Is a USB Bitcoin Miner Profitable?

3 min read

Bitcoin mining is a popular activity that can also be profitable. However, the only way to be a profitable bitcoin miner is to use the fastest and most energy-efficient mining rigs called ASICs, which have been specifically designed to mine bitcoin. A bitcoin USB miner is no longer profitable as it cannot possibly compete with ASICs anymore.

Individuals sometimes think that mining at home is their only option. This is not true; the advent of hosted mining has made mining accessible to anyone, even if they lack the technical expertise.

One of the drawbacks of mining at home is the amount of noise a modern mining rig generates: between 40 and 85 decibels, comparable to most vacuum cleaners. This is not suitable for a living area given that miners ideally operate 24/7, so naturally people get creative and look for other solutions, such as the sometimes discussed USB miner.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of USB miners? Are they worth buying and can they make a profit?

What Is a USB Bitcoin Miner?

A USB Bitcoin Miner is a small device that can be plugged into the USB port of a PC or laptop to mine bitcoin. It is possible to plug multiple USB miners into a USB hub to boost the collective mining power of the computer.

A setup of dozens of USB Bitcoin miners plugged into USB hubs

Is a USB Bitcoin Miner Profitable?

Daily returns for a USB Bitcoin Miner are likely to be a fraction of a cent making the USB miner unprofitable. The size of a miner’s payout is dependent on their share of the hashrate in a mining pool. Modern ASICs have a hash rate of at least 100 terahashes per second, which means they are doing 100 trillion hash calculations every single second. Modern mining rigs only use around 19-30 Watts to do one trillion hashes. For comparison, some USB miners claim a hash rate of 25 gigahashes per second, which is 25 billion hash calculations every second. This is 4,000 times slower than an ASIC, and USB miners do not use 4,000 times less electricity than an ASIC.

A USB device cannot possibly compete with ASICs anymore. Anyone stating otherwise is being dishonest and trying to sell something that cannot come close to making a profit.

Some hobbyists may look at USB miners as an accessible way to learn a bit about Bitcoin mining, but know that there is a 100% chance to lose the money invested, and it is an unrealistic experience compared to real Bitcoin mining.

For those interested in mining as an individual, take a look at River Mining. You buy the ASICs and we take care of the setup and maintenance. Through our River app you can monitor your progress and watch your ASIC mine bitcoin directly into your account.

Key Takeaways

  • A USB Bitcoin miner looks like an easy way to get into mining.
  • USB miners have too little hashrate and too low efficiency to be competitive.
  • USB miners cannot realistically be profitable.