Though Bitcoin itself is now a hugely popular digital asset, the Bitcoin mining industry has also become widely prevalent, with individuals looking to make a passive income by mining new coins and verifying transactional blocks. While most Bitcoin mining is done using expensive hardware, you can now get your foot in the door using nothing more than a USB stick.
So, what is a USB Bitcoin miner, and how does it work?
What Is a USB Bitcoin Miner?
A USB Bitcoin miner is essentially a tiny mining rig that allows you to mine Bitcoin on a small scale. These come in the form of USB sticks and are therefore much smaller than standard Bitcoin mining hardware. As long as the relevant software has been installed, a USB Bitcoin miner can simply be inserted into a PC or laptop’s USB port to start the process.
Typically, USB Bitcoin mining uses multiple USB drives simultaneously on one device. Because your typical laptop or PC only has two or three USB ports, it’s fairly standard practice to use a USB extension hub to add even more drives and create a USB mining “rig.” As is the case for GPU rigs, the more USB miners used at once, the higher the hash rate and the greater the chance of mining a block.
USB miners also are not always connected to a typical laptop or PC. Instead, one can connect to something like a Raspberry Pi computer to reduce energy consumption and lower your bills.
But what’s the point of using such a small device to mine? Is USB crypto mining even profitable?
The Purpose of USB Bitcoin Miners
One of the biggest problems associated with Bitcoin mining is the sheer amount of energy required to run typical hardware, such as an ASIC miner. Mining hardware can be expensive enough to buy as it is, but miners must also deal with consistently high electricity bills throughout the mining venture. Depending on the hardware used, the overall cost of Bitcoin mining can come to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
This makes Bitcoin mining unaffordable and inaccessible to many, making it difficult for regular individuals to get involved. So, using a USB Bitcoin miner, those with a lower budget can still participate in the process.
While USB Bitcoin mining is not as popular as ASIC Bitcoin mining, there’s still a market for it, with an array of different miners to choose from, such as the GekkoScience Compac USB and the Avalon Nano 3. But before you purchase a USB Bitcoin miner, let’s determine whether USB Bitcoin mining is even worth it.
Is USB Bitcoin Mining Profitable?
You may already have assumed that using something as simple as a USB drive to mine probably won’t provide the highest profits. But don’t be so quick to disregard this mining method.
In January 2022, a solo Bitcoin miner made a net profit of $215,000 via USB mining. The individual, who was solo mining, managed to pull in this big win using a GekkoScience USB rig and a hash rate of around 8.3 TH/s.
The same tweet states that the USB rig had a maximum hash rate of 86 TH/s, meaning the rig was operating at just a tenth of its maximum rate when the block was mined.
However, it’s important to note that big wins like this are not commonplace in the Bitcoin mining industry. In recent years, Bitcoin mining has become extremely competitive, which is why high-intensity hardware like ASIC miners are now commonly used in the venture. So, while you can win big using a USB mining rig, such an event is very rare, even more so than using an ASIC.
USB Bitcoin Miners Are More Suited to Some than Others
If you want to maximize your chances of mining a Bitcoin block and making a large profit, and costs are not a concern, opting for a typical ASIC miner may be your best bet. However, if you’re still looking to get your foot in the mining door without spending too much money, a USB mining rig may be your best chance of reaping a reward.