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What is Bitcoin mining? An in-depth guide

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Introduction to Bitcoin mining

Bitcoin mining is a highly popular activity within the crypto community, which can be quite profitable. In this piece, we'll delve into what crypto mining is, how Bitcoin mining operates, what you need to become a crypto miner, and how to generate passive income from it. If you're ready, let's dive in!

Understanding Bitcoin

To understand what Bitcoin mining is, we first need to grasp the concept of Bitcoin (BTC) itself. This cryptocurrency is what made crypto mining so popular.

Bitcoin is the world's first digital currency, created by an anonymous individual or a group known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, amidst the backdrop of the global financial crisis.

BTC possesses several distinctive features:

1. Decentralised nature. It operates without the control of any central authority, such as a bank or government.

2. Blockchain technology. All Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public ledger called blockchain. This ledger is immutable and transparent.

3. Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm. Bitcoin operates on the PoW consensus algorithm. This algorithm facilitates the mining of new blocks in the cryptocurrency's blockchain. The concept helps confirm transactions and verify blockchain data on participants' computers. Miners play a crucial role in the PoW process.

The role of mining in blockchain technology

The role of mining in blockchain technology is multifaceted and crucial. It involves a complex and labour-intensive process of generating new coins and verifying transactions within the cryptocurrency network. 

Here's a breakdown of the main purposes of mining:

  • Generating new coins. Bitcoin mining is the primary method of creating new BTC. Miners dedicate their computational power to solving complex mathematical puzzles. For doing it successfully, miners are rewarded with newly minted coins, which are then released into circulation.
  • Verifying new transactions. Miners play a vital role in validating and recording transactions occurring within the cryptocurrency network. They verify the legitimacy of transactions and include them in blocks on the blockchain, which contains all the information about transaction groups.
  • Ensuring network security. The participation of miners in the process enhances the security of the network. A distributed network of miners helps protect the blockchain from attacks and fraudulent activities by ensuring consensus and validating transactions.
     

Bitcoin miners can operate in two main ways: solo mining or joining a mining pool. Solo mining involves an individual using their own computer to conduct the mining process. Mining in a pool involves miners pooling their computational resources together, thereby increasing their chances of receiving rewards through collective effort.


How Bitcoin mining works

Now, let's delve into how to mine Bitcoin. To do this, we need to understand how the process works and what users need to mine cryptocurrency.

The mining process

So, a Bitcoin miner uses the computing power of their computer to solve a complex mathematical problem. If they are successful in doing this, they perform the functions we discussed earlier – mining new coins or adding a new block to the blockchain, verifying and confirming crypto transactions.

In essence, the pivotal moment arrives when a block is appended to the blockchain. At this juncture, a specified quantity of new coins is introduced into the network. This process is commonly referred to as cryptocurrency emission.

The reward is bestowed upon miners who demonstrate swifter hash computations than their counterparts in the form of newly minted coins. This is directly correlated with the computational prowess of the miner's hardware. Consequently, mining proves to be a lucrative yet resource-intensive pursuit necessitating substantial investments in mining gear.

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As for the procedure for validating transactions and appending blocks, it  operates as follows:

1. An individual initiates a transaction, which is then disseminated across the network.

2. Upon encountering a new transaction, a miner verifies its authenticity. Using computational prowess, they tackle intricate mathematical challenges to generate what are referred to as hashes. After successfully cracking the puzzle, they ascertain if the transaction adheres to network protocols.

Hash serves as a cryptographic representation that safeguards data within the blockchain of a digital currency. 

3. The miner who cracks the puzzle first earns the privilege to incorporate a fresh block into the blockchain. This block contains all transactions validated by the miner, alongside a reward for their block inclusion.

4. Subsequently, other network participants scrutinise the newly appended block. Upon confirmation of its validity, the block seamlessly integrates into the blockchain.

Mining hardware explained

To begin mining Bitcoin, users will need specialised equipment. Put simply, mining hardware refers to special computers used for Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies' extraction.

The potential rewards directly depend on the computational power of the equipment. The more powerful it is, the faster it can solve mathematical problems, resulting in greater profits for the miner. Computational power is measured in hashrate, which refers to a special unit that evaluates a computer's ability to engage in crypto mining.

Today, two types of mining equipment are particularly popular in the cryptocurrency market:

1. ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit). These are microchips specifically designed for cryptocurrency mining. Currently, they are the most powerful devices in the market. 

ASICs are programmed for cryptocurrency algorithms, so before purchasing a device, one needs to ascertain whether a specific model supports the mining of the desired coin. 

Unfortunately, ASICs are more expensive than other mining devices and often only accessible to large companies. The price for ASICs can start from a couple of thousand dollars and reach up to $30k. However, in terms of performance, ASICs are unmatched.

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How the ASIC looks. Source

2. Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) can also be used for cryptocurrency mining. Today, GPU mining is the most common method of cryptocurrency extraction. Devices are often used in combination to increase power, with multiple GPUs forming what's known in the crypto community as a mining rig or farm.

GPU mining is a more accessible option as the price of such devices is more democratic – one can find devices on the market for less than $100, and the top price is usually under $2000. However, GPUs lag behind ASICs in computational power.

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How the GPU looks. Source
 

Getting started with Bitcoin mining

Now, let's address the next question – how can a newcomer start mining Bitcoin? Here, we'll guide you through selecting the appropriate mining equipment and the steps you'll need to take to begin the crypto mining process.

Choosing your mining hardware

For starters, players in the cryptocurrency market will need to familiarise themselves with the catalogue of equipment models for Bitcoin mining or any other cryptocurrency they choose.

Today, there are quite a few options and models of such equipment in the market. Therefore, we've prepared a list of factors to consider when making a choice:

1. Cryptocurrency type. Different digital assets have their unique features and are mined using different algorithms. So, it's essential to research this beforehand and look for the model that suits the specific coin.

2. Hashrate. As we discussed earlier, this is the measure of a device's computational power. Hashrate directly determines which cryptocurrency and in what quantities a user can mine with this particular device. And, consequently, hashrate also determines the potential profit a miner can expect.

3. Power consumption. Unfortunately, both ASIC and GPU miners require a lot of electricity to operate. It's crucial to consider how much power the device will consume in advance. Also, keep in mind the cost of electricity in the area where the miner will be used, ensuring that the expenses on electricity do not exceed the profits from mining.

4. Price. Before making a purchase, it's necessary to budget accordingly. Remember that the prices of mining hardware are often quite high, especially when it comes to ASICs.

Setting up your mining rig

Now that you've chosen the right device, the next step is assembling and setting up the mining rig. This task can often seem daunting to beginners, but it's not as intimidating as it may seem. Let's break it down together.

1. Choosing components. At this stage, the novice miner will need to purchase all the necessary components to assemble their first rig.

First and foremost, this includes the GPU itself. For example, as of 2024, one of the best models often mentioned out there is the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090.

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NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090. Source

Among the additional components:

  • Processor. Surprisingly, the processor doesn't need to be powerful—even such an old model as Intel Core Duo E8400 will be enough. GPUs handle this task. The processor can be budget-friendly. The main thing to consider is that it is compatible with the other components.
  • Motherboard. The main thing is that it should be compatible with the GPU and processor. It is also recommended to choose a board with multiple PCIe slots for connecting additional graphics cards and, consequently, increasing computational power.
  • RAM. The average recommended amount is 4 GB of RAM. This amount is sufficient for the standard mining rig to operate smoothly.
  • Storage. The memory size can be increased with an SSD drive of 64 GB or 128 GB. These sizes are sufficient to install the necessary software.
  • Power supply unit. It should be powerful enough to "feed" the entire mining rig. The highest energy efficiency is provided by units with an 80 Plus Gold or higher certificate.
  • Chassis. Last but not least is the chassis, the "home" where all these components will reside. The chassis should be of a good quality and large enough to accommodate all the rig components. It should also be well ventilated to prevent the rig from overheating.
     

2. Choosing software. Here, we'll discuss the software aspect needed to launch and operate your mining rig.

Operating system. It should be powerful and modern enough to handle cryptocurrency mining tasks. Recommended systems include Windows 10 or Linux.

Mining software. At this stage, a Bitcoin miner will need specialised mining software. One popular example of such software is HoneyMiner, which is suitable for GPU mining in home environments and runs on Windows and Mac.

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HoneyMiner website

The programme analyses available computing power and selects suitable cryptocurrencies. After installation and setup completion, it works automatically.

3. Assembling the mining rig. Here's how the process usually looks:

  • Install the motherboard into the frame.
  • Install the processor into the motherboard.
  • Install the RAM into the motherboard.
  • Connect the power supply to the motherboard and graphics cards.
  • Connect the storage drive to the motherboard.
  • Connect the monitor, keyboard, and mouse to the rig.
     

Describing the process solely with words can be quite challenging without visualisation, so we're also providing a link to an educational video with the complete assembly and installation process of the mining rig.

Once all the necessary components of the rig are assembled within a single frame and all the required programs are installed, configured, and running, all that's left is to start mining Bitcoin and generate passive income from it!


The economics of Bitcoin mining

Crypto mining is a potentially profitable process, but it also involves significant financial investments – both one-time and ongoing. To ensure that expenses do not exceed rewards, it is crucial to develop a sound plan before embarking on mining.

Analysing costs and profitability

Here, we’ll discuss the factors that every Bitcoin miner should consider to adjust their strategy in a timely manner and achieve profitability rather than losses.

1. Initial expenses. This includes the costs of purchasing equipment, its installation, and setup.

  • Equipment cost. The price of mining equipment can vary significantly depending on its type, power, and manufacturer. It's essential to choose a model that aligns with your budget.
  • Power supply. To ensure uninterrupted operation, a robust power supply unit is required.
  • Cooling. Unfortunately, the mining process is very resource-intensive and energy-consuming, so even the most powerful equipment can overheat. To avoid such negative consequences, it is necessary to plan how to cool it effectively in advance.
     

2. Operating expenses. This involves payments for electricity, internet, and technical maintenance.

  • Electricity. Bitcoin miners must research how much energy their chosen device consumes in advance. Additionally, they need to consider the electricity costs in the region where the miner resides.
  • Internet. Continuous and uninterrupted WiFi connection is required for mining hardware to operate. Therefore, when calculating expenses, it's crucial for miners to factor in the internet tariffs in their region.
  • Technical maintenance. Occasionally, equipment may require repair or other diagnostics. These potential expenses for device maintenance also need to be taken into account by anyone planning to start crypto mining.
     

Estimating potential future profitability is something that can and should be done beforehand. It's possible that during the preparation phase, a user may realise that all their investments may not pay off in the future. 

Here are the factors to keep in mind r to assess the prospects of mining profitability:

1. Hashrate of the chosen equipment. A higher hashrate increases the chances of profitability.

2. Current price of the chosen cryptocurrency. This metric can be evaluated on some popular aggregators like CoinMarketCap. A higher price of the selected asset increases the potential profit. However, it may be too volatile, causing mining rewards to fluctuate.

3. Current mining difficulty. This metric increases over time, making cryptocurrency mining less profitable. The higher the mining difficulty level, the more computational power is required to profit from the process.

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Current Bitcoin difficulty chart. Source.

Factors influencing mining success

Let's once again go over the most basic points and summarise the factors that influence the level of mining profitability. Here they are:

1. Crypto-related factors. This includes its current value, transaction fees, and the level of mining difficulty, as well as future growth prospects.

2. Equipment-related factors. When it comes to hardware, it all depends on the balance between its price and performance. In other words, it's essential to compare different models available in the market and analyse whether hashrate and computational power justify the expenses of purchasing the device.

3. Economic factors. In this category, we include the primary ongoing expenses, such as the prices of electricity and internet in the miner's region of residence. If their payment does not exceed the potential profit, then everything is fine!

4. Technical factors. Here, it's essential to assess the reliability of the chosen equipment and reconsider whether its regular technical maintenance and cooling costs are too high.


Future of Bitcoin mining

Crypto mining stands out as one of the most popular means of earning in the crypto market. Many players have made it their stable source of passive income.

However, mining comes with a rather negative environmental impact. Timothy Fox, an energy expert, recently told CNBC that in 2023, the growth of the mining industry in the USA led to an unprecedented demand for electricity. Miners consumed from 25 to 95 TWh. Moreover, last year, the volume of methane emissions into the atmosphere exceeded 120 million metric tons, with crypto mining accounting for no less than 5% of emissions.

Because of this, mining is attracting attention from regulators worldwide. Currently, cryptocurrency mining is legal in most countries, but some states are imposing stricter rules and restrictions to regulate this industry. For instance, in Texas, USA, there have been proposals to limit the use of electricity for cryptocurrency mining.

To stay afloat, many miners are now seeking alternatives. Specifically, they are transitioning to renewable energy sources to reduce their costs and negative impact on the environment. Earlier, we mentioned that in Kyrgyzstan, there were considerations about the possibilities of mining using hydroelectric power stations.

Despite all the drawbacks and complexities, the itez team believes that crypto miners will be able to adapt and find consensus with authorities and the environment. After all,  the market always needs to receive new digital assets!

 

🤔 Do you want to become a bitcoin miner? Share your views in our socials! 

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Here are three other cool articles: 

Best cold wallets of 2024

The difference between coin and token: understanding crypto assets

Margin trading crypto: a comprehensive guide to leveraged trading

 

This article is not investment advice or a recommendation to purchase any specific product or service. The financial transactions mentioned in the article are not a guide to action. It’s not intended to constitute a comprehensive statement of all possible risks. You should independently conduct an analysis on the basis of which it will be possible to draw conclusions and make decisions about making any operations with cryptocurrency.

Maria Kachura
Maria Kachura

Visit her on Facebook or hit her up via Email.

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