If you have decided to dive deeply into bitcoin mining and have a brilliant new ASIC miner, you may be tempted to immediately start extracting bitcoins on your own. However, for the most popular currencies, such as Bitcoin and Litecoin, it can take centuries to generate a valid ‘block’ on your own and earn money.

Mining groups (also known as ‘pools’ or ‘pools’ of mining) exist as a way for several devices to work together through the Internet, pooling their resources in the performance of complex calculations to generate blocks of data. The mining ‘reward’, as it is known, is divided proportionally between each participant.

The method used to assign rewards and the final amount you will receive will depend on the mining group in question. In this guide, we have explored five of the most popular pools online today, to help you decide which one is right for you.

Whenever possible, we have found groups with several servers around the world, which allows you to connect easily. If these arouse your interest and you want more information, go to the Bitcoin Wiki to see a detailed comparison of all the major groups.

1. Slush Pool

A veteran mining group with some useful help for newbies

  • The oldest mining group in existence
  • Worldwide services
  • Relatively high fees

Slush Pool started in 2010 when it was known as Bitcoin Pooled Mining Server before changing its brand. It is the oldest active mining group currently and has an excellent reputation for stability and precision. Currently Slush Pool is the fourth largest mining group, which represents about 11.4% of the total hash power.

The registration process is very simple and you can create a demonstration miner to familiarize yourself with the board. The website itself offers a simple interface and a more advanced one for experienced miners.

You can also set your minimum payment threshold at just 0.001 BTC, but there are additional fees for any payment below 0.01BTC.

Slush Pool is democratic, since you can register your preferences about the type of mining you want your devices to perform, for example: strict Bitcoin Core rules only.

The website also has some very useful sections for those who are new to mining. This section on mining rewards is particularly useful because it contains a detailed explanation of how payments are measured based on the score ( hashrate ) of each user. If you change from Slush Pool to another group and then try to return, your score will decrease significantly.

The pool rates are at 2%, which is a bit higher than some of the other pools there are. Slush Pool has servers in the USA. UU., Europe, Singapore and China.

2. AntPool

The largest mining group in the world

  • Easy-to-use dashboard
  • Choose your own mining reward
  • Smaller payments

AntPool is currently the largest mining group operating today, accounting for just over a quarter of the hash power worldwide. It is owned and operated by Bitmain, a company based in China that also manufactures the Antminer series of ASIC mining devices.

AntPool has servers all over the world and makes use of an innovative peer-to-peer mining protocol to link your device to the server closest to you during configuration, for a faster and more reliable connection.

Once you have set up your account and entered the address of your wallet, the payments are sent every day between 08:00 and 15:00, Beijing time, as long as the amount you extracted is at least 0.001 BTC

Being the largest group allows users some advantages in the sense that they can choose how they want to be rewarded. One method is the PPS (Payment for Action), which means that you are charged 4% in payments plus 2% of the transaction fees earned. You can also choose PPLNS (payment for the last N shares), which is free, but AntPool will keep all the transaction fees.

You can mine only if you wish, but it is very unlikely that you will make a profit if you do not have a colossal amount of hash power. Whichever method you choose, remember that individual payments are usually smaller for large mining groups.

3. BTC.com

A large group with an innovative reward system

  • Well established company
  • The miners share the transaction fees
  • Minor problems with browsing the site

This mining group is one of the best known brands in the world of cryptocurrency and owns the domain Bitcoin.com and BTC.com. Before launching a mining group in 2016, BTC.com was already famous for creating a powerful Bitcoin portfolio and its own blockchain explorer.

BTC.com operates one of the most popular mining pools, competing with AntPool for first place. Currently, it represents more than 20% of the total global hash power. The mining servers are located both in the EU (Germany) and in China. BTC.com currently only supports the extraction of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.

Always innovative, BTC.com has its own method of rewarding miners known as FPPS (Total payment per share). FPPS calculates a standard transaction fee within a given period, adds it to the reward per block (currently 12.5 BTC) and then distributes it to the miners as with the traditional PPS (Pay Per Action). Sharing transaction fees, especially when they are high, makes mining much more lucrative, which may explain the popularity of BTC.com.

The only small criticism we can make at BTC.com is that we found that the website is quite rugged. For example, the page explaining how FPPS works could not be loaded, and although the help section of the website is useful, there is no specific ‘start’ guide as with Slush Pool. However, we were able to find all the necessary information to configure a miner. Windows users can also easily add and configure miners using the BTC tool and BTC Smart Agent.

4. KanoPool

A tempting niche option due to relatively generous payments

  • No registration required
  • Low rates
  • The website is very basic

KanoPool has been available since 2014. Despite being one of the smallest groups (currently accounting for only 0.3% of the global hash power), it has become popular due to its low mining rates and easy configuration.

Registering in KanoPool is optional: when setting up your miner, you only need to enter your BTC wallet address as a user name to start extracting immediately. However, users who choose to register can see more detailed statistics about the mining group.

The payment method used by KanoPool is PPLNS (Payment for the last N shares). ‘N’ in this case is five times the difficulty of the network, immediately after finding a block.

The pool rate itself is 0.9% and the transaction fees are included in the block reward, which means that the disbursements are quite generous compared to the larger mining pools, although the payment may take some time. You can find a more detailed explanation of how payments are managed on the KanoPool website .

If you choose to visit the KanoPool website, you will see that the design is extremely simple, and there are no detailed tutorials, since all the information you need to get started is on the help page. However, Kano himself is an active participant in the BitcoinTalk forum and is very quick to answer questions about the group.

5. F2Pool

Group based in China with support for a wide range of virtual currencies

  • Clear rate structure
  • Supports multiple cryptocurrencies
  • The registration process requires a telephone

F2Pool (also known as DiscusFish) is a mining group based in China and has been operating since 2013. It has several servers in mainland China, as well as in Hong Kong and the US. UU

F2Pool is relatively large, accounting for approximately 5.5% of the hash power for the most popular Bitcoin mining groups. F2Pool is also one of the most diverse groups in which, although you can use BTC, it is also compatible with Litecoin, Zerocoin, Ethereum, Siacoin, DASH and Monero, to name just a few.

Payments are made at midnight (UTC) every day based on the 3% negative PPS (Payment for Action). The group maintains all transaction fees. At this time, the threshold for Bitcoin payments is 0.005 BTC.

The website also currently offers a small additional incentive for miners in the sense that once their extraction totals 1 BTC exactly, they will automatically receive 5 NMC (Name Coin), 100 SYS and 1 EMC (Emercoin). Currently these have a market value of around $ 640.

The website itself is well designed and contains useful information, but it is recommended to non-Chinese users who need technical assistance to use the official F2Pool English thread in the BitcoinTalk forums.

The registration process for the group can be a bit complicated since you need to complete a Captcha and also verify the identity through a text message, which means you must have access to a mobile phone to start mining.