There are three main ways to participate within a blockchain network. You could be a user, a developer, or a miner.
Users use the network’s proposition to fulfill their goals while developers create and maintain their code. Miners are transaction validators and block creators.
All three roles are co-dependent, and none can exist without the others.
This guide focuses on the miner role and especially what mining pools are conducive for small miners.
Mining has become a competitive exercise, especially within more established blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is almost impossible to mine profitably as a solo miner.
That is where mining pools come in, enabling small miners to combine their hash rate to earn a chance at creating a block within a particular network.
By combining computing power, miners can participate within any network and earn a reward while contributing to its decentralization regardless of their size.
However, not all pools are conducive for small miners. Pools operate under varying policies that could encourage or discourage participation from small miners.
When starting as a small miner with limited resources, there are some crucial considerations to which you have to pay attention.
We will highlight some of these considerations in the guide and briefly review some of the best mining pools for small miners.
These are the pools whose policies work for large and established miners and the small players.
How to choose a good mining pool?
Size – the amount of hash rate a mining pool contributes towards a specific network will indicate the size of the pool.
The higher the hash rate, the larger it is. This factor is essential because larger pools tend to be more reliable, offer more stable rewards, and charge lower fees.
Fees – as a small miner, you need to be conscious of the amount of fees you pay to your mining pool, as this will have a more significant impact on your returns than it does on a more prominent miner. The lower the fees, the better.
Payment threshold and frequency – smaller miners tend to earn smaller rewards, and these could take a long time to accumulate and become available to withdraw if the mining pool has a high withdrawal threshold.
As a small miner, you want to get your rewards fast so that you can reinvest to grow your hash rate.
Location – mining pools provide servers to which miners contribute their computing power. Connecting to the nearest server to you is often advised to maximize your mining potential and speed.
Server location is not just an important factor to small miners; it is also crucial when you are a small miner trying to maximize your resources to earn maximum returns.
If you are located in Australia, read 3 Best Mining Pools For Australia.
5 Best Mining pools for small miners
Now that you have an idea of what to look for when choosing a mining pool, let’s consider some of the best options in the market that will allow you to mine leading coins, such as BTC and Ether.
Ethereum miners use GPUs as opposed to ASICs used in Bitcoin, but most pools support both networks. (You can also read our guide on 3 Best Mining Pools For Single GPU.)
If you are interested in mining other altcoins, we recommend researching thoroughly to find a mining pool that works in your situation.
The pool is currently pushing over 4920 PH/s in hash rate to the Bitcoin network. Since its launch, it has managed to create 35,487 blocks while mining over 1,276,466 BTC in rewards.
However, Slushpool is not the leading mining pool at the moment. It is not the largest contributing about 3.5% of the total hash rate within the Bitcoin network.
The pool supports only mining in two digital currencies: Bitcoin (BTC) and ZCash (ZEC).
In terms of mining pool fees, Slushpool is competitive with other larger pools. It charges a standard 2% fee of the rewards from block creation and transaction fees users pay and uses a score-based reward distribution method.
The pool has a minimum payment threshold of 0.0002 BTC.
- It is well established as the oldest running Bitcoin mining pool
- It shares the transaction fees with pool members
- It offers an intuitive user-interface
- Some other newer platforms offer lower pool fees.
- You could get more stable mining rewards through other pools, contributing more computing power.
- It supports only two PoW cryptocurrencies
Poolin is among the more popular crypto mining pools. It was launched in October 2017 and made available to the general public.
Other than Bitcoin, it also supports mining pools for several other altcoins, including Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and ZCash (ZEC).
The mining pool currently contributes about 13.7 EH/s of computing power to the Bitcoin network, representing approximately 13.8% of the total network hash rate.
Since its launch, Poolin has created 21,190 blocks or about 3% of the entire Bitcoin blockchain.
Fees on Poolin are competitive depending on which coin you are mining. On Bitcoin it’s 2.5% (FPPS), Ethereum – 1% (PPS+), Litecoin – 3% (PPS), etc.
The rate ranges between 1 and 4%. The minimum threshold also varies from coin to coin, with Bitcoin and Ethereum being 0.005 BTC and 0.2 ETH, respectively.
- It supports multiple coins, most of which offer better returns compared to mining BTC.
- With its considerable network share, its members tend to enjoy more stable and consistent earnings.
- It offers competitive pool fees with some coins such as Ethereum and CKB.
- Pool mining fees are as high as 4% for some coins supported by Poolin, such as BCH.
- The minimum threshold could be steep for a small miner. For instance, the minimum threshold for mining Ether on Poolin is 0.2, which, at the current ETH price, is equal to $700.
Currently commanding about 17% of the Bitcoin mining market share, F2Pool is the largest among its peers.
It contributes about 22 EH/s of computing power towards the Bitcoin network and a combined total of 145 EH/s amongst all its mining pools.
F2Pool supports mining in several altcoins, including Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Monero (XMR), and DeCred (DCR).
The pool fees charged by F2Pool range from 2% (PPS+) for Ethereum and Dash to 4% (PPS+) for Litecoin.
Depending on the coin, the minimum withdrawal threshold could be competitive. For instance, to withdraw your Ether rewards, you need a balance greater than 0.1 ETH, which is half as much as that required for Poolin.
- Steady and dependable rewards due to its large market share
- Competitive minimum withdrawal thresholds and regular daily payments
- Supports more than 40 coins offering members a multitude of options
- It has a long and established history.
- Pool fees could be as high as 4% for some coins, a significantly higher rate than other mining pools.
BTC.com mining pool is part of the BTC.com family of blockchain tools, including the BTC.com wallet and block explorer.
The mining pool was launched in September 2016 by leading Bitcoin miner manufacturer Bitmain in addition to the Antpool mining pool.
BTC.com pool was launched as an open-source bitcoin mining pool to encourage community participation in the mining and governance of the flagship cryptocurrency.
The pool has grown considerably over the years to command about 8.5% of the total Bitcoin mining market share.
The pool contributes about 13.8 EH/s of computing power to the network. Since its launch, BTC.com has created 36,121 Bitcoin blocks.
Pool fees vary depending on the network, with BTC, BCH, and BSV pools attracting 4% charges while ETH, LTC, and DCR pools charge 2%.
The withdrawal threshold varies with the coins being mined, but it is competitive compared to other mining pools. For Bitcoin, it’s 0.005 BTC, paid out as soon as the threshold is reached.
- Ranks among the larger Bitcoin mining pools with considerable hash rate, making rewards distribution more regular and dependable.
- BTC.com is relatively older than other mining pools making it more trustworthy.
- It supports several other coins besides Bitcoin
- The pools fees are higher than competitors
- Depending on which coin you are mining, the minimum threshold can be steep
As a brand, Binance needs little to no introduction within the crypto industry.
It offers the leading cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, a crypto project launch platform, two parallel blockchains, a wallet, and a blockchain educational content platform, among several other products.
The mining pool supports a limited number of Proof of Work (PoW) mining coins, but you can double in as a staker by joining one of the many staking pools it supports as well.
In terms of fees, the Binance Pool charges some of the lowest mining pool fees.
The Bitcoin mining pool charges a 2.5% fee under the FPPS (Full Pay Per Share) settlement method, which is at par with several other pooling services.
However, when it comes to Ethereum, it charges only 0.5% under the PPS+ settlement plan.
- Contributing about 8.9% of Bitcoin’s total network hash rate, Binance Pool is one of the larger mining pools offering its members a stable and dependable income.
- Binance Pool comes with a trustworthy brand name and an ecosystem of crypto products that are well integrated.
- The Ethereum mining pool charges some of the lowest fees in the market.
- Binance Pool members receive both block generation rewards and transaction fees.
- It only supports two PoW coins, i.e., Bitcoin and Ethereum.
- Binance complies with KYC regulations and requires all members to verify their identities.
Are mining pools worth it?
Mining pools have been around since 2010, when Slushpool was launched. At this time, Bitcoin miners had discovered that GPU cards were more effective at mining BTC than CPUs.
From this point onwards, mining became a more competitive game, with miners looking to deploy ever more powerful and efficient equipment than their peers.
Mining pools have considerable drawbacks, chief among which is the contribution towards the centralization of networks.
However, they also benefit pool members, giving small miners a chance to earn a steady income from mining, which may not be possible in such a highly competitive industry.
As a small miner with limited resources, you want to choose a mining pool that favors your situation.
Lower mining fees, thresholds, and frequent payments are crucial factors to consider but also is the need for a more dependable pool, something that comes with prominent players.
The pools we have highlighted in this guide are a great starting point as you consider which one to choose.
They all have their advantages and drawbacks. None is better than the other, but one may be better for you. We encourage you to research and make a more informed decision.