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Is there any point to casual mining anymore? I recently discovered bitcoin and was wondering if there was any point to running mining software on my laptop while I work on essays or other non-computationally intensive task. I tried looking around, but answers seem conflicted on if casual mining is possible.

I mean will I get any bitcoins from it, not is it profitable per unit cost of electricity. Will I get anything in a reasonable timeframe or is that now a thing of the past? By anything I mean, the silly 0.1BTC I see stuff put up for on http://forbitcoin.com and such, not hundreds of dollars to supplement my income.

  • In general stack exchange practice I tried to make my question general: However I'm on a Core i5 M 540 @ 2.53 GHz (1.8 MHashes/s) with a NVIDIA NVS 3100M graphics card (3.6 MHashes/s) according to the wiki: So it would take me 2 months running all the time to get the 0.1 Bitcoins for one of the stupid uses on the trading sights, longer with pool fees? Longer if I only am running it a few hours a day? – Canageek Oct 1 '11 at 19:24
  • I edited my answer to give you a scale of how inefficient CPU mining. – Serith Oct 1 '11 at 20:36
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    Interesting, though I don't pay for power currently. Not good for the environment to use a CPU though. Think I'm not going to do it then, the heat would probably wear out my laptop faster anyway. – Canageek Oct 1 '11 at 21:07
  • Regarding your comment: yes to all questions. I wouldn't mine with that hardware. If you want a few bitcoins you should buy them. – nmat Oct 2 '11 at 2:03
  • It is always worthwhile to learn about new technologies, thus it is 100% worthwhile to casually mine bitcoin. The only counter argument centers around a premise that the reason you mine is for profit, but naturally, just as with any pursuit, whether coding for freeBSD, being a website Ruby developer, or a computer hardware repair-person, there are those projects you do for profit, and those you do for learning and fun. As long as one approaches the endeavor realistically, i.e., not expecting to make billions with an Ant Miner at home, then of course it is worthwhile @Canageek – oemb1905 Apr 27 '16 at 21:30
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Mining in your work/home computer has some side effects, namely:

  • Heat - could damage your hardware if you don't handle it properly
  • Noise
  • Slowdowns - if you use your computer while you mine you should reduce the miner's load
  • Power consumption - if you don't pay for electricity this may not be an issue

So I would say that there is a point in casual mining as long as your earnings compensate for these disadvantages. It is really up to you to decide if you want to stress your hardware to earn a few coins.

Speaking of a more concrete scenario, casual miners usually fall into two categories:

  • You have a good GPU for mining in your PC - a recent medium/high end ATI card.
  • You don't have a good GPU so you want to mine with your CPU/low end GPU.

Check this question to find out where do you stand. If you have a good GPU, you might get around 8 bitcoins per month at current difficulty. If you don't, you will probably not earn more than 1 or 2 coins per month. My personal opinion is that if you fit into the first category, you could give it a shot. If not, I wouldn't do it just for a few dollars (and I do not recommend mining with your CPU at all).

As a final note, bear in mind that these numbers are always changing: new hardware is coming out all the time and new miners are joining while others are leaving. This influences the amount of bitcoins you will earn with your hardware so be sure to check an updated hardware list for your calculations.

  • is this answer obsolete now or do you think the advice is still accurate? – glS Dec 8 '17 at 20:46
  • @glS 6 years later this is mostly obsolete. Is there a better answer/resource that I can point users to? – nmat Dec 9 '17 at 13:16
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TLDR: Rough estimate of electricity cost needed to produce one bitcoin on a laptop with 5 Mhash/s equals to 61 dollar, and would take 339 days with current difficulty.

A standard laptop CPU provides around 2-8 Mhash/sec and consumes 25 to 75 watts, which on average gives us 1 Mhash/sec per 10 watts of power.

An ATI 5870 video card, which has one the best efficiency/cost ratios, mines at about 400 Mhash/sec and consumes about 216 watts. Which gives us about 2 Mhash/sec per 1 watt of power. In other words mining with ATI video card about 20 times more cost effective then mining with CPU.

According to pi.uk.com/bitcoin, mining with ATI video cards at 1000 Mhash/sec will cost 650 watts or 9.75 cents (15 cent per kilowatt hour), and the operation profit margin would be 19.07%. Therefore I doubt it would be cost effective to mine on laptop considering that power consumption changes dramatically from computing intensive task.

You can get better estimate yourself by using Bitcoin mining profitability calculator and Electricity Prices by State.

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If your costs are minimal (for example, you don't pay for electricity), yes, there is some point in casual mining. You will have to mine in a pool (for example http://www.btcguild.com/) and don't have high expectations, but yes, you can get some coins over some time. If you care about how much will it cost you to generate those coins, you might want to consider buying the coins at https://mtgox.com/ .

If you want to know how much you can get in a reasonable timeframe, check out a bitcoin calculator, for example http://tpbitcalc.appspot.com/ .

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    Wrong. Even if he doesn't pay for the electricity, as long as he pays the laptop, it won't be worth the wearing effect on the laptop itself. Furthermore, even the few minutes spent writing this question and reading its answers will alone be worth more than what he could have earned anyway. – o0'. Oct 2 '11 at 10:46

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