ZCash cryptocurrency mining – A beginner – s guide

February 16, 2018

Note: this article has bot updated on 19-Apr-17.

zCash is a fresh decentralised digital cryptocurrency which aims to provide better privacy of transactions by permitting either see-through addresses (t-addresses) or zero-knowledge proof addresses (z-addresses). While it uses a part of BitCoin’s original code, it’s bot intensely modified by the development team. zCash uses the equihash algorithm which wasgoed built to be GPU-optimized and resistant to ASIC processing. Mining on CPU is also possible, albeit with a considerably lesser efficiency. zCash permits you to use t-addresses and z-addresses. t-addresses are semitransparent addresses where anyone can see the sender, the recipient spil well spil the payload of the transaction. z-addresses, however, conceal the payload. They use zk-SNARKs (zero-knowledge proof), meaning ter brief that you can prove a transaction is valid even if you do not expose what it contains, making it efficient for privacy.

Note that this article is purely from my point of view, you should spil always look for numerous information sources and cross the gegevens. Also, I will not go into why you should choose this cryptocurrency overheen another one, whether it makes sense or not to mine. I determined to mine zCash because it seems to mij to be the most trustworthy cryptocurrency around, a fresh commence from BitCoin and an attempt to learn and fix some of the issues that affect BitCoin (privacy and network control).

Getting Began

Three things will dictate your treatment to mining: your hardware capabilities, your operating system(s) and your technical abilities.

Hardware capabilities

Cryptocurrency mining is a power-hungry and resource-intensive activity. There is a cost incurred ter electrical power and if you intend to mine for anything else than for unspoiled scientific rente you will have to ensure that your operation is cost-effective, i.e. that your power consumption costs and hardware costs are counterbalanced by sufficient horsepower. You may want to look at a system that is power-effective, te fact most professional miners operate so-called “mining rigs” (i.e. bare-bone systems primarily designed for mining operations) where the graphic adapters are slightly under-volted and sometimes over-clocked to reduce power consumption while maintaining acceptable hash power. There is a threshold to be calculated spil to whether the coin you are mining is “worth” enough compared to what you invest into mining it.

Ter general, CPU mining is not cost-efficient and if you are looking at building a dedicated mining equipment, most specialists out there will advise to save on the CPU to better invest money ter efficient graphic adapters.

Ter terms of graphic adapters, unless you are a millionaire you are looking at a GPU that supplies the best ontsteld for the buck. Te my case, I determined to lodge for an AMD RX480 based card, specifically the Asus ROG Strix RX480 with 8 GB RAM (update 19-Apr-17: I’ve added a 2nd identical card to my system and upgraded to a better power supply, namely a Corsair HX 850i). Your budget and mileage may vary, ter my case decision factors were (zuivere hashing capabilities aside) the overall build quality, number of ventilatoren and noise levels. You may not want to run a GPU-intensive operation on a card that is not decently cooled. The capability to over-clock or under-clock your card will also be a decisive factor.

Consider also that the specialised mining software is not always available on all of the OS platforms and some miners may be optimised for a specific type of GPU. Generally, avoid older cards and if you are on Nvidia especially card with a Compute Capability below SM Five.0 spil most miners require SM Five.0 or above to mine efficiently (Maxwell or Pascal architectures). Make sure to read the various forums about driver versions since that may influence the mining efficiency spil well.

For a list of graphic adapters and their zCash operation range, check out this pagina which has some indicative information. Look at fields such spil “Payback”. You’re looking at getting hardware that mines efficiently, cost-effectively and within your budget.

Operating system

Your OS may dictate what miners you can use, what drivers and so on. From a purely official standpoint zCash is supported only on Linux. But it’s also possible to mine on MacOS spil well spil Windows, through various experimental ports. If you are looking at building a mining equipment, Linux is undoubtedly recommended. Personally, I mine on one MacOS device and on two Windows devices.

Technical capability

While mining is not complicated te itself, the implements to be used are made by sultry people who are deeply into technology and their use may seem obscure to the newcomer. What needs to be understood very first is how this entire thing runs: how to mine, with which instruments, where do I get the ZEC (zCash currency code) sent etc. You should be aware that each device has its own configuration method, whatever runs on Windows/Mac is experimental and likely to be unsupported.

Also, if you do not know what you are doing you could waterput your system at risk. Be especially cautious when downloading miners, I recommend you get them directly from github and steer clear of forum linksaf if possible. Note that miners are often classified by anti-malware and antivirus programs spil risk/malicious items, even if they are not harmful vanaf se. Favor open-source miners overheen proprietary code, albeit the best miners are often closed source. You may have to make trade-offs.

Ultimately, if you’re the DYI type, ensure you don’t kill yourself ter electro-therapy hazards and take all the adequate security measures. Consider environmental constraints such spil noise, cooling, etc.

Mining: Miner Software &, Mining Pools

Solo Mining or Pool Mining

Very first of all, you have to determine if you want to run for solo mining or if you want to participate ter a pool. Solo mining means that you are on your own and that you will attempt to resolve blocks only with your compute power. Unnecessary to say this option is valid only if you have considerable GPU compute power at palm.

For mere mortals, pool mining is the best alternative. Your compute power is aggregated with the total compute power of all the other miners te a given pool and this gives more chances of success when resolving blocks (you are given “shares” to resolve). The earnings are then split according to the contributions (amount of shares) you made to the pool. Certain pools also use a different calculation system, and pay you based on the n amount of predecessor shares you have contributed, thus encouraging you to stay with the pool. The pool technicus deducts a toverfee for their operation costs and the credit is assigned to your user. After a certain balance threshold has bot met (usually 0.001 ZEC) you will have the capability to specie out earnings to a t-address (note that t-addresses are reusable to receive numerous payments). Most pools have an automatic transfer feature where credits are automatically sent to your t-address after your balance has kasstuk a certain threshold.

Mining pools work with the concept of “workers”. A worker is a unique source that you use for mining, to which an account and a password are associated. You can see below how I have set my workers, for example.

If you’re the generous zuigeling, you can also donate to your pool i.e. contribute a fraction of your earnings to support their operational costs. And if you’re toegevoegd generous, you can fetch overheen some zCash to mij too (details are on my keybase.io profile). But indeed, a lotsbestemming of folks are contributing to create implements such spil wallets, implementations, mining implements so feel free to support them.

Systemic fees

Ter the case of zCash, you should be aware that the founding company took the treatment to finance itself through a 20% toverfee on any fresh block that is mined – note that thesis coins are not pre-mined, so the income commenced at zero and grows alongside with the total amount of ZEC te circulation, which is a good thing IMHO. Thesis funds are used to pay developers and finance further developments around the zCash technology. You will also pay transfer fees spil well when you send and receive ZEC (thesis fees prize the miners who process the blocks/transactions). Presently, blocks have a payout of 12.Five ZEC, of which Two.Five ZEC go to the ZECC (Zerocoin Electrified Coin Company, which is behind zCash technology). The average transfer toverfee has bot around 0.0001 ZEC so far.

Miner software &, pool fees

All miner software are not created equal. Some developers invest a loterijlot of time ter creating performant, very optimised miner software that gets the best out of your hardware. You can see a five-fold increase te GPU mining if you use the right miner software. This comes at a price, some of this software will use a portion of your mining time to voorkant the developer costs. Usually, that would be something ter the range of 60-90 seconds of mining time vanaf mining hour. During this time lapse, results will be sent to the developer’s own mining pool or zCash address. Ter my opinion that’s a fair price to pay.

You will also pay fees to your pool when you mine (some pools may have a no-fee policy but I’m fairly skeptical about it). Again, use cryptocompare.com to get an idea. This averages inbetween 1% to 3%.

Ultimately, a note on pools. It’s advisable and recommended to maintain a sort of balance inbetween pools to ensure a single pool never gets overheen 50% of the total hashrate on the network. You may want to determine on which pool you want to mine based on this spil well (see “51% attack” theories around BitCoin for example).

Choosing a miner

While the default installation (wallet + zcashd daemon) permits you to mine, I strongly advise against it. The default miner is not optimised and it would be a waste of time and energy. If you intend by all means to run a zCash knot, feel free to do so! But do not use the mining option.

To select a miner, you will have to consider which hardware you use and which OS you are running. There is no rule of thumb here, but here are some hints:

  • Do not use an “all purpose” miner unless your OS podium gives you no choice (hello MacOS)
  • Choose very optimised miners for GPU mining (Optiminer, Claymore work well with AMD chipsets – I am very glad with Claymore personally)
  • Consider that high-performance miners will incur a developer toverfee
  • Consider if the miner software or pool will pay you ter ZEC or BTC (Bitcoin) – most will pay ter ZEC but nicehash is known to prize te BTC. I choose those who pay ter ZEC and support the zCash project/cryptocurrency

Te terms of GPU mining, you should always proefneming with the miner settings to find our optimal hash rate and Sols/s (solutions vanaf 2nd) output. Ter zCash, what matters is the Sols/s output spil this will directly influence how much cryptocurrency you generate. Each miner uses different solving methods.

Look at it spil a trial-and-error process. Seek for help ter the forums and do not assume that you’ve reached the best configuration until you get more and more acquainted with the instruments &, terminology. I thought I wasgoed having good results with the RX480 and the Genoil miner at 45 Sols/s, after I wasgoed told to use Optiminer you can imagine my verrassing when achieving consistently 250 Sols/s! With no other tweaking whatsoever. More recently, moving to Claymore further enhanced to around 300 Sols/sec. With two RX480 cards (te stock configuration), my hash rate is consistently around 615 Sols/sec. One significant note if you use Claymore: ensure you connect to your pool using a secure connection (SSL or TLS). This will reduce the dev toverfee time from 90 seconds down to 72 seconds.

Mining considerations

Mining is resource-intensive, you want to make sure that you are getting optimal use of your system, especially if it’s not dedicated to mining and you work on it spil well. If your system is powerful enough and you are using the system for office/browsing, let the GPU miner run ter the background – you can also add an toegevoegd CPU miner to run on half of your CPU cores spil a supplement. If you intend to play games or work on resource intensive programs, it’s best to zekering mining and resume after you are done. Spil I said earlier, CPU mining is not profitable so use it only for the sake of scientific experiments. Some miners such spil Claymore will permit you to selectively turn off or on specific GPU cards. Useful if you need to work or play, while mining on the other GPU card.

Ensure your system is clean, well aerated, te a moderate temperature environment to avoid any unnecessary strain on the hardware. Ensure you have quality components at all levels. Whenever possible, favour quiet cooling systems. Ensure cabling doesn’t obtrudes aeration. Wij ended up entirely cleaning and recabling our system when wij added a 2nd RX480 and switched the PSU – I have some photos on twitter.

When mining to a pool, check if they support your miner, they may have specific URL/port settings based on the miner you use. And recall what I wrote above about SSL/TLS support ter Claymore.

Wallets

The prize of mining is the generation of zCash cryptocurrency (ZEC). This cryptocurrency needs to be stored somewhere and for this purpose wij have wallets.

The only official wallet is the zCash wallet and it runs only on Linux. There is an experimental port on Windows called zCash4win which bundles the zCash daemon and the wallet (a Java application). I’ve set it up both by hand (before zCash4win release) and then through the zCash4win installer with equal success. This option is te theory the best one if you want to fully manage your own wallet but it also means you have to run a total zCash knot. There is also a Mac version (zCash4Mac) maintained by the same developer.

If you’re the security conscious type and want to secure your ZECs, you may want to have an offline system where you store your ZECs spil well. This discussion is however out of this article’s scope (at the very least, you should zekering the zcashd daemon and make a secure copy of your wallet.dat opstopping).

I used Jaxx te the past, Jaxx provides the capability to use the wallet across devices and the latest release also supports ZEC from within the iOS version of the application (this wasgoed added just before Easter 2018). Jaxx is however a lightweight wallet and should not be used to onmiddellijk mining payments to it. I have stopped using Jaxx for mining payments and meteen them to my local zCash utter knot / wallet (an implementation of zcash4mac coupled with the latest zcashd and zcash-cli binaries).

Stats and numbers for geeks

Update 19-Apr-17: the stats below are Two months old. Since then, I stopped using the Dell L702x laptop and very seldom use mining on the MacBook Voor. The desktop now also sports a 2nd RX480 card, same specs spil below. The hash rate increase has bot twofold (using Claymore), but the received zCash revenue increase has bot even more noticeable due to the PPNLS system of the pool I use – due to mij submitting much more shares, and with a higher difficulty.

So, with all of that said, you may want to know what I am doing and how it looks like. I have presently three systems on which I am mining:

  • A custom-build desktop, sporting a Core i5-4690S, 8 GB RAM and an ASUS ROG RX480 Strix with 8 GB RAM
  • An early 2015 13.Trio″, Retina MacBook Voor, sporting a Core i5-5257U, 8 GB RAM and the Intel Iris 6100 adapter
  • A 2012 Dell XPS L702x, sporting a Core i7-2670QM, 8 GB RAM and an Nvidia GT-555M with Trio GB RAM

A previous view of my laptop setup. The Dell L702x (on the right) is running one nheqminer GPU thread (purple), two CPU threads (2x 2-Core, ter cyan) and a zCash utter knot (ter crimson). I ditched the total knot straks and moved the GPU mining to EWBF.

Geekbench results

  • Desktop: Single Core: 4000+, Multicore: 10000+, OpenCL: 129997 (no, there is no typo here)
  • MacBook Voor: Single Core: 3213, Multicore: 5536, OpenCL: 16266
  • Dell L702X: Single Core: 3006, Multicore: 9018, OpenCL: 12808

Mining setup

Update 19-Apr-17: the stats below are Two months old. Here again, I moved to Claymore and stopped fully mining on CPU. Mining software with devfees are often detected spil malware because devs package their software which is often not open source to avoid switch sides engineering. You may have to create Windows Defender exceptions, of course at your own risk. I have a specific Claymore setup which I’m blessed to discuss about either on the zCash forums or privately.

I use .bat files to trigger the mining operations and have several of thesis based on the mining energy. I generally separate GPU from CPU mining to ensure I can mine spil modularly spil I want. For example, I have a script that mines using all four CPU cores on the desktop (during sleep or away hours) and another one that mines using only two cores during regular hours.

Also, because I have three systems and I separate CPU and GPU I have to set up numerous workers on the pool to which I participate. Having numerous workers is significant to ensure that the jobs being sent from the pool to your worker are not processed or messed up by another worker. Having numerous workers also permits you to compare their efficiency.

The picture below gives an overview of my mining stats:

A snapshot of my mining pool statistics shows the voorstelling (hashrate) of each of the workers.

Spil you can see above, I have one worker for GPU (optiminer) and one worker for CPU (nheqminer) on the Desktop. On the mac, I use an experimental nheqminer version with the tromp solver through a single worker. On the L702x, I have one worker for the GPU and two workers for the CPU (each worker uses Two CPU cores). Because the Nvidia GT555M has SM Two.1, nheqminer defaults to the tromp resolver and this one is not truly optimized for older cards. However using EWBF (a closed source miner) has given better results (threefold compared to nheqminer). You many want to treat EWBF cautiously spil Windows Defender will attempt to eradicate it and sees it spil a malware.

I now have a single worker for GPU (Claymore) and another one for when I’m crazy enough to think my MacBook Professional can make any welvoeglijk contribution.

Max’s Opinion

I consider zCash mining primarily spil a joy and hobby activity, even however ter light of Bitcoin’s rise this could have some financial influence spil well. I’m interested te cryptocurrencies and te technology so it’s interesting for mij to be there at the inception of this project. Let’s see how this goes along and I hope this guide will be a joy diversion to my many gegevens center related posts (which are due to resume very soon!)

If you found this postbode useful (or this blog ter general) and want to throw overheen some ZEC to mij, feel free to do so through my t-address t1TEZ9pny7oFcGxd9qmRBRCA2DHhj4d7qyk

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