As mining rigs go today, it’s not especially quick, but it requires next to no maintenance. When the power goes out, as it does occasionally here, it boots itself up and gets right back to work. No muss, no fuss. I figure the $30 I spent on it was one of my better investments.
A lot has changed in the dynamic world of cryptocurrencies since January 2016. Bitcoin is once again above $1,000. Litecoin, which had been sleepily hanging around the $4 mark, suddenly popped above $10 a few months ago. Several other new “coins” have become major players, too.
Some of these are relatively easy to mine on a computer, unlike Bitcoin, which requires specialized equipment and a whole lotta electricity. It’s not profitable to mine Bitcoin on a desktop computer, and ASIC rigs are way out of my price range.
So, last fall, I started mining one of the altcoins — Zcash — on a hand-me-down desktop computer. On an investment of about $220, I’ve recouped almost half that since I booted it up in October. Not bad for a barebones rig.
My personal requirement was keeping my initial capital outlay as small as possible. So I asked around for an unused desktop computer I could either borrow indefinitely or just acquire. Then I shopped online for a midrange graphics card, settling on a second-hand Radeon R9 390 card with 2 GB RAM for about $190.
My adopted desktop had only 1 GB of RAM, so I invested another $30 for 4 GB RAM. Rather than hassle with upgrading from Windows XP to a newer version, I installed Ubuntu Linux as the default in a dual-boot machine.
Zcash is one of the cryptocurrencies promising complete anonymity, if you want it, which Bitcoin and Litecoin do not offer. So, there’s been a lot of interest in Zcash, and the other “stealth” coins — Dash, PIVX and Monero, for example — and consequently their values are relatively high. That makes it more profitable to mine them.
My rig mines 0.01 Zcash a day (about 60-70 cents/day at today’s values). Not really much to brag about. With a more substantial GPU (or two or three or … six!), I could pump out way more. But remember, as with the Litecoin rig, I was trying to spend as little money as possible.
Besides all this home-based stuff, I’ve delved back into cloud mining again, too. Three years ago, I tried mining Bitcoin at cex.io. That ended when cex.io quit its mining operations to become mostly an exchange.
Last year, though, I bought some hashpower at Hashnest, the cloud mining arm of Bitmain, a Chinese firm that is one of the world’s leading Bitcoin mining rig manufacturers, which also runs huge Bitcoin mining installations. Given my budget, the result is a few cents a day, but it kind of feels like free money, even though the ROI is probably years in the future.
Then, a couple of months ago I heard about genesis-mining.com, a Hong Kong outfit offering two-year contracts for several altcoins, and lifetime contracts for Bitcoin and Litecoin. Prices begin at $30, so I started mining Dash there. Again, the returns are quite small now, because I was just testing the waters. But it’s possible to see ROI within a year, no matter how much money your drop on a contract. You’re just betting that coin values will hold steady or increase. If the bottom falls out of the crypto markets, your investments will go along with it.
I’m pretty confident cryptocurrencies are there to stay, so I’ve upped my Dash contract, and added small contracts for Bitcoin, Litecoin and Monero besides. Whether I go the same route as some folks who have bought so much hashpower that they get $50 back each day remains to be seen.
Cloud mining is useful for people like me who don’t want to hassle with buying expensive gear, which has to be maintained. Genesis Mining does all the heavy lifting, and in the three months I’ve been with them, there have been no problems.
If you want to give genesis-mining a try, you can get 3% off your contract price is you use my promo code o4PV5G. Plus, I get a little extra hashpower added to my Bitcoin mining.
Or you can leave me a tip using PayPal or Bitcoin.