Why Can’t I Mine Bitcoin With My PC Anymore?

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TJ Hooker

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Instead of trusting a central figure, like you do with traditional currencies, you’re trusting the math behind Bitcoin to ensure everything is on the up-and-up.

Doing all that math requires some computational resources. That’s what your mining rig is--a system that downloads the blockchain, does a bunch of math, and assures the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem that a given transaction was legitimate.
Just to expand/clarify this a bit, miners aren't actually performing any 'useful' work while mining, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. They're all just brute force guessing the answer to a puzzle, and when that answer is found it has no use other than satisfying some difficulty threshold used to keep the rate at which answers are found at a roughly constant rate regardless of aggregate miner hashing power. You can run a full node that can be used to validate the integrity of the blockchain without any mining.

The purpose of Proof of Work (mining) is to make it prohibitively costly to attack the network (double spend or block transactions), i.e. perform a 51% attack. To do so would require a large upfront cost of mining equipment, as well as a large energy cost used to create the blocks.
 

derekullo

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You can technically acquire bitcoin with your PC by using Nicehash.

It basically rents your computer out to other people who use your computer to mine other coins like Ethereum or bitcoin gold.

Your "renter's fee" is always paid back to you in bitcoin regardless of what your computer actually mined.

On average for me I make about 15% more per month with Nicehash versus just mining straight Ethereum.

Your winnings will vary with nicehash meaning 1 minute you might make 5 dollars, the next 10 which means you averaged 7.5 dollars, but the average is still higher than mining straight Ethereum which in this example might be 6 dollars.

I use dollars to simplify this, in actuality you would be paid in bitcoin.
5 dollars would have been 5/8300 or a payout of 0.0006 bitcoin

Once you have been paid with nicehash you can transfer your bitcoin to your coinbase account for free and then use GDAX to convert that bitcoin into 1 of the other flavors if you wanted to.
 
Because gaming is a use that gives better return on the same equipment? If you want to put forth a legitimate argument for why using computer equipment for mining is immoral or somehow wrong, feel free. Vilifying mining with slurs doesn't benefit the discussion a whole lot.
 

zodiacfml

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Why do you have this article? I guess it has been a while and we're seeing new writers. I've been here in Tom's since I built an Athlon XP machine. It is here in Tom's where I've first heard of bitcoin and continued to disregard it throughout the years until last year. It could have been huge money if I mined it back in the day.

Actually, the answer is much simpler. This is already an article in Tom's since the first ASICs for bitcoin. ASICs are just much more efficient for this work than CPU/GPUs. They cost less, use less power, much faster, and a lot easier to deploy. With all these attributes and countless ASICs that are online, it has killed the profitability of CPU/GPU mining of bitcoin.

Currently, due to extreme popularity and countless SHA-256 (bitcoin) already mining in the world and we are in the low of end value of the crypto market, it is not profitable unless your electricity costs less than $ 0.2 KWH.
 

Giroro

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Jan 22, 2015
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@Derekullo

I do multi-coin alt mining with miningpool instead. But more importantly I get paid in litecoin because the transaction fees are WAY lower than the more popular bitcoin and etherium, which is important because I turn it into real money instead of trying to figure out ways to pretend bitcoin is useful as a currency.
 
Michaelwgilbert,
With morals like that I assume if you tripped over $10 you would leave it there since you didn't work for it.

I dislike crypto-mining too but it's not money for nothing. You are renting your computer as part of the blockchain transfer process of digital currency... there's also risk involved due to initial investment combined with depreciation so in many ways it's analogous to say buying real estate to rent out to people (is that not working too?).

I don't expect the PC graphics card market to handle this in the future as there will end up some optimized ASIC or similar method that makes it unprofitable for the average person... I thought that happened the first time too so hopefully it disappears (for PC) in 2018 completely.
 

Neuspeed

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This article is a poor attempt in discouraging people from diving into crypto currency. Big fail! Author is most likely being sponsored by a crypto hater or a bankster.

Bitcoin is only ONE type of digital coin. Most people see the top 100 coins, but there are over 1,000 digital currencies. Saying it is too late to get into crypto would be the same as someone saying it is too late to learn about the internet. It's NEVER too late.

Also, there are exchanges where people can exchange one type of digital currency for another. The most profitable coin as of now (5/14/18 @ 8:54 am CST) is ETHERUM. It's not difficult to mine ETH and exchange it for Bitcoin or any other digital currency.
 

Dyseman

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@DEREKULLO I've been doing the Nicehash to Coinbase since April 1st. I have every game computer in the house set to Hash while Idle. So when I sit at one of the MANY computers I have, the hashing ceases.
With 1 Ryzen 2700x w/ 1070ti
1 Ryzen 1600x w/ 1070
1 Ryzen 1600x w/ RX580
1 Phenom II (QUIT LAUGHING!!! IT FRIGGIN STILL WORKING) w/ 2 Radeon 270's
1 Xeon 5650 w/ 3 1060 TI's (These 1060's I bought for mining since I had the change)
2 Asus 550LF's i7-4500u w/GeForce 745m's (Gaming laptop since 2010)
1 Asus i5-7### series (don't remember off top of head) w/ Geforce 970m (Which is my Plex Server)
3 All-in-one HP's with A6 to A8 APU's
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I Live where I work. Work pays the electric bills.
They are pulling $20+/- per day in bit coin. Since April 1st, that's a lot. I switch in Coinbase out to Eth and BCH. I do own 1 full Litecoin, but that's just a test.
Still new. Still GAME, but while these sit idle, they earn!
Not trying to get rich, just funzies.
ALL SYSTEMS already existed before I started. (With the exception of the 3 1060ti's)
----------------------------
Yes, I grumbled at this bitcoin crap... until I started... and wished I started a couple of years ago.
 

Olle P

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So, if mining is required to verify the transactions, what will happen when it's no longer profitable to verify those transactions?
Will it become a "free for all" to perform unverified (and thus potentially fraudulent) transactions?
 

TJ Hooker

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As profitability drops people will stop mining, probably starting with those living in areas with the highest electricity costs. As people stop mining, mining difficulty drops, which increases profitability. Things will naturally reach an equilibrium.
 

Olle P

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???
As I've understood it the difficulty increases with every transaction done, and there's no going back. The number of computers involved at any one time should thus not influence the amount of work required.
Furthermore it's said that it's only possible to "create" a finite amount of BTC, so when that number is close the work required to get a new should approach infinity.

 

TJ Hooker

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You've understood wrong then.

Mining difficulty has nothing to do with number of transactions currently being executed, or number of past transactions. Variable mining difficulty's purpose is to keep block time (time for one block to be mined) relatively constant (10 minutes for bitcoin), and thus entirely depends on total network hashrate. Difficulty can go down, and has (temporarily) in the past. If the network hash rate drops in half, then mining difficulty drops by half to keep the block rate roughly constant. Although difficulty is only adjusted every 2016 blocks (~14 days), so the response to big changes in network hashrate is a little delayed.

Nothing special happens as you approach the end of the max BTC supply, other than block rewards dwindling to nothing (at which point miners only earn BTC from transaction fees, rather than new BTC being produced). New blocks will keep being produced at approximately the same rate. Difficulty does not go to infinity.
 

Olle P

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So in theory: Some time in a future when "mining" BTC won't produce any income at all but transactions involving BTC are as common as USD transactions today a single low end computer will suffice to verify all transactions done globally at the same pace they're being done?
 

TJ Hooker

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Nobody would mine if there was no profit in it. As long as there are still people using BTC (creating transactions) there will be some profit from mining. Although if it got to the point where "one single low end computer" was the only thing mining bitcoin, it would safe to say bitcoin has collapsed. In order for bitcoin to function as intended, no single entity should be in control of >50% of total hashrate, and achieving >50% of network hashrate should be prohibitively costly relative to the value of the network.The scenario you describe would never happen, because if the BTC network was that vulnerable, people wouldn't trust it and wouldn't be using it. And if BTC usage was ubiquitous, then there would be sufficient amounts of Tx fees for mining to be reasonably profitable and thus keep the network secure.

That being said, I doubt BTC transactions will ever become as popular as USD transactions are now. In fact, the philosophy behind BTC has somewhat shifted so that now many people consider its purpose to be a store of value ('digital gold') rather than digital cash (something suitable for high volume, low cost transactions).
 

Olle P

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But there's supposed to be only a finite amount of BTC to be mined in total! At some point all are created and further mining is futile since no more can be created!
Transactions <> Mining.
Transaction fees would become (already are?) way more profitable than doing any mining at all.
I don't see how transaction fees (from a non-miner) could somehow reach somebody who's mining while not creating new coins.
Philosophy, or rather "the way it's being used", yes. But the technology (program code) behind it hasn't changed, right?

 

TJ Hooker

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Tx fees are awarded to miners...
When a miner finds a block (which happens approximately once every 10 minutes), they are awarded with new BTC (12.5 BTC per block at the moment, reduces by factors of two over time, eventually going to zero sometime around the year 2140), as well as the Tx fees associated with all the transactions included in that block.

Philosophy, or rather "the way it's being used", yes. But the technology (program code) behind it hasn't changed, right?
The code itself changes, Bitcoin core software is still being updated. In some cases, where people don't agree on an update, a hard fork is created. This is how Bitcoin Cash (BCH) came into existence. Supporters believed in increasing block size in attempt to increase transaction throughput, as they felt that not doing so favored treating BTC as an investment (i.e. digital gold) rather than a transactional currency. Many people disagreed with the proposed changes, and that group continued without the changes (Bitcoin), with a new fork with the changes implemented became BCH.

A big factor preventing BTC from functioning as cash is that the technology can't really handle that sort of volume (at least for now), due to limitations on transaction throughput (and as a result slow transactions and high Tx fees). The "philosophy" aspect I mentioned is that at least some people in the BTC community seem to think that those limitations aren't really issues, or at least not issues that are a high priority to address. In contrast to someone who wants BTC to be used as digital cash, for whom issues of scalability and throughput would be considered a top concern.

I also think the deflationary nature of BTC lends itself more to a store of value than a transactional currency.
 
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