Updated January 8th, 2020
Less than eight years ago, most cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, were mineable via PCs and inexpensive graphics processing units (GPUs). Interestingly enough, a Pentium 4 PC was capable of mining more than 100 BTC back in 2010. Nevertheless, this has totally changed due to multiple factors, including the rise in network difficulty of most cryptocurrencies and the advent of complex ASIC miners. This rendered the vast majority of cryptocurrencies impossible to mine using a PC, a single graphics card, or GPU in 2020.
However, as of today, there exist a number of altcoins that one can mine with a PC or with a single graphics card (GPU). Throughout this article, we'll review some of the most valuable coins that are still PC mineable, including some older coins that mostly belong to the CryptoNote family, and newer coins that have been launched during the past couple of years. If you’re looking for the best cryptocurrency to mine without investing in a mining rig, read on.
(Note: Don't expect to make a fortune mining any altcoin with your PC or GPU in 2020, as you will mostly not be able to make more than a few cents per day. You can just test the waters by mining crypto this way, to just get acquainted with the overall process of mining.)
Bytecoin attracted serious attention when its price recorded an astonishing 5,600% surge in 2017, scoring an all-time high of 100 satoshis in the beginning of 2018. Bytecoin is an altcoin that is based on the CryptoNote protocol, which promotes anonymous peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions. However, Bytecoin mining was mostly taken over by ASICs, though it is still possible to try and mine it just to try and get some experience in the field.
Xmrig is the best software for mining Bytecoin, as recommended by the coin's official blog. There are three main versions of xmrig's software: one for central processing unit (CPU) mining, another for GPU mining using AMD graphic cards, and the final version is for GPU mining using Nvidia graphics cards.
Monero is highly recognized now as one of the cryptocurrencies whose transactions are fully anonymous, so it is almost impossible to track both senders and receivers of the coin's transactions. Being a CryptoNote-based protocol, monero is also ASIC resistant so you can mine it with your PC, or just a single GPU.
In November 2019 the Monero network underwent a protocol upgrade, switching its hashing algorithm to a brand new one called RandomX, which is designed to be ASIC-resistant, meaning the network is focused on being secured by home PCs, and more specifically, CPUs rather than GPUs.
If you have a rather modern CPU, with AMD's latest Ryzen models being the best performing, you might be able to turn a profit mining monero. To start looking for a way to utilize your hardware to mine Monero, you can look in the MoneroMining reddit community or try and use a popular mining software such as XMRig.
Even though ethereum is currently the cryptocurrency with the second biggest market capital, it is surprisingly still able to be mined via CPUs or GPUs. Ethereum is highly appreciated for being a decentralized computing platform that features the "smart contract" functionality. Smart contract programming on ethereum's blockchain is done using 'Solidity', a 'turing complete' programming language that permits the construction of highly complicated conditionals, opening the door to the creation of highly sophisticated, self-governed smart contracts.
Ethminer is the most popular GPU mining software among the most experienced players in the cryptocurrency mining arena. You can mine solo or join a mining pool, to increase the frequency of rewards that you receive.
For some individuals who prefer to do less tinkering, services such as NiceHash could be a fitting solution. NiceHash is a service which allows you to simply use your hardware to mine the cryptocurrency that is the most lucrative at any given time according to market prices. The service is different than "cloud mining" services because you are not paying someone to mine for you, you are actually using your hardware and performing the computational work, which is then sold on the NiceHash marketplace for the highest bidder, while the entire process is completely transparent for you, the end user - all you have to do is click a few buttons.
For individuals who are less tech-savvy or simply prefer to not spend too much time researching this subject, this might prove to be a fairly viable option.
Horizen (ZEN) is one of the cryptocurrencies based on Zcash's zero-knowledge encryption protocol, which promotes almost fully anonymous cryptocurrency transactions. The coin's technology was highly appreciated, as reflected by a 800% rise in ZEN price during the last quarter of 2017. ZEN's anonymous transactions are pillared onto two main factors:
1- zk-SNARKS, or "Zero Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge" algorithm: This represents a proof construction where the verification of possession of a private key is possible, without any interaction between the prover and the verifier taking place.
2- Domain Fronting: This is an innovative technique that conceals the real endpoint of internet connections. Domain fronting prevents censorship across the Zencash network, rendering it almost impossible to trace zencash transactions.
You can mine Zencash with your CPU or GPU in 2020. Nicehash is recommended if you are to mine ZEN on your Windows PC. Claymore's ZCash GPU Miner works great for AMD graphic cards. For Nvidia graphic cards, it is better to use EBWF's Cuda ZCash Miner.
Vertcoin is a cryptocurrency that utilizes an alternative version of Bitcoin's PoW algorithm, known as the Lyra2REv2 PoW algorithm. Vertcoin introduced a novel modification of the Scrypt algorithm, known as the "Adaptive N-Factor". The N-Factor element of Scrypt dictates how much memory is needed to compute the work needed for the hashing functions. The N-Factor increases with time to promote ASIC resistance. Even more, to further increases ASIC resistance, Vertcoin developed a new PoW function known as Lyra2RE, a NIST5 chained algorithm that includes customizable parameters. All this promotes decentralization of the mining process, which greatly supports the philosophy of the developers of Vertcoin, who state that VTC is "the people's coin".
You can mine VTC using your CPU and/or GPU. Vertcoin's team has created a special miner that has been especially coded to mine VTC. The miner can be used to mine VTC via CPUs as well as GPUs. The miner features a simple user interface that is very easy to use. After downloading and installing the miner, all you have to do is join a mining pool and then you will be able to start mining right away. The miner currently supports AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards.
Even though Dogecoin (DOGE) was created as a "joke cryptocurrency" in 2013, it rapidly developed its very own loyal online community that supported the currency which grew reaching a market capitalization of $1 billion in January 2018. As opposed to Bitcoin which has a finite coin supply, Dogecoin's protocol is designed to add 5.256 billion DOGE each year to its network. This represents an attractive incentive for anyone wishing to take part in Dogecoin's mining. Dogecoin is based on the Scrypt hashing algorithm, so you can mine it using your CPU, despite the fact that there are currently Scrypt ASIC miners.
When mining DOGE using your CPU, use the multi-threaded CPU miner. Mining DOGE via CPUs is possible, yet the hash rate will be relatively low. You can boost your hash rate via using your graphic cards (GPU). Nvidia and AMD cards are the best options for mining DOGE. For GPU mining, you should use cgminer or cudaminer, It is better to mine via a mining pool. The great thing about DOGE mining is that it won't greatly slow down your computer, as the mining process runs in the background, especially when your machine is idle.
Mimblewimble is a privacy-oriented protocol. Coins built using Mimblewimble aim to solve the problem of scalability while ensuring strong privacy protections.
The two primary Mimblewimble coins, both of which launched in early 2019, are Grin and Beam. Grin is a volunteer-driven effort, whereas Beam has secured VC funding. Both coins use a POW algorithm and can be mined at home using your GPU or CPU, as they have taken steps to prevent ASIC mining. One of these coins may prove to be the best cryptocurrency for home miners in 2020.
All other CryptoNotes are ASIC resistant too, so you can still mine them with your CPU or a GPU. These include dashcoin (DSH), fantomCoin (FCN), quazarCoin (QCN), monetaVerde (MCN), infinium-8 (INF8), digitalNote (XDN) and Aeon (AEON). However, it is not advisable to try to mine infinium-8 or monetaverde, because both coins are totally dead.
(Note: Dashcoin (DSH) is an altcoin based on the CryptoNote algorithm, which is different from the altcoin named Dash (DASH))