Zcash is one of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies to mine. Listed under the acronym ZEC, Zcash was originally based on the same code as bitcoin, but with added anonymity features. Today, Zcash has a similar reputation to Monero: it’s a privacy-centric cryptocurrency where you can make secure transactions without disclosing the balance of your wallet.
Zcash was introduced in 2016. Today, Zcash continues to be one of the more popular cryptocurrencies to mine. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about mining Zcash.
How Does Zcash Mining Work?
Zcash is similar to bitcoin, but uses zk-snarks to ensure that no information regarding user transaction can be leaked. All user transaction information is securely encrypted. The two users completing a transaction can decrypt transaction details, but these details are private to everyone else involved.
Thanks to zk-snarks, Zcash allows for secure cryptocurrency transfers with no risk of double spending. Zk-snarks relies on zero knowledge proofs and the Equihash hashing algorithm, a PoW algorithm.
The entire Zcash protocol is very innovative. The project was funded by major venture capital firms worldwide. The Zcash protocol relies heavily on the research of the Zerocoin Electronic Coin Company, which developed the Zerocoin cryptographic protocol in 2014. That protocol was designed to create a privacy-centric but secure cryptocurrency. Top cryptographers from MIT, Tel Aviv University, and the Israel Institute of Technology all contributed to the project.
Zcash’s unique protocol relies on a unique transfer mechanism. When you transfer funds using Zcash, your coins are first converted into the project’s original currency, Zerocoins. Then, the Zerocoins are transferred to the recipient, then transferred back into Zcash. This might seem like a convoluted process, but it creates secure and anonymous transactions between Zcash users without significant added cost.
How does Zcash mining differ from other cryptocurrency mining? Well, Zcash mining is much more RAM-dependent than other types of PoW mining. Another difference is that there’s no GUI miner available for Zcash, which means mining Zcash can be less user-friendly than mining other cryptocurrencies that have existing software.
Fortunately, anyone can follow a guide online to start mining Zcash – so even if you have limited cryptocurrency mining experience, you can mine Zcash with an ordinary GPU and CPU. In fact, Zcash is one of the easiest currencies to mine. If you have basic computer skills and can follow an online tutorial, you can start mining Zcash in about 20 or 30 minutes.
Zcash is particularly popular among hobby miners – including anyone who has a high-end PC or gaming PC that wants to mine cryptocurrencies. That’s because Zcash is an ASIC-resistant cryptocurrency. There are no ASICs available for Zcash, which means ordinary GPU mining is the most profitable way to mine Zcash.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you need to start mining Zcash.
What You Need for Zcash Mining
Mining Zcash is straightforward. You’ll need the four basic components:
- Zcash mining hardware (your PC)
- Zcash mining software
- A Zcash wallet
- A Zcash mining pool
Zcash Mining Hardware
Zcash mining is performed with CPUs or GPUs. There are no ASICs available for Zcash, and the Zcash blockchain is purposely ASIC-resistant.
Unlike Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies where AMD GPUs dominate, Zcash is best mined using Nvidia GPUs. The reason is that Ethereum is based on the Ethash algorithm while Zcash is powered by Equihash. Nvidia tends to be the superior card for mining all Equihash cryptocurrencies.
Another major difference is that you don’t need a massive 3GB video card to mine Zcash. Instead, you can mine Zcash with as little as 1GB of memory on your GPU. Obviously, the more powerful your card is, the more successful you’ll be while mining Zcash.
Some of the specific popular GPUs for mining Zcash include the Nvidia GTX 1060, 1070, and 1080 series (including the 6GB Nvidia GTX 1060 card), as well as the AMD RX 470, 480, 570, 580, R9 series, HD 7990, and HD 7950.
Zcash Mining Software
One of the more popular Zcash mining software programs is the EWBF Cuda miner, available as a free download from the Bitcointalk forums here.
However, many Zcash users continue to use Zcash 1.0, created by the official Zcash team. That software lets you run a full Zcash node and mine with your CPU. The software also includes a built-in wallet that lets you send and receive Zcash.
The biggest limitation of the Zcash 1.0 software (and it’s an important limitation) is that you can only use your CPU to mine. If you’ve created a GPU-based miner, then download the Zcash 1.0 software is pointless. Nevertheless, CPU miners can install the software from the Zcash Github page here.
Other miners available for Zcash include Optiminer, Claymore, and the Genesis SGminer, all of which are built for AMD GPU mining, as well as EWBF Cuda, Nicehash EQM, and NEHQ, all of which are built for Nvidia GPU mining.
Zcash Mining Pool
A Zcash mining pool gives you the best possible chance of winning a Zcash block reward. The more resources you contribute to the mining pool, the larger your reward will be. Don’t expect to see as many Zcash mining pools as you see bitcoin and Ethereum mining pools. However, you can still find various options available.
Popular Zcash mining pools include Flypool and Nanopool, which are the two biggest names in the space.