Many people are finally jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon after realising how lucrative acquiring crypto can be. There are various ways of acquiring BTC, but using a USB bitcoin miner is a method that is not often spoken about.
Mining is quite a commonly used term in the field of cryptocurrency. Most people familiar with the way that cryptocurrencies work are also well-informed about the mining process. However, when we picture the mining process, we usually have massive stacks of hardware in mind. But, as you will see, this isn’t always the case.
There is a much wider variety of mining hardware options these days. Of particular interest is the USB bitcoin miner. It is much smaller than the most commonly used mining hardware and may be handy for upgrading hash rates or practising. In this article, we look at the miner and give you a run-down of everything you need to know about it.
Before we tackle the topic of the USB bitcoin miner, let’s do a quick recap on the mining process. Essentially, mining is the process of generating BTC. Miners use their computers to solve complex mathematical puzzles, which lead to a 64-digit number called a hash. Once the miner has found the correct hash, a new block is added to the blockchain.
For completing this tough task, miners are rewarded with bitcoin. There are thousands of miners on the blockchain, so to prevent BTC from being generated too quickly, the mathematical puzzles become more difficult as the blockchain grows. However, a new block is created (and thus new BTC are released) roughly every 10 minutes.
Miners are rewarded with BTC because they are doing important work without which the bitcoin blockchain would fail to function. By creating new blocks, miners are verifying and validating BTC transactions and ensuring that there are no instances of double-spending or illegitimate transactions.
Bitcoin mining can be very profitable. However, it is also an extremely expensive task. The process requires lots of power (in the form of electricity) and strong computational power, which means you need all the expensive hardware. And, even if you do everything right, you aren’t guaranteed to earn BTC, as somebody else may find the 64-digit number before you do.
What Is A USB Bitcoin Miner?
So far, we understand that mining is done using electronic devices or computers with extremely high computational power. Initially, cryptocurrency was only mined with big computers. However, as the cryptocurrency industry has progressed, there has been a push toward something more practical: the USB bitcoin miner.
So, essentially, a USB bitcoin miner is the hardware you need to mine BTC, but in a small and compact size. A run-of-the-mill BTC miner is built on an ASIC process and is about the size of a shoebox, while the USB bitcoin miner is much smaller and can fit in your pocket.
The History Behind It
Luckily for those who wanted to participate in the mining process, technology has quickly evolved and thus has made mining possible on home computers. Of course, there are still some issues, like a large amount of needed power and limitations of the profit you can produce. However, the mining process has improved a lot over the years due to better hardware.
Initially, bitcoin mining was carried out with the regular Central Processing Unit (CPU), an important component of a normal computer. Then, the mining efficiency was increased using Graphic Processing Units (GPUs), which are relatively faster.
After that, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) came into use. These were more efficient than CPUs and GPUs. They performed the calculations to find the hash much faster than the previous technologies. FPGAs were the first kind of mining device that allowed for the connectivity of USB bitcoin miners.
FPGAs have been beaten out by Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). These consume much less power and are faster when it comes to processing speeds.
How Does A USB Bitcoin Miner Work?
In the most basic terms, the USB bitcoin miner completes the mining function at a particular speed of hashing when it is connected to a computer running the correct software. Many miners can be inserted at once to upgrade the hashing output. For instance, if one were to connect six miners, each with 335 MH/s or mega hashes per second, they would generate a total of 2 gigahashes of mining power.
Most commonly, people use a USB hub to connect several miners because most computers come with only around two to four USB ports. Once the USB hub has been acquired, you plug it into a computer, but before you do so, you need to ensure that the computer has the relevant software installed. Examples of this software include BFGMiner, Asteroid, MacMiner, and MinePeon.
This software can control USB miners and their functions and operations. The relevant software will also allow these miners’ performance to be monitored in real-time.
What is interesting to note here is that you have options about what to plug your USB bitcoin miner hub into. Some connect it to their home computers (laptops or completely standard PCs). Others, however, opt for the more affordable Raspberry Pi.
Advantage And Disadvantages Of A USB Bitcoin Miner
As with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages to opting for a USB miner. Let’s look at each to help decide if USB mining is something you might be interested in.
The biggest advantage of going the USB route is the price. This option is much more affordable than regular miners and can be found on many popular sites like eBay. You could end up paying around $100 for a USB miner, while a regular set-up would cost you thousands.
These miners are also easy to transport, so it wouldn’t be much of a hassle if you are moving or simply want to work in a different location. As a result of its size, you also won’t have to purchase server racks or other appropriate storage systems.
Finally, they can be connected to any device; they commonly don’t heat a lot (but at times, they do), so they often do not require cooling, and they do not require unique energy courses either.
The main disadvantage of USB miners, and admittedly it’s quite a big one, is that it comes with a relatively low rate of hasting. This is because most USB miners usually have only one ASIC chip installed. To have access to a better hashing rate, you will need to buy several USB miners, which may be costly depending on how many you want.
Examples Of USB Bitcoin Miner Options To Choose From
If you’ve decided to invest in a USB miner, then you should know that there are a few options available to choose from.
Avalon Nano 3
This miner is quite simple to use. All you need to do is plug it into your computer, and it’s ready to go. No fans are required for this device, either. However, this device has been touted as best for use only when you are practising mining. This is because its hash rate is only 3.6GH/s, so it is unlikely to bring you profits and will probably just cover the costs of the network you’re using.
Gekkoscience Compac USB Stick
With a mining capacity of 9.5GH/s, this option is better. It takes little power and is a silent device. However, this one is a bit more complex to install, with several steps, including downloading CG Miner, creating a username and worker ID on slushpool.com, and setting up the frequency.
ASIC Bitcoin Miner USB
This one has a hash power of only 330Mh/s, which is unlikely to bring you much profit. In addition, this option will require active cooling, as it tends to get very hot.
To use this miner, you must download the relevant drivers and mining software (CG Miner). Then make a payment for performing mining and setting a frequency.
While you might need several USB bitcoin miners to make a profit (which can end up being expensive), they might still be a good idea to get your hands on. They could be used to practice your skills or to upgrade pre-existing hash rates if you prefer.
If you’re planning on using only a USB bitcoin miner and hoping to earn significant profits, you might want to rethink your strategy. Nevertheless, the device makes mining a more accessible task and can allow you to do it from the comfort of your couch.