Welcome weary travelers! Pull up a chair and let me tell you how to start mining Litecoins. If you have no idea what this means, you may have found the wrong place, but take a look around these walls and you may find information that can help you understand.
In this guide, I’ll tell you what you need to get started and how to set up your mining operation. I’ll show you this on Windows, using a graphical user interface miner, and you’ll see in a few easy steps how you can start getting your very own Litecoins into your wallet.
What You Need to Mine Litecoins
Before we begin, you need to have a few things in place.
First, you need a computer, and to have any success, you need to have a graphics card. It is highly preferable to have one from AMD in the Radeon series. These cards are named something like Radeon HDXXXX, with XXXX being a number, and a higher XXXX number usually means a better card. At the time of this writing, the fastest card, but also the most expensive, is the HD7970.
Note: Technically, the AMD Radeon 6990 is a faster card than the 7970, but the 6990 is actually just two 6950 chips bolted onto a single card. Oh, and it’s even more expensive than the 7970
If you need to buy a new card to start mining, I highly suggest you carefully consider the economic benefit. Mining can be fun and profitable, but you need to do some math work and plan ahead if you need to make investments to get started.
If you have the necessary hardware, however, you need a couple of software pieces and then you’re ready to go.
You may need a wallet. Technically, you can mine without having a local wallet installed, and if you’re just starting out, you can join a mining pool that will keep your mined Litecoins until you’re ready to cash out.
If you need to get a wallet, using the default Litecoin-QT client is a good choice, and you can download that from the official Litecoin site.
When you download and install the wallet, it will take some time to synchronize the blockchain, and this may take a few hours. You can start mining before that, though, so just leave the wallet to its business while you grab a mining program.
For a beginner, the easiest choice for a mining program is to get a copy of GUIMiner for Scrypt. You can download that from the GUIMiner-scrypt thread on Bitcoin forum, which can also be a source for help, if you run into any. Be aware, though, that the Bitcoin forum has some hoops through which you need to jump if you want to ask for help.
Note: Make sure you get the GUIMiner for Scrypt. There are two versions, one that is not for Scrypt (used for Bitcoin and other SHA-256 based mining) and one that is for Scrypt, which is the one we use for Litecoin mining. You want the one that is for Scrypt.
If you want to be slightly more adventurous in your mining software, you can always download cgminer. CGMiner is a console based application that gives you more options for configuring your mining operation, at the cost of a graphical user interface. Yes, that means you need to click and type and stuff, but you can reap better mining rewards, so make your choice.
If you are just starting out, I recommend you use GUIMiner because it is easier to get started.
The final thing you need is to make sure you have the correct drivers for your graphics card. The safest bet is to get the latest official driver, such as the Catalyst drivers for AMD Radeon. Oh, and you need to make sure you get the AMD APP SDK. This will usually come with your drivers, so just make sure you select it during installation. If you forget or haven’t installed it, you can either reinstall your driver to add it there, or download the AMD APP SDK for manual installation.
Ready? Let’s Get Mining!
Oh, before you start, you probably want to join a mining pool.
There are two ways of mining for Litecoin; you either work alone for great but rare rewards (think weeks in between) or you join a pool, which gives smaller but far more frequent rewards (think every minute, hour, or day). On average, these two options generally come out equal, so you probably want to join a pool when you first start out.
The Litecoin project wiki has a great list of Litecoin mining pools from which you can pick. Don’t worry too much about the various columns there yet; the reward type can be particularly confusing at first. If you’re just starting out, join a PPS pool, which gives out rewards quicker but at a slight cost (you get continuously paid while you work, so payment can come after a few minutes). When you get more experienced, you can start researching the other methods to see what makes sense in your situation.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be given a worker username and password. You need these to configure your miner, so keep them available. They are not ‘secret’, though, so don’t freak out if someone discovers your worker’s username and password.
While you are at your pool’s web site, make sure you grad the URL for your miners. This is not the URL for the web site so look around the site and make sure you find the mining URL and the port number.
With that in place, let’s go through our checklist of equipment.
- You have a graphics card
- You have a wallet
- You have a mining program
- You have the latest supported drivers and the AMD APP SDK installed
- You have joined a pool and have your worker username and password as well as the URL and port for the pool ready
With these things in place, you can now run GUIMiner (or cgminer if you’re really brave and want to figure this out on your own) and you should see something along the lines of this:
To start easy, find your graphics card in the GPU Defaults drop-down and select it. This should fill out some of the numbers for you so you don’t need to learn what they mean right now.
Note: When you do get into mining, you probably want to learn what these numbers mean and how to tweak them to get the optimal performance from your mining. A good place to learn is the cgminer SCRYPT Readme file.
Next, you need to get the mining pool details added. Add the pool’s URL in the Host section, and then add the username and passwords to their respective fields.
With this in place, you are ready to start mining! Hit the Start button, and you should start seeing the number of shares rising. This means you are making money as part of the pool. You should also see your hash rate in the lower right of the GUIMiner tool.
When you have mined for a while, and ‘a while’ may range from a few minutes to a few hours, your pool should start reporting your earnings to you. How this happens depends on the pool but when you log in, you should see some kind of earnings report.
The pool will also pay out your earnings, either automatically when you have reached a certain level of earning, or manually when you request it. Refer to your pool’s information to learn how to get your money out.
Note: Before you can get your money, you need to have your wallet set up so you have an address to which your earnings should go.
So now it’s just up to you to sit back, enjoy the ride, and start swimming in all the money you will make. Just make sure you have a really small swimming pool, because it may take a while for you to get rich
Your Questions, Please?
If you are just starting out, you probably have a lot of questions, so let me answer some of them now.
Q: Can I mine Litecoins without an AMD graphics card?
A: Yes, you can, but most likely, the cost of electricity will be higher than any revenue you generate, so it won’t really be effective.
If you have an existing graphics card, whether it is from AMD or Nvidia, the best way to find out whether you will be profitable is to try it out to see what hasrate you get. You can also look at the Mining Hardware Comparison guide to give you a pointer.
Keep in mind that prices, difficulty, and exchange rates change almost on a daily basis, and thus the profitability changes too. Giving general advice on specific scenarios is thus very difficult.
Note: You may also want to refer to my Litecoin mining profitability guide to better understand more about the profitability of mining.
Q: I have free electricity, can I mine Litecoins without an AMD graphics card then?
A: Yes, you can, but still the reward will be minute. At the time of this writing, a good, mid-range CPU may generate around 45 kilohashes per second, which in turn may yield US$0.20 per day (yes, that’s twenty cents per day). Oh, and the reward will go down over time. You won’t be rich.
Q: How many kilohashes will I get?
A: The rate you get greatly depends on your configuration and how much you tweak your settings, graphics card clock speeds, the intensity with which you mine, and so on. The Mining Hardware Comparison guide may help you determine your rate, but keep in mind, these settings vary by card and can vary by as much as 50% depending on the card.
Q: How much money will I make?
A: Not much, I can tell you that. Even at the time of this writing, the profitability of Litecoin mining has dropped considerably, and even high-end graphics cards struggle to break even over several months if you have to buy a new one. If you think ‘money’ in terms of Dollars, Euros, Yen, or something like that, then it also greatly depends on the exchange rate you get, which also varies greatly.
Q: How can I decide whether buying a new graphics card makes sense if I don’t know how much money it will make? Tell me now!
A: Fine, here’s a pointer. A new AMD Radeon HD7950 should yield somewhere in the area of 450-500 kH/s without too much tweaking, and will drain around 200 watts of power. Put those numbers into a mining profitability calculator and see for yourself!
Q: Should I mine solo or join a pool?
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If you are just starting out, join a pool. Mining solo may yield greater reward, but you also run the risk of getting nothing for a very long time.