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I would like to mine bitcoin on a laptop, the aim is not to turn a profit but rather learn how mining works without spending money on an ASIC and electricity. I thought about buying a cheap low TH/s used ASIC but I am concerned that I will purchase a faulty one. Also I will be mining at home so think an ASIC will be too noisy. I also was planning to try and use the waste heat to off set my home heating but after some research it all seems to expensive and risky for what will essential be a learning experience.

So my question is can I mine bitcoin on a laptop? I'm not worried about turning a profit, just would like to understand how it all works. Could I download bitcoin core, run a full node and let it hash away with a near zero chance of winning the block reward but happy in the knowledge I've gone through the process and learnt plenty along the way?

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You can't mine real Bitcoin on a laptop but you can mine worthless testnet blocks if all you want is to understand a bit more about Bitcoin.

See When did Bitcoin Core deprecate the mining function?

Obviously you probably won't learn anything significant about real-world current-day mainnet mining.

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You can mine on a laptop, though the probability of finding a valid block would be ~0

Performing a single hash on a valid block header would technically be mining.

You could get the latest block tip hash from a block explorer, figure out how to construct a valid block header (you could only add a coinbase transaction as it's for learning) and perform a hash on it (double SHA256).

If the hash comes out at <= the target (also this) then well done, you've found a valid block! Your chance of finding a valid block is:

target / size of hash space

for block 809493 this is

0x00000000000000000004ed7f0000000000000000000000000000000000000000 / 2^256

= 4.0761137170366274e-24

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