Top 3 bitcoin mining pools you need to know about
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Are you a rookie in the bitcoin mining business? Are you considering switching to a new pool? Either way, this article will guide you through the three most popular mining communities. Bear in mind that it is not cloud mining, so you need your own equipment to join the pools in question.

Let's start with the basics: a mining pool is a group of miners uniting (pooling) their efforts to accelerate block generation. What is the point? Simple: you get a more predictable individual income, since the overall pool reward is divided between all members. Your share is proportionate to your hardware power.

Here are some aspects to consider when making a choice:

Size

Bigger pools offer more regular, but relatively smaller payments, while smaller pools provide less frequent, but more significant lump sums. In any case, if you are thinking long-term, there is little to no difference in revenue between the two options.

Reward method

Usually rewards are calculated according to one of the following schemes:

  • Pay-per-Share (PPS): You get rewarded for every share you submit to the pool.
  • Proportionate (PROP): Your reward varies in proportion to the number of submitted shares.
  • Score-based: Your reward depends on how much time has elapsed since you submitted your share – so being idle will cost you money and is not a good idea.
  • Pay per Last N Shares (PPLNS): Your reward is based on the last N shares you have submitted to the pool, similarly to PROP.

Fees

Some mining pools do not charge fees, while others do and might not be too straightforward about it – so watch out! Rates usually range from 0 to 3%.

Do take into account the reliability and security of the pool. With maximum details, especially on how easy it is to withdraw your funds, you will be able to pick a pool that meets your particular needs.

Top 3 bitcoin mining pools

SlushPool

The pioneer among bitcoin mining pools, this Czech-based pool went live in 2010 and is now managed by Satoshi Labs. SlushPool adopted the score-based reward method to retain members and prevent switching between pools.

According to Blockchain.info, the pool possesses 10% of the network hash rate (as of 4 May 2018) with every transaction charged a fixed 2% fee that is later distributed among the miners. You can set a specific threshold, and your funds will be released automatically when you reach it. Additionally, there is an opportunity to mine Zcash (ZEC) free of charge.

Boasting an easy-to-use dashboard that ensures regularly updated detalization, this medium-sized pool is considered to be one of the best out there, and rightly so.

In brief:

  • The very first bitcoin mining pool
  • Stellar reputation
  • Score-based rewards, hence decreased cheating risks
  • User-friendly dashboard
  • Fixed 2% fee

Antpool

The biggest bitcoin mining pool to date with 14.5% of the network hash rate, the Chinese Antpool run by Bitmain Technologies offers members to choose their preferred reward method. You can pick either PPLNS with a 0% fee or PPS with a 2.5% fee, depending on what advantages you are looking for.

Rewards are shared once every day with a 0.001 BTC minimum threshold. The simple and straightforward interface will appeal especially to the industry newcomers: your revenues and hashing speed are displayed on the dashboard, and among various security settings available are two-factor authentication, email notifications and wallet locks. Being widely recognized and having an impressive record, Antpool is a great option for bitcoin miners who make their first steps in the business.

In brief

  • Two alternative reward methods (PPLNS or PPS)
  • User-friendly interface
  • Adjustable security settings
  • Considerable pool size results in smaller payouts

F2Pool

The Chinese F2Pool became operational in 2013 and today holds 5.8% of the network hash rate. Rewards are calculated with the PPS method, but the fee can be challenging – 4% is way above average rates.

Besides Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies available for mining with F2Pool are Litecoin (LTC/USD), Ethereum (ETH/USD) and Zcash (ZEC/USD). Payouts are made on a daily basis upon passing the 0.001 BTC threshold. English interface, not commonly found among Chinese pools, and simple, concise information display make this pool especially suitable for less experienced miners.

In brief:

  • BTC, LTC, ETH and ZEC mining services
  • Regular payouts
  • Very low threshold
  • Challenging 4% fee

By Lidia Ezhevichnaya

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