Why Mining Crypto Will Kill Your Laptop



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Laptops and cryptocurrencies don’t mix. Even a gaming laptop doesn’t have the hardware to go full throttle 24/7. Using your laptop as a mining rig is a good way to damage the hardware – and it won’t mine properly.

What does crypto mining do to a computer?

Whether you’re mining Bitcoin, Ethereum, or any other cryptocurrency that uses proof-of-work, “mining” works a bit like guessing the combination of a lock. On a lock with three tumblers you would certainly get the right combination within 1000 tries as there are only 1000 combinations of numbers between 000 and 999. Add a number to that and that list of combinations goes up an order of magnitude with 10000 possibilities .

Now imagine a coded puzzle with billions or trillions of possible combinations and you have to guess repeatedly until you get the right one. That’s mining: a computationally trivial transaction verification accompanied by a brute-force guessing game where whoever has the fastest computer has the best chance of getting to the correct number first. The reward for winning is cryptocurrency.

GPUs are the best computing component at mining today’s popular cryptocurrencies, and they’ll be running at full throttle to crack those numbers, generate heat, and push every component that supports the GPU to its limits.

This is not necessarily a problem for desktop GPUs. A GPU used for mining may still have a good life if it is properly cooled. However, a laptop is very different from a mining rig.

Laptops are not designed for this

Most laptops, even high-end for gaming and creative professional work, are not designed to run at peak capacity 24/7. Instead, they increase performance as needed and keep heat and power levels as low as possible the rest of the time. Even heavy workloads, such as playing a AAA video game for hours on end, will keep your computer’s CPU and GPU from being locked at 100%. Instead, the load is dynamic, which gives small opportunities to dump heat.

Video editing and even encoding video projects are also not reaching the sustained load of cryptocurrencies for mining. Instead, it’s more of a torture test for your components: the kind of thing you could do for 24 hours to make sure everything is working properly, and then never again.

There are laptops designed as workstations for ciphering, but these computers are better described as “portable” than as mobile computers. Some of these workstation laptops have socketed desktop CPUs, which are designed to suck power from a wall outlet and really push those thermal limits. Unless you own one of these behemoths, your laptop probably isn’t built to handle the stresses of mining.

Fans wear out

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Modern laptops don’t have many moving parts anymore. Mechanical hard drives and optical drives are quickly following the dodo’s path, but computers still use spinning fans to move air through the system, taking heat with it.

The longer and faster your fans run, the sooner they will jam and need to be replaced. Replacing a desktop case or processor fan is fairly trivial, but laptops don’t use off-the-shelf cooling components. So don’t expect to be able to replace them so easily.

Modern laptops dynamically adjust fan speeds according to thermal load, and some even turn them off when the system is only lightly loaded. If you are mining cryptocurrency, they will scream head over heels towards the end.

Thermal aging of the battery

While most of your electronic components will likely be fine as long as they stay within their rated safe temperature range, one part that may not take heat well is the laptop’s battery. Lithium-ion batteries should operate between -20°C and 60°C depending on the specific application and manufacturer’s recommendation. If they are exposed to higher temperatures, they can degrade and shorten their lifespan due to an effect known as thermal aging.

In 2018, Shuai Ma and colleagues published a: paper on thermal impact and lithium ion batteries† They cite research showing that lithium batteries exposed to 75°C for a few days show severe degradation. While that doesn’t mean that sustained high temperatures in your laptop will quickly kill your batteries, it’s worth remembering that components like the GPU can reach temperatures close to 100°C, especially in a laptop where the line between “safe” and “too hot”” is very thin.

Laptops are bad at mining anyway

Apart from the fact that using your laptop as a crypto mining device can put it in an early grave, laptops just aren’t very good mining systems. Your laptop will lose performance to the point that the cooling system can no longer control the temperature. Laptops are also not energy efficient when mining. The typical laptop that is fast enough to mine anything will probably use more electricity than the little money it makes, unless you planned to get electricity from your workplace or school. Do not do that.

There is a reason why miners use ASICs (Application-specific Integrated Circuits) or specific GPU models with the right balance of power, cost, and performance. The margins on mining are already wafer thin, so there’s no point in using something as unsuitable for mining as a laptop.

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