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Before we start this guide I want to address a few important things:

Mining cryptocurrency is not free money. You are trading your mining hardware's hashing for some currency and contributing to the network. It is also highly speculative and the exchange rates are volatile. You could achieve a return on investment in 90 days, a year, or never. Being smart with your purchases and not blindly purchasing "good mining cards" is the biggest protective measure.

Personally, I mine because I like the idea of decentralized currency and being involved in such a big financial revolution. Also, I think it's fun. If I make money that's nice too.

There is a decent amount of math, risk, and trial/error involved in optimizing your setup to get every last hash out of your graphics cards, but this guide is a basic setup for mining with Windows 7, not a performance-maximizing guide.

If you want to get serious with mining I strongly recommend using Linux as it isn't plagued with driver issues, mines more stable, is more flexible for your setups, and (for some cards like the GTX 1070) gets a drastically better hash rate. Also if you plan on having more than 4 cards per motherboard Linux is a much better choice, as Windows starts to have issues with PCIe slot order and other shenanigans that go down you definitely don't want to deal with. There is even a distribution of Linux specifically for mining (though it isn't free) that is very easy to set up called EthOS. That fact that this guide uses Windows for mining indicates that it is a quick dive into mining without all the mess of optimizing and customization that many of the tools used have to offer, so while it might not be the most comprehensive guide, it will quickly get you a foundation to build from.

If you want to use your computer while mining (use a separate, non-mining graphics card for your displays as the ones that are mining will stutter when under full load) and need to have Windows for what you do then this is a good option too. You can use advanced flags for Claymore's Dual Miner to specify which cards to mine on and leave one for daily use.

With all that said, mining on Windows 7 is completely achievable and serves as a great introduction to mining especially for small scale setups, so don't let me deter you and let's get started!

Image sources:

http://bitcoinist.com/ethereum-price-major-press-c...

http://www.zastavki.com/eng/Computers/Windows_7/9/

Step 1: Graphics Cards

Note: In this tutorial, I assume that you have your graphics cards connected to a motherboard and have already installed/updated Windows 7 and the drivers for your graphics cards. Make sure to install CUDA if you are using NVIDIA cards.

The hardware that will be doing the hashing is graphics cards. The AMD 470,480,570, and 580 are the currently most popular at the time I'm writing this. As AMD prepares to launch Vega GPUs the price of 470s and 480s dropped dramatically just as Ethereum is gaining major traction, creating a perfect opportunity to mine with these cards. These cards mine at about 22-30Mh/s depending on your degree of overclocking and configuration. Another popular option is the GTX 1060 6GB (Pay attention to the 6GB NOT 3GB). They hash around 18-28Mh/s. To determine profitability use an online calculator like the one offered by Cryptocompare.

https://www.cryptocompare.com/mining/calculator/et...

The ratio you want to keep low is your USD/Mh/s since this directly reflects how long it will take to pay back your initial investment. I try to stay well below $10/Mh/s but if you don't mind the risk you can go for it even if you are above this. Most stores are price gouging like crazy at the moment, charging $300+ for rx570s and similar mining cards that were $200 a few weeks ago, so if you choose to buy a card at these inflated prices first congratulate yourself on finding one that is in stock since they're sold out everywhere, then accept that it may not generate much profit before it is obsolete for mining and carry on with that knowledge.

Other cards' mining stats can be found with some quick googling, but beware that Windows doesn't play nice with all cards, and especially Windows 10 which is why W7 is used in this tutorial.

To squeeze out maximum performance download a performance software for overclocking your cards. I chose MSI Afterburner for this tutorial.

The reason a 3GB card is not a good idea is that when mining there is a large file that is stored in memory called the DAG, and this file grows over time. The DAG is already larger than 2GB and if you have a 3GB card then when the DAG becomes more than 3GB you can no longer mine. This can be circumvented with a DAGless miner, but that won't be covered in this tutorial, and expenses rack up quickly for smaller memory cards.

Image Source:

http://hexus.net/tech/features/graphics/77473-qotw...

Step 2: Ethereum Wallet

Now you need a place to store the Ethereum you are going to mine so you have to make a wallet. I recommend Mist if this is your first time. There are command line utilities available too, but Mist has a nice GUI and there are a bunch of guides on how to make a wallet and get your address.

Go make a wallet and then come back.

The following guide is pretty good for this step https://medium.com/@attores/step-by-step-guide-get...

Step 3: Mining Pool

The way mining works is you contribute mining 'work' to a mining pool of workers and get shares of Ethereum for your work contributed.This guide will use nanopool.org though there are other options like ethermine.org. The mining pool uses your wallet address to keep track of your balance and pays out when you reach a certain balance that the pool specifies.

You can check your mining stats like hashrate and balance by going to

https://eth.nanopool.org/account/YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS

There is some delay so don't worry if you don't see anything after you just start mining. Wait at least 20min before trying to check your account since it doesn't create a webpage for you until you get a share.

Step 4: Claymore Dual Miner

The program that we will be using to mine is Claymore's Dual Miner. The main feature of this miner is that it can mine two cryptocurrencies at the same time on each card, though we will only be doing Ethereum in this guide I recommend siacoin as a currency to dual mine with ETH, especially if you have AMD rx cards.

Go ahead and download the miner from

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1433925.0

The full explanation in that post is very good and goes through all the various parameters. To just get straight to mining Ethereum you need to create a new file to run the miner. Extract the zip and create a new file called ClaymoreMine.bat (or whatever you want) and put the following command in it all on one line with YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS and RIG_NICKNAME subbed out. RIG_NICKNAME can be anything; it's just an identifier so you know which miner it is.

EthDcrMiner64.exe -epool eu1.nanopool.org:9999 -ewal YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS -epsw x -eworker RIG_NICKNAME

To start mining, click this file. To start mining every time the computer boots, add a shortcut to the bat file to the Startup folder in the start menu

The command prompt will show you your current hashrates and GPU temperatures. You don't want to run your cards too much above 65C since they can get damaged. Adjusting airflow and cooling can lower the temperature of your cards.

Batch (bat) file help:

The bat file goes in the folder you extracted the dual miner zip into, otherwise you have to prefix EthDcrMiner64 with the path to where it is located.

To make a .bat file launch notepad, write what you want in the file, then click Save and set the "Save as filetype" dropdown to "All Files *.*" then type in "ClaymoreMine.bat" and save it.

There are advanced options for choosing which graphics cards to mine on if you have multiple and setup for remote management too. For now we are just going to move on

Step 5: Overclocking (Optional)

You can also use an overclocking utility like MSI Afterburner to manually set fan speeds to get cooler temperatures (this will wear out the fans faster than usual so you might have to replace them eventually).

Afterburner (or whatever utility you choose) can also be used to raise the core and memory clocks on the card. This will increase your hashrate, but also the heat produced and card temperature so make sure you have adequate cooling. Always increase overlock in reasonable increments like 100MHz to make sure your rig stays stable.

Step 6: Congrats!

Congratulations! You should be up and mining your first shares of Ethereum. To turn it into US dollars you can use an exchange such as Coinbase or Kraken. They require ID verification to deposit USD, so try to get verified a while BEFORE you need to move dollars around.

As a last note, make sure to keep an eye on your temps as you don't want to accidently burn your cards or cause your rig to shutdown. Once you see your temperatures stay flat for a few minutes it should be alright. Just stay vigilant when trying out new settings and don't assume that the first thirty seconds are the temps your cards will run at for all time. OpenHardwareMonitor is a good tool for plotting your temps and visualizing them if you need something to watch while you test out new settings on a rig, snag it from http://openhardwaremonitor.org/

Thanks for reading and good luck mining! Feel free to drop a comment; if you run into issues with your setup I'd be happy to help :)

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