Did you hear that mining ZCash was easy and wanted to know more?
In this article, I will list the different options that you can use to mine ZCash from your very own PC. In case you need to know more about this cryptocurrency, please read my beginners guide to ZCash.
Getting started with ZCash mining is not very difficult. It is probably one of the easiest cryptocurrencies to mine. You don’t even need to download the entire blockchain to your hard drive. Additionally, you can mine directly to a hardware wallet such as a Ledger Nano S. While you can also mine to your wallet in an exchange, I would not recommend doing that.
If you like to watch a video to get started with mining ZCash with your Nvidia GPU, see below.
Choosing the GPU hardware
Once you have decided to start Zcash mining, the first question you may ask is what hardware is the best for the task. Because there are many improvements in software and hardware happening all the time, this question is not easily answered. Mining can be performed in two main ways:
- CPU mining: using your computer’s Computer Processing Unit
- GPU mining: using a computer with one or several Graphical Processing Units
In the past, you could effectively mine Zcash (ZEC) by using just a CPU. However, advancements in software give now GPUs a huge advantage over CPUs. For this reason, today all of the serious miners use GPU rigs. There are two categories of GPU miners:
- AMD brand GPUs
- Nvidia Brand GPUs
You need to choose a GPU card that provides you the best combination of price-to-performance-to-power consumption among the various GPU selection options available on the market. If you are familiar with mining cryptocurrencies you might already know that, for Ethereum mining purposes on Ethash Algo, AMD cards can outperform Nvidia cards. However, when it comes to the Equihash algorithm, that ZCash uses, using the EWBF Miner, AMD is not able to beat Nvidia. AMD GPU based graphic cards are however more economical as compared to Nvidia graphic cards.
In order to be able to properly mine Zcash, you have to select an Nvidia GPU card with at least 1 GB of RAM. On the other side, compared to Ethereum’s 3 GB requirement, EWBF supports GPUs with just 1 GB of RAM. Another issue to take into consideration is the fact that many older cards may not turn a profit because they are not energy efficient enough.
ZCash mining software options
Finding the right software is an important step if you want to start mining Zcash. There is an official Zcash miner software and several types of alternative software that can work with various hardware configurations. The official Zcash miner software is provided by Zcash. This is a complete package that allows users to mine with their CPU and run a full Node. It also comes with a built-in Wallet for Zcash transactions. However, one of the biggest limitations of the official Zcash software is the fact that in order to mine it only takes advantage of your CPU.
The popular Zcash mining software options for each platform are:
- Claymore’s ZCash AMD GPU Miner
- Optiminer (Supports Linux and Windows)
- Genesis SGminer (Supports Linux and Windows)
- NEHQ (Supports Linux and Windows)
- EWBF Cuda (Supports Linux and Windows)
- Nicehash EQM – Only works with NiceHash mining pool (Supports Linux and Windows)
Once you have your software and hardware set up working, you will need to connect your machine to a ZCash mining pool.
ZCash mining pools
For many users who are planning to start Zcash mining but don’t have a huge mining farm at their disposal, the way to get Zcash is joining a pool. Users contributing to the pool get a portion of the blocks won by the pool. The portion is based on the percent each users contributed to the pool. However, joining a pool has also some downsides. You will have to pay pool fees in order to cover server costs. You will also have to trust the pool operator in being honest about the calculations.
Some of the recommended Zcash mining pools are:
You need to be aware of the fact that ZCash uses a different hashing algorithm than Bitcoins. This means that ZCash is incompatible with the special hashing hardware (ASICs) that has been developed for Bitcoin mining.
The algorithm for ZCash mining is called Equihash. It is designed to resist the development of ASICs for ZCash mining, being a memory-hard algorithm. However, Equihash is best suited instead for GPU mining.
ZCash also differs from Bitcoin because it features a built-in privacy protocol that is known as zk-SNARKS. The privacy protocol has been designed to become the leading privacy-based crypto in the market, competing with other privacy coins such Monero and Dash.
Compared to Bitcoins’ 10-minute blocks, the block time of ZCash is 2.5-minute. Each ZcCsh solved block produces a block reward of 10 coins. Since its launch in 4Q 2016, the total network hashrate has been climbing rapidly. The amount of hardware dedicated to ZCash mining is rising. Up-to-date figures for current block times, prices, and network hashrates are provided on the website whattomine.com.
As mentioned above, there are many software configurations matching the hardware options for mining ZCash. Among them, we will focus in this guide to provide a step by step walk-through of using the popular Nvidia EWBF Miner.
The software can work with AMD cards, however it is not optimized for them and therefore it is not your most profitable option. However, in case that you have Nvidia cards, then using the EWBF Miner for mining ZCash on Nvidia GPUs can be profitable.
The software is highly optimized for Nvidia’s Cuda cores, being able to get the maximum performance. The process of downloading your miner, getting set up, setting up your batch file and configuring Windows, would take less than 20 minutes.
Step-by-step ZCash mining instructions for Windows
If you have a GPU that’s powerful enough, we will assume that you are running a Windows operating system. In this step-by-step guide, we will focus on instructions on mining ZCash on that platform.
My choices are as follows:
Let’s get started with the step-by-step guide.
- First step is to install your video card drivers
You have to navigate to the URL address https://www.geforce.com/drivers in order to get the latest Nvidia GeForce drivers. Click Start Search after entering your card info. From the results, choose to download the current version. Your GPU drivers should be installed as you normally would. Reboot your computer after the installation is done.
If you go to Device Manager you can check if your GPU has been recognized correctly. No warning marks on your GPUs should appear in the Device Manager.
Some miners have reported being successful in installing the drivers after installing all GPUs at once. Some others prefer to install just install first only one GPU card, then shut down the system after installing the drivers. After the system is restarted they install the rest of the GPUs. You may be successful with both ways of doing the GPU card install.
However, in case that you have problems with one method, you can just try the other method after deleting the drivers. You may use Guru3d.com’s Display Driver Uninstaller application in case that you need to remove your drivers. After uninstalling everything cleanly, you can start over.
- Getting a wallet address for ZCash
You will need to have a ZCash wallet address if you want to be able to make transactions with ZCash digital currency. The most reliable option is to visit the official Zcash website, Z.cash, and download their Zcash client. You may also choose to use a hardware wallet such as Ledger Nano S, or Trezor. Another option is to mine directly to exchanges that have support, such as Bittrex.
- EWBF Zcash Miner download
In order to be able to mine Zcash you need to have a Zcash mining software. We will focus here on the EWBF Miner. It is recommended to always download miners only from the official threads in BitcoinTalk. You will see several different download options if you scroll down. Choose the EWBF Miner. Locate its most recent version and use the Mega or Google drive link to download the zip file. Allow the file run on your computer and extract it to your desktop once you have it downloaded. You need to be aware of the fact that Windows may provide a warning when you download self-contained miner files.
- Before mining, tweak some Windows settings
You have to modify some settings in Windows in order to get your system ready for mining. It is recommended to not allow your computer going into Sleep mode, because your mining will be interrupted. Turn off/Sleep to Never in your Power Settings.
Another tweak that is recommended for improving your Zcash mining performance is modifying your system page file by setting it manually to 16 GB or, more exactly, to 16384 MB. In order to do this, you have to right click from Windows Explorer on “This PC” and then click on “Advanced system setting” after choosing “Properties”. Under Performance, click “Settings” on the Advanced tab. Under Virtual Memory, click “Change” then uncheck the option to “Automatically manage paging file”. For Custom Size, click the radio button. For the Initial size and Maximum size enter 16384, then click OK.
You may also disable Windows Updates, in order to minimize the disruptions to your settings and mining. Frequent updates will stop your mining when rebooting your system. Also add an exclusion if you are running an antivirus program such as Windows Defender, so that it doesn’t flag the entire EWBF folder.
- Configure your mining bat file and set up pool mining after joining the pool of your choice
Until you have multiple GPU systems for mining, it is unlikely to make any ZCash with solo mining. For that reason, it is recommended to select a ZCash mining pool to join. There are many mining pool options to choose from. My recommendation goes to Suprnova.cc. You will usually find instructions on how to mine on the pool by using the EWBF Miner. Create an account on Suprnova and add a worker.The information is available on the home page. You will have to copy the miner script example and paste the string into the suprnova.bat file inside the EWBF Miner folder that you have extracted earlier. The miner application is run by the commands given by the bat batch file.
miner.exe –server zec.suprnova.cc –user suprnova.1 –pass x –port 2142 –cuda_devices 0 1 2 3
On the bat file called “suprnova.bat” you have to right click and hit Edit. This will open the file in Notepad. Paste there the above script you have copied from the suprnova website. When you are done, save your file with the .bat extension, as a batch file. Also do not forget to add your ZCash wallet address to the suprnova account settings page.
- Start mining ZCash
In order to start the miner, double-click your bat file. After starting, the miner will initialize each of your GPUs.
I hope that this guide will prove to be useful for you when you are planning to start mining for ZCash. Mining cryptocurrencies is always risky, but it can be a good investment based on your mining setup and the cost of electricity where you are located. Cryptocurrency mining is a very resource-intensive activity. You may want to look at a system that is power-effective. Most miners operate bare-bone systems specially targeted towards mining also known as mining rigs. The graphic adapters are slightly under-volted and sometimes over-clocked to reduce power consumption. This also provides better hash power. You need to understand and assess if mining is really worth it.
Let me know in the comments section, what you think of this guide to Mining ZCash. Also feel free to share this on your social networks, so your crypto friends can benefit.