Can I Mine Bitcoin on My Laptop?

From a hard-to-swallow project, Bitcoin matured into a global phenomenon in less than a decade. It made such an impact on the global financial system that experts started comparing the crypto frenzy to the famous Gold Rush of the 19th century, which brought over 300,000 settlers to California in the hope of a miracle. 

Now that it has become clear that Bitcoin is here to stay, everyone wants a piece of the cake, a piece that, despite the frequent ups and downs in the coin’s price, has now got awfully expensive. To meet this demand, thousands of enthusiasts have turned to producing bitcoins themselves through a computing process known as crypto mining. 

Physical bitcoins on palm of hand

However, the Bitcoin “cake” consists of only 21 million pieces, which is insufficient to feed the world’s hungry masses. This is the only way to protect Bitcoin against inflation, but it has made BTC mining a fierce battlefield where whoever has the most sophisticated weapons, mining hardware or rigs, wins. In these circumstances, your laptop is unlikely to make any difference or bring you profit despite all the competition, even though there is no technical obstacle to start mining on a laptop.

To help you get better insight into the overall Bitcoin mining process, we’ll discuss the basic mining principles and all required hardware mechanisms necessary for a favourable outcome.

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

Bitcoin mining is a dynamic process through which BTC transactions are confirmed and recorded on a public ledger called the blockchain. The blockchain network is publicly open and allows anyone interested to take part in the process to become a miner. Miners use computing power to solve complex math equations, also known as hashes

The network needs hashing power to process the transaction from one Bitcoin address to another in a secure way. When the computer decodes the equation, it actually provides the “missing key” that miners need to add another block to the blockchain and in return, receive a certain amount of bitcoins. In addition, miners get rewards from the transaction fees paid by transaction participants. Since 2020, the reward per one block has been 6.25 BTC, but this amount is subject to halving approximately every 4 years due to the limited supply of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin inside mines

This mechanism of verification is known as Proof-of-Work (PoW) since miners have to demonstrate that they have “finished their work” of solving the math problems to get the right to verify and record a new block to the Bitcoin network. 

However, as the number of interested miners is growing, the rate of blockchain creation increases too. As a result, the difficulty level of math equations has been constantly rising, which makes mining notoriously power-consuming and workable only with specialized GPUs (graphics processing units) and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits).

The History of Cryptocurrency Mining

Bitcoin was created by an unidentified person or group of people known under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, as stated in the original 2008 Bitcoin white paper where Nakamoto described the purpose and the operational model of decentralized finance represented by cryptocurrency. In January 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first block using a basic model of a personal computer with a standard CPU (central processing unit).

A year later, the first Bitcoin mining machine was released to enhance the power of GPUs by redesigning the standard FPGA (field-programmable gate arrays) specifically for the needs of mining. But even before that, GPU miners appeared to be superior to miners with standard computer configurations. In technical terms, while the mining hashing power of CPUs was measured in kH/s (kilo hashes/second), for a GPU-powered device (for example, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 or AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX gaming laptops), these measurements were usually carried in mH/s (mega hashes/second). 

Mining crypto using laptop

It’s fascinating that GPU-enhanced laptops were capable of mining 1,000 times more efficiently than those with standard CPU settings and they cost only twice as much as a standard CPU device. However, you have to understand that this was the time when Laszlo Hanyecz spent 10,000 bitcoins at a local pizza restaurant and nobody took Bitcoin for granted. 

All in all, as long as the mining work was left in the hands of GPUs and CPUs, users were able to make a certain profit by relying solely on their laptops.

The Rise of ASIC Miners

However, everything changed when in 2013, the Chinese manufacturer Canaan Creative presented the first ASIC machine or what is popularly known today as a mining rig

ASIC mining rigs came along on the crypto scene with a single purpose — to provide industrial-grade performance in mining Bitcoin. 

In comparison to GPU boards, ASIC rigs are far more expensive and louder, yet they’re more power-efficient and don’t require much maintenance. However, in a home-based environment, the ASIC setup process does need specific electrical adjustments in order to get activated, such as output voltage set to 220v. 

ASIC miners re-shaped the entire concept of mining and a year after the release of the first model, another company — Bitmain — presented the first generation of the Antminer model. Soon afterward, the same company launched the advanced Antminer S9 version containing 189 ASIC chips. Today, Bitmain, together with AvalonMiner and their Avalon6 solutions, are leading brands in the mining industry. 

ASIC miners on wood table

As there are over 4,000 active cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin out there, much of this mining interest is, in fact, concentrated on other altcoins. So, if you’re planning on diversifying your mining portfolio with other cryptocurrencies, remember that mining machines aren’t designed as multi-currency devices — each of them employs an algorithm that’s specific for a particular coin so you can’t mine both BTC and Ethereum with the same rig. 

In terms of difficulty, you should know that since no single crypto has gotten even close to BTC in market cap and liquidity, mining other cryptocurrency is undoubtedly less demanding in hardware equipment and processing power. Apart from BTC, these are the most attractive coins for mining today: Litecoin (LTC), ZCash (ZEC), Revencoin (RVN), Dogecoin (DOGE), XRP (XRP), and Monero (XMR). 

Can I Mine Bitcoin on My Laptop?

Technically, you can. But before anything else, remember that laptops aren’t the best mining setup first because of the absolute unprofitability and second, because of the risk of damaging your device. 

The best laptop solutions for crypto mining have built-in GPUs with at least 4GB of VRAM, a thick framework to ensure protection against warm internals, and finally, a robust cooling system. Mining produces a huge amount of heat that can lead to a series of side effects such as thermal throttling or as we mentioned, damaged internal elements. 

However, there are a couple of painless mining solutions that you can try on your laptop without overheating or compromising its hardware components. This includes a hash-power broker or a mining pool, the first of which operates on a fully remote system.

Mine Cryptocurrency with NiceHash

NiceHash is an excellent choice to start your crypto mining endeavour. Launched back in 2015, it’s the largest hash power broker on a global scale that has contributed a great deal to demystifying the mining process in general. 

NiceHash pairs miners or sellers of hash power with buyers, who don’t want to invest in expensive rig machinery. NiceHash isn’t a cloud mining service that offers its own equipment for rent. Instead, it only provides an open P2P platform where you can find someone who does. 

Namely, buyers of hashing power can take part in a marketplace and select Bitcoin as crypto they want to mine. Then, they have to place an order by inserting the price they are prepared to pay for the “hash loan”. 

NiceHash homepage

Once the buyer finds a matching seller (who manages NiceHash Miner Legacy on their devices), they take over mining from the selected pool. More specifically, sellers are real miners who run the NiceHash software or have connected their ASIC rigs to the company’s stratum servers and to the order of the paired buyer. 

Sellers’ hashing power is then automatically diverted to the pool that the buyer has selected and they get rewards in BTC for their contribution in the process. The price is determined by the current average that is calculated in real-time (every minute). Accordingly, the buyer has no need to operate a complex mining system during the process or invest anything in hardware equipment.  

NiceHash is slightly less profitable compared to direct mining because BTC transferring fees can be considerably high against your reward. However, it can be a steady source of passive income and a great way to help you learn “mining” ropes. 

Is NiceHash Difficult to Navigate?

NiceHash is a web-based platform that requires specific technical skills on neither the behalf of the buyer nor the seller, and there are plenty of video tutorials to help you learn the basics for navigating through the mining process. You need to know that it’s necessary for you to create an account that comes with a NiceHash Bitcoin wallet to receive your payments either as a buyer or seller. 

However, it’s recommended that you immediately transfer your bitcoins to an individual crypto wallet (NiceCash collaborates with Coinbase) for the added security of your crypto-assets. 

Join a Mining Pool

A Bitcoin mining pool is a network of distributed miners who collaborate to do the mining work together and share the rewards based on the contribution of each participant to the pool. This way of organizing hash power brings a stable stream of profit to miners, even though each payment is only a slight portion of the full block reward of 6.25 BTC. 

Mining, storing, and exchanging bitcoins

Miners’ share in a Bitcoin mining pool is calculated based on the hash rate, which is how we measure the number of attempts to find a new block or hashes performed per second.

Whichever participant  “discovers” a block gives the reward to the coordinator of the mining pool, who afterward shares the reward based on the hash-rate contribution of involved miners and, of course, deducts a certain fee. 

You Can Mine Bitcoin on a Laptop, But Should You?

Mining pools are a great opportunity for low-scale Bitcoin miners and beginners who otherwise wouldn’t be able to mine a block by themselves. Certainly, with basic equipment and a home-based setup, you can’t expect to make a mint overnight, but at least you’ll know your exact share in the package deal. To be honest, if you go “solo” under current market circumstances, you’ll never manage to mine a block unless you have a room full of ASIC miners.

For this reason, experts advise first-time miners to turn to other altcoins over Bitcoin, especially to those that utilize scrypt, not the SHA256 algorithm because the difficulty level of Bitcoin equations is insufficient for a regular laptop to process them. 

When choosing what mining pool to join, you need to consider the approach of how pools share out their settlements and weigh in pools’ fees. The fee usually varies between 1% and 10% but there are also some pools that don’t charge anything. 

A Few Words Before You Go…

Mining Bitcoin isn’t a straightforward process that guarantees profit only because you’ve spent time and energy on it and heavily invested in an expensive mining machine. Its outcome mainly depends on the proportion between the market price of BTC against the electricity cost. As things stand now, the price of BTC is highly volatile and the electricity cost can be much higher than the hash rate you’ll be able to achieve. 

When it comes to Bitcoin, what we know for sure is that generating new coins won’t go easier in the future given the fact that 17 out of the total of 21 million coins have been already discovered. That means that laptops and other devices for home use won’t be even mentioned as an option for earning profit with Bitcoin mining, likely in the near future. However, if you’re set on just trying it out, it can’t hurt to try some of the alternate ways we listed above, just to get a feel of this industry and gain valuable experience for your future crypto challenges from laptop mining.

Finally, if you feel discouraged by what it takes to start profiting from Bitcoin with mining, take a proper look at the best marketplaces where you can simply buy Bitcoin