Over the past few weeks since the on-chain pooling protocol was released I have been changing my Chia pool using my 454 Chia plots every week or so trying to get a sense of payouts and experience with each pool. At a really high level, the 5 different pools I tried all roughly paid out the same. Not exactly, though, and I will discuss the differences in this article. The 5 pools I am looking at here are SpacePool, FlexPool, PoolChia, 21Chia and XCHPool. I did not keep detailed records because I didn’t plan on this until partway through the process – it started out just for me – and I also don’t feel that a week in each pool would have been enough time to offer actual precise numbers anyway.
The first big thing is size. To ensure I had a good baseline I did pool with SpacePool for a time. This was a mostly consistent experience because of how quickly blocks come in that pool. With SpacePool and nearly 50TB plotted I was getting about 0.01 XCH per 22 – 24 hours. The other two that were very consistent were PoolChia and FlexPool with 21Chia and XCHPool noticeably less consistent. This is funny because of the pools I looked at, XCHPool is the second largest. Again, I should re-iterate that there were no significant payout differences over the week between any pools, at least not outside the margin of error, but consistency matters. With XCHPool and 21Chia I was getting 0.02 XCH every 2 days or so. With FlexPool and PoolChia it was again 0.01 XCH every day, with the only real differences in difficulty and how that amount was calculated.
To that point, FlexPool was by far the most consistent. There are a lot of arguments against their approach, both their FlexFarmer software and their custom pool code that sets partial difficulty to 1 for everyone. But for what they are trying to accomplish it works very well. PoolChia and SpacePool were almost the same once you got going but with them my difficulty would set to between 15 and 18 and partials would be far less frequent. I think a lot of this will come down to your personal farm size as well, and if you are still plotting, and how much you care about hour-to-hour accuracy. 21Chia and XCHPool were more inconsistent again, but that usually meant bigger, more randomly sized payments less frequently.
As for the user interfaces, they are all really different. Again, FlexPool has a very good one having had their Ethereum pool interface to model from, but they use the XCH payout address to show the user stats rather than the LauncherID, so changing payout addresses on the same NFT will show as a different user for FlexPool. They also use IP address of the farmer to authenticate the web client admin changes, which is usable but definitely not secure. This shows that their experience can also hold them back, as doing things the “Ethereum way” isn’t always best in the world of Chia.
The others all use LauncherID to reference the user and I did not need to make any settings changes with them, as the payouts were all automatic and just hit the payout addressed when joining the pool. They did all offer stats, and in fact all of them improved their interfaces even during the week I pooled with them. All 5 are in constant development and the Pool operators were very accessible. They actually all offer a shocking amount of support to farmers, with the pool discord servers generally being the busiest places in Chia.
All in all from what I could tell, the experience was overall mostly the same between them. It didn’t make a huge difference to my bottom line which of the pools I was part of. The size of the pool didn’t really make a huge difference to consistency although its possible the more consistent pools are able to more easily grow since people seem to like that. And that brings me to my final point, which is that FlexPool felt the best to farm with. They weren’t, and there are definitely tradeoffs to their approach. But for my setup they definitely were the most consistent with their static difficulty. I think a lot of tweaking is going to be done of the next few months until the pools get things right for most users.