Are USB-based bitcoin miners any good?

Hassan November 29, 2014
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How do USB bitcoin miners work and are they worth purchasing? I have recently noticed USB miners available for sale online and would like more detail as to how they work.

I have a basic understanding of bitcoin and I am interested in getting started. I have managed to setup bitcoin in the past but for some reason could never mine any coins or get the clients to begin processing. Could this be related to my laptop having standard intel GFX and not a dedicated GPU?

  1. Matthew
    December 1, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Dedicated hardware now outperforms GPU based mining, but if you have a decent GPU, then you also have a decent GPU for gaming, GPU assisted video conversion etc.

    Dedicated bitcoin hardware is devalued when a better one comes out, so it is questionable if it will cover its purchase and electricity cost.

    USB mining hardware dongles can even be driven by a Raspberry Pi.

    For PC based mining, one of the other coins that resists the dedicated hardware approach may work out better, but unless you have free electricity, or run them as winter heating, the profit is always being pushed down as there are too many doing it.

  2. DalSan M
    November 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    A high powered CPU and high powered AMD R9 series GPU were found to be the best option for mining Bitcoin (which was why AMD GPUs jumped in price so much last year). This basically equates to a high cost gaming computer if you do not have one. Anything less than a decent gaming computer would take several days to mine one or two coins, if not longer. The top miners have a few dedicated machines running 24/7 in order to gain more coins in shorter time, but I find it pointless to do so as it would take years to recover the money spent on the hardware and electricity. Not trying to discourage you from trying, but don't expect relatively decent results without a dedicated machine optimized for mining performance.

  3. Jan F.
    November 29, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Your results were indeed related to your computers hardware. The faster the hardware, the more calculations can be done, the higher the chance of getting (a fraction of) a Bitcoin. That's where those USB or appliance like miners come in. They are designed to be highly efficient in the type of calculation used for mining Bitcoins.

    I don't want to discourage you from doing Bitcoin mining but in my honest opinion you are going to waste your money. People have been spending thousands of dollars on Bitcoin optimized hardware setups with a turnover time frame of multiple years. On top of that the chance of calculating a Bitcoin is getting lower every single day.

    Just do the math yourself:
    How much are you paying for Internet per Month?
    How much does/will it cost you to run whatever you are using for calculations (e.g. electricity)?

    For most people this sum will be somewhere between $30-100 per Month.

    If the linked article (below) is any indication even a high-efficiency, low-power USB based setup won't get you anywhere close to this, let alone pay off the mining hardware.

    You can surely do it for the fun but you will hardly be able to pay off any bills from it.