With the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies, mining Bitcoin has become a popular pastime among computer enthusiasts and for some, it has even become a business. While Bitcoin mining is no longer feasible without a GPU or ASIC-based mining rig, Monero (XMR), a privacy-oriented alt-coin is still possible to mine with a regular desktop or even a cloud server.
Meanwhile, you can learn more about the benefits of using Monero over Bitcoin. In short, all Bitcoin transactions are publicly visible on the blockchain but Monero is 100% private. With Bitcoin, it’s trivial to find out which wallets a coin changed hands between since the day it was mined. Nobody can know the balance of a Monero wallet unless they have the ‘view’ key associated with that wallet.
Despite Monero being much easier to mine than Bitcoin, most likely you will still want to join a mining pool. A pool combines the computing power of many nodes to solve a cryptographic hash. It distributes a reward proportionate to the work your node performed when the pool collectively finds a block.
Even with a powerful desktop PC, it could be months or years before you find a block yourself. As of Sep 2017, the block reward is 6.45 XMR. Joining a large pool virtually guarantees that blocks will be found daily, allowing you to partake in the profits. ServeTheHome and MoneroBenchmarks.info have published some benchmarks to illustrate what hashrates you can expect using different equipment. Using the hashrate, you can calculate how many XMR you would mine (at the current difficulty) and whether you’d make a profit or loss based on your cost of power.