Gareth Johnson
Gareth Johnson
Updated on December 22, 2021

As the price of Bitcoin surges to new heights, Bitcoin mining seems more and more attractive to millions of cryptocurrency enthusiasts. After all, mining means getting Bitcoin directly from the source, instead of buying it from the exchange markets where the price of a single Bitcoin is tens of thousands of dollars. Instead of buying Bitcoin, why not make your own with what you already have – a personal computer or laptop.

While you can technically mine Bitcoin on your laptop or PC, the problem is that it may not be worth it because Bitcoin mining on a laptop can end up costing you more than you can make from the whole endeavor. 

Mining with a gaming laptop isn’t as profitable as mining with a professional ASIC miner, and most people are advised to refrain from mining with their laptops because the costs might outweigh the profits, or endanger their laptop completely. 

Although making money from mining on a laptop isn’t easy, there are a few ways you can try mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In this guide, we explain why it is hard to mine successfully using laptops and cover some basic methods you can try to make at least a small profit out of this type of mining.

History of Bitcoin Mining

When Satoshi Nakamoto launched Bitcoin, mining was relatively easy as you could simply mine Bitcoin on your computer without too much effort. Anybody who had a computer with a Linux operating system could mine Bitcoin in those years because the Bitcoin network was relatively small and the computing power of the network was very low.

Gold bitcoin on top of brown circuit

According to the Bitcoin algorithm, mining difficulty changes depending on the amount of total computing power in the network. Mining gets harder as more miners with more computing power join the mining race, and join they did!

The number of Bitcoin miners steadily increased in the first few years of Bitcoin and mining acquired a competitive edge even though it was still mostly regarded as a fringe hobby for tech people. Remember, back then, Bitcoin was still valued at pennies, so the demand was much smaller.

The mining competitiveness pushed people to experiment with gaming laptops with graphics processing units (GPUs). Until then, most mining was accomplished on laptops with central processing units (CPUs), so everyday laptops were enough for mining. Gaming PCs armed with AMD and Nvidia graphics cards changed the game because they could mine a thousand times better than the average CPU-enabled PC. Hashing power or mining efficiency of CPU miners were measured in kilo hashes per second (kh/s), whereas GPU miners can be measured with mega hashes per second (mh/s).

However, the real challenge to everyday miners came in 2012 when the first ASIC miner was released to the market. ASIC stands for “application-specific integrated circuit” and (unlike CPUs and GPUs that run multiple complicated tasks) ASIC miners possess chips that are suited to accomplish one specific task: mining cryptocurrencies. The first ASIC miner was 200 times more efficient than the standard GPU miners at the time. ASIC mining power is measured in tera hashes per second (th/s). Nowadays, it is hard to make a profit from mining if you don’t have at least one ASIC Antminer.

What Is Bitcoin Mining?

You can think of Bitcoin mining as a very special sort of lottery. In order to mine a new block of Bitcoin and claim BTC as block rewards, miners have to come with a value below the target hash for the block. Bitcoin blockchain uses an SHA-256 algorithm to spit out the target hash, and Bitcoin miners have to find the right number that produces the target hash (or a value less than the target hash). That means miner rigs have to run several numbers through the SHA-256 algorithm until the right number gives the target. When we say several, we actually mean trillions of numbers per second, because that is how hard it has become to mine a single Bitcoin block.

physical bitcoin on top of mining rig

Bitcoin mining – or at least successful Bitcoin mining – requires computing power. Professional miners use several industry-standard mining rigs (ASICs) to mine Bitcoin. Imagine hundreds of mining rigs produced solely for mining cryptocurrencies in thousands of warehouses around the world. That’s basically what you are up against when you try to mine Bitcoin with your laptop. As you can imagine, a solo miner armed only with a laptop has a little chance of beating out the competition in these conditions.

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners typically join mining pools to enhance their chances of mining successfully. While that seems like a good solution, most mining pools also have equipment requirements and don’t allow CPU mining. 

All that said, laptop mining is still possible if you have a spare GPU lying around somewhere. Let’s look at how you can start mining Bitcoin and some other altcoins without special mining hardware.

Mining Bitcoin and Altcoins on a PC

One way you can make a profit out of laptop mining is using Nicehash. Nicehash is actually a hash power marketplace where you can sell the computing power of your equipment to the highest bidder. You are paid BTC in exchange for the computing power you provide.

Nicehash is pretty easy to use. The platform has its own cryptocurrency and Bitcoin mining software that automatically sets up your computer for GPU mining. You can even calculate how much you can profit from renting out your computing power on Nicehash. The profitability calculator uses predetermined benchmarks to assess your computer’s hashrate, the amount of electricity you need and the cost of your electricity bill and gives you an estimate of your costs and earnings.

PC set up on table with rgb lights

Once you set up Nicehash, you get a Nicehash Bitcoin wallet and your payment is forwarded to your Nicehash Bitcoin wallet address.

Nicehash uses your hashing power to mine several cryptocurrencies including Litecoin and Ethereum. No matter which digital currency you mine, Nicehash always pays in bitcoins. You can transfer your Bitcoin from your Nicehash Bitcoin wallet to an exchange wallet to withdraw your earnings, and Nicehash has a deal with Coinbase, so if you already have a Coinbase wallet, that is a good option.

If you are going to use Nicehash to mine cryptocurrencies on your laptop, be aware that not all GPUs have the same hashing power. A laptop with an Nvidia Geforce or AMD Radeon card will allow you to mine but profitability depends on the model. 

A Few Words Before You Go…

If you are interested in crypto mining, you can buy an older generation secondhand ASIC miner on Amazon for a couple of hundred dollars or try GPU mining on your laptop through Nicehash. Nicehash allows you to sell your computing power to mine trending cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin or Ethereum in addition to Bitcoin. If you don’t have the budget for a professional mining rig, Nicehash is probably your best option. However, make sure you consult Nicehash’s profitability calculator before you start mining.