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How to Mine Ethereum: NiceHash, Mining Pools, Optimal Settings

The cryptocurrency mining and Ethereum mining boom has started to taper off, after nearly six months of rollercoaster rides. If you’ve read our best mining GPUs and want to see what all the fuss is about, we’ve got the details on the most popular ways of mining with your PC. Besides the actual hardware for mining — which basically means having one of the best graphics cards — you’ll need to decide on the software you want to run, and how you want to get paid. There are three primary approaches to mining, and we’ll cover these in order of ease of getting started.

Before we continue, let’s be clear: We’re all about providing information, both good and bad. There are GPU shortages, other PC component shortages, GPU pricing is stratospheric, and clearly, there are a bunch of people who think mining is awesome. This has all happened before, and we’ve seen how it ends — or at least where it goes temporarily. Anyone that had the foresight to put together a big mining farm sometime in the past year or two and save all the Ethereum and/or Bitcoin it generated (while eating the costs) looks pretty smart today. Trying to do the same thing right now? It will cost more, profits will be lower (or not even materialize for potentially years, if ever), and there are loads of other concerns that we’ll get into.

Case in point: Just look at the past few months. We originally posted this article with data taken from before February 16, 2021. Two weeks later, we saw record prices for Bitcoin and Ethereum come and go, difficulty of mining increased, and potential profits dropped by at least 25 percent. Then Bitcoin rebounded and hit a new record high of over $61,000, while Ethereum mostly stayed in the $1,800–$1,900 range, and mining profits improved along with those prices. Now, several months later, Bitcoin currently sits at around $33.5K and Ethereum is at $2,150.

Regardless of the current price, longer-term stability almost certainly means lower profits than what we’ve seen in the past few months. Eventually, the difficulty of finding a block increases, or the price drops, either of which will drop the rate of return, and miners stop putting lots of money into scooping up GPUs. Ethereum difficulty peaked in May, but has since declined with the exodus of miners (no doubt helped by China’s crackdown on mining).

That brings us back to the matter at hand. Lots of people still want to know about mining, how it works, and how much they can earn doing it. We’ll answer those questions as best we’re able, and bring up other concerns and related information that you might not have considered. Hopefully, by the end of it all, you’ll be better informed. #SaveTheGPUs

How to Mine with NiceHash 

(Image credit: techy’s points)

The easiest way to get started at mining is with NiceHash. NiceHash launched in 2014, right around the time of the first major spike in cryptocoin mining (second if you want to include Bitcoin’s initial surge to $32 per BTC in 2011). Prior to NiceHash, getting started with coin mining was quite a bit more complicated — as we’ll detail below. NiceHash has greatly lowered the barrier to entry, and it gets rid of some of the worries about what coin(s) to mine. You effectively lease your PC’s hashing power to other users, who get to choose what to mine, and you get paid in Bitcoin. NiceHash takes a small cut of the potential profits, and your PC can be up and mining in minutes.

We’re not going to walk through every step of the process, as NiceHash already has multiple tutorials. The short summary is that you need to register with the service, and you should have your own Bitcoin wallet somewhere (e.g. at Coinbase or some other service). Then you download the NiceHash mining software, configure it to mine to your BTC address (provided by NiceHash), and you’re all set. Your BTC will accumulate on NiceHash, and you can transfer it out whenever you like — which is a good idea since you never know if or when another successful hack might occur.

(Image credit: techy’s points)

NiceHash has several options, ranging in degree of complexity. The easiest is to use the new QuickMiner, which is a web interface to a basic mining solution. You download the QuickMiner software, run that, and the webpage allows you to start and stop mining — you don’t even need to put in your BTC address. It’s dead simple, though the numbers can fluctuate quite a bit. For example, in a brief test QuickMiner suggested it was earning over $7 per day (on an RTX 3090), and noted we “could be making 16% more” by using NiceHashMiner (which we’ll get to next). Except, after letting both versions run for a bit, QuickMiner seemed to stabilize at the same performance level as NiceHashMiner. YMMV.

Next up is NiceHashMiner, which is what most people will want to use. It’s more complex in some ways than QuickMiner, but it has more options that can improve overall profitability. By default, it will ask you to log in using your NiceHash account details. Alternatively, you can use the NiceHash app on your phone to scan a QR code, or just input your BTC address manually.

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Ethereum Mining

(Image credit: techy’s points)
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Ethereum Mining

(Image credit: techy’s points)
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Ethereum Mining

(Image credit: techy’s points)



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