Is USB Mining Profitable?
Having mined cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Monero, for several years, it isn't uncommon for friends, family and others around me to tell me that they've heard about "USB Miners" and ask whether they're profitable. I usually respond with "If you want to learn something new, your return on investment is an educational experience and knowledge. But if you want to earn money, your return on investment is disappointment".
Since the debut of Bitcoin, mining has been an integral part of cryptocurrency. Today, there are a massive assortment of miners to generates numerous types of coins developed by countless companies around the world. While equipment can be extremely pricey, USB miners have always been a hot topic for their small size and low prices. But is it really profitable to buy one of these devices to get rich?
So, what are the advantages of a USB Miner?
First of all, since a USB miner only has a single mining chip or a small handful of chips while a larger ASIC miner like the Bitmain Antminer S17+ has nearly 200 chips, the USB miner is obviously much cheaper to buy. They also use significantly less power. A typical USB miner rarely uses more than 10 watts while a large ASIC could eat about 2000-3000 watts.
Second, USB miners are typically small and not very loud. Some USB miners such as the BlockErupter lack a fan an operate in total silence while other miners such as the FutureBit Moonlander 2 has a single small fan that makes very little noise. Meanwhile, having an Antminer S17+ at home means you get you experience a sound that can only be described as a 24/7 symphony of hairdryers. In other words, USB miners are more home-friendly and can be moved around easily.
Third, USB miners require relatively little hardware and software knowledge to set up. Meanwhile, a large ASIC miner requires much more technical knowledge and time to successfully start up.
That's a lot of advantages! What are some disadvantages?
It's time to address the elephant in the room! USB miners are significantly more expensive for the same computing power compared to a larger miner. And when I say significant, I mean it... For example, a Gekkoscience 2pac USB miner can be purchased for about $25USD and can mine SHA256 coins at 15GH/s. Meanwhile, the Bitmain Antminer S17+ costs about $1400USD and can mine SHA256 coins at 70TH/s. So, to have the same 70TH/s computing power, you would need about 4,667 Gekkoscience USB sticks totaling well over $100,000USD. Stated another way, if you want to compete against contemporary Bitmain ASIC miners by using USB miners, you'll be fighting an impossible battle.
Although the smaller USB miners use significantly less power, because of their tiny hashrates and slowly increasing mining difficulty, it's next to impossible to even break even within a lifetime! Oh, and don't forget to account for electricity cost and the mining pool fees!
So, why in the world would I ever want a USB Miner? What's the final verdict?
With the massive lack of computing power, it's simply not worth it to purchase a USB miner and try to make a profit; you'll end up almost never breaking even! So, why buy it? Many people choose to buy USB miners so they could have some hands on experience on mining. Some people buy the miners since they are pretty much little more than novelty items and paperweights. However, there's a select few people out there who purchase a couple of miners with the altruistic goal of helping keep crypto more decentralized. Regardless, if you want to learn about crypto and mining, USB miners are a great and pretty economical way to dive into the world of digital money, but if you're looking to make a profit, either look into a more powerful miner such as an Antminer S19 or simply invest in cryptocurrency.
Thank you very much for reading my article! I hope I've shed some light on USB mining! If you're interested in some of my reviews of USB miners, GPU miners, and ASIC miners, please feel free to look around in "TheMiningBlog"! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
I am not in any way affiliated with FutureBit, Bitmain, TTBit, or any other crypto/crypto-related company. All photos used in this post including the thumbnail image are my own personal photos of my own miners. All info here is based on my personal experience.
Remember, investments in cryptocurrencies are like any other investment: Invest only what you can afford to lose. No investment is a guarantee.