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An Introduction To Cryptocurrency Mining

In this guide you’ll learn what NiceHash is, how it works and how to get it installed and running. I’ll point out some strong advantages NiceHash has, but also list some reasons you may want to avoid it. Then we’ll jump into some advanced tuning to maximize performance and profits.

What Is NiceHash? 

NiceHash Marketplace

NiceHash is a marketplace that buys and sell hashing power. Hashing power is the measure of mining performance your GPU or CPU has with any given coin algorithm. If you’re a seller (that’s you), you’re contributing your PC’s hashrate to buyers actually mining a certain coin. Those buyers use NiceHash as the middle man and pay you in Bitcoin for your efforts. You can then transfer your earnings to an exchange like Coinbase or GDAX and buy other crypto coins if that’s what you’re after, or simply connect a bank account and cash out.

To incentivize sellers, the NiceHash software auto-switches to the most profitable coin algorithm at regular intervals to maximize your earnings. Since the cryptocurrency market is constantly fluctuating, this is a helpful feature. It means that instead of obsessing over coin values and doing endless research, you can just set it and forget it.

You can even tell NiceHash to start mining when your PC is idle, and stop automatically when you resume using it. Now that you know what NiceHash is, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Reasons To Use NiceHash:

  • It’s mining on autopilot
  • Super simple to setup
  • Switches to the most profitable algorithm to maximize profits
  • Daily payouts in Bitcoin
  • Can be set to auto-mine when your PC is idle

Reasons Not To Use NiceHash:

  • You’re mining — but for someone else
  • Your electricity costs are excessively high
  • NiceHash was hacked in 2017 but is slowly reimbursing their users
  • Profitability can be slightly lower than directly mining coins
  • Bitcoin transfers can be slow and fees higher than coins like Litecoin and ZCash

The decision is yours to make. I used it for about 2 months and enjoyed the experience, but was ultimately compelled to enter more advanced waters. As I said earlier, it is a great doorway into mining and I do recommend it for beginners.

Still on board? Grab a beverage and let’s do this.

Step 1: Register an account at NiceHash

Whether you have AMD or Nvidia hardware, it’s a good idea to register an account at NiceHash. Doing so will automatically create a service-side Bitcoin wallet for you, which Nicehash automatically deposits into. Registration is optional if you want to mine directly to your own Bitcoin wallet, but there are higher fees associated and higher minimum payouts. I’ll tell you how to move your Bitcoin out of Nicehash and into a personal BTC wallet with minimal transfer fees, and explain you how to change that to Fiat money (e.g. U.S. dollars) in a separate guide.

Step 2: Download NiceHash For Nvidia Or AMD Radeon Cards

What is NiceHash Miner?


NiceHash has two versions: NiceHash 2.0 (for Nvidia and all CPUs) and NiceHash Legacy (for all GPUs and all CPUs). Download the one appropriate for your software here. (AMD users, you’ll be led to GitHub where you should download the first zip file in bold type.) The Nvidia version is more elegant and easier to use than NiceHash Legacy, but does not support AMD cards. On the plus side, the AMD version has more advanced options for power users and also supports Nvidia cards.

NOTE: It would have been easier to write a guide using only NiceHash Legacy since it supports both AMD and Nvidia. However, the Nvidia version really has a great user interface and is so much simpler that I didn’t want to over-complicate things for the GeForce crowd.

So let’s split up right here to walk through both Nvidia and AMD setups. If you downloaded NiceHash 2.0 for Nvidia, hit step 2b. If you’re rocking NiceHash Legacy and AMD cards, skip down to step 2c!

Step 2b: Installation And Setup For NiceHash With Nvidia GPUs

NiceHash Risk Acknowledgment


Go ahead and launch the installation file and acknowledge the license agreement and read the risk acknowledgement. I know we normally gloss over this stuff, but this one matters. If your rig doesn’t have sufficient cooling, you shouldn’t be using it to mine 24/7 (or to game frequently either). If you’re content with your case’s airflow and your GPU thermals, then let’s keep going.

Step 2c: Installation And Setup For NiceHash Legacy With AMD GPUs

Go ahead and launch the installation file and acknowledge the license agreement and read the risk acknowledgement. I know we normally gloss over this stuff, but this one matters. If your rig doesn’t have sufficient cooling, you shouldn’t be using it to mine 24/7 (or to game frequently either). If you’re content with your case’s airflow and your GPU thermals, then let’s keep going. 

NiceHash First Run


The last step to installation may be automatic downloading of a few mining apps that work in the background. This is OK, and Windows Defender should not flag any of it as a virus threat. If it does, I can assure you it’s not.


Step 3: Add Your Payment Address And Name Your Worker

Ok, welcome back Nvidia and AMD users! This part is also slightly different for each of you, but simple enough that we’ll contain it to the same paragraph.

Obviously not a valid BTC address :D


If you’re using NiceHash 2.0 (Nvidia), click the + button that says “Wallet” and enter the email address you used to register with NiceHash. If you’re using NiceHash Legacy, log into NiceHash.com and look for the text “Your Mining and BTC Deposit Address.” Copy the long string of characters below into the field that says “Bitcoin Address” on the NiceHash Legacy main window.

By the way, anyone can send you BTC to this address, not just NiceHash! However, do not mine from other locations into this wallet.

Setting up your worker


Now let’s add our “Worker.” This is basically the name for your rig on NiceHash. It’s useful if you want to run the software on more than one machine since you can log in to your Dashboard and see if it’s online, what algorithm it’s running, and other goodies like performance charts. On NiceHash 2.0, just click that + sign and give your rig a name. On NiceHash Legacy, simply type it in the box right below where you entered your Bitcoin address.

Step 4: Let’s Benchmark!

This kind of benchmarking isn’t as fun as something like Fire Strike or the various built-in game benchmarks you’ve used, but if you do enjoy tweaking your GPU you might get some enjoyment out of this down the road. It’s satisfying to fine-tune your cards performance to extract the maximum hashrate possible while still keeping it cool and quiet.

For this step, though, we’re going to let NiceHash benchmark our hardware across a bunch of algorithms. Why? It determines which ones are best suited for your graphics card. Since it knows the value of any given coin in near real-time, and how your GPU performs mining that coin’s algorithm, doing this is a critical step.

GPU benchmarking for NiceHash 2.0 (Nvidia)


NiceHash 2.0 (Nvidia) users: right at the bottom of the main window you’ll see an invitation to start benchmarking. Do it! Choose “Precise” and walk away. Take a shower. Play some Switch. Walk your dog. When you come back, the benchmark should be done and you’ll be mining away.

NiceHash Legacy (AMD) users: You can now simply click “Start” and you’ll be prompted to automatically start benchmarking. Unfortunately it won’t execute the “Precise” benchmark which in my view is important. So instead, click that “Benchmark” button. Now check the devices you want to use, select the “Precise” option and then check the box that says “Start mining after benchmark.” Hit Start and walk away!

Benchmark screen in NiceHash Legacy


NOTE: If you have multiple cards, NiceHash will benchmark each one. That’s because one may excel at, for example, NeoScrypt, while another may find more profitability with Ethereum based on its hashrate, clock speeds, and type of memory.

Step 5: Awesome! I Have Some Bitcoin — Now What?

What you do with your Bitcoin is your choice. You may choose to buy other alt coins, hold onto it in the hopes that it increases in value or just cash out in real-world currency. If you opt for the latter, here’s a very simplified mini-guide. I’ll cover this more in-depth at a later date.

  • Register an account at Coinbase.com. You’ll need a valid government-issued ID
  • Add your bank account to your Coinbase accounts
  • Transfer your NiceHash earnings (via your Wallet tab) to your Coinbase account. It’s free!
  • On Coinbase, sell your chosen amount of Bitcoin into US Dollars (or Euros, etc)
  • Withdraw from your Coinbase local currency wallet to your bank account

Again, that’s a very lean step-by-step guide, but there are a wealth of explainers around the web showing you how to do it, and our focus right now is on Nicehash itself.

Step 6 (Optional): Tuning Your Graphics Cards

A common misconception is that miners are running their GPUs at full throttle 24/7, overclocked and running hot. That’s not entirely true. Experienced miners almost universally underclock their cards and reduce their maximum power levels to achieve a nice balance of hashrate, cool temperatures and lower energy bills. On my GTX 1060 mining rig, for example, each card is running at only 75W instead of their default of 120W. I’ve overclocked each one’s memory clock by a whopping 700MHz, and despite this the fans are only at about 40% with the cards sitting comfortably under 70C.

It’s all about that balance, and all about tweaking until you find what works for you.

This is not a science, however. And because of the silicon lottery every card’s maximum effectiveness can vary depending on its type of VRAM and other factors. However, I can give you a gentle nudge in the right direction and encourage you to experiment.

If you want to fiddle with your GPU clocks and power levels, I recommend MSI Afterburner as it works competently for both Nvidia and AMD cards.

This was the sweet spot for my ZOTAC GTX 1070Ti, but YMMV

Jason Evangelho

RULE OF THUMB #1: Decrease your power level by at least 15%. In testing everything from GTX 1060 to Radeon RX Vega 64, I’ve found that hashrates decrease marginally while power consumption from the wall decreases by much more. In other words, you can get a slightly higher hashrate and the appearance of more profit at full power, but that profit decreases when your power bill arrives. Take the small hit in hashrate in exchange for a much smaller hit in electricity costs.

Also, less power equals less heat.

RULE OF THUMB #2: The majority of algorithms that NiceHash uses rely more on memory clock speeds than core GPU clock speeds. Yes, you can get higher hashrates but also boosting your GPU clock, but in my eyes the extra power and heat that’s going to generate isn’t worth it.

In MSI Afterburner, try increasing your memory clock by 50MHz increments until you see an improvement in hashrate, while ensuring your GPU is stable and cool. If the noise doesn’t bother you, I’d also recommend increasing your fan curve to achieve a temperature of less than 75C regardless of what graphics card you’re using. When they get too hot, you’ll notice your hashrate being throttled due to thermal limits.

Again, I have to stress that this varies wildly by type of card, type of software and which algorithm NiceHash is mining at any given time. In the future I’ll have coin-specific guides where I can give you much more concrete advice on overclocking and tuning to achieve ideal results.

Closing Questions And Answers:

Q: Can I mine with my CPU using NiceHash?

A: Yes you can. The only algorithm is Cryptonight, and it will only bring in about $0.10 to $0.40 per day on average because average CPUs are much less efficient at mining than GPUs. Unless of course you have a monster like Ryzen Threadripper. I have a guide for that! If you do mine with your CPU, please make sure it’s either liquid cooled or has a quality 3rd-party cooler.

Q: Can I use NiceHash on my laptop?

A: Yes, but I don’t recommend it. If you do, please don’t also mine with your CPU. A laptop’s thermals just aren’t designed to have your CPU and GPU running full time. You also may have less control over your GPU’s clocks and fan speeds with certain laptops. If you mine with your laptop, keep it on a hard, cool surface and in a cool environment. Reduce the power levels and keep that GPU as cool as possible.

Q: How much will I make per day?

A: I attempted to answer that question here, but those values are slightly out of date. There’s no concrete answer because the market fluctuates wildly and it depends on your hardware and your hardware settings. The best way to estimate daily profits is, well, daily. Find out what algorithm NiceHash is mining, and what your hashrate is, then go to WhatToMine.com and plug in those values. You can also simply enter your GPU and do a rough calculation that way.

Q: Is my power bill going to be insane?

A: No, but it will increase. Of course, your profit from mining will far outweigh the expense. I can’t say that without the disclaimer that it depends on where you live! NiceHash has a calculator where you can enter your power costs and estimate your profitability.

I sincerely hope this guide to installing and using NiceHash has been helpful. It’s not exhaustive, but half the fun is learning by doing, and I’m confident that once you step into it, you’ll enjoy tweaking things and learning more about cryptocurrency and mining itself. Just take a tip from me: don’t sit there and watch your daily estimated profits every 30 minutes. It’ll drive you crazy!

Until next time, happy mining!

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