There are a few different ways for people to mine alternative cryptocurrencies. In most cases, they require either powerful graphics cards or ASIC hardware. However, it turns out USB mining may be making a comeback. The FutureBit Moonlander 2 is quite a powerful USB device which does not require all that much electricity to run. Although it can only be used to mine Scrypt coins, it is certainly worth checking out if you have access to cheap electricity.
It is not the first time we have seen USB miners in the world of cryptocurrency. There were some SHA-256-capable USB miners making the rounds a few years ago. Although these devices were outclassed by powerful computers and eventually by ASIC hardware, they provided a way for everyone in the world to get acquainted with Bitcoin mining. These days, such USB miners are more of a collector’s item than anything else. They generate very little mining power, but that is only to be expected from such a small form factor.
When it comes to mining altcoins, however, USB miners may be staging a comeback. The FutureBit Moonlander 2 Scrypt miner USB stick has caught a lot of people’s attention lately, though the product is still in the pre-order stage right now. None of these units have been delivered to customers just yet, but that has not prevented people from making some big investments in these little devices. Right now, the shipping date is scheduled for November of this year, although such timetables are always subject to change.
The bigger question is what is making these new USB miners so appealing all of a sudden. Given their small form factor, one cannot expect a lot of mining power from them. That being said, the FutureBit MoonLander 2 Scrypt Miner USB stick is capable of achieving between 3-5 MH/s of mining power. That is quite a lot for Scrypt-based cryptocurrencies. For people who are looking to mine Dogecoin or even Litecoin, these USB miners will be of great interest. Their power consumption hovers around 1.5w/megahash, which means they consume around 7.5W at peak performance.
Users will be able to tweak the core clock – nearly doubling this performance – as well as the core voltage range. The efficiency of this USB miner should be around 95% at all times, which is more than acceptable. Users will need to provide ways to cool these sticks to improve their longevity and overall performance. Miners with a proper cooling setup should be able to squeeze around 6MH/s out of every Scrypt-mining stick, although your mileage may vary a bit.
Compared with the first generation of MoonLanders, this new unit has 4x the speed and almost 5x the profitability. The developers have made some great strides in this regard. Having said that, users will be competing against miners who control several hundred MH/s of mining power with these sticks. To be even remotely competitive, one would almost need a few hundred of these devices. At the price of US$60 each excluding shipping, that could become a pretty costly endeavor.
That being said, it is good to see USB mining making a return. After all, it will introduce a lot more people to the concept of mining cryptocurrency in the future. Although no one will be getting rich from using one of these sticks, it can be a great tool to mine some cryptocurrency at an inexpensive rate. Getting your hands on the FutureBit MoonLander 2 Scrypt Miner USB Stick will be rather difficult, as the entire first batch has already sold out. We will keep an eye out for future news and benchmarks regarding this USB miner.
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