USB Bitcoin Miners – Complete Guide
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12.5 Bitcoins are released into circulation every time a block-size of Bitcoin transactions is completed through the Bitcoin mining process. Each block must have at least one transaction and be equal to 1MB for it to be added to the blockchain. The people involved in verifying these transactions (miners) are paid for every transaction verified and the 12.5 Bitcoins released when a block is completed.
Unfortunately, the process of mining Bitcoins is capital intensive. It costs roughly $1500 just to invest in mining equipment that can earn you a maximum of $250 a month. Initially, you could use USB BTC miners which look nearly like most flash drives, but with a modified case. Continue reading to discover more about USB Bitcoin miners, how they work and why there are not meant for mining Bitcoins professionally.
What is a USB Bitcoin Miner?
A USB Bitcoin miner is a flash drive shaped device that when connected to a computer and the right Bitcoin mining software can solve the hash functions needed to mine Bitcoins. A USB Bitcoin miner consists of one or two mining chips.
Bitcoin USB miners are much smaller and less powerful than normal ASIC machines. Designed like a shoe box, an ASIC contains mining chips, which makes them much more powerful and faster in verifying Bitcoin transactions than any computer GPU. ASICs are also much more expensive and energy consuming. The history of USB Bitcoin miners dates back to 2013 when the first ASIC mining machine was produced. They didn’t immediately grow popular mainly because they produced such a small hash power that it was not profitable enough for serious Bitcoin miners.
The best USB miner today produces about 90 GH/s and costs $350. By contrast, a profitable ASIC miner costs more than $1000, and even then you must have cheap or free electricity to mine. A good ASIC miner has more than 100 times more hashing power compared to the best USB miner.
In plain text, you can never make any sensible amount of profits with a Bitcoin USB miner. However, you can still use them to learn how the process works.
Bitcoin USB miners are not hardware wallets
If you are still new to the cryptocurrency world, you will probably also realize that the USB miners resemble hardware Bitcoin wallets. However, these miners differ with Bitcoin wallets in almost every way except for their shapes. A USB Bitcoin miner has a mining chip inside the flash drive-like device. By comparison, a wallet like Trezor has a software program designed to secure Bitcoins and to enable transactions. A miner must also be connected to the Internet to work while a wallet secures Bitcoins offline. Basically, USB Bitcoin miners verify Bitcoin transactions in the blockchain while a wallet stores those Bitcoins.
Are USB Miners Profitable?
Today, you can earn $1 a month with the best USB BTC miner. But that would mean investing $300 or more to buy numerous miners and pull their hashing power together. And still, you can only earn cents if you pay more than $0.5 cents per kilowatt for your electricity bills. For someone looking forward to mine Bitcoins professionally, a Bitcoin miner is not the way to go. Instead, a much better alternative is to use an ASIC miner. They have multiple powerful chips that can solve the complex math problems needed to verify Bitcoin transactions faster than any alternative.
Ideally, the mining process is a labor-intensive process. But instead of manual labor, computing machines do the work. The payment protocol was designed in such a way that Bitcoins are verified through hashing functions. Specifically, Bitcoins are mined using the SHA-256 hashing function.
A machine’s hashing power is calculated in terms of hashes per second, and the higher the power, the better. When Bitcoin was launched in 2009, a simple CPU could mine Bitcoins. Over the years, the Bitcoin payment protocol has been self-adjusting to make the hashing process more difficult.
With today’s high demand for Bitcoins and mining machines, the hashing difficulty is so high that it can only be mined by ASIC machines that have Tera hashes per second. And even then, a miner needs to pull their hashing power together with other people to verify Bitcoin transactions fast. Otherwise, it would take years to complete a Bitcoin block.
The best ASIC machine to buy for a professional Bitcoin miner must have a hashing power of at least 10 TH/s and have the most energy efficient chips. The Bitmain Antminer S9, for example, has a hashing power of 14 TH/s and consumes 0.1 joules per every Giga hash per second (GH/s). This way, it’s possible to make a decent income every month.
Top USB Bitcoin Miners 2018
ASIC Bitcoin Miner USB-Sapphire Miner
This small device weighs just less than 0.5 of an ounce. It packs a hashing power of 330 MH/s and costs about $70 before shipping. The conveniently lightweight device was the very first USB Bitcoin miner in the world, having been first introduced in 2013. Today, the miner earn about $0.01 per month.
Compared to today’s USB miners and ASICs, the Sapphire miner is definitely not worth buying unless you want to just have fun with it. With its mining power and free electricity, you can only make $0.06 a year, assuming the mining difficulty and Bitcoin’s price stays constant in 2018. If you choose to buy the device, you will need to download certain drivers and the appropriate mining software. Afterward, you will be asked to set your mining pool’s details, your Bitcoin address and start to mine coins.
Gekko Science Compac USB Stick
This miner is 25 times more powerful than the Sapphire. It packs a hashing power of 9.5 GH/s, comes with two Bitmain mining chips and consumes 3 watts per Gigahertz. The Gekko is respectably silent when mining and consumes half the power a similarly priced USB miner, BPMC red furry, consumes.
The Gekko science miner was introduced into the market in 2015 and packed more hashing power than nearly every other USB miner back then. It is also compatible with Windows, Linux, MAC and even Raspberry Pi. In terms of weight, this device weighs 2.4 ounces, which is still light. If you choose the Gekko, it will cost you $60 on Amazon. By contrast, the miner can only earn you $2.1 per year if you have free electricity. The GEKKO can also achieve a hashing power of up to 15GH/s at which point you could earn $3 a year. Setting up the device is easy, and works with the CGMinor program.
Avalon Nano 3
This device can only manage a hashing power of 3.6 GH/s; it’s really lightweight and needs no fans. Its electricity costs are practically zero, and its heat emission rates are tolerable. Unfortunately, with 3.6 GH/s, you can barely make $0.6 a year.
If you are not after money, however, the Nano 3 offers better ease of use compared to all other USB miners. It has a one-step setup process and runs automatically after you plug it into your computer. However, most of its users recommend that you look for different mining software as the device comes with a buggy program. Other than that, keep in mind the device is just good for learning about Bitcoin mining.
Bitmain Antrouter R1 WiFi Solo Bitcoin Miner
Bitmain produces some of the best ASIC miners. They are also the company behind this router-like miner. The device packs a hashing power of 5.5 GH/s and needs WiFI to operate instead of an Ethernet Internet connection.
The device was first launched in 2015 and cost $60. Apart from mining Bitcoins and other SHA-256 coins, this small device can charge your mobile devices with its fast-charging USB port. While this device is cheap, it’s definitely not worth buying if you are after making profits with Bitcoin mining. The miner can only make you $1 in a year as a solo miner.
21-Bitcoin Computer USB Miner
This device is like a small computer for programmers and Bitcoin miners. The computer acts as a platform where programmers can build apps that will be payable using Bitcoins. When connected to Windows, Linux or MAC, the device can mine you some Bitcoins.
21 Computer packs about 50 GH/s in hashing power and can achieve up to 75 GH/s when overclocked. With today’s Bitcoin mining difficulty, you can earn about $16 when mining with this device and when you pay nothing for electricity. However, if you pay at most $0.1 per KWh, the device will only make you $7 a year.
The device’s profitability is, however, not the biggest issue with the device. According to reviews online, 21-Bitcoin has terrible functionality. Its programming platform is not smooth, and most coders claim that you can access the same services on 21.co for free. As for its mining capability, making $7 a year with a device that cost $400 is not worth it.
As an alternative, it’s best to invest in a serious ASIC miner for $1000 or more. The Bitmain company, for example, sells Bitcoin miners that cost as low as $500 and they would offer a much higher return over investment compared to any USB Bitcoin miner ASIC in the world.
The Bitmain Antminer S9 costs about $1500 including a power supply unit and has an ROI of around $1,000 in a year if your electricity costs are not higher than $0.1 per KWH.
In a Nutshell
Bitcoin USB miners looked like a great way to introduce people to Bitcoin mining. However, considering that most of them cost $50 or more and only make $1 per year, they have proven worthless for a professional Bitcoin miner.
Some hobbyist miners still invest in many USB miners to turn them into a mining farm, but it’s still not profitable. If it’s money you are looking for and you want to mine Bitcoins, follow the advice everyone will give you and invest in an ASIC machine. Look for an ASIC that can handle at least 10 TH/s and you will earn $100 or more every month if you pay at most $0.1 per KWh.
Thank you for reading. Hopefully, you will buy the right ASIC machine and start mining Bitcoins profitably. If you want more information about Bitcoin mining, scroll through our website for more content.