Nineteen empty bottles of Tylenol PM later, I now know my problem wasn’t the size of the stakes. It was how powerless I felt over it all: the violent price swings, the hacks, and not knowing crypto’s future.
I’d feel better if I took control. I could take control by mining with my own PC.
So that’s exactly what I did.
Fortunately, I already had everything I needed.
In December, I had just finished building a new gaming PC as a birthday treat to myself, complete with an $200 3GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. I designed it primarily for playing Overwatch.
Little did I know at the time that I was lucky to have found that card. It’s the same kind that pros use in their mining rigs. Currently they’re either sold out or are being scalped for more than $100 more than they’re worth, because they’re so damn profitable.
There was only one small problem: How, exactly, do I turn my new gaming PC into a machine that pulls cryptocurrency out of thin air?
Believe it or not, mining for cryptocurrency is stupid easy. Your computer does all the hard work. You just need the right software and an internet connection.
There are a number of software options out there. NiceHash is popular because it has an easy setup, but I had stability issues with it. I muddled through a more challenging setup to try Ethminer, which worked OK. But I found that I could get the best speeds (and thus, get the most money) using Claymore.
Claymore, like most mining programs, is not user friendly. I had to get comfortable working with a Command Prompt, and I had to edit a BAT file to put in my wallet address. Fortunately, there are resources out there that helped walk me through it.
Now that I had my PC, I just needed to start cashing in. Easy, right? Not necessarily.
“Mining” is just a fancy word for maintaining a cryptocurrency network. When it’s mining, my computer is working to verify other people’s transactions, and to (essentially) guess at the answer to a special math problem. The better a computer’s graphic card is, the faster it can solve those problems.
If my computer solves the problem before anyone else, I get showered in crypto. Like, $3,000 worth. But I could be going at it alone for years before that ever happens. It’s like playing the lottery.
With my tiny one-graphic-card rig, it made more sense to join up with other computers to tackle the work, and then split earnings. That’s what a mining pool is. Yeah, I had to give up dreams of instantly winning thousands of dollars. But I was earning my first few cents’ worth of crypto literally the minute I started.
There are a number of mining pools out there. After reading up on Reddit and Medium, I chose Ethermine. It’s got the largest number of participants, it’s got a good reputation, and most importantly, it pays out balances every Friday. The site also does a great job of explaining how to set up your mining software, which I greatly value as a mining newb.
There are no transaction fees involved with Ethermine, so I get to keep every cent of crypto I make.
My computer runs close to 24 hours, 7 days a week. In return, I get paid between $20 and 30 per month at current rates.
At first, I was way pumped about that. But then I remembered that my new computer would be using a lot of electricity. When I got out my electric bill and did the math, I had a terrible realization: My rig might actually end up costing me money.
Even worse: I realized my 3GB GTX 1060 won’t be able to mine forever. Mining gets more difficult with time, and my hardware might already be outdated by the end of this year. Ugh.
Thankfully, there’s a solution — one that could help me earn real money, real fast. I pinched my nose, got out my debit card, and …
I’ll tell you next week.