Bitcoin miners are a group of “miners” who are indulged in solving a block for earning bounty/reward. The reward is equally split among themselves according to their contributed mining hash power. Bitcoin pool is a way to mine their resources and to share their hashing power.
A valid proof of work should be presented in order to gain reward. Initially, generating a single block was taking years for slower miners and then Bitcoin mining pool came into existence, where the miners would receive a portion of block reward and the blocks would be generated quickly. There are various Bitcoin mining pools and choosing the most popular one is quite enticing. It is preferred to choose a small Bitcoin pool to avoid potentially harmful concentration of hashing power.
Table of contents:
- 1 What is a Bitcoin Mining Pool?
- 2 How to Choose a Mining Pool?
- 3 Bitcoin Mining Pool Payment Methods
- 4 Top 12 Bitcoin Mining Pools
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Bitcoin Mining Pool?
If you already read our guide on Bitcoin mining, you know that new Bitcoins enter the circulation as a “prize” for a miner who manages to guess the solution to a mathematical problem. The winning miner get to add the latest block to the blockchain and update the ledger.
By design, the more miners you have, the more difficult the problem gets, and vice versa. This system is called ‘mining difficulty’ and it was designed to regulate the flow of new Bitcoins into the system (i.e. to prevent inflation).
Bitcoin’s popularity boost made the mining difficulty sky rocket and rendered home mining operations pretty much obsolete. As more and more people jumped on the mining wagon, the mining difficulty rose to a point that it became unprofitable to mine with a home operation.
Throw in the initial & ongoing costs involved in home mining (buying the gear, electricity bills, etc) and not only you’re not making any money – you’re losing it.
Enter mining pools.
Mining pools are basically groups of miners who pool their mining resources together to get more hashing power. The more hashing power you have, the more chances you have of adding a block and claiming the reward in a given time frame.
With mining pools, miners manage to solve problem more often than they would mining solo. The rewards are then split between the pool members, proportionally to the amount of hashing power their gear contributed to the solution.
The mining pool owner usually charges a fee for setting up the pool as well. The pools vary in their payment methods, as well as in the fees they charge and other parameters. In the following chapters we will review different mining pools and ways to decide which one to choose.
How to Choose a Mining Pool?
Mining pools differ on several criteria. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re choosing a mining pool:
Pool size: Bigger pools offer more regular payments. However, the payout is smaller because it’s shared among more members. Smaller pools offer less frequent payments but larger payouts. Whichever you choose, the return should even out in the long term.
Fees: Some Bitcoin mining pools charge fees, and some don’t. Fees can range from as little as 0%, and go as high as 4% off the reward.
Reliability and security: An important thing to look out for is whether you can trust the pool to not cheat and steal your funds, or not get hacked and lose your earnings. While this is true with every third party that holds your money (e.g. a Bitcoin exchange), apply extra caution when selecting a mining pool.
A good way to mitigate such risks is by joining a more veteran, established pool. Make sure to also read user reviews before you join, keeping in mind that there’ll always be disgruntled users so nothing should be taken at face value.
Payout policy: Another thing mining pools vary in, is their payout policies. Whether you want regular daily payments or get paid whenever a block is solved by the pool, make sure to do your due diligence before you sign up to a pool.
If you are interested in getting onboard, here are some of the very best you can consider:
|BTC.com||BTC Pool is run by Bitmain, which also operates Antpool. It was founded in 2015 and has operations in China, Europe, and the United States.||4%||20.29%||9||8||11,469||4.5|
|Antpool||Antpool is located in China. Run by Bitmain which also operates BTC Pool, it has been in operation since 2016.||2.50%||15.95%||6||10||9,015||4.5|
|ViaBTC||ViaBTC is located in China. One of the world’s largest mining pools, it was launched in 2017.||2%||10.99%||7||9||6,211||4.3|
|Slush||Slush Pool has operated since 2010. It operates globally, and was the first organized mining pool for Bitcoin.||2%||9.88%||7||9||5,585||4.0|
|F2pool||F2Pool is a diverse mining pool which can mine numerous cryptocurrencies and has operated since 2013. It is also known as Discus Fish.||3%||7.71%||9||8||4,360||3.8|
|BTC.top||BTC.top is a private pool and not open to public participation. It launched in 2016.||N/A||11.28%||2||8||6.373||4.0|
|Bitclub||Bitclub is a mining pool which has been accused of operating a cryptocurrency ponzi scheme. Its reputation has taken a significant hit.||0%||2.44%||6||3||1,379||2.8|
|BTCC||BTCC is one of the largest mining pools in China. It also operates in Japan and launched in 2014.||2%||3.55%||8||8||2,008||3.5|
|Bitfury||Bitfury has operated since 2014 and is a private pool which cannot be joined.||0%||3%||2||6||1,431||3.0|
|58COIN||Launched in 2017, 58Coin operates out of China.||0.05%||1.01%||6||7||571||2.0|
|BitMinter||Bitminter operates in the United States, Europe, and Canada. It was launched in 2011.||1%||0.02||5||6||10||2.3|
|Kano CKPool||Kano CKPool operates in countries across Europe and Asia and was launched in 2017.||0.90%||0.45%||6||6||255||1.0|
|BW Pool||A moderate sized pool, BW Pool was launched in 2014 and operates in China.||1%||1.66%||8||8||939||2.8|
|BCMonster||BCMonster is one of the smallest mining pools in operation, although it has operations in the U.S., Europe, and China and was launched in 2013.||1.00%||0%||7||7||16||1.0|
|BTC Guild||Although recently closed, BTC Guild deserves mention on this page due to the fact that over the past year it mined a significant share of all bitcoins.||N/A||6.11%||N/A||8||32,935||3.5|
|Ghash.IO||GHash is a Dutch mining pool which was launched in 2013.||0%||4.29%||8||7||23,083||3.8|
|Bixin||Bixin is a Chinese mining firm launched in 2014.||4%||2.48%||8||8||1401||3.0|
|DPOOL||DPOOL is a firm launched in 2018. Its servers can be accessed from Asia, Europe, and North America.||0%||1.26%||7||7||711||2.5|
|GBMiners||GBMiners is an Indian firm. Although reviews claim that it is one of the fastest growing pools in the world, it was launched in 2016 and remains a small share of the total Bitcoin hashrate.||0.90%||1.05%||3||2||592||2.0|
|BTPOOL||BTPOOL is operated by Bitmain, the same firm which owns BTC.com and Antpool. It was launched in 2017.||0%||1.03%||7||8||583||2.3|
|Bitcoin.com||Bitcoin.com’s mining operation was launched in 2017 and, due to its domain, is one of the most well-known mining pools.||0%||1.00%||5||5||566||1.5|
|WAYI.CN||WAYI.CN is a Chinese mining pool that was launched in 2017.||N/A||0.93%||5||4||525||1.5|
|CanoePool||CanoePool, not to be confused with KanoPool, was launched in 2017 and operates in the United States.||3%||0.79%||5||6||444||1.0|
|Poolin||Poolin is a mining pool launched in 2018 out of China.||N/A||0.64%||6||4||360||1.3|
Bitcoin Mining Pool Payment Methods
Calculating your share of the bitcoins mined can be complex. In an ongoing effort to come up with the fairest method and prevent gaming of the system, many calculation schemes have been invented. The two most popular types are PPS and DGM. PPS, or ‘pay per share’ shifts the risk to the mining pool while they guarantee payment for every share you contribute.
PPS payment schemes require a very large reserve of 10,000 BTC in order to ensure they have the means of enduring a streak of bad luck. For this reason, most Bitcoin mining pools no longer support it.
One of the few remaining PPS pools is EclipseMC. DGM is a popular payment scheme because it offers a nice balance between short round and long round blocks. However, end users must wait for full round confirmations long after the blocks are processed.
PPS: The Pay-per-Share (PPS) approach offers an instant, guaranteed payout for each share that is solved by a miner. Miners are paid out from the pools existing balance and can withdraw their payout immediately. This model allows for the least possible variance in payment for miners while also transferring much of the risk to the pool’s operator.
PROP: The Proportional approach offers a proportional distribution of the reward when a block is found amongst all workers, based off of the number of shares they have each found.
PPLNS: The Pay Per Last N Shares (PPLN) approach is similar to the proportional method, but instead of counting the number of shares in the round, it instead looks at the last N shares, no matter the boundaries of the round.
DGM: The Double Geometric Method (DGM) is a hybrid approach that enables the operator to absorb some of the risk. The operator receives a portion of payouts during short rounds and returns it during longer rounds to normalize payments.
SMPPS: The Shared Maximum Pay Per Share (SMPPS) uses a similar approach to PPS but never pays more than the Bitcoin mining pool has earned.
ESMPPS: The Equalized Shared Maximum Pay Per Share (ESMPPS) is similar to SMPPS, but distributes payments equally among all miners in the Bitcoin mining pool.
RSMPPS: The Recent Shared Maximum Pay Per Share (RSMPPS) is also similar to SMPPS, but the system prioritizes the most recent Bitcoin miners first.
CPPSRB: The Capped Pay Per Share with Recent Backpay uses a Maximum Pay Per Share (MPPS) reward system that will pay Bitcoin miners as much as possible using the income from finding blocks, but will never go bankrupt.
BPM: Bitcoin Pooled mining (BPM), also known as “Slush’s pool”, uses a system where older shares from the beginning of a block round are given less weight than more recent shares. This reduces the ability to cheat the mining pool system by switching pools during a round.
POT: The Pay on Target (POT) approach is a high variance PPS that pays out in accordance with the difficulty of work returned to the pool by a miner, rather than the difficulty of work done by the pool itself.
SCORE: The SCORE based approach uses a system whereby a proportional reward is distributed and weighed by the time the work was submitted. This process makes later shares worth more than earlier shares and scored by time, thus rewards are calculated in proportion to the scores and not shares submitted.
ELIGIUS: Eligius was designed by Luke Jr., creator of BFGMiner, to incorporate the strengths of PPS and BPM pools, as miners submit proofs-of-work to earn shares and the pool pays out immediately. When the block rewards are distributed, they are divided equally among all shares since the last valid block and the shares contributed to stale blocks are cycled into the next block’s shares. Rewards are only paid out if a miner earns at least. 67108864 and if the amount owed is less than that it will be rolled over to the next block until the limit is achieved. However, if a Bitcoin miner does not submit a share for over a period of a week, then the pool will send any remaining balance, regardless of its size.
Triplemining: Triplemining brings together medium-sized pools with no fees and redistributes 1% of every block found, which allows your share to grow faster than any other Bitcoin mining pool approach. The administrators of these Bitcoin mining pools use some of the Bitcoins generated when a block is found to add to a jackpot that is triggered and paid out to the member of the pool who found the block. In this way, everyone in the pool has a better chance to make additional Bitcoins, regardless of their processing power.
Comparing Bitcoin Pool Fees
|Slush Pool||Czech Republic||2%||No|
The comparison chart above is just a quick reference. The location of a pool does not matter all that much. Most of the pools have servers in every country so even if the mining pool is based in China, you could connect to a server in the US, for example.
Top 12 Bitcoin Mining Pools
AntPool is the largest Bitcoin pool in terms of its hash power based in China. It is operated by the world’s largest Bitcoin hardware manufacturer called Bitmain Technologies. You can create an account in AntPool without paying any fee, but a Bitcoin mining hardware is required along with mining software which can be downloaded later. The interface is quite ergonomic. Your earnings can be viewed on your dashboard and you can monitor your hash rate on a minute, an hour or on daily basis.
Fees and Payment
Creating an account in AntPool is free. Well, you are allowed to opt for peer to peer solo mine with your hardware (1% fee) or can choose between PPLNS (0% fee) and PPS (2.5% fee). The fee charged on the transaction is hidden and it is not disclosed by AntPool. Bitcoin transaction fee has been increased recently and AntPool keeps 1-2 bitcoins for itself collected from each block, which is not shared with high volume miners.
AntPool does not have and payout threshold and makes a payment every day for balances over 0.001BTC around 10 AM UTC. Every Bitcoin block is rewarded by 12.5BTC by AntPool.
AntPool consists of two-factor authentication, wallet locks, email alerts as security measures. Well, the pool operators perpetuate their own forums and consists of easy and simple documentation for the main tasks miners do in the pool.
Antpool is the largest and a popular Bitcoin pool with a sleek interface for new miners to start with. You can choose between PPLNS and PPS which is an added bonus. A lot of cool options are available when buried deeper in the pool. The payouts are pretty good. AntPool comes with great security measures.
The payouts should be reduced as it is a big pool. The transaction fee is not disclosed by AntPool.
Slush Pool is the first Bitcoin Pool launched in the year 2010 by the name Bitcoin Pooled Mining Server. The site got its first blockchain in the year 2012 and since then over 15000 blocks were mined by this site. Slush Pool is run by Satoshi Labs, the Czech based tech company. The first offline Bitcoin wallet and the first Bitcoin-centric world map was created by Satoshi Labs in addition to the mining stratum protocol which is being used by the other mining pools. Slush Pool stands unique for using Score based method, where the old shares are given lesser prominence than news shares at the start of the round. This method avoids the risk of getting cheated by other miners if they shift pools within a round. A demo account is provided for all the new miners to test before actually signing in. This is helpful for new miners. Users will be updated regularly with graphs, information, and news through release notes or their social media accounts.
Fees and Payment
A standard transaction fee of 2% is fixed and is shared with the miners. A threshold is set for the balance over 0.0002BTC and the payments are made regularly once the threshold is hit by the user. Score based method allows a fair distribution of rewards among miners.
Slush pool as two-factor authentication, wallet address locking along with a read-only login token, which is provided by the users if someone else is monitoring your Bitcoin mining. Slush Pool runs on highly secured servers, which protects the Bitcoin wallets of the user.
Slush Pool is a well established oldest mining pool. The interface is slick with a unique feature of the score-based method, which avoids the risk of being cheated.
The transaction fee is slightly high compared to other sites. Even Though using Score-based method is an advantage, user’s score quickly decreases once stopped mining.
F2Pool is one of the largest Chinese Bitcoin pool, launched in the year 2013. It is better known as Discus Fish mining pool in the world of Bitcoin mining. Apart from Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Zcash are mined here. The difficulty level in mining is based the hash power, as the site uses stratum mining protocol and vardiff. The site comes with an English interface and is simple and easily understandable.
Fees and Payment
F2Pool operates on the PPS reward system and charges a fee of 4% which is quite lofty. The payouts are made every day by setting a limit on withdrawal, i.e 0.001BTC.
The site works on HTTPS protocol and consists of Bitcoin wallet lock feature. You are not allowed to change your email address once registered, but the site lacks in utilizing two-factor authentication.
F2Pool allows mining of Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Zcash. The payout threshold is really low and offers regular payouts.
The fee (4%) applied is quite exaggerating when compared to other pools.
BTCC Pool is a Chinese pool launched in the year 2014. It is a Bitcoin-based company which also runs Bitcoin exchange, wallets and print physical bitcoins and more. The site consists of an official account called WeChat, where miners can track their hash power, pool hash power, and the network, provided with detailed statistics.
Fees and Payment
BTCC Pool is very transparent, as it shares the with its miners. The site also rewards 1-2 BTC worth transaction fee for every Bitcoin block to the pool. The payouts are regular and are made to the user’s desired wallets. The payments are instant to BTCC wallets and require 30 min to pay for other wallets. The site operates on PPS model (with 2% fee) and follows stratum mining protocol. Lately, BTCC announced about switching to a new transparent model of cryptocurrency mining called FPPS and has also announced that it would start offering 1% mining fee for bitcoin miners. BTCC rewards its miners with 12.5 BTC, which is equally split among themselves.
BTCC is one of the largest Bitcoin mining pool along with its own exchange and wallet services. The site consists of the transparent fee structure and has also introduced FPPS model to its site. The reward offered by this site is really good.
Inactive accounts of users possessing some earnings in it will be suspended by the site after 90 days of inactivity. The earnings will be acquired by the site.
MinerGate makes the list thanks to the vast number of coins it supports. At the last count, there were 11: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Bitcoin Gold, Bytecoin, Monero, Monero Original, Fantom Coin, and Aeon. Its servers are in the United States.
Because MinerGate has a downloadable GUI miner, it’s one of the best ways for amateurs to get involved. You can run it on your laptop rather than needing special ASIC hardware. Sure, your payouts might not be very big, but it’s a great way to learn the ropes.
The GUI itself is beginner friendly. It lacks the complexity of other miners. Just tell the app how much of your total computing power you want to dedicate, and MinerGate will take care of the rest.
The pool uses merged mining. It means you can mine for multiple altcoins at the same time without hurting your Bitcoin hash rate. It can even use both your GUI and CPU at the same time to maximize your mining capabilities and consequently, your profit.
Founded in 2011, P2Pool operates as a “decentralized Bitcoin mining pool”. This eliminates the risk of the pool owner stealing your funds, and helps to prevent the centralization of Bitcoin—this pool can’t dictate the future of Bitcoin core.
P2Pool never own your rewards, so there are no fees, and any block rewards get paid instantly and directly to you. It’s technically possible to join this pool with any hardware at all, there is a “minimum hash rate threshold”. This changes regularly, but it’s mostly a recommend hash power if you want to actually earn anything. You can mine on inadequate systems, just don’t expect to earn a great deal, if anything.
Written in Python, and publicly hosted on its GitHub repository, P2Pool has a team of over 40 volunteers. With over 1,700 commits and support from the Bitcoin Foundation and the Litecoin project, P2Pool represents an outstanding alternative to centralized mining pools.
BTC.com is one of the largest Bitcoin mining pool owned by Bitmain, creator of AntPool. The site works on stratum mining protocol and VarDiff. The site was launched in the year 2015 and has its own wallets along with mining pool.
Fees and Payment
BTC.com stands out to be transparent by sharing the transaction fee with its miners. The site operates on PPS model with an average fee of 1.5%. It takes 2 hours for the site to send payouts to the users. It completely depends on the Bitcoin network. However, BTC.com tries to send the earnings within a short period of time.
Cloudflare is implemented by this site to protect against DDoS attack and ensures that the benefits and hash power is not lost.
BTC.com operates worldwide and maintains transparency with miners. The site offers a good support system and security.
Sometimes sending payouts might require some time, as it depends on the Bitcoin network.
BW Pool is a Chinese Bitcoin mining pool with a user-friendly interface. Apart from Bitcoin, the site offers to mine Litecoin and Ethereum. The site works on stratum mining protocol and vardiff.
Fees and Payment
The site also offers transparency by sharing transaction fee with miners. It follows PPLNS, PPS, and SOLO payment methods with an average fee of 1%. The minimum payout is 0.001 BTC.
The site offers to mine different cryptocurrencies long with a simple goof-proof interface. Apart from mining, it offers many other digital services and works on cloud computing.
The site does not offer any merge mining.
Bixin is again one of the largest Bitcoin mining pool based in China. Bixin is also servicing people with its wallet. Bixin comes up with regular updates with its simple interface making it easy for the users to view it.
Fees and Payment
Bixin uses PPS (4%) model for the distribution of rewards. Payouts are quick and are made every day.
The site is secured against DDoS attacks.
Bixin comes with this cool feature, where the user can predict rewards in advance
Users from China are preferred to use this site. The fee charged by the site is quite lofty.
Bitfury is a private pool located in Georgia. Bitfury is the producer of mining hardware and chips. Bitfury is working to make Bitcoin decentralized. It mines about 11% of all blocks. Bitfury operates with zero % fee.
ViaBTC is a China-based company that controls 13% of the total hashing power of Bitcoin. It offers three payment methods: PPS+, PPLNS, and SOLO. The fees are 4%, 2%, and 1%, respectively.
ViaBTC lets you mine nine different cryptocurrencies. You can choose from Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Dash, Monero, and Bitmark.
The mining pool also offers merged mining. If you mine Bitcoin, you will also receive Namecoin, Syscoin, and Emercoin for free. Bitcoin Cash miners will get free Syscoin, and Litecoin miners will receive free Dogecoin.
Also known as KanoPool is one of the smallest Bitcoin mining pool launched in the year 2014. The site follows PPLNS (0.9% fee) payment mode with shared transaction fee rewards. There is no threshold and offers a frequent small amount of payouts. Two-factor authentication security set up adds a protective layer to the site. The site needs to be upgraded frequently and the user interface is quite annoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Hash Rate?
Hash rate is the speed your mining rig can solve cryptographic puzzles. Here is how the units scale:
- 1 kH/s is 1,000 (one thousand) hashes per second
- 1 MH/s is 1,000,000 (one million) hashes per second.
- 1 GH/s is 1,000,000,000 (one billion) hashes per second.
- 1 TH/s is 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) hashes per second.
- 1 PH/s is 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one quadrillion) hashes per second.
- 1 EH/s is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) hashes per second.
- 1 ZH/s is 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one sextillion) hashes per second.
Where do I Store the Bitcoin I Mine?
After mining enough Bitcoin you will be able t0 cash out from the mining pool. You’ll want to send your hard-earned Bitcoin to a wallet. If you are unfamiliar with wallets, they are software that runs on devices that protect your Bitcoin with cryptography. They also typically have interfaces making it easy to buy, send and receive Bitcoin.
Once you’ve set up a wallet, copy the deposit address given and paste it into the payout address field on the mining pool you choose.