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Explained: USB Bitcoin miners — their benefits and limitations

Explained: USB Bitcoin miners — their benefits and limitations

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By CNBCTV18.com  IST (Published)

Mini

Most people associate Bitcoin mining with powerful computers and massive energy consumption. However, it is also possible to mine BTC using something as tiny as a flash drive. Of course, not just any flash drive will do. You need to have a specific device known as a USB Bitcoin Miner.

Most people associate Bitcoin mining with powerful computers and massive energy consumption. However, it is also possible to mine BTC using something as tiny as a flash drive. Of course, not just any flash drive will do. You need to have a specific device known as a USB Bitcoin Miner.
What is a USB Bitcoin miner?
It is a tiny device you can plug into your PC or laptop to start mining Bitcoin. This USB stick is essentially a mini mining rig that can increase the processing power and hashrate of your computer. Hashrate is a computational unit used to measure the speed of mining. It is measured in units of hash/second.
However, one USB BTC miner alone is not enough. It will never be able to match the hashrate of a full-fledged ASIC mining rig. Therefore, you must combine several such devices, often through a USB extension board, to start mining Bitcoin.
Together, these devices can provide the required hash rate to solve the complex puzzles that are part of the Bitcoin mining process. Once you have enough USB mining rigs connected to your computer, you must install the correct mining software, and you can begin mining.
Here are the top 5 USB Bitcoin mining hardware:
-ASIC Bitcoin Miner USB
-Gekkoscience Compac USB stick
-Avalon nano 3
-Bitmain Antrouter R1
-21 Bitcoin Computer
How does it compare with mainstream mining?
USB miners let an individual participate in the mining process and compete with other miners in the validation of transactions and minting of new coins. But they don’t bring a sufficiently high level of computing power to make a dent in the established mining industry, which uses high-powered and cost-intensive ASIC rigs.
This is why instances of USB Bitcoin miners adding new blocks and receiving block rewards are few and far between. However, such instances do exist. For example, in January 2022, CryptoPotato reported two separate individuals who managed to add new blocks with their USB mining rigs and received block rewards upwards of $260,000. One of them was using a Gekkoscience Compac USB stick.
Advantages of USB mining
One of the key advantages of USB mining is that it lets an ordinary blockchain enthusiast participate in the mining process with any computing device — a laptop, PC, or tablet. It can equip someone with the know-how and hands-on experience of the entire mining process without needing expensive ASIC mining rigs.
Low cost of entry
When it comes to individual mining, the cost of ASIC hardware can prove to be a serious barrier to entry. This is because ASIC miners can cost upwards of $4,000, compared to a few hundred dollars for USB miners. The low cost of entry allows more solo miners to participate in the mining process. But mining of bitcoin is becoming ever more competitive. These days, to compete with the large mining firms, an ASIC rig is deemed as a minimum requirement.
Energy-efficient
Another significant benefit of USB mining is that it’s highly energy-efficient compared to ASIC mining, which is notorious for high energy consumption. In fact, one of the most virulent criticisms of Bitcoin is that its mining consumes so much energy that it is considered environmentally unsustainable.
Limitations of USB mining
Although USB miners allow anyone to get into crypto mining without committing significant investments, they don’t provide sufficient mining speed to compete with ASIC miners and mining firms. USB miners only allow solo miners to get a taste of mining and make some gains if they get lucky.
Cloud mining is a better alternative for individuals who want to mine Bitcoin. You can use rented cloud computing power to beginning mining without installing or directly running any hardware or related software.
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