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Bitcoin mining tips

How to choose a Bitcoin mining pool

Factors you need to consider before joining a mining pool

What are Bitcoin mining pools?

Bitcoin mining pools are coordinated groups of miners who combine their computing power to increase their chances of successfully solving a block.

Mining pools are necessary for miners who don’t enjoy a big budget to set up their mining operations. These miners can’t compete with enterprise-level mining farms and thus have very slim chances to solve a block on their own.

Bitcoin mining pools “buy” their computing power and pay them for it proportionally to their work contribution relative to the pool’s total.

If you want to learn more about Bitcoin mining pools and how they work, we strongly recommend you visit our mining pool article.

Key aspects to consider when choosing a Bitcoin mining pool

There are many variables to look at before choosing a Bitcoin mining pool. Task assignment methods, reward distributions, total hashrate, hardware and software compatibility are only some examples.

Each of these factors will impact your mining revenue and profitability.

That said, choosing the best pool will primarily depend on your priorities. What do you think is most important for your mining operation? What do you feel most comfortable with?

There’s no point in joining a mining pool with better rewards if you are constantly worried about transparency, for example. It comes down to personal preference.

That said, let’s take a closer look at the most relevant aspects of mining pools that you’ll have to evaluate when making your decision.

Hardware and software compatibility

Crypto is a fast-paced industry, and mining pools are no exception.

Indeed, as mining hardware advances, pools may discontinue their support for older devices. Additionally, you should also be attentive to each pool’s recommendation and general hashrate.

If you want to join one mainly composed of new ASIC miners with an older, less powerful model, it is most likely that your earnings will be insignificant.

On the same level, some pools may not be accessible if not through specific mining software. Sometimes they may even require their own exclusively developed program to function.

Compatibility for your mining setup should be the first thing to consider, as no other feature or characteristic will be relevant if that pool doesn’t support your equipment.

Mining pool payment system

Not all pools pay their miners for the same work or the same time periods. Pool operators use different systems to calculate, distribute, and execute payments.

Some of the most commonly used are:

Proportional payments

Payments are calculated based on a division to rounds, where a round is the time between one block found by the pool to the next.

At the end of every round, when the pool finds a block and receives the reward, the operator keeps a fee and payments are distributed among the miners in direct proportion to the number of shares they submitted during this round.

Pay-per-share

When a participant submits a share, they are immediately rewarded correspondingly to the expected value of this share’s contribution, minus fees — it doesn’t matter if the pool finds a block or not.

The operator gets to keep all the rewards for solved blocks. The payment per share is thus a deterministic value known in advance.

Pay per last N shares (PPLNS)

Similar to proportional, but instead of paying per round, pool operators define a specific period of time (N). Miners get rewarded for the shares submitted within the defined period.

Additionally, some Bitcoin mining pools may establish a minimum threshold miners have to reach before collecting payments. This is especially important for miners with low output, as they may take longer to hit that level.

On the other hand, operators may also set a cap for how much each miner can withdraw from the pool for given time periods.

Again, consider your setup and your computing power to decide which payment system suits you best.

Task assignment methods

Mining pools have different mechanisms to assign work to their miners and thus determine their share earnings.

Some Bitcoin mining pools allow total freedom to individual miners to choose difficulty targets and work ranges. This enables them to do as much work as they please without needing task assignments from the pool.

Other pools assign work units — specific nonce ranges — to miners according to their relative hashrate. Most powerful miners may get a larger amount of work while their less powerful counterpart receives fewer tasks.

Of course, the pool adjusts their rewards accordingly. Operators do so to ensure maximum output and performance, thus optimizing revenue for every miner.

Mining pool size and total hashrate

Although it tends to be pretty much the same proportionally in the long term, the pool size is another aspect that could affect your mining revenue.

Large pools have better chances to solve blocks. However, as they have to distribute rewards among more miners, these are often lower.

On the contrary, small pools offer higher profits when solving a block, but this happens less regularly.

It comes down to what you prefer the most: high probability for lower rewards or low probability for higher revenue.

Mining pool transparency and fees

Each mining pool has its operator — the entity or organization that manages it, chooses the task assignment method, the reward payment system, etc.

Individual miners who connect to pools can look at different mining pools’ data to ensure that the operators are honest and distributing rewards fairly.

To achieve greater transparency, some mining pools make this information available to everyone online and in real-time.

On the same level, each Bitcoin mining pool has a different business model. Some pools charge a participation fee, calculated based on various formulas.

Other pools have no participation fees but may have additional costs, like entry commissions, the requirement to purchase specific mining software, or keeping the transaction fees and distributing only block rewards.

Be sure to evaluate these factors and see that the pool operators are well-intended, provide transparent information about pool performance and fee calculations, and generally act fairly.

Final considerations

As you can see, there is a wide range of aspects that Bitcoin mining pools can differ on, thus making them very distinct from each other.

Each miner has different setups, priorities, and goals. You should take yours into account and pick the Bitcoin mining pool with the features better suited for them.

Happy mining!

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