as measured in Gigahash per second aka GH/s; denoting billions of calculations per second):
Second, copy these figures into the Cryptowizzard Mining Calculator, a more sophisticated calculator which allows you to set your electricity costs, which are critical to determining profitability. Unfortunately, this calculator doesn’t automatically retrieve the current price, hashrate and block time. So, we copy those over:
Third, select the Graphics card you intend to use for mining. The calculator automatically enters the correct hashrate and power consumption. If your card isn’t listed or you’ve modified its performance, select the Custom option and enter the relevant figures manually. Note that GPU hashrates are entered in (Megahash per second aka MH/s; denoting millions of calculations per second).
These figures will change based on when you run this analysis, but for purposes of the example here we would net 109 ETH annually. If sold at the current price, $1537 will be earned from which we subtract the electricity cost of $493. This nets a respectable profit of $1045.
From that $1045, several subtractions may be required:
- mining pool costs, which generally run around 1% plus a 1 ETH payout fee,
- the purchase price of the example Radeon HD 7990, which is roughly $700,
- depending on your intended setup, it may be necessary to buy a new Power Supply Unit (PSU) to run your hardware. An electrically-efficient PSU costs more but saves on power costs over the long term.
Difficulty is likely to continue its established rising trend (and could spike on the release of more efficient GPUs) and price is extremely unpredictable (and may crash if the market dislikes Ethereum’s solution to its on-going DAO crisis). Further, Ethereum is scheduled to switch to a Proof of Stake model at some unspecified date, meaning it will no longer be mineable.
Before any serious outlay of capital, further research into Ethereum’s prospects is warranted. While GPUs may be set to mining other coins and their costs partially recouped through resale, GPUs depreciate rapidly. This is especially true of cards put to the constant, intensive work of mining.
Choosing your GPU Hardware
Experimentation with various GPU selections in the calculator will reveal a card with the best price to performance to power consumption combination (expressed as MH/s per Currency Unit). Keep in mind that AMD cards outperform NVidia for cryptocurrency mining purposes.
The card should have at least 3 gigs of RAM or it won’t be able to properly mine Ethereum. This is due to the growing DAG file (directed acyclic graph) used in the Ethereum Proof of Work hashing process.
Pro-tips: check out the following GPU’s: AMD Rx 470/480 Rx 570/580, AMD R9 range, HD 7990 / 7950 (if used cards are available, try to get them from a gamer instead of a miner, with a warranty if possible). For Nvidia, look at the 1060 / 1070 / 1080 series cards. As with everything, do your own due diligence to evaluate GPU’s based on their hashrate, power requirements, availability and price.
For a solid budget card, the Rx 470 with 4 gigs of RAM is recommended (when in stock and not at ridiculous over-inflated prices due to the card shortage like we’re seeing right now in the summer of 2017).
AMD RX Series: The Game Changer.
AMD introduced their new 14 nanometer (nm) RX series card at a hard-to-resist $200 price in 2016 and crypto currency mining became much more profitable as the smaller 14nm fabrication process gives this card impressive performance and low power consumption.
It has become the new standard in Ethereum mining and with the huge price explosion the demand for these cards have far outpaced supply and created an extreme GPU shortage, resulting in much higher GPU prices. That said, if you shop carefully, set up auto-notifications/alerts and have a little luck you can get some of the AMD RX series cards.
Mining Ethereum on your PC (Windows) – the text guide
If you’re reading a newbie’s guide to Ethereum mining and have a GPU powerful enough to make it worthwhile, we’re going to assume you’re running Windows so we’ll focus on mining Ethereum on that platform.
1. Get Your Video Card Drivers Installed
AMD GPU’s: Head over to amd.com to download your GPU drivers. Go to amd.com then choose “Support & Drivers” – enter in your GPU information and click “Display Results”
You can click the Download button for the current driver or choose “Download Previous Drivers & Software” on the right hand side which will allow you to choose older versions that are known as great drivers for mining based on your cards such as:
R9 and older – use 15.12
RX 4XX Series – use 16.9.2 or 16.10.3
RX 5XX Series – as these are newer I’d recommend going with current driver for now
Nvidia GPU’s: To get the latest Nvidia GeForce drivers go to https://www.geforce.com/drivers and then enter in your card info and click “Start Search” and then download the current version from the results.
Install your GPU Drivers like you normally would (Next, next, Ok, etc.) and reboot. Afterward, you know your GPU’s are recognized correctly if you go into Device Manager (search in Windows search bar) and you don’t see any warning marks on your GPU’s and it shows them correctly like this:
Troubleshooting tip: Some miners have had success installing all GPU’s at once and then installing the drivers. Others prefer to install only one card, install the drivers, shut down the system and then install the rest of the GPU’s and then just let them all be recognized by Windows (you’ll feel the system lagging, some flickers, or brief black screens while each card is detected by Windows).
I’ve had success both ways and so if you run into an issue with one method delete the drivers and try the other method. And if you do need to remove your drivers use the DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) program from Guru3d.com to remove everything cleanly and then start over.
2. Get an Ethereum Wallet Address – Install Ethereum
(or jump to Step 5 and use MyEtherWallet.com)
You can follow Steps 2-4 to download the official Ethereum Wallet, but you do need to wait for the full Ethereum blockchain to sync. To skip this and get going much faster, jump down to Step 5 and create a wallet using MyEtherWallet instead.
If you’re not used to the command line (aka “DOS mode,”) it’s recommended that you download Mist, with its friendly and familiar GUI (graphical user interface):
The Mist package contains the Ethereum wallet which you’ll need to receive any mining profits. Mist also includes an Ethereum browser with various functions, such as messaging and a social network and tutorials. As a tip, these tutorials and the social network are helpful learning resources. Don’t be scared to ask the Ethereals if you’re experience difficulty with any part of this process.
To download Mist, head over to https://github.com/ethereum/mist/releases and select the most recent release. In our case it’s 0.8.0:
3. Get the Blockchain
The next step is to hurry up and wait, as the Ethereum blockchain downloads and syncs. It’s over 10 gigs so this process may take a while…
When it completes, spend a few minutes to familiarise yourself with the Mist app; the interface is fairly self-explanatory. The Mist app isn’t yet fully polished so expect a few bugs.
4. Setup your Wallet
Next, open the Ethereum wallet and generate a new account and contract based wallet. This wallet will contain the payout address at which you’ll receive mining rewards from your pool or directly from the blockchain.
1) Add your new account, give it a memorable mining name. Store the password securely!
2) After generating the Account, add a wallet and write down or copy to a text file the unique address. This address will start with the characters “0x”. It’s necessary for receiving ETH minin
A Note on Geth
Mist also contains Geth, a popular command line interface. You may choose to get only the latest Geth app for your system, it’s able to perform all the functions of Mist (and more) from the command line. Geth (an abbreviation for “go-ethereum”) allows you and your miner to interact more directly with the Ethereum network but Geth definitely requires some programming knowledge.
As you become more proficient in Ethereum mining and coding, Geth will become more useful to you, but for now this is not recommended as the easiest path to getting started with Ethereum mining.
5. Install a Wallet from MyEtherWallet.com
Head over to MyEtherWallet.com (Note: Please beware of phishing websites. Do not enter your key on a website you arrived at by clicking a link. Always triple-check the domain. The real site is MyEtherWallet dot com)
Enter a strong password and click “Create New Wallet”:
Download your “Keystore File” and click the “I understand. Continue.” button.
Save your Private Key provided. A good practice is to open a notepad and enter in your info – password, private key, and your Ethereum address (which you’ll get shortly), and save that text file along with your Keystore File, in an Encrpted file (using WinRar or similar program) and then store a copy of that on a USB drive or cloud drive and delete the individual files (storing only the encrypted file digitally).
Click on Save Your Address and then select the “Keystore File” radio button and then click on “Select Wallet File”, browse to your recently downloaded Keystore File (which starts with “UTC…”) and select it.
You’ll then be prompted to enter your password again…
And then once unlocked you can scroll down and see “Your Address” – this is your Ethereum Wallet address that we will use for mining. Save it to a separate notepad text file and save it on your Desktop for easy access (Note: it’s okay to share this address as this is how people will send you Ether and how you will receive your mining payouts, but Never share your Private Key!).
Coins sent to this address can be sent from MyEtherWallet to any other Ethereum address (on an Exchange for example, to convert to Bitcoin, cash, etc.).
6. Download the Claymore Ethereum Miner
We are going to be using the very popular Claymore Miner. Get the current version here from Claymore’s original Bitcointalk thread and download the current version from the Google or Mega download links he provides (don’t use other people’s links). The current version as of the time of this writing is 9.6 and you’ll want to get the Catalyst and Cuda version (not the Linux version).
Note, when downloading the Claymore Miner Windows may provide a warning, but if you used Claymore’s download link can you ignore this. He is a well-respected developer who has been building crypto miners for many years.
Once downloaded, Extract the folder to your Desktop for easy access.
7. Tweak Some Windows Settings Before Mining
- Some settings should be modified in Windows to get you ready for mining. First, you don’t want your computer to go to Sleep as it will interrupt your mining so go into your Power Settings and set it to “Never” turn off/sleep.
- Next you want to modify your system page file and manually set it to 16384 MB (this is 16GB).
- To minimize the disruptions to your mining and settings you may want to also disable Windows Updates. If you feel more secure leaving them on, you can do so and just understand there are very frequent updates that sometimes reboot your system without you’re involvement and therefore stop your mining.
- If you are running Windows Defender or some other anti-virus program, add an exception to it so that it does not flag the Claymore mining executable “EthDcrMiner64.exe” as a virus or try to disable/delete it.
8. Join a Mining Pool and Configure your Mining Bat File
The next step is to setup pool mining, as solo-mining is unlikely to make you any Ethereum unless you have a warehouse full of GPUs. Your first step will be to choose an Ethereum mining pool. There are plenty to choose from but we recommend Nanopool or Etheremine. The home page or help section of a mining pool site most likely contains instructions on how to mine on their pool using the popular Claymore miner.
Directly on the home page of Ethermine.org you’ll see a section called “Stratum mode using Claymores Miner”.
Open your Claymore miner folder on your desktop and right click on the text file called “Start” and choose “Edit”.
Then go to the Ethermine site and highlight and copy all the text in the first box under “Then start your miners by…”
Depending on your location, you want to connect to the closest server to you and update the server string of text for the server:
To the most appropriate stratum server for you based on your location:
North America (East): us1.ethermine.org:4444 or us1.ethermine.org:14444
North America (West): us2.ethermine.org:4444 or us2.ethermine.org:14444
Europe (France): eu1.ethermine.org:4444 or eu1.ethermine.org:14444
Europe (Germany): eu2.ethermine.org:4444 or eu2.ethermine.org:14444
Asia: asia1.ethermine.org:4444 or asia1.ethermine.org:14444
I’ll update mine for the US East Coast, so inside your Text file you should now have:
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
EthDcrMiner64.exe -epool us1.ethermine.org:4444 -ewal <Your_Ethereum_Address>.<RigName> -epsw x
Now replace “<Your_Ethereum_Address>” with your Ethereum Wallet address (which starts with 0x…) so copy that from your other text file and paste it here. Then replace “<RigName>” with any name you would like to create for your miner. We’ll use “MiningRig1” for our example, so you now have:
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
EthDcrMiner64.exe -epool us1.ethermine.org:4444 -ewal 0x46064Df3e898488B19bC985A0973be51698bD6bb.MiningRig1 -epsw x
Now save your file as Batch file with the bat extension. Choose File > Save As and then in the box, choose a name for it and then type “.bat” after the name, and in the Save as type box, make sure you select “All Files”, and then click Save. Congrats, you now have a batch file ready to mine! Create a shortcut for the new Bat file and send it to your desktop. You can then delete the text file version of the file.
9. Start your Miner!
Double click your Bat file to start the miner. The miner will start, run the setx commands to set those environment variables, initialize each of your GPU’s, build the DAG file on each of your GPU’s and start hashing away. Let it run for about 20 seconds and then click “s” to have it show your Hashing speed. You can use that back in the calculator again to determine a more accurate representation of your earnings.
To monitor your earnings on the pool, go back to Ethermine.org and up at the top paste your wallet address into the Address window and click the Check Status button:
We hope you find this guide useful! If you run into any issues or have questions, please comment below and we will try to help. Note, we are not covering more advanced steps of mining such as overclocking and undervolting, bios flashing, remote access and monitoring, or Dual mining. If you want If interested in taking your mining to the next level from here, sign up for Crypto Mining Academy, where I go into massive depth and detail at every step of this process in a comprehensive course. Happy Mining!