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Cryptocurrency mining is a big buzz topic in technology these days. And why not? Utilizing your computer to digitally mine what seems like free money only begs the question, "where do I sign up?" Your machine will actually be "mining" or processing transactions for a decentralized currency, the hottest variant of which is called Ethereum.  Poised to overtake the industry bellwether Bitcoin, Ethereum has experienced explosive growth with roughly a $35 billion dollar market cap currently.

However, the cost of mining is far from free in this modern day digital gold rush. Hardware costs and energy consumption represent real financial commitment. Regardless, if you build your own systems or are a PC enthusiast, there’s a good chance you have the spare parts lying around to slap a mining rig together and get cracking

So, with our eyes on Ethereum in particular, being the new rising star, that’s exactly what we did here at HotHardware (1 ETH = ~ $277.85 as of this publication). We also learned some handy tips for tweaking your mining rig for maximum hash rate throughput, while keeping your heat and energy consumption at a minimum. We will be sharing these as well has some key hardware benchmark metrics and suggestions to help boost your personal mining potential.

Cryptocurrency Mining Essentials

To get started you will need to obtain a mining wallet to collect your digital currency, mining software, and of course your trusty PC equipped with a worthy “miner” or GPU, or better yet multiple GPUs. NiceHash is a simple software package that will get you up and running, but there are a myriad of mining app choices and wallet types out there to choose from, with lots of guides on the net to educate yourself. We're going to be focusing on the hardware and mining performance side of things in this piece, however.