Hello once again fine ladies and gentlemen of TS,
Before I say anything else unless you know what you are doing I must urge you to take a look at my other thread which explains the basics of bitcoin: http://teksyndicate.com/forum/bitcoin/bitcoin-101/137565
At first I was going to make both of these posts into one thread but decided that it would be better to address these big topics in different threads. This thread will cover pretty much all you need to know and take into consideration before you start mining bitcoins, I will try to keep this as simple as possible but I urge you to read my other thread to ensure you are well informed. As with my other thread feedback and critisism is welcomed with open arms I will read all of it and adjust the contents of the thread accordingly. If something is not clear or you have any questions after reading the thread feel free to ask them below and I will do my best to answer them.
So what do you need to know before you start mining away?
- Is it worth it for me?
- Power consumption
- Mining difficulty
- Bitcoin exchange rate
- Mining programs
- Mining Pools
- Bitcoin Wallets
- How should I mine?
Is it worh it for me?
Let's answer the other question first, when is it sertainly NOT worth it:
- Mining on a laptop/notebook/netbook/ultrabook (Not worth it, you will set your house on fire)
- Mining with my CPU (Not worth it, you will mine really really slow)
- Mining with integrated graphics (Not worth it, again far too slow to be profitable)
- Mining with an APU (Depends, it's really slow but will use little power compared to an old GPU)
- Mining with an ARM CPU (Nope too slow)
- Mining with an old GPU (perhaps, take a look at this page ( https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison ) and check if your card has more then 50-100 Mhash per second if it can do 100Mhash/sec I would consider it a yes, otherwise nope because it is too slow and will consume more power then you can make from mining the bitcoins)
So as you see mining is pretty much only worth it if you have a dedicated GPU, and as we all know in GPU world it's always Nvidia VS Amd. So who is better for mining? Clearly AMD is the winner here, their cores are just much more suitable for mining. However that doesn't mean your new Nvidia card is useless, it only means it's likely to be about as fast as a 2 year old low end AMD card. (you can check how powerfull your card is here: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison )
Running a GPU at full load takes power and power costs money it's not free even if you live at your parents' place. So before you start mining check how much power it will cost you and check if it's actually profitable for you ( http://www.bitcoinx.com/profit/ )
One important detail that a lot of people do not mention is that your GPU is not the only part of your PC that needs power so if you are planning on leaving your PC on to mine when you would normally turn it off you should really look into that in order to avoid unpleasant surprizes later on.
As mentioned in my other thread, in order to keep up with better hardware bitcoins will become harder and harder to mine over time. The current difficulty is 7,673,000 and the next predicted difficulty is estimated to be 8,520,640. ( HTTP://BITCOINDIFFICULTY.COM/ ) As you can tell this is quite a difference.
Bitcoin exchange rate:
Bitcoins sell for X amount of dollars, this amount varies from day to day. Bitcoins have been stable at around $10-20 per BTC, however over the last two months they have risen to as high as $250. However before you go ahead and invest all your money in bitcoins because they only seem to rise remember that bitcoins like any other item are subject to manipulation. The prices fluctuate I personally think that bitcoins will drop back to a normal level $10-50 any day now and the fluctuate for a bit. So remember bitcoins are not stable and they are an experimental currency after all so don't expect prizes to be stable.
As with any exchange you have to pay a fee to turn your bitcoins into dollars or euros which is something you should note as well, so it's not like you can easily turn your freshly mined coins into cash you will likely have to save up quite a bit in order to not lose half of it to fees and during that time you are vulnerable to whatever price fluctuations there may be in the bitcoin exchange rate.
So you can't just tell your GPU to mine bitcoins you will need a program for that, on windows you can use GUIminer, on OSX you can use DiabloMiner and if you are using linux you have a wide variety of programs you can use depending on your distro (google which ones are available for you)
This is the program that tells your GPU to mine bitcoins, you must tell it from which pool you are mining and what your worker name and password is.
So as I mentioned in my other thread, you can either mine solo (good luck) or use a pool. There are a lot of pools to choose from, most of them require some kind of fee for using them (X% of your profit) and will pay you based on how many shares you have done, so that you won't have to mine for weeks before you can claim your coins.
Never choose a small shady looking pool, there is no reason to take the risk. Just go for a big pool (like BTCguild or 50BTC) you will have to pay less fees and are less likely to suffer from downtime etc. on big pools.
As mentioned before there are three types of wallets, different wallet services offer different services (like mobile/webapps or software wallets for windows/OSX/linux) for a good list of wallet services check out this link: http://bitcoin.org/en/choose-your-wallet
How should I mine?
So now you have read up all about how to mine and what the basics are of bitcoins. You have a miner ready, you joined a pool, you have your wallet set up. You are all ready to go, except you still need to plan out how you will mine. Now what I mean by this is how long and when.
Depending on where you live power might be cheaper at night so maybe it's worthwhile to mine at night but not during the day, maybe you live somewhere where power is pretty expensive or your card is just not good enough to make a profit on it own then perhaps it's an option to only mine when you would normally have your PC on anyways to avoid high energy bills.
note: you should not be able to notice the PC is mining other then hearing the fan spin a bit faster, you should have no preformance issues whatsoever watching youtube videos (even in 1080p) and doing normal text editing etc. However you should turn your miner off when you want to play a game or do something GPU intensive like editing.