Success stories about Bitcoin mining always make a great read. Even if only part of it’s true, mining sounds like a pretty tempting idea.
However, requirements for mining nowadays are quite different from the early Bitcoin days when these stories started circulating. After hitting $20,000, Bitcoin has become an expensive sport — it requires sophisticated machinery, whose maintenance is impractical in a home-room environment.
And if you’re a beginner — with a GPU-enhanced laptop as a mining weapon — and you’re wondering whether you can start mining immediately, here is a straightforward answer: Yes, you absolutely can, but you probably shouldn’t. Mining Bitcoin from your laptop isn’t worth the electricity cost, and the computer wear “wasted” in the process.
On the other hand, if you want to try your hands at Bitcoin mining to gain the necessary experience for more professional mining engagement in the future, your laptop can serve you well. The current crypto market offers a few alternatives for painless laptop mining that we’ll look into in this compact guide.
What Is Bitcoin Mining?
Mining is the very process of verifying transactions on the blockchain. For each block added to the blockchain, participants, or miners, are rewarded with newly created bitcoins. The computer that represents each miner or a group of miners working together is called a node. The entire process of verification is, in fact, cut-throat competition among nodes about who will be the first to verify the transaction.
Every time a Bitcoin user initiates an outgoing transaction, i.e. tries to send a portion of Bitcoin to someone else, the blockchain receives a request and assigns an SHA-265 hash function to the pending transaction. This means that the input of that transaction gets a cryptographic signature that converts the transaction into a 256-bit string with a fixed size.
At this point, miners start solving the computational equation by rehashing the function into its initial value, also known as a nonce. The process of solving is nothing but guessing as many possible solutions in a given time span (approximately 10 minutes). So, the higher the number of miners who get involved in this hunt, the higher the mining difficulty of the blockchain and hence, the more power and time it takes to get close to a new winning proof-of-work.
The limited supply of 21 million Bitcoin units plays a key role in the proportional distribution of Bitcoin block rewards. As of January 2022, nearly 90% of the total supply has been already mined, with a rough estimate that the last Bitcoin will be minted in 2140.
What Do You Need to Start Bitcoin Mining?
Once you get to understand the mining game rules, you’ll see that the real competition is between the processing power of the machines used in the process and not based on who has better mining or math skills.
In the mining system, we use the term hash rate (how many hashes the machine can process per second) as a measurement for the efficiency of the mining hardware. For comparison, you can upgrade your mining laptop with the latest NVIDIA board, which can produce up to 60MH/s (mega hashes per second) but the most powerful mining rig, the Antminer S19 Pro, features a hash rate of 110TH/s (the number of hashes is read in trillions).
That said, hardware equipment is essential and the most cost-prohibitive component of Bitcoin mining. However, regardless of the computing power you’re willing to dedicate to the Bitcoin network, there are a couple of prerequisites you need to have settled before you start mining Bitcoin:
Since all cryptocurrencies exist only virtually (as computer files), you must have a crypto wallet to store, receive, and send your newly acquired coins. Proper storage space is not crucial for safety reasons only but also because digital wallets contain private keys — codes that enable you to transfer your crypto holdings. The blockchain doesn’t require the personal and bank information of users so your wallet address is the only “sign of recognition” in this decentralized realm.
The mining hardware may be the deciding factor in the mining success rate but you’ll still need a mining program to connect you with the blockchain. Nowadays, plenty of packages is available for free download on Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems.
The Evolution of the Bitcoin Mining Hardware
It was Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto who mined the first block at the beginning of 2009. Interestingly enough, Nakamoto did the mining from a regular PC with a regular CPU (Central Processing Unit) chip.
However, when BTC gained a monetary value for the first time in 2010, original bitcoiners found GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) to be more efficient than CPUs for SHA256 hashing. Even though gamers primarily use GPUs, they found perfect application in the Bitcoin protocol because of their ability to simultaneously handle a variety of logic tasks and because of their technical predisposition — GPUs feature separate branch and storage modules.
Amid Bitcoin’s price surge in 2017, the global market faced a shortage in the supply of the most popular GPU cards, AMD’s RX 500 and Nvidia’s GTX 100, which has continued up to the present day. Bitcoin has eliminated GPU mining as unprofitable but there is still a range of popular coins that rely on GPUs, including the second-largest cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH).
Yes, Bitcoin miners haven’t counted on GPU for quite some time now because the huge Bitcoin popularity has left room for the development of specialized mining machines called ASICs (Application-Specific Integrated Circuits). The first ASIC rig was released in China in 2013, followed by a series of new brands for advanced hardware such as Bitmain and MicroBT.
ASIC machines immediately overtook the market with their superior configuration as they were specifically tailored to optimize the mining performance.
How to Mine Bitcoin on My Laptop?
Now that we’ve concluded that your laptop isn’t a competitive mining tool, let’s see the market alternative options you can consider.
Mine BTC With NiceHash
NiceHash appeared as a revolutionary mining strategy back in 2015, when Bitcoin wasn’t part of the mainstream financial culture and has remained one of the best starting points for beginners to get involved in the mining process.
NiceHash is a crypto platform that allows users to “mine” Bitcoin without investing in expensive ASIC miners. It operates as a P2P (peer-to-peer) service that brings together buyers and sellers of hashing power. Thus, you’ll act as a seller that contributes their laptop hash rate to real miners who use NiceHash as an intermediary power supplier. The buyers will eventually pay you in bitcoins for your “hash” loan.
Nicehash uses a mechanism to direct you to the most favourable crypto algorithms at certain time intervals to incentivize your profit. This is a very useful feature for beginners who can’t read in-depth market trends. Certainly, you can also select the Manual Selection option. Moreover, NiceHash is multifunctional crypto mining software compatible with both GPU and CPU hardware equipment.
You don’t need profound tech skills to become a NiceHash miner, as the setup process is pretty straightforward. Creating an account isn’t obligatory, but it’s good to have it, especially if you lack crypto trading experience since your account comes with a service-side Bitcoin wallet to receive your rewards directly. Then, you’ll have to download the NiceHash version suitable for your graphic card model — Nvidia or AMD Radeon — and follow the instructions on properly adding your payment address and buyer and activating your GPU for the purpose of mining.
This includes running a series of benchmarks to test your hardware across several different algorithms and can take up a few hours.
Join a Mining Pool
Bitcoin mining pools are the most common approach of Bitcoin mining today as they open up an opportunity for multiple miners to “pool” their forces in earning Bitcoin rewards. As implied throughout the article, mining difficulty has exponentially grown over time, making it nearly impossible for an individual to verify a block.
Thus, pools come as an organized solution for combining hashing power into a collective effort. The reward is then shared between pool participants proportionally to the amount of hash power they provide.
The mining system employs two parameters to calculate the reward rate: Share Difficulty for the miner individually and a Share Time for the entire mining pool. That is to say, pools set a unified time for submitting hashes and assign a difficulty level to each participant depending on their power.
As a single-GPU miner, you shouldn’t expect a substantial portion as your peer miner may also be a mining farm with 10,000 ASIC rigs. However, unlike the NiceHash loan services, here you can experience what real Bitcoin mining feels like.
Try Mining Ethereum or Another Coin
In general, laptops and PCs with both built-in and external GPUs are the most frequently used mining tools as they work best with all PoW-based crypto except for Bitcoin because of high competition in using ASIC rigs.
The list of most profitable Bitcoin alternatives is changing all the time — on par with the interest about the coin itself, yet you can give a deeper look at the following updated selection consisting of Monero (XMR), Haven Protocol (XHV), ZCash (ZEC), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Ethereum Classic (ETC).
The Best Laptops for Crypto Mining
Choosing a suitable laptop for cryptocurrency mining is not an easy task as it requires tech-savvy skills and a deep understanding of blockchain behaviour. In general terms, you should consider a few factors before purchasing a GPU-enhanced laptop.
First of all, a decent laptop for mining crypto has a small GPU with no less than 4GB VRAM. As for hardware features, it needs a powerful cooling system since mining produces much heat, which can decrease the hash rate, cause thermal throttling and even damage the internal hardware elements. You should also consider the chassis thickness, which is necessary for providing enough space for the heated hardware interior.
At this point, you can rely on the following laptops for mining operations:
Dell G5 15 5000 Gaming Laptop
Gaming laptops are always a good idea as they have a robust GPU to enhance mining profitability. This Dell model is a portable mining solution that comes with a strong configuration: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics with 6GB BRAM memory and a strong Intel Core i7 processor.
ASUS ROG Strix G15 Gaming Laptop
The ROG Strix G1 is the most powerful piece of ASUS, and it’s a bit more pricey than other popular gaming machines of this series. On that account, ASUS ROG Strix delivers impressive performance because of an Nvidia Max-Q tech graphic motherboard, and it’s unusually silent given the workload it can process.
Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop
Mining laptops don’t always come with a bulky design — the Razer Blade 15 is a perfect example of an elegant and thin gaming laptop with a powerful configuration consisting of a Corei7 processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphic board.
A Few Words Before You Go…
The only feasible plan for a single miner with modest equipment is to connect with a hash power broker like NiceHash or join a mining pool. However, feasible doesn’t always mean profitable because profitability in mining depends on multiple factors, such as the power of your hardware equipment. Even the most powerful laptop can’t work 24/7, the cost of electricity can be higher than the generated profit, and the BTC price is likely to grow in line with the difficulty level of hashes.
All these factors must be calculated and recalculated if a miner wants to keep a competitive edge. Some of them can’t be predicted at all as they depend on external conditions but what we know for sure is that you can’t become a well-off miner with the help from your GPU-enhanced laptop.