A Beginner’s Guide to Mining Cryptocurrencies on the Mac

If you are looking to make a profit immediately by mining cryptocurrencies on the Mac, stop right here. Don’t waste your time. Close this article and go buy yourself a mining rig /decent Gaming Laptop or buy crypto with your credit card.

Bitcoin(BTC) is the most dominant cryptocurrency. It’s dominance is over 51% of the market. 1 BTC = $ 6581. Want to mine Bitcoins with a Mac and cash in that Satoshi? Forget about it. With Bitcoin mining difficulty increasing you need specialised hardware for mining(ASIC). Without it, you can use a very fast graphic card, but unless you have free electricity, it won’t even repay itself. And moreover GPU mining is not supported for most Macs with most mining softwares. CPU-only mining is meaningless.

If you were to mine Bitcoin on a mid-tier MacBook Pro for 24 hours for an entire month you would only make less than micro-cents worth of bitcoins. Not to mention the wear and tear to your expensive machine and you’ll probably burn your Graphics card before you mine even 0.00001 BTC! Hell you probably wouldn’t mine a single bitcoin in this century!

First of all, What in the world is Mining?

So where does all of this mining take place and where does the Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin come from? Well, your computer is solving math problems to make sure no one makes transactions on the Blockchain network that aren’t true. If your computer manages to solve the problem, you get rewarded. Mining is also used to release new currency into the Blockchain. And that is basically mining. Everyone has an opportunity to help solve these problems and claim rewards. So in short mining is nothing but the validation of a transaction.

(You can skip the following part about ASIC Mining.)

The controversy around ASIC Mining :

At the point when Bitcoin was begun, the only way to mine was utilizing Central Processing Unit (CPU) on PC and Bitcoin core wallet. When bitcoin was released you could mine only 100 coins a day using a CPU. CPU was designed to switch between different tasks. Hash required proof of work in mathematical calculation and CPU has less arithmetic logical units so, when it comes to performance in the large calculation CPU is relatively slow.

GPU can mine much faster than CPU. GPUs are faster than CPUs for the kind of repetitive math involved in mining. They solve more blocks in the same amount of time. CPUs have a large instruction set with a few cores. GPUs have sometimes thousands of shaders with a simpler math instruction set.
So, a thousand shaders becomes hands down faster than a few cores for mining coins.

But right now it is impossible to mine Bitcoin using CPU because of ASIC miners. The introduction of ASIC mining rigs has always sparked controversy in cryptocurrency communities. ASIC mining rigs bring a slew of benefits and disadvantages to a cryptocurrency’s ecosystem. For example, they bring economies of scale to operations because they are relatively inexpensive and more efficient (as compared to GPU rigs) at processing hash functions. In turn, this translates to higher profit margins for miners. But mining efficiency comes at the cost of decentralization.

ASIC Miners ruined mining for the common man.

The reason many crypto purists have a problem with ASICs is that individuals like you and I, using comparatively sluggish PCs or even more powerful graphics cards, can’t compete with the ruthless efficiency with which the ASIC mining farms carry out the proof–of-work consensus test and win bitcoin rewards. If the little guy can’t participate, they argue, the result is re-centralization. There’s a security argument, for example, all that expensive, efficient hashing power makes for a more formidable expenditure barrier for a potential “51-percent attacker” to overcome.

So What Cryptocurrencies should I mine on a Mac?

Altcoins! Anything but Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s popularity makes the bitcoin market extremely competitive and it’s difficult and expensive for beginners to get started on. Most Altcoins on the other hand, are much less popular, much less competitive, much less expensive, and can ofter even be mined by beginners with CPUs. There are even some CPU-only coins! So Altcoins are the best cryptocurrency to mine for people who want to experience mining for fun or looking to make a few extra bucks every month.

What are the possible Altcoins to mine on a mac?

There are like a thousand different Altcoins. 1854 to be exact. Including Bitcoin there are 1855 different cryptocurrencies. All of these 1854 Altcoins want to be the next Bitcoin or something even better.

But we are going to look at the most popular / advanced / practical coins to mine on a Mac. All the test mining results that follow were run on a MacBook Pro 15" mid 2017 (A1701).

Monero (XMR) :

Monero stands out among other cryptocurrencies as it is widely considered as the most advanced anonymous digital currency. Monero is based on a proof-of-work algorithm known as CryptoNight, which is designed with certain specifications that make it difficult for Monero mining using ASICs to work well. In turn, it is actually relatively easy to mine Monero on your PC / Mac.

This means people all over the world will be leaving mining software running on their home or work PCs. Those that do this will earn Monero in exchange for running the software that processes and verifies other Monero transactions. Therefore, if someone else is paying the electricity bill (e.g. an employer or a university), then there will be a financial incentive for people to mine Monero using the spare capacity of the computers they already have access to. Far more people will be willing to casually use existing computers for this task than there would if they would need to purchase and install purpose built ASIC mining hardware. Because no special mining equipment is required, it means that it would be easy for anyone that downloads a Monero wallet to simply click a single button to start mining on their computer.

Monero is the most profitable coin to mine on a Mac. Or any other Laptop. Period. Monero is one of the best coins to mine for absolute beginners. All you need to do is fire up the GUI and hit mine. That simple. But still Profitable.

So ordinary people who are interested in Monero will be able to earn their first little bit of Monero by participating in the mining process. This is a major marketing win, as it distributes Monero to the broadest possible number of participants to fuel their enthusiasm. Monero is currently the 10th largest cryptocurrency. 1 XMR = $96.7. Monero supports mining with CPU/GPU or both.

I Calculated the earnings based on the average hashrate I was getting on a MBP A1701 over a period of 24 hrs on Minergate.

So if you have a more powerful Mac and if you hook in a supported GPU, you could be making serious money in the future if not immediately.

Ethereum / Ethereum Classic (ETH / ETC) :

Ethereum was developed to augment and improve on bitcoin, expanding its capabilities. Importantly, it was developed to feature prominently “smart contracts” : decentralized, self-executing agreements coded into the blockchain itself so that there is no authenticating third party required.

Ethereum is the second most valuable cryptocurrency (market cap). Ethereum Classic is a fork of Ethereum. 1 ETH = $302. Ethereum rewards its miners based on the proof of work algorithm called Ethash, which actually encourages decentralized mining by individuals and doesn’t support ASICs mining. You can mine Ethereum with CPU/GPU mining or both. But recently ASIC mining became possible on the Ethereum Blockchain.

I Calculated the earnings based on the average hashrate I was getting on a MBP A1701 over a period of 24 hrs on Minergate.

So unfortunately, Ethereum is also a no show on the Mac. But external GPUs will really help boost your earnings. But your best bet is to buy it or ASIC mine it.

Litecoin (LTC) :

Litecoin is a fork of the Bitcoin Core client, with a few slight differences. It had a reduced block generation time at two and a half minutes; it had significantly more coins or tokens and a different hashing algorithm using scrypt, instead of SHA-256. 1 Litecoin costs about $56.90. It has the 7th highest market cap as of 2018.

CPU only mining of Litecoins is still sort of possible. In the sense that if you mine for 24/7 for an entire year with an average hashrate of 15 kh/s you would mine 0.0003841 LTC. Which is about $0.022! If you continue to mine at this rate you would make a dollar in 45 years!

I Calculated the earnings based on the average hashrate I was getting on a MBP A1701 over a period of 24 hrs.

So Leaving your Mac running the mining program 24/7 would almost definitely cost you more in electricity than it would earn you in Litecoin, so I don’t recommend trying this! Ever! Again if you are serious about mining, buy a mining rig! But anways here’s a link to a guide where you can set it up on a mac.

Bytecoin (BCN) :

Bytecoin was the first ever Altcoin based on CryptoNote technology. Bytecoin advertises itself as a totally anonymous Altcoin and as the first enterprise-ready altcoin. Fee-free instant international payments: The Bytecoin network works as fast as the internet. Your payments will take a little bit of time to process, as payments require cryptographic confirmation. Bytecoin claims transactions are processed in about 2 minutes. The makers of Bytecoin claim that hacking the currency “would require immense amount of expensive electricity and computational power of a supercomputer”.

Bytecoin is the 27th largest cryptocurrency in the world. 1 BCN = $ 0.001816!

I Calculated the earnings based on the average hashrate I was getting on a MBP A1701 over a period of 24 hrs on Minergate.

The only reason you would want to mine Bytecoin is for HODLing. 1 Bytecoin now worth micro cents maybe worth hundreds someday. And that is a huge MAYBE. Huge. Huuuugeeee. So keep calm on HODL!

But here’s what a smart person would do instead of mining Bytecoin:

Instead of mining Bytecoin, use the same compute power and time to mine Monero which is more profitable and use it to buy Bytecoin.

A week of mining Monero will give you about 0.00711 XMR which will buy you about 378 Bytecoins! So mining Bytecoin for an entire year will make you only 50 more coins. But mining monero for an entire year will buy you 19,845 Bytecoins! Well let’s make it more simple. $1 will buy you 551 Bytecoins. Just simply buy using cash. You’ll save time and also your precious machine!

This applies for all those penny cryptocurrencies that can be mined and those that can’t be mined like XRP(Ripple), EOS, Stellar, IOTA, Tether. A $5 investment in any of these coins is a safe bet to make and will buy you a bucket load of those coins. It’s 5 bucks!

The most simple way to mine crypto on a Mac is using a mining software called Minergate.

You can download the GUI(Graphical User Interface) version here.

The GUI Version is simple and recommended.

The UI can’t be more straight forward.

  1. Sign-up.
  2. Quit the app. Login using the extended mode.
  3. Go the miner tab on top.
  4. Choose the cryptocurrency of your choice.
  5. Hit the Start Mining Button.
  6. Select the no. of cores you wish to allot for the mining process (Higher the no. of cores, higher the hashrate).

That’s it. You have begun mining a Cryptocurrency! It also has a built in wallet to store the crypto you mine. Using the waller address you can send and receive various cryptocurrencies. Although after mining i would recommend you transfer it to another wallet for security purposes.

I use the Lumi Wallet to store my Cryptos. They have a Web app, an iOS app and an Android app. And they use mnemonic phase method to secure the wallet.

You can use the CoinMarketCap to keep track of the current exchange rates. They have mobile apps as well.

One More Thing.

When you are mining for long periods of time, your Mac cannot handle the heat produced. It may even shutdown to avoid damage to the internal components. To avoid this, use a software called smcFanControl. It let’s you control the fan speed and cool your Mac down to an optimum temperature (50–55° C). The default fan setting for a 15 inch is 2155 rpm. You can increase it all the way upto 5927 rpm. The fans will sound loud when you increase it all the way up. So ideally you can set it to 4000 rpm for a more bearable fan noise. This way your Mac will perform better as there will be no thermal throttling. And the coins will keep on comin’!

If you found this useful consider buying me a coffee or smashing that CLAP button! It will show your appreciation to the content! Thank You!

And that’s it from me. Adios Miner!

References :

At the time this article was published, here are the exchange rates of the crypto we talked about :

1 BTC = $ 6581

1 XMR = $ 96.7

1 ETH = $ 302.00

1 ETC = $ 15.14

1 Litecoin = $ 56.90

1 BCN = $ 0.001816

Image Credits :


A Beginner’s Guide to Mining Cryptocurrencies on the Mac was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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