Help Me, Laptop: Can I Mine Cryptocurrency?

I'm not an economist, nor am I a financial advisor, but you would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of cryptocurrencies by now. How couldn't you? In the last couple of weeks, the topic has been everywhere, after Bitcoin hit a record high in value. Now, reader ddermedgoglou is asking Laptop Mag, can you mine cryptocurrency on a laptop?

"I would be keen to learn a little more about crypto mining and was thinking of giving it a crack on my laptop,"

they wrote. "However, I am a bit of a noob when it comes to mining specs and wasn't really sure if it is worth [pursuing]."

Ddermedgoglou is using an MSI GP62M 7RDX Leopard, a fairly recent machine with a 7th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, a GTX 1050 GPU with either 2GB or 4GB of VRAM (depending on how it was configured), and up to 32GB of RAM.

In theory, it's the GPU that matters most for cryptocurrency mining. But depending on what our reader is planning on mining, even the GPU might not matter.

Bitcoin, they already know, is out. Even the most high-end GPUs aren't powerful enough to mine Bitcoin anymore, and most users need dedicated hardware called application-specific integrated circuit chips, or ASICs, that are designed exclusively for mining.

So that leaves smaller coins like Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero or a bunch of cryptocurrencies so small that you'd have to do research just to find them. You can still use a high-end GPU for mining those currencies, though ddermedgoglou's GTX 1050 won't cut it. Crypto miners are buying up high-end cards like the GTX 1060, 1070 and 1080 in bulk, but the 1050 just isn't as popular, because it's far less powerful (on the desktop side, it's one of the few cards whose prices aren't skyrocketing). That doesn't mean mining impossible, but it will take a lot longer.

MORE: Which GPU is Right For You

Even if you have a more powerful GPU in your laptop, there are other considerations. One is heat. Laptops are far smaller spaces than desktops, and constantly running a laptop's most powerful parts, especially mining for hours on end, could be damaging in the long run. That's even if you use something like MSI's Cooler Booster to blast the fans.

Then there's the question of electricity. If you're mining a cryptocurrency, you're probably hoping to make some money off of it. While many analysts have suggested that cryptocurrency — especially Bitcoin — is too unstable to use as everyday currency, many still look at it as a speculative investment, like gold.

But here's the thing: Electricity isn't free. And if you're mining a cryptocurrency, you'll need your laptop plugged in for long hours and working its most energy-sucking components at their hardest. Will your electric bill cost more than anything you've mined? If so, you may end up in the red.

So, can you mine cryptocurrency from your laptop? Maybe. It may take a long time, and it may ultimately damage your laptop, but it's possible, depending on the coin. However, your laptop really isn't the right tool, and you may end up burning it out or paying more to mine than you're getting out of it.

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