Over the past year Litecoin has solidified its place alongside Bitcoin as a viable digital currency. Accompanying increasing prices has been a deluge of new miners hoping to help run the Litecoin network and earn some coins. Traditionally Litecoin mining has been more efficient with Radeon GPUs, but recent improvements in mining software for NVIDIA cards has significantly increased their efficiency. No longer is cryptocurrency mining with graphics cards the sole territory of AMD/ATI/Radeon. So for all you NVIDIA card owners, here’s your guide to mining Litecoin with NVIDIA graphics cards on Windows as well as a brief overview of cryptocurrency mining.
If you’re brand new to Litecoin and don’t yet have a Litecoin wallet I’d suggest checking out our guide to Getting Started With Litecoin. It provides an overview of Litecoin and a guide to setting up a wallet. Also note that the following guide and mining software is compatible with other Scrypt based cryptocurrencies such as Feathercoin, Dogecoin and Worldcoin.
If you want to get started as quickly as possible with mining then skip ahead to the Installing GUI Miner Scrypt section.
Litecoin mining is the process of using your computer’s resources in order to help run the Litecoin network. Like most cryptocurrencies, Litecoin is initially distributed through block rewards, where miner’s get a certain number of Litecoins by solving a certain amount of cryptographic work.
Originally mining could be done individually, referred to as solo mining. However, over time it became too difficult to do individually as the probability of finding a block solo mining became very low. This led groups of miners to develop what is referred to as pool mining. Today nearly all miners use pool mining, where they mine in groups resulting in steadier payouts.
Evolution of Cryptocurrency Mining
Originally Bitcoin was mined solely by CPUs (Central Processing Units). The original Bitcoin client included a CPU miner that beginners could use to solo mine. Eventually programs were developed that allowed users to mine with their computer’s GPUs (Graphics Processingi Units). GPUs offered much faster speeds than CPUs. Following GPU mining came the development of specialized hardware such as FPGAs (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) and ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits).
Litecoin’s original design was intended to prevent GPU mining and did so by using the memory intensive Scrypt hashing algorithm as opposed to the SHA-256 algorithm used by Bitcoin. Eventually mining programs were developed for GPU mining Litecoin, though the difference between CPU mining and GPU mining remained smaller with Litecoin than it had been with Bitcoin. While there is at least one company that has announced they’re developing specialized mining hardware for Litecoin, no one has actually demonstrated a working product yet. Today Litecoin mining is dominated by GPU mining rigs and has recently become a more profitable endeavor than Bitcoin mining.
Until recently GPU mining with NVIDIA graphics cards was much less efficient than mining with AMD/Radeon graphics cards. However, a recent rewrite of some of the software involved with NVIDIA mining has lessened the gap. While Radeon cards still offer higher hash rates, NVIDIA cards are generally easier to tune. If you’re looking to build a fast, high end mining rig then Radeon is still the way to go. If you already have a decent NVIDIA card then the following guide will help you get started mining Litecoin.
GUI Miner Scrypt Versus CUDA Miner
This tutorial covers two mining programs. CUDA Miner is a command line program, meaning you have to use the command line in windows to run it. GUIMiner Scypt has a graphical user interface that runs CUDA Miner for you, which is easier for many people. I’ll be covering GUI Miner Scrypt first, though CUDA Miner is covered later.
If you’re comfortable with the windows command line I suggest you use CUDA Miner. GUI Miner Scrypt currently does not output your hash rate, or mining speed, due to a small programming issue. Thus you’ll get more feedback, and it will be easier to debug, if you use CUDA Miner. The latest version of CUDA Miner is also considerably faster than the latest version of GUI Miner Scrypt.
You’ll need to download a couple of things in order to start mining Litecoin with your Nvidia GPU. For this portion of the tutorial we’ll be focusing on GUIMiner Scrypt, though you’ll need the same programs for CUDA Miner. In order for GUIMiner Scrypt to function correctly you’ll need to update your drivers directly from NVIDIA. If you’re looking to build CUDA Miner from source you’ll need the developer’s toolkit listed below.
Once you have the latest drivers downloaded and installed then go ahead and download GUIMiner Scrypt from Mega at the the link below (See this Bitcointalk thread for further details on GUIMiner Scrypt or to donate to its developer, TacoTime).
Joining A Pool
Once you’ve downloaded GUI Miner Scrypt you’ll have to set up an account at a mining pool. For this tutorial I’ll be using WeMineLTC.com, a prominent Litecoin mining pool which incorporates several modern pool mining features and has several servers located worldwide. We’ll also be using their mining proxy program, which makes it a bit easier to setup your mining program.
Make sure to record you login credentials or choose something you can easily remember. You’ll need them to manage your account and to receive the Litecoin that you mine.
Once you’ve created and recorded your account you’ll need to setup a worker by navigating to My Account -> My Workers. You can setup multiple works for multiple miners, but for this tutorial you’ll just need one.
You’ll also need to download their proxy program, which makes setup a bit easier and can make mining slightly more reliable and efficient for you. Download stratum_proxy.exe from the link below or from this page on WeMineLTC.com.
First off go ahead and double click on stratum_proxy.exe in order to get it running, you should see something like the below window pop up.
Once the proxy is up and running then you can open up GUI Miner Scrypt. You’ll need to setup your new worker, so go to File -> New Miner -> New CUDA Miner (Must be CUDA miner, other programs are not optimized for NVIDIA). Then just input the settings for you worker that you set up at WeMineLTC.com, it should look similar to the below screenshot.
Once you have everything setup save your settings and then click Start. Because of a small issue, GUI Miner Scrypt will just continually say Starting in the bottom right hand corner. However, checking the proxy program should show you some activity. If you see activity similar to the below screenshot you should be good to go and hashing.
Note you can also check your hashrate at WeMineLTC.com via their web interface, though it can take up to 20 minutes to update and is an average over time, not exactly what speed you’re at at that moment. If you want better stats then I suggest trying out CUDA Miner from the command line, covered below.
CUDA Miner is the command line program used for Litecoin mining with NVIDIA graphics cards. Since it is a command line program it’s not quite as beginner friendly. It works essentially the same as GUI Miner Scrypt but requires that you setup a configuration file or pass some arguments to it when it first starts. If this isn’t something you’re comfortable with then I suggest you stick to GUI Miner Scrypt. Otherwise you can download the most recent version of CUDA Miner from the link below.
You’ll need to open up a command prompt and navigate to the folder containing CUDA Miner. Once in the folder with the version of CUDA Miner you need for your platform (x86 or x64), then run the following command, filling in your worker details.
cudaminer.exe -o http://127.0.0.1:8332 -u Username.Workername -p password
Here are my worker credentials for example
cudaminer.exe -o http://127.0.0.1:8332 -y CryptoJunky.NVIDIA -p 12345
Once you’re up and running you should see something like the below screenshot.
Mining speed is measured in number of hashes per second. For Litecoin mining, the most commonly used abbreviation is kh/s for kilohashes per second. You can check LitecoinMiningCalculator.com to get an idea of how many Litecoin you’ll be earning based off of your hash rate.
The newest version of CUDA Miner hashes considerably faster than the older version. At the moment, the newest version of GUI Miner Scrypt uses the older version of CUDA Miner. For instance, using a EVGA GEFORCE GTX 660 for this tutorial, I managed to get around 127 kh/s with GUI Miner Scrypt, and about 174 kh/s using the most recent version of CUDA Miner.
If you’re looking to get the fastest possible speed, try out the latest version of CUDA Miner or make sure to update GUIMiner Scrypt once a new version is available.
Where To Go From Here
One thing we didn’t cover earlier is that using the proxy program is not mandatory. You can connect to most pools directly by using a url they provide instead of a proxy and 127.0.0.1. Just follow the instructions your pool provides you for worker settings.
At this point you should be mining Litecoin, congratulations! Once you get a little more comfortable with mining and cryptocurrencies in general you might take a look at Dustcoin or Coinwarz. These sites help to show which cryptocurrencies are the most profitable to mine at any given time.
If you’re interested in adding GPUs you should check out the Litecoin Mining Hardware Comparison page in the Litecoin wiki. If you’re looking at building a high end GPU mining rig check out CryptoBadger’s guide to building a litecoin mining rig. His guide describes how to build a linux machine on the cheap with maximum hash rates.
Many high end gaming laptops come with decent graphics cards that are capable of mining cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin. However, there have been multiple cases of users burning out their CPU or melting their motherboard while trying to mine with a laptop. Laptops simply are too compact and do not have the means to dissipate all the heat created when constantly mining cryptocurrencies. Essentially the risk is not worth the reward and I’d strongly advise against mining with laptops. You’d be much better off to build a low-end GPU mining rig than to risk a nice laptop.
Welcome to the Litecoin network!
Questions, comments, and hash rates are always welcome in the comments! (Include a LTC address and you may even get tipped for providing good advice!)