Thursday, March 8th 2018

Confessions of a Crypto Miner: CPU Mining

Welcome back to "Confessions of a Crypto Miner," my column about a crypto miner from 2013 trying to get caught up with the latest standards. I'm presently mining and reporting to you from a dual-GTX 1080 based rig mining zCash.
Today we are going to take a look at mining again - using the CPU in particular. CPU mining is the original form of mining cryptocoins.

Bitcoin and similar programs were originally designed with a miner built into the wallet that mined on your CPU. As time moved on, people realized how ridiculously simple most crypto algorithms of the time were (Bitcoin, as an example, is a simple SHA-256 hash that can be done on something as simple as pen and paper!) They adapted it to execute on GPUs, in parallel, to make best use of these chips' processing power. Some cases (like Bitcoin) are now run almost exclusively on special purpose, many-cored ASIC chips that are built for just this single task. CPU mining became too inefficient for everyone for a long time until some special coins came out based on so-called "CPU-only" algorithms. The most noteworthy of these is probably the Monero coin and its related CryptoNight hash algorithm. It relies on some memory-intensive access principles that CPUs are very good at, resulting in making CPU mining profitable again. The important question now is, "How profitable?" Are CPUs going to be the next thing flying off the shelves, now that GPUs ran out? Let's find out.

My miner, since its inception, has mined zCash, but mining zCash on the CPU is a silly exercise that nets nearly nothing versus electric. As such, I'm turning the CPU to Monero, even though I have expressed reservations about the currency in the past. Those reservations, briefly, are mainly due to its anonymous nature: exchanges have begun to flag this anonymity-centered currency as "high risk," and liquidity on it can be low at times. It's also the posterchild for illegal activity using digital currency, since it can't be tracked, and if any crypto is going to be made illegal via regulation, it's likely Monero. That said, I still don't see why mining on the side with my CPU would be bad - if the numbers suggest a quick and easy profit, so I ran some tests to see what my measly R3 1200 Ryzen can do.
After just a day of mining, a few things became clear. First was that running all four of my Ryzen's cores was not sustainable, as the OS bogged down, and my wallets and miners on the same machine ceased to function. Three cores/threads wasn't sustainable either, as hash rate on the GPU-miner program tanked, and since that's the big moneymaker, we can't have that. So I could only use a measly 2 threads of my 4-core 4-thread Ryzen, and like that it makes just $3.00 per month! That is outrageously poor. I held out hope, though, as power draw only went up by 40 watts, and plugging that into a power calculator shows it costs about well - a little over $3.30.

Yes, mining Monero and selling immediately on a R3 1200 Ryzen appears to be a losing gambit. I can only advise it if you believe that the coin will go up, something I don't believe in.

In order to get data from a more powerful system, I went to my personal R7 1800X based rig, with all of its 8 cores and 16 threads. I quickly found that I can load all eight physical cores before things start to bog down (SMT does nothing for Monero, but it lets the OS chug along with no problems!) What did I get? The short, non-scientific version is, I got roughly six times the hash rate, yielding a more respectable $18.00 per month with no OS slowdown - still rather underwhelming. It also drew a little over three times the power from idle to full load, or about 150W. Granted, my CPU is overclocked, and you could probably improve this efficiency curve, but the bottom line is, no one is getting rich off of CPU mining. It's more a question of whether you should put that idle hardware to work at all, not whether you should buy into it. In my 1800X's case, the 150W power cost is ~$10.00 per month, so I'll turn $8 in profits in the same duration. Is it worth the wear and tear? Honestly, I'd say "yes," but only because I know CPUs can take it. I would never, however, buy a CPU for mining alone. The financials just aren't there. My honest advice for your mining rigs is still to buy the cheapest CPU/platform available, forget about CPU mining, and call it a day. There is no reason at all to splurge on a Ryzen R7 1800X here.

Want to tell me something? Do you think I did something wrong? If so, let me know in the comments below! I welcome questions and feedback of all types and look forward to some great discussion.
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19 Comments on Confessions of a Crypto Miner: CPU Mining

#1
HTC
You went too small, dude: think "epic" ...



EDIT

Had posted the wrong video: fixed it.

Warning: the clip triggers my mining blocker add-on.
Posted on Reply
#2
_JP_
If that's so, I'm curious about what a RISC would yield. (Not questioning if Monero can be had on RISC)
I'd guess, more efficient, however even less system response for everything else.
Posted on Reply
#3
Fabio
place a 1800x to mine (with all the riscs of a 24/7 heavy worklod can bring) for 8 dollar months profit it sooooo paesant...
Posted on Reply
#4
R-T-B
TheDeeGee said:
I also have a confession to make.

I use the **** out of uBlock Origin and hate miners.
Unrelated to this thread, but cool story bro.
Posted on Reply
#5
R-T-B
Fabio said:
place a 1800x to mine (with all the riscs of a 24/7 heavy worklod can bring) for 8 dollar months profit it sooooo paesant...
That was basically my conclusion (assuming you are being sarcastic). It's not worth it in the least.

Fabio said:
me too, may crypto and all the miners and cryptonazy buuuuurn in pain in the bloodiest part of hell, yea lol
Again, cool story bro. About all I got for that. Please try to stay on topic. This is an educational thread.
Posted on Reply
#6
R-T-B
Fabio said:
yea, im quite sarcastic, but not too much
Well there is no denying you can usually put a CPU to much much better use.

The wear isn't much of a concern here (CPU can take it). The uselessness of the payout is however.
Posted on Reply
#7
xkm1948
Very interesting story. Thx for sharing froggy.
Posted on Reply
#8
Casecutter
I wouldn't chance a new Mobo, an 1800X and the DDR4 memory for $8 a month! Some night a memory slot gets hot and takes out a stick of $100 ram and the mobo, or worse burns the house down. Then fire inspector finds that it's caused in the garage, and your home owner's insurance doesn't cover loss due to running that type of "business". They could make a "Mayhem" and "Halls of Claims" insurance commercials...
Posted on Reply
#9
infrared
Casecutter said:
I wouldn't chance a new Mobo, an 1800X and the DDR4 memory for $8 a month! Some night a memory slot gets hot and takes out a stick of $100 ram and the mobo, or worse burns the house down. Then fire inspector finds that it's caused in the garage, and your home owner's insurance doesn't cover loss due to running that type of "business". They could make a "Mayhem" and "Halls of Claims" insurance commercials...
I have 5 systems, two of which are oc'd 1800Xs, they all run full load 24/7. They aren't mining, but helping find cures for cancer/aids instead. I think you majorly overestimate the risks of running a well built and maintained machine at full load.

@R-T-B , I'm occasionally mining Zcash with the 1080Ti, seems to do fairly well, last time I left it going overnight I had £2.60 worth in my wallet :D I don't mine often enough to get a good average though so take it with a pinch of salt. I definitely wouldn't bother mining on a CPU personally.

EDIT - certain participants have been thread banned. I don't want to see this thread filled with Hate and abuse. Those posts will be cleaned by another mod soon.
Posted on Reply
#10
Casecutter
Not hating, just Devil's Advocating...
While today's equipment is yes much less prone to such issues, I've been around long enough to remember failures of that type in the past (not burning down the house) and went "crap" that could've gotten to be a bigger problem. I see it as "service" to say think about it, take the proper precautions, and be prepared.
Posted on Reply
#11
R-T-B
infrared said:
I definitely wouldn't bother mining on a CPU personally.
Pretty much my conclusion. I was hoping for much more. As it stands, the CPU is much better put to work being a file server and game server combo. :)

Casecutter said:
I wouldn't chance a new Mobo, an 1800X and the DDR4 memory for $8 a month! Some night a memory slot gets hot and takes out a stick of $100 ram and the mobo, or worse burns the house down. Then fire inspector finds that it's caused in the garage, and your home owner's insurance doesn't cover loss due to running that type of "business". They could make a "Mayhem" and "Halls of Claims" insurance commercials...
Worse yet, that was made with my OC'd gaming rig. I wouldn't do it simply because I love it too much.
Posted on Reply
#12
moproblems99
@R-T-B Thanks for this. I had been contemplating getting my XEON going on CPU mining but always thought it just wasn't worth the effort. This sort of validates that assumption.
Posted on Reply
#13
LAN_deRf_HA
Look into argon2d algo coins. They're cpu oriented coins meant to provide resistance to not just asics but gpus as well. The two coins that I know of that use it just got their first pool but are also viable for solo mining.
Posted on Reply
#15
Amite
Using Bit Coin Miner (windows app in the windows store) After about a a week I came to the conclusion I was making 8 cents a day with a 1080 ti not counting the utility s. I think it would be better to sell the card and put the money in something like GE or Tesla I am all into that Mars thing - lol
Posted on Reply
#16
moproblems99
Amite said:
Using Bit Coin Miner (windows app in the windows store) After about a a week I came to the conclusion I was making 8 cents a day with a 1080 ti not counting the utility s. I think it would be better to sell the card and put the money in something like GE or Tesla I am all into that Mars thing - lol
No offense, but why would you be mining Bitcoin? You would be better off mining an alt coin or a service like NiceHash (not including any recent events) and getting paid in bitcoin. Although, with the recent market you are very much better off not mining.
Posted on Reply
#17
Bytales
infrared said:
I have 5 systems, two of which are oc'd 1800Xs, they all run full load 24/7. They aren't mining, but helping find cures for cancer/aids instead. I think you majorly overestimate the risks of running a well built and maintained machine at full load.

@R-T-B , I'm occasionally mining Zcash with the 1080Ti, seems to do fairly well, last time I left it going overnight I had £2.60 worth in my wallet :D I don't mine often enough to get a good average though so take it with a pinch of salt. I definitely wouldn't bother mining on a CPU personally.

EDIT - certain participants have been thread banned. I don't want to see this thread filled with Hate and abuse. Those posts will be cleaned by another mod soon.
You are better off mining for 8 Dollars a month, because there is no "finding cure for cancer/aids", that is just renting computing power for nothing, and they are also profiting off you sorry ass.
There is no monetary Point of finding cure for cancer or aids, you DF. Cancer and AIds are Billion Dollar industry, and no one is interested in "finding a cure" for it.

Not saysing that it cant be found, because i know of at least 3 ways to cure cancer and aids. Distilled water fasting (Zero Food intake) is one of them.
So anyone giving away computing power, to help find "cure for cancer/aids" is in my eyes D as F.
Wake up People !
Posted on Reply
#18
moproblems99
Bytales said:
You are better off mining for 8 Dollars a month, because there is no "finding cure for cancer/aids", that is just renting computing power for nothing, and they are also profiting off you sorry ass.
There is no monetary Point of finding cure for cancer or aids, you DF. Cancer and AIds are Billion Dollar industry, and no one is interested in "finding a cure" for it.

Not saysing that it cant be found, because i know of at least 3 ways to cure cancer and aids. Distilled water fasting (Zero Food intake) is one of them.
So anyone giving away computing power, to help find "cure for cancer/aids" is in my eyes D as F.
Wake up People !
You really could have been nicer about it. I would also like to do a large scaled test on your distilled water fasting. I have a feeling it is nearly as effective as placebo or being a breatharian. The mind can do amazing things when it believes what it is doing will help.

Again, I don't see why anyone cares what anyone else is doing with their computing power.
Posted on Reply
#19
R-T-B
Bytales said:
You are better off mining for 8 Dollars a month, because there is no "finding cure for cancer/aids", that is just renting computing power for nothing, and they are also profiting off you sorry ass.
There is no monetary Point of finding cure for cancer or aids, you DF. Cancer and AIds are Billion Dollar industry, and no one is interested in "finding a cure" for it.

Not saysing that it cant be found, because i know of at least 3 ways to cure cancer and aids. Distilled water fasting (Zero Food intake) is one of them.
So anyone giving away computing power, to help find "cure for cancer/aids" is in my eyes D as F.
Wake up People !
If you think distilled water fasting can "cure aids" I really don't have much I can say to you.
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