The recent Constantinople update has changed the game for Ethereum mining. The update, which has delayed the impact of the difficulty bomb for at least another year, has seen the average Ethereum block time drop from 21 seconds to 12.5 seconds and lowered block rewards from 3 ETH to 2 ETH.
As a result, Ethereum mining difficulty has dropped dramatically as miners explore alternative currencies that offer higher rewards. While mining may be slightly less profitable for large mining pools, however, new initiatives such as the ProgPow are aiming to make GPU mining more competitive — potentially opening the doors to a new influx of smaller-scale mining industry participants and the return of smaller-scale GPU rigs.
Ethereum Block Difficulty via Etherscan
If you’re considering jumping back into the Ethereum mining game in 2019, or getting started for the first time, one of the most important factors to consider is the mining software client you will use. We’ll proceed to round up and assess the most popular Ethereum mining software of 2019.
Ethminer is the go-to solution for many miners that are just getting started with Ethereum mining, and is relatively straightforward to set up and use. It’s important to note the differences between Geth and Ethminer — the former is the official Ethereum client, written in Go, whereas Ethminer is written in C++, and supports any Ethash-based coin.
Ethminer is completely open source, and doesn’t charge any fees — unlike options such as Claymore. Ethminer is generally recommended for Nvidia cards, but doesn’t offer the same command line customizations as other more complex clients. Overall, Ethminer is a well-rounded starting point for newer miners, or those using Nvidia equipment.
Claymore is another highly popular mining client that is widely used due to its dual mining mode. Claymore makes it possible to mine Ethereum at the same time as other cryptocurrencies with a negligible performance impact. The Claymore client is available across Windows and Linux, and supports both AMD and Nvidia cards.
Claymore recently pushed a V12.0 update in December 2018 that provides 2GB and 3GB cards with a zero devfee, and reduced the devfee for dual mining mode from 2 percent to 1 percent. The V12.0 update also slightly reduced minimum GPU VRAM requirements, allowing miners with older cards to squeeze out a small amount of additional value from soon-to-be redundant equipment.
WinETH is one of the simplest and easiest to use mining clients available, and is thus extremely popular with newer or less technically adept Ethereum miners. WinETH is based on Ethminer, but provides users with a simple and easy to understand GUI paired with an “intelligent” configuration algorithm that can assist users in configuring optimal performance on their hardware.
As implied by the name, WinETH is available for Windows users, and can be downloaded from the Windows 10 app store. Simple set up options allow users to configure WinETH to mine only when hardware is idle, or on startup. Importantly, WinETH takes a 1 percent dev fee from mining proceeds.
CGMiner is aimed primarily at miners using AMD hardware, and does not integrate any CUDA support. A major advantage offered by CGMiner is the GPU overclock features it delivers. CGMiner is open source and has remained a popular option for over six years, but doesn’t offer the same GUI functionality as less complex options such as WinETH.
CGMiner operates via a simple command line interface, and doesn’t charge any dev fees. Importantly, CGMiner supports multiple mining pools and devices.