Steeply rising prices of several crypto currencies have caused a gold rush among gamers. AMD Radeon GPUs of the RX 470/480 and RX 570/580 series are selling out. Read our tips for setting up a mining operation on a desktop PC running Windows.
Crypto currency mining makes it possible to earn money with the computing power of your PC – if you own a powerful graphics card. Especially Radeon GPUs of the RX 470/480 and RX 570/580 series are well suited for this. The older Radeon R9 290/290X cards work fine as well. You can earn about 150 euros a month in Ethereum with a single Radeon RX 480 at the moment. If you have two, this nets you over 300 euros at current prices. Ethereum's value has increased rapidly in the last few months. In January 2017, one ETH was worth less than 10 euros, but these days, it has increased to well over 300 euros.
It is no small wonder, therefore, that almost all of the aforementioned Radeon cards have been swept up by eager buyers. Nvidia cards aren't affected and can still be bought easily, as they are a lot less efficient at mining Ethereum blocks. This even goes for newer, expensive Pascal models like the GeForce GTX 1000.
Pretty much any desktop PC running Windows can be relatively easily converted into a mining rig, provided it includes a GPU that supports OpenCL and has at least 3 GB of video memory. The CPU isn't a factor, as isn't the PCIe speed. However, 8 GB of RAM and 50 GB of disk space should be available for crunching Ethereum blocks.
Tutorial: Ethereum Mining Made Easy
There are many tutorials and how-tos out there when it comes to mining Ethereum – and many of them are contradicting each other. Newcomers tend to quickly lose their motivation wading through all of this, which is why we prepared a quick and dirty tutorial on how to transform a Windows 10 PC with two Radeon RX 480s into a working mining rig. This rig will reliably crunch at 51 Megahashes a second (MH/s), which currently earns you above 300 euros a month. You do have to subtract electricity costs from this, however – in Gemany this would be around 80 euros a month. Please be aware that the ETH price is liable to collapse at some point. You probably shouldn't be buying GPUs just for mining, then. Carefully think about how much you'll spend and would earn in return before embarking on this project.
Before you start mining, update your graphics driver. Our two Radeon RX 480s are using the Crimson ReLive 17.6.1 driver which can be downloaded directly from AMD. Several sources on the web are claiming that older drivers can reach better hash rates, but we could not substantiate this at all.
You need two programs to mine Ethereum: Geth to synchronise the blockchain with the network and ethminer to do the actual mining.
First, download the current version of Geth from ethereum.org and install it. By default this happens in
Open the Windows command line (hit the Windows key, type "cmd", hit Return) and change into the Geth folder. In our case, we'd type cd "Program Files\Geth".
geth account new
creates an Ethereum address that will collect the ETH you mine. Geth requires a password to protect your Ethereum wallet. This password should be complex enough not be be attacked easily by brute force or dictionary attacks. IMPORTANT: Note this password down somewhere and keep it safe. Without it, you will never have access to your ETH ever again. Once this is concluded, Geth will output your Ethereum address embedded in curly braces. This is where the Ethereum you mine will be deposited. Save this address in a text file.
Geth needs to synchronise the blockchain with the Ethereum network at this point. To do this, it needs to download all blocks of the blockchain. Execute the following command:
This will take a while. In our case, we waited around four hours.
You can see how far this has progressed by starting a second Geth instance. Open a second command line and execute
which will open an interactive prompt. Type "eth.syncing" which will make Geth show you where you are in the blockchain (currentBlock) compared with the total length of the chain (highestBlock).
You will be able to start mining when Geth has finished synchronising the blockchain.