Skip to main content

Solo Bitcoin Miners Are Striking Crypto Gold With Tiny USB-Based Rigs

USB Bitcoin Rigs
(Image credit: @ckpooldev)

Most ordinary people haven't been able to mine Bitcoin at a profit for years. As the difficulty of mining the cryptocurrency has increased, most rewards have gone to massive operations that rely on a bunch of incredibly powerful machines. But solo miners with relatively weak setups have found success in recent weeks using USB-based mining rigs.

The most recent example comes from a solo USB miner participating in "solo.ckpool.org," which purportedly offers "no frills, no fuss 2% fee anonymous solo bitcoin mining for everyone." The miner solved a block with a rig that had a hashrate of approximately 8.3 terahashes per second (TH/s) and earned more than $215,000 worth of BTC. The types of USB miners used are available from retailers like Amazon and Bitcoin Merch (when you can find them in stock).

See more

The miner in question has a rig capable of an 86 TH/s hashrate, but It was operating at one-tenth that performance when the block was solved. For context, Bitmain recently announced the Antminer S19 Pro+ Hyd, which is capable of reaching a hashrate of approximately 199 TH/s. That's more than twice what this setup offers.

USB Miner

(Image credit: Amazon)

The difference is even starker when you consider that Bitmain targets miners willing to buy multiple rigs at once. It won't even sell the container for the Antminer S19 Pro+ Hyd unless the buyer purchases 190 miners. The new rig's price hasn't been revealed, but judging by Bitmain's other products, it likely costs at least $10,000.

Most people can't really compete with the scale of those operations. However, some miners can still get lucky as the one who solved this block did. Solo miners seem to be enjoying some good luck: Bitcoin.com reported that smaller operations earned between $260,000 to $270,000 in January alone.

See more

Does this mean that everyone should think about mining Bitcoin again? Probably not. It's still a resource-intensive process, and even these solo miners rely on specialized hardware instead of consumer products. This miner, in particular, seems to be using a "stick miner" made by GekkoScience that features Bitmain chips.

Bitcoin is also becoming increasingly difficult to mine, and until its value rebounds from the 34 percent drop it's seen over the last month, the rewards won't be as great as they were just a few weeks ago. Still, at least these recent victories have gone to people running small rigs rather than megalithic operations.

Nathaniel Mott
Nathaniel Mott

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.