Anyway, getting on to the point of this post, all of the cryptocoin miners know by now that difficulty and pricing for every coin fluctuates quite a bit. Lately, BTC and LTC are just increasing in difficulty quite rapidly, but that's because for those that have the latest hardware (second-generation ASICs for BTC and 7900 or R9 290 series GPUs for LTC) are making great returns. What if you want to skip the two most popular coins and instead mine something not as well known? What if you created a pool that would look at all of the major Scrypt-based coins (excluding LTC) and choose the one that is currently the most profitable to mine? What if the pool automatically converted all of your alt-coins into BTC every day? That pool is Hash Cows. (Other similar pools exist, but Hash Cows is what I'm testing right now.) From their FAQ:
What Does your Pool Do? The pool automatically mines the most profitable coin from our list of available coins and the miner has the option in their settings page to either be paid out in that coin, or directly in Bitcoin. This decision can be made on a coin by coin basis, with some being paid out as the original coin and some being paid out in Bitcoin, and in any combination.Sounds great, doesn't it? So here's the deal: I have about 6500KHash/sec that is currently going into LTC mining, which nets me a bit more than 2 LTC per day. At current LTC prices, that's $70 or so per day, with an electricity cost of $10, so a net profit of $60. It's not enough for me to quit my day job by any stretch, and certainly it's not something I would feel confident in depending on right now, but it's a nice bonus -- plus the PCs help heat my house in the winter. (Summer isn't so nice, though!)
By way of comparison, Hash Cows has a profitability chart showing the returns you can expect from their service. Based on that chart, doing 6500KHash (6.5MHash) would get me anywhere from 0.039 BTC (11-16-2013) to as much as 0.24 BTC (12-09-2013) in a day. Even at $900 the first value isn't very interesting: $35 in a day is less than half of what I would get from mining LTC. The second option on the other hand looks really nice, as it would mean a whopping $216 per day -- about three times as much as I make by mining LTC! It was enough for me to point all of my rigs at stratum01.hashco.ws:8888 for the past day and a bit. (Note that I kept LTC mining as a secondary fail-over pool for mining as well.) And the result? Well, that's where we run into problems.
The first day I only had my PCs mining at Hash Cows for maybe a third of the day. Then I noticed that all of my rigs had switched back to LTC mining, and apparently Hash Cows' stratum proxy was having problems. Anyway, my payout for the first day was pretty uninspiring: 0.00913815 BTC ($8.22 at the current price). I hoped that by devoting a full 24 hours to mining I would get a better result, and I did: 0.04457882 BTC ($40.12). That's still about half of what I would have earned mining LTC.
There are some other issues as well, like the bit about automatically mining the most profitable Scrypt-based alt-coin. That's basically false, or their algorithm is really bad, or their statistics chart is totally inaccurate (and has bad math). If I look at the returns from their pool right now, just in the past few hours I see 1:14:10 spent mining WDC generating 0.004423 BTC (that would work out to 0.08588 BTC per day), and then I see another where 43:58 was spent on MEM generating 0.001778 BTC (that would work out to 0.05823 BTC per day).
You might be inclined to call this a scam of some form, but I'm going to give it a shot for another day and see how it goes. I've also noted my exact LTC balance at my mining pool so I can see how many LTC I mine when (not if!) Hash Cows is a bit too slow at responding and my rigs fail over to Hash Cows. We'll see how it goes tomorrow, but right now it's not looking very good for Hash Cows. There is a lovely disclaimer at the bottom of the profits chart, though:
* Please note, the data above is a somewhat small sample size taken from miners known to have mined 24/7 and auto-exchanged 100% of coins. Your results may vary slightly based on reject rate or receiving non-btc for some coins etc.Like I said, I mined 24 hours on Hash Cows yesterday and their chart just doesn't match my result. I think part of the problem is inefficiency though -- every time they switch coins, my miners all seem to swap over to my secondary pool for several minutes, and they tend to switch coins every 20-30 minutes on average. That could mean I earned $40 from Hash Cows and another unknown amount from LTC mining (perhaps as much as 1 LTC), which would then be more or less a tie. But if you're looking at the chart above and expecting to make three times as much as you would get mining LTC, you're likely going to be sorely disappointed.
There is an upside however: while it looks like LTC is currently outperforming Hash Cows, if the difficulty of mining LTC continues to go up 5-10% every few days that may not be the case in another month or two. Given the choice between mining 0.5 LTC per day or the 0.045 BTC I got from Hash Cows yesterday, they would come out ahead. That's of course assuming their mining profitability doesn't go to crap in the meantime.
To be continued....