From its humble beginnings back in 2009, when it was being sold for zero dollars, a single Bitcoin (BTC) is now worth tens of thousands of USD and AUD, with further increases in its price likely to occur as time goes by. Therefore, if you’re looking to acquire Bitcoin assets, purchasing these may seem a less attractive option nowadays because of the coin’s high price.

Having this in mind, chances are you’ve already considered Bitcoin mining as an alternative to buying it — and if not, you probably should. Across the globe, millions of Bitcoin adopters have opted for mining this coin to get a hold of at least smaller parts of it. By mining Bitcoin, you extract it right from its source rather than having to pay for owning some. This is a convenient option because, technically speaking, it’s possible to do the mining with devices such as computers and laptops. 

With that in mind, laptop mining cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin isn’t the ideal method. While it’s technically feasible, using your laptop (or even a desktop computer) to mine Bitcoin may end up costing you more than the reward you’ll get for it. It can also be harmful to your device, as the hardware components of a regular laptop may be unable to physically sustain the process. In the worst-case scenario, some might even get damaged from overheating.

With that out of the way, if you only have a laptop you can rely on for mining Bitcoin, read on. This article can help you understand the obstacles you may face when mining with a laptop, as well as how to optimize your procedure to make the most out of your laptop when mining Bitcoin with it.

Vector illustration of laptop with mining code on screen beside physical bitcoin and Ethereum coins

Cryptocurrency Mining Background

When Satoshi created Bitcoin,  it was immediately available for mining, and the operation was fairly simple. Anyone could mine Bitcoin back then using nothing more than a personal computer and a Linux OS. The process was simple and rewarding because the Bitcoin network wasn’t as developed as it is today and made use of much lower computing power than what it currently works with. This made it simple for Bitcoin to be mined using nothing but a PC or laptop.

Since then, many things have changed. Because of how Bitcoin’s algorithm works, Bitcoin mining becomes more difficult the more total computing power its network uses. This means that when more and more people start mining Bitcoin and add to the overall computing power of the Bitcoin network, it will be tougher for them to actually mine any coins. This is exactly what has been happening in practice.

During the first years after the invention of Bitcoin (2010 to 2012), it saw a steady, constant increase in new miners, slowly turning Bitcoin mining into somewhat of a competition rather than just a pastime for a niche audience as it was seen at first. Here, it’s important to note that Bitcoins were still very cheap back then, which meant there wasn’t a huge demand for this cryptocurrency (or any other for that matter), but from that point on, the demand was on the rise.

Using GPU-Powered Laptops for Mining Cryptocurrency

As the process of Bitcoin mining became more and more competitive, some miners felt the need to start experimenting with more powerful PCs and laptops in order to gain a decisive edge over other miners (which they had already started perceiving as competition).

Up to that point, anyone could use a simple laptop with a CPU to mine Bitcoin, but then some more competitive miners started using better-equipped machines (such as gaming PCs and laptops) that had separate, powerful GPU units on top of their CPUs. These graphically enhanced computers — usually having strong graphic cards made by world-famous GPU brands such as Nvidia and AMD — made it possible for miners to perform significantly better at Bitcoin mining than their peers that used laptops with CPUs only. 

The hashing power, which directly affects how well crypto can be mined, is significantly different for CPU and GPU-powered computers. Suffice it to say that for laptops that relied solely on CPUs for Bitcoin mining, hashing power is calculated in kH/s (kilo hashes/second), while for their stronger, GPU-powered counterparts, the measurement is typically in mH/s (mega hashes/second). This means that laptops with GPUs are roughly 1000 times more effective than those that only have CPUs.

ASIC Miners — A Turning Point in Bitcoin Mining

New innovations in Bitcoin mining didn’t stop at gaming laptops. A truly game-changing novelty appeared in 2012 with the development of application-specific integrated circuit miners, or ASIC miners for short, and their subsequent commercialisation. ASIC miners are specialised hardware designed to perform a single type of operation — in this case, crypto mining. 

Unlike the specialised ASIC miners, laptops powered by GPUs and/or CPUs are more versatile, meaning they can take on more than one task. On the other hand, ASIC miners can only perform a single task (crypto mining) and nothing else — but they perform this task incomparably better than laptops and PCs.For comparison, the hashing power of modern ASIC miners is commonly measured in tH/s (tera hashes/second).

As the price of Bitcoin has increased dramatically since the launch of this cryptocurrency, now valued at tens of thousands of dollars, you need to mine it a lot in order for your mining efforts to pay off. This will be a really tough task if you’re not using an ASIC miner — such as Bitmain’s Antminer, for instance, which is currently the most widely used ASIC miner for Bitcoin mining. 

Today, mining setups (colloquially known as mining rigs) use multiple Bitcoin mining machines (typically ASIC miners) to increase their chances of success. With just a laptop and without the help of at least a single ASIC miner, you can’t really compete with miners that use mining rigs of multiple ASIC miners for their Bitcoin mining operations.

How Mining Bitcoin Works

Slightly different from the physical process of mining ore, Bitcoin mining is actually a task you undertake to receive bitcoins as a reward rather than literally extract them from a mine. In fact, Bitcoin mining is a kind of lottery miners participate in, but with very specific mechanics. 

When you mine Bitcoin, you get rewarded in Bitcoin blocks for getting certain values from the blockchain. In the process, the algorithm of Bitcoin’s blockchain determines a target hash — that is, a specific numeric value for which you should produce an equal or lesser value with a block header in order to get a Bitcoin block as a reward. 

In other words, your mining setup needs to run multiple numeric values through the blockchain’s algorithm so that you can get a value that’s equal to or less than the target hash value this algorithm has determined — and, when you get the desired value, the mining process will be successful and you’ll get a block from Bitcoin’s blockchain. 

That being said, for an effective mining process, the numeric values you’ll have to run amount to trillions every second. Nowadays, this is how tough it is to get Bitcoin blocks through mining. To be successful in this endeavour, you need huge amounts of computing power that ASIC miners can provide. It’s no wonder pro minders use several ASIC miners in their mining operations.

So, can this be achieved with a simple laptop? Well, for one thing, if you do have a laptop already, you can certainly use it to mine Bitcoin, particularly so if it’s equipped with a GPU. However, knowing how difficult it has become to mine Bitcoin and knowing there currently exist thousands of mining stations across the globe that employ multiple mining rigs made up of top-notch ASIC miners, your chances of competing with other miners by using a laptop are negligible, to say the least.

Mining Bitcoin on a Laptop

While not ideal for the purpose, you can still use a laptop to mine Bitcoin. Even though you won’t earn as much Bitcoin as a miner with an ASIC machine, there are still some things you can do to make the most out of your laptop when mining bitcoins with it. These include joining mining pools or hash power brokers such as Nicehash.

Mining Pools

It’s common practice for people mining Bitcoin (or crypto in general) to join forces in mining pools. Mining pools are groupings of multiple miners who put all their mining machines together to improve their overall hashing power. In this way, even those members of a mining pool that can contribute less in terms of computing power can rely on the combined power of the pool for mining crypto.

If you plan to use your laptop to mine Bitcoin, joining a mining pool is one of the best options you have. However, bear in mind that it’s common practice for mining pools to reward members proportionally, depending on how much processing power or overall work they contributed within the group — sometimes even asking for proof of work. Additionally, a vast majority of mining pools have stricter requirements and don’t accept CPU mining, so it’s safe to assume that you must equip yourself with a GPU before looking for a mining pool to participate in.

Using Nicehash

Bitcoin miners that use laptops often employ hash power brokers such as Nicehash. On Nicehash, miners can sell off their computing power to other users — usually to someone who will pay the most in Bitcoin. In other words, through Nicehash, you can sell your mining efforts to someone else in exchange for certain amounts of Bitcoin you agree upon.

Nicehash comes with a very user-friendly interface, as well as with its own Bitcoin mining software. Through this software, Nicehash configures your laptop for GPU mining. What’s more, Nicehash lets you make an estimate of how much you’ll earn from selling off your computing power on the platform by using a profitability calculator. This calculator has benchmarks through which it can evaluate the hash rate of your laptop, how much electricity you’re likely to be using up for mining, as well as the ensuing electricity bill you’ll get from the procedure, giving you a solid cost/benefit analysis of the mining process.

When you create your account on the platform, you also receive a Bitcoin wallet from Nicehash. Any Bitcoin payments you get through the service will end up on the wallet address of this crypto wallet. You can then transfer your Bitcoin from your Nicehash wallet to a wallet from a crypto exchange should you choose so. In fact, Nicehash even has an agreement with Coinbase for this purpose and goes well with the wallet this exchange provides its users.

Before you decide to use Nicehash to acquire Bitcoin, however, there are certain things you should keep in mind. First of all, while you can use your hashing power to mine multiple cryptocurrencies on Nicehash, you can only be paid in Bitcoin on this platform. Besides, be aware that how much you earn on Nicehash depends on the model of your GPU — stronger  Nvidia and AMD chips will bring you better results, although you can even mine with just a CPU but for significantly less successful results.

A Few Final Words…

Nowadays, more and more people are interested in owning Bitcoin, but buying this cryptocurrency is becoming increasingly more challenging because its price has skyrocketed over the past decade. Because of this, there’s been an increase in Bitcoin mining as a viable and profitable alternative to buying Bitcoin.

If you have a laptop and are wondering whether you can use it to mine Bitcoin, the simple answer would be: you definitely can. However, in reality, this is far from the most profitable option for mining bitcoins. Nowadays, Bitcoin’s algorithm requires you to perform far more in terms of the sheer effort of your mining operations if you want to be rewarded with any significant amount of coins.

This article will help you understand why mining Bitcoin with a laptop, while possible, is way inferior to ASIC-powered mining. If you still wish to use your laptop to mine Bitcoin, we’ve also shared some advice on how you can make the most of this process. Finally, we hope this article helps you clear up all your dilemmas related to mining Bitcoin on your laptop.