The beating heart of cryptocurrency networks lies in nodes, diligently running specialized client software, ensuring the smooth operation of this groundbreaking chain. In the dynamic realm of Ethereum clients for 2023, the competition is there, with Geth, Nethermind, and Besu as undeniable leaders.
As we delve into this topic, we will review the top three Ethereum clients and guide you through a node setup process. We’ll also explain nodes and conclude with the best crypto nodes to run.
Ethereum clients: Highlights
Ethereum, functioning as a decentralized network, relies on an extensive network of nodes, each equipped with client software to carry out essential tasks.
- These clients are pivotal in the blockchain ecosystem, as they facilitate and supervise a wide range of operations, including transaction processing, smart contract execution, and the smooth deployment of decentralized applications (dApps);
- There are multiple groups developing the software using different programming languages with Geth, Nethermind, and Besu being the leaders in the Ethereum clients space of 2023;
- Selecting the optimal Ethereum-running software is a matter of personal preference; nonetheless, statistics highlight Geth client as the frontrunner in this regard.
Follow us as we offer a detailed analysis of the leading options to help you make an informed choice in this frontier.
What is an Ethereum client?
If we try to unpack how the ETH network functions, we’ll see that the entire system comprises many elements with clients in the middle. In the context of blockchain technology, a "client" typically refers to software that facilitates connectivity and interaction with a blockchain network, while also enforcing protocol rules on the participating nodes.
In other words, clients all work on the same protocol and ensure the nodes follow the rules of the “game” regardless of which specific software a separate node operator is using.
Bitcoin predominantly relies on a single robust implementation, where alternative clients enjoy limited popularity. In sharp contrast, Ethereum embraces a variety of competing software written in different languages. Multiple versions of clients existing makes the ecosystem more diverse and resilient, and hence promotes network health.
Ethereum nodes explained
The client software’s fundamental objective is to be able to turn a high-spec PC into a node, talking to all other machines peer-to-peer so there are thousands of them on the network. They’re keeping track of the activity within the blockchain and making sure the information is spread across all the nodes.
Image from O’Reilly
If we’re being more specific, various node types have distinct responsibilities, namely:
- Archive: can go back to the very first blocks and provide data about the network at that state, consumes terabytes of storage for it bears the unabridged version of the ledger;
- Full: has local complete copies of all the latest blocks so that it can verify transactions on the go, normally doesn’t store older states to avoid overloading the storage capacity;
- Light: operates with ‘zipped’ versions of blocks to unpack more detailed data when requested.
Users can specify which type to opt for when setting up a client of their choice, where the majority of existing software allows for this optionality.
Why run a node?
The decision to operate a node empowers users to take an active role in network integrity and autonomy. Among other benefits of running an Ethereum node besides directly supporting the ecosystem is real-time access to unfiltered blockchain data.
Not only that, for blockchain service and product developers accessing the Ethereum mainnet and its test networks, including the newly launched Holesky testnet, is a gold standard for three major reasons:
- Deliver transactions to the ETH network and independently verify on-chain data;
- Create and test smart contracts and land them on the blockchain;
- Set up interactivity between decentralized applications and blockchain network.
Everyone can volunteer and join the community of node operators. However, Ethereum node requirements make it increasingly difficult to step up to that challenge.
Navigating the top 3 Ethereum clients
To this point, the dilemma of choosing the best crypto node to run boils down to selecting one of the available clients. Since different clients work the same in the order they reach an agreement and support the network, people’s choice in the specific implementation depends on the user experience it provides.
Some factors that may influence preferences are the availability of detailed guides and tutorials, a responsive community or support team, hardware specs, and overall performance. We’ve packed some of the widely considered characteristics in the table below:
|#||Client||Language||Operating Systems||Full Node Snap / Fast Sync||Recommended Components||Special Features|
|1||Geth||Golang||Linux, Windows, macOS, ARM||50min /2 hours||Processor: Quad-core, RAM: 16GB, Disk space: 2TB||Private networks|
|2||Besu||Java||Linux, Windows, macOS||6 hours / 1.5 days||RAM: 8GB, Storage: 3TB||Bonsai & Forest Trie data storage, Public and private permissioned networks|
|3||Nethermind||C# .NET||Linux, Windows, macOS, ARM||3-12 hours||Quad-core Processor, 16GB RAM, 2TB Storage||Auto-pruning|
Let’s briefly analyze the leading options to help you make an informed choice in this dynamic digital frontier
Geth Ethereum client
Supported by the Ethereum Foundation, Geth is at the forefront of offering a smooth node experience.
Image by Geth
What is Geth?
Go implementation of the protocol and user-favorite client, Go-Ethereum is praised for its stability and developer team efforts at maintaining it optimized for low-power hardware. Notably, BNB Smart Chain (BSC) also uses Geth as the main client software.
Geth client features
Geth offers a spectrum of features, from built-in key management to the ability to set up private networks without connecting to every peer. Snap synchronization mode recently added as a default option significantly reduces the stress of waiting days and weeks to catch up with the rest of the network.
With its extensive user base, the client was often put into a Geth vs OpenEthereum narrative, however, the latter being deprecated in 2021 makes Geth the oldest and most battle-tested software for running nodes.
Nethermind Ethereum client
Nethermind another client in our list that keeps building and enhancing with the help of Ethereum Foundation.
Image by Nethermind
What is Netheremind and its main feature?
The C# version of an ETH node client is valued for providing a straightforward user experience and customizable features. The developer team is actively introducing additional elements, such as a dedicated dashboard for effortless node health monitoring and the Paprika tool allowing to efficiently solve storage constraints.
The second most used software according to the Client Diversity website, Nethermind is positioning itself as the fastest of all available clients in the ETH space.
Besu Ethereum client
Hyperlesger is a prominent name in the blockchain industry that also offers its client to the general public and enterprises.
Image from GitHub
What is Besu?
Hyperledger Besu is the Java-powered client for running an Ethereum node, which found its niche in offering highly secure closed “permissioned” networks. However, participating in the public ETH mainnet with Besu is also the case.
One of the favored features of the client is the automated pruning that keeps the disk space optimized without manual intervention. Additionally, the community around Besu is actively involved in improving the codebase.
Eventually, enterprises and prominent crypto companies running Besu adds a vote of confidence in the underlying software.
How to run Geth full node
As of Q4 2023, close to 85% of nodes in the Ethereum networks are running Geth. While such a strong commitment to a specific client is considered harmful to the ecosystem as a whole, a large number of users devoted to one application attests to its reliability.
For anyone willing to try and set up a node with Geth, the process will only take a few short steps, which we’ll briefly describe below. Please note that according to official documentation, the client is not currently serving Geth light node for ETH Proof-of-Stake participants.
- For a start, get a package from official website or use the preferred package manage to proceed with the terminal:
Linux: sudo apt install ethereum
brew tap ethereum/ethereum
brew install ethereum
Provided you have downloaded Go on your computer, you can also clone the repository and compile it locally from the source code.
- To run the geth full node specify the synchronization mode that will define how much information you want your node to store and verify. When not specified, Geth will automatically go with the snap sync option.Here’s the command to initiate for running a full node:
geth --syncmode full
- Post-Merge Ethereum splits up consensus and execution clients, where the first type is responsible for validator-related algorithms and propagating information across other clients. Execution engine, in turn, is the one running the code and processing smart contracts.
Thus, to run a node using Geth, it’s essential to concurrently operate a compatible consensus client. Make sure to integrate Prysm, Teku, or Lighthouse, when setting up a full node.
- Be prepared to wait several days while your node is looking for peers and fetches all the blocks.
Geth vs GetBlock Ethereum RPC
Running a client is a great way to manifest your presence in the decentralized scene and get a self-maintained infrastructure for dApp development. Yet, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons prior to committing.
Namely, just as driving a car requires some level of training to do the task, running Geth full node may be far from easy for non-technical users. While it’s still relatively easy to set up and stick your feet in, the troubleshooting may cause major hurdles. Additionally, potential upgrades coming to Ethereum may bump up hardware requirements, which is not a feasible option for at-home operators.
With node service providers like GetBlock, users find themselves freed from the intricacies and expenses of hardware and maintenance. Moreover, the dedicated support team stands ready to address any queries or concerns, ensuring a smooth journey into the world of Ethereum nodes.
If it sounds like worth trying, set up an account with only MetaMask and take the first step towards simplified and guided access to GetBlock’s nodes powering over 50 blockchains.
Ethereum stands out as not only the most decentralized and secure protocol but also an ecosystem of choices and options. Allowing for competition among the software developers, the network gives an opportunity to decide on the best Ethereum client for every user. Whereas different clients can have differing optimizations and trade-offs, users are free to choose the one that suits their needs the most.
If you’re looking for a quicker route to establish connectivity with ETH nodes, why not explore the simplicity and efficiency of GetBlock's service? Experience a seamless connection without the need for extensive setup processes. Your gateway to a smoother blockchain experience is just a few clicks away.
Best Ethereum clients 2023: FAQ
Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section, where we explore the most common queries regarding the topic.
What are Ethereum clients?
Software designed for Ethereum includes clients which upon installation enable local computers to download and store the network database and send requests to the blockchain. Equipped with such software, a PC is transformed into a crypto node, a participant in a giant ETH network.
How do Ethereum clients differ from each other?
Ethereum clients compete with each other in terms of supported tools, performance optimization, security, and level of community adoption. Some clients may prioritize certain aspects like faster synchronization processing, while others may focus on supporting the latest improvement proposals (EIPs).
What is Geth and why is it considered one of the best Ethereum clients in 2023?
Geth stands tall as a widely embraced and esteemed choice. Its reputation for unwavering stability, impressive performance, and the dynamism of its community developers make it a standout selection. Furthermore, Geth's roadmap, charting continuous updates and enhancements, positions it as a compelling and future-forward choice.
What are the hardware requirements for running a full Ethereum node?
Hardware requirements for spinning a full node can be somewhat flexible and subject to various factors such as your choice of a client, the current network activity, and your expectations regarding node performance. It's essential to prioritize a powerful multi-core processor, a sufficient amount of RAM, and generous storage capacity.