Cryptocurrencies are steadily gaining in popularity and crypto products are being evaluated by watchdogs across the globe as investment options. But there is a way to gain from this crypto-mania other than by investing in cryptocurrencies or crypto products: cryptocurrency mining. Also called crypto mining, it is a process of adding transactions to the blockchain and also releasing new currency. 

The mining process involves competing with other cryptominers to solve complicated mathematical problems. The first cryptocurrency miner to crack the code is rewarded by being able to authorize the transaction. And in return for the service provided, cryptominers earn small amounts of cryptocurrency of their own. Since the difficulty in mining of various crypto currency is constantly changing, and what’s profitable today might not be tomorrow.

One of the things that cryptocurrency miners look at before choosing a currency to mine is the short-term profitability. Which means one has to stay up-to-date with changing mining conditions for different projects.

Take bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency.  It is getting harder to mine each new bitcoin, as the pool available for mining shrinks by each passing day. You need dedicated hardware to mine bitcoin now, as the normal household PC just doesn’t have the computing power, not even when equipped with the high-end graphics cards. But the rising entry barrier has not stopped the ranks of bitcoin miners from growing.  

Recently, Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace declared that cryptocurrency mining will be officially recognized as an industry, at least within its borders.  

Let's look at the top 5 cryptocurrencies that have gained popularity in 2018 among cryptominers and why.  

Litecoin 

Litecoin is a peer-to-peer currency that also enables fast payments globally. It has quicker confirmation rates than bitcoin, better storage efficiency, and reliable support. 

Litecoin was massively influenced by bitcoin when its creator Charlie Lee developed it in 2011. The theory and the setup are similar to that of bitcoin; however, there are a few major differences that set the two cryptocurrencies apart. One that Litecoin’s block generation time is 2.5 minutes compared to bitcoin’s 10 minutes. As a result, litecoin transactions are confirmed about four times faster than that of bitcoin.

This is another coin whose mining community is big on Reddit. Litecoin currently has a market cap of $3 billion, at a price of $54.38

Dash 

Dash is an open sourced currency that allows for instant transactions. The main reason Dash is mined is that it private, safe, and can be used to make real purchases, Dash has partnerships with many digital payments platforms like BlockPay, Rewards.com, and Bitnovo. Dash was the first self-funding and self-governing protocol, as well as one of the first decentralized autonomous organizations. Developed to solve most of the problems usually associated with bitcoin, its main selling points are instant transactions (InstantSend), enhanced privacy (PrivateSend), and security (transactions are confirmed by a 200 TerraHash algorithm). 

Dash, which was valued at $11 at the beginning of 2017, and is now priced at $201, giving it a market capitalization of $1.68 billion. 

Dogecoin

The popular meme-based altcoin is another cryptocurrency that can be mined using a PC. Dogecoin is a decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency that enables one to send money online. 

Dogecoin's mascot is Shiba Inu, a Japanese dog breed that was popularized as an online meme. The creator intended Dogecoin to be an alternative to bitcoin that could potentially reach a much larger demographic. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts often using Dogecoin as a way to tip fellow users online.

Dogecoin, which began as a joke, is now the 20th largest coin, with a market cap of more than $713 million. Dogecoin hit its highest all-time level in January, touching a market cap of over $2 billion. Because it continues to be popular within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, it is also popular with miners. Dogecoin is different from bitcoin because it uses the Scrypt algorithm

Zcash 

Zcash is another privacy focused cryptocurrency. One of the attributes that makes it a popular choice among cryptocurrency miners is that it ASIC resistant. Which means that it is still very profitable to mine Zcash using the much cheaper GPU (graphics processing unit). 

Because of its privacy features, Zcash is supported by the likes of Edward Snowden, the former US Intelligence contractor-turned-whistleblower . He claims that its “privacy properties are truly unique." 

Zcash has a market cap $563 million. 

Bytecoin

Bytecoin is the very first private untraceable cryptocurrency. It is based on the CryptoNote protocol and allows for anonymous peer-to-peer transactions. It can be obtained with the help of Xmrig software that’s available in two versions– for GPU and a simple PC.

One of the Bytecoin miners on their Seemit blog mentions: "Bytecoin is a cryptocurrency that boasts of true privacy and speed of transaction on bytecoin is approximately 120sec, this is very fast when compared to bitcoin speed which is becoming much more slower and slower by the day. This fact that it offers true transaction privacy and speed has drawn me particularly to this coin".

Bytecoin is currently valued at $0.0020 and ranks at 24 in terms of the market cap, which is $375 million, as tracked by CoinMarketCap