They’re great processors, but can you really use them to mine crypto?
If you've ever looked into crypto mining, you're probably aware of how expensive it can be. Buying specialized hardware to mine cryptocurrency can be incredibly expensive and often puts people off the venture altogether. But you can cut down costs using your pre-existing computer to mine.
So, can you mine cryptocurrencies using Apple M1- and M2-powered devices?
The first of Apple's silicon chips, the M1, was released in November 2020. Since then, three subsequent models, the M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra have launched. A number of Apple's products are now supported by the M1 chip, including the MacBook Air 2020 and MacBook Pro 2020. But can you mine cryptocurrency with such devices?
In short, cryptocurrency mining is possible with M1-powered models. This is good news for those who want to give crypto mining a go without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on new hardware. After all, the most financially draining part of typical crypto mining ventures is the setup, as ASICs and GPUs can be very pricey.
So, mining with an M1 Silicon-powered device could be an option if you don't want to buy additional hardware. However, it's important to note that crypto mining is very energy intensive, meaning your Mac's processor likely won't be able to handle much else if crypto mining is in process.
This means that using your device normally while running your mining operation probably won't be possible. And, given that mining often takes place on a 24/7 basis, you'll likely find yourself buying an additional iMac or MacBook to carry out typical functions while your original device takes care of the mining.
But the question is, is it profitable to mine crypto using M1 Silicon?
To answer this question, we'll need to determine the hash power that can be achieved by mining with an M1 chip. Unfortunately, the M1 chip isn't powerful compared to other crypto-mining hardware. While the specialized devices can achieve hash powers of over 110TH/s, the M1 chip maxes out at around 5MH/s. Of course, this difference is huge and will certainly have an impact on the success rate of your mining venture.
But this doesn't mean that crypto mining with an M1 chip is out of the question. Different cryptocurrencies have different mining difficulty levels. Bitcoin mining, for example, is extremely competitive, whereas mining less valuable coins is more accessible to those without highly specialized hardware.
Take Ethereum, for example. In early 2021, a software engineer managed to mine Ether using an M1 chip (as it is a GPU-friendly mining option). This was huge news for the mining industry and had people questioning whether Mac devices would be the next coveted device for miners. But mining ETH using an M1 isn't a walk in the park.
Yifan Gu, the engineer who pioneered this venture, stated that his MacBook could only mine Ethereum at 2 MH/s, an extremely low hash rate that resulted in minimal profits of less than 15 cents a day. In a year, Gu could only generate just over 50 dollars by mining Ethereum using the M1 Silicon chip.
And, while the M1 chip is pretty efficient in terms of power consumption, this does not speak to its mining success rate. High energy efficiency does not equal high hash power.
Gu also noted that configuring his M1 with the Ethminer software wasn't very easy. To do so, one needs a knowledge of coding in C++. But if you're somewhat experienced in C++ coding, you'll probably be able to follow Gu's steps on his official blog.
But if you're looking to make big bucks through crypto mining, using the M1 chip isn't a viable option. As stated by Gu in his blog post, M1 Ethereum mining can generate "a profit, but very minuscule."
Using an M1 chip will not be possible if you're considering mining Bitcoin. This is because Bitcoin mining is now only possible with ASIC miners that have significantly higher hash rates than that offered by the M1. While Bitcoin mining is theoretically doable using GPUs, they are generally no longer a feasible option for generating adequate profits. You also won't mine Ethereum using an Apple M1-powered chip, as Ethereum mining is dead post-Ethereum 2.0 Merge.
In short, crypto mining is certainly possible with the M1 Silicon, but it is barely profitable, so you'll be committing your Mac device almost entirely to an operation that won't reap many rewards. Instead, consider a reasonably priced GPU if you'd like to mine cryptocurrency for a higher profit without breaking the bank.
The first version of Apple's M2 silicon chip was released in June 2022. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there's not an awful lot of information out there regarding crypto mining with the M2 chip.
However, it has been confirmed that mining Bitcoin with the M2 chip will not be possible. Again, the M2 chip isn't very powerful compared to other crypto-mining hardware. It simply cannot compete with ASIC miners, meaning you'll find it incredibly difficult, or somewhat impossible, to successfully mine Bitcoin via an M2 chip.
Though the M2 is an improved version of the M1, with a notably higher processing speed, it is by no means designed for crypto mining and still does not offer a high enough hash rate to make significant daily profits.
Currently, there aren't any solid figures on just how profitable M2 crypto mining can be. But in any case, it's looking like the overall profits won't be very large.
Overall, mining cryptocurrency using the M1 and M2 chips isn't ideal, though it still is possible. So, if you're simply curious about leveraging your Silicon chip for crypto mining, you could give it a go, but note that this is not a venture suitable for those looking to make an adequate income stream. If you want to make a significant profit via crypto mining, it's best to use hardware proven to mine assets successfully, such as GPUs and ASICs.
Katie is a Staff Writer at MUO with experience in content writing in travel and mental health. She as a specific interest in Samsung, and so has chosen to focus on Android in her position at MUO. She has written pieces for IMNOTABARISTA, Tourmeric and Vocal in the past, including one of her favourite pieces on remaining positive and strong through trying times, which can be found at the link above. Outside of her working life, Katie loves growing plants, cooking, and practicing yoga.
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