As you know, it is no longer profitable to mine Bitcoin with a CPU or GPU. The only way to mine Bitcoin profitably is to use an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit). These are powerful machines built from the ground up to do just one task. It is to mine cryptocurrency. Therefore, it is powerful and efficient than any GPU on the market.
The more powerful and efficient your ASIC is, bigger the reward you get. One cheap and popular type of ASIC is the USB ASIC.
These are small devices that connect through the USB port of a computer and mines cryptocurrency. USB miners can be a cheap alternative to some of the more powerful ASICs in the market, but the real question is, are these devices profitable?
Before we answer that question, it is important to look at some of the best USB miners on the market:
This small USB miner has 2 BM1387 chips on it. These are the same chips found on Bitmain’s Antminer s9. GekkoScience miner is capable of generating a hash rate of 23 GH/s at stock and can be overclocked up to 90 GH/s.
It uses a modified cgminer, which gives you a command line frequency control to adjust the hash rate. This is the best USB miner if you are new to cryptocurrency and want to test the waters of crypto mining. Check out this device here.
This is a Scrypt ASIC capable of generating a hash rate of 5 MH/s with a power consumption of under 10 W. They claim to be the fastest and most efficient USB miner available on the market. Scrypt ASICs are popular among Litecoin miners. Although this device is not as powerful as some of the more expensive ASICS on the market, it is very efficient for a USB miner with an efficiency rate of 2W/MH.
This USB ASIC has the latest generation of 28nm Scrypt ASIC at its core. Interestingly, FutureBit Moonlander 2 features a custom designed pin heatsink and a fan forced cooling solution.
FutureBit Moonlander 2 makes it incredibly easy for newcomers to get into crypto mining. All you have to do is download their software to your computer, plug in this device and start mining.
You can check out this miner here.
Bitmain is one of the well-known manufacturers and distributors of ASICs. They produce all sorts of ASICs for Bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies. Antminer U2 is just one example of this. It is a small device that connects through the computer’s USB port and mines cryptocurrency. This device is capable of hashing SHA-256 algorithm with a hash rate of 2.0 GH/s at stock. If you overclock it, you can get it up to 2.4 GH/s.
Consumes only 2 W of power and has an efficient rate of 0.83 W/GH. It is compatible with BFGMiner and CGMiner and mines all SHA-256 based cryptocurrencies. You can check out here.
This is another USB ASIC miner for all SHA-256 based cryptocurrencies. It has an average hash rate of 5 GH/s, but can be overclocked up to 6.5 GH/s. NanoFury 2 has 2 Bitfury Rev. 2 ASICs at its core, and the clock rate can be adjusted individually for each ASIC. Depending on the clock rate, power consumption can vary from 2 W to 6 W. It also features a heatsink for active cooling. As of now, it is compatible with CGMiner and BFGMiner.
Are USB Miners Profitable?
There is no clear answer to the question “Are USB Miners Profitable?”. How much profit you are going to make with a USB miner is dependent on a few factors:
- Hash rate of the USB miner.
- Price and difficulty of the cryptocurrency you mine
- Cost of USB miner
- Cost of electricity.
Although, you could estimate how profitable your USB miner is going to be. To do this, you must use a mining calculator. I will use FutureBit Moonlander 2 as an example. This device can hash Scrypt algorithm. Litecoin is one of the most popular coins that uses Scrypt algorithm. So, I will use a Litecoin mining calculator.
Before you use a mining calculator, you must first know the power consumption of your USB miner, hash rate, and electricity cost per kWh. For example, FutureBit Moonlander 2 has a power consumption of 10 W and a maximum hash rate of 5 MH/s. The average electricity cost per kWh in the U.S is 10 Cents. The total cost of FutureBit Moonlander 2 is $40. I will use all these details to estimate profit. This is the breakdown of my estimated profit:
As you see, with FutureBit Moonlander 2, I only make 0.001366 LTC per week. If I deduct electricity fees, I make a loss of $0.01 per week. At this rate, I will never reach the break-even point. I spent $40 on this USB to make a loss of $0.01 per week. So, my conclusion is FutureBit Moonlander 2 is not profitable.
It is important to understand that these figures are only an estimation. If the difficulty of Litecoin drastically decreases or price of Litecoin increases, devices like FutureBit Moonlander 2 can become profitable. But, as of today, 9th June 2019, FutureBit Moonlander 2 is not profitable.
Advantages of USB Miners
A high-end ASIC mining rig can cost you thousands of dollars. In contrast, an average USB miner will only cost you less than $40. Some of the more powerful USB miners will cost you more, but it is still very cheap compared to ASIC mining rigs. Although you won’t be making any profit from them, you are still accumulating cryptocurrencies. If you are new to cryptocurrency mining, this can be a fun and less expensive way to learn about cryptocurrencies.
In some occasions, cryptocurrency projects alter their consensus algorithm to become ASIC resistant. If you had invested in an expensive ASIC mining rig, it will become obsolete. This is what happened to Monero a few years back. Yes! Your USB miner will also be affected, but the loss of investment is significantly lower compared to ASIC mining rigs.
A mining rig can take a lot of space. If you own few of these mining rigs, you know how difficult it is to move them around. It can be tedious sometimes. A USB miner, on the other hand, is very portable. You can take this device wherever you travel. All you need is a laptop with a USB port and an internet connection.
ASIC mining rigs require complex set up. You will need to make hardware and software configurations before you start mining. Unlike USB miners, they aren’t plug-and-play. Setting up mining rigs require some experience. A USB miner, on the other hand, is very easy to set up, even for a beginner. Manufactures of USB miners provide all the instructions needed to start mining.
Should You Buy a USB Miner?
If you are new to cryptocurrency, USB miners can be a great way to learn about cryptocurrency mining. If you are a hardcore miner, this isn’t for you. Even if you do make a profit, it will be insignificant. When the difficulty of a coin increase, these devices will make even less profit.
The only way you profit is if the value of cryptocurrency you have accumulated so far increases drastically. It is important to note that when the price of cryptocurrency increases, there will be new miners joining the network, resulting in a difficulty increase. Mining a cryptocurrency that always gains in value may not be the best cryptocurrency to mine.
A far better option is to mine a coin that you think is going to 10X or 100X in the future. Mining such coins is the only way to profit from a USB miner.
If you think buying a mining USB is the cheapest way to get into mining, you are wrong. There are even cheaper options. Cloud mining is the cheapest way to mine cryptocurrencies. You can even mine with a few cents. MiningRigRentals is a service where you can rent hash power from rig owners and mine any cryptocurrency you want. You can learn how to buy hash power here.
Mining with a USB miner can be a fun way to accumulate and learn about cryptocurrency, but if profit is your goal, you will be disappointed. It is likely that you will never recoup your investment. However, on rare occasions where cryptocurrency you’ve accumulated, increases in value, it can be very profitable.