How to mine Bitcoin with your Mac

(Photo: Jason O’Grady)

Apple stock?

Twitter stock?

How about Tesla?

Pfft. Forget about them. Bitcoin is where it’s at.

Bitcoin is a crypto currency that’s been exploding in value since the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke said that it “may hold long-term promise” at last week’s U.S. Senate hearing on the Potential Risks, Threats, and Promises of Virtual Currencies (which aired on C-SPAN). Other U.S. regulatory power houses (including the Treasury and Department of Justice) agreed.

It’s not without controversy, however. Bitcoin was the currency of choice at former Internet drug bazaar Silk Road and remains the currency of choice of crypto locker hackers that hold people’s computers hostage for money. But don’t let that discourage you.

When I first researched Bitcoin (at the end of 2012) the price of a single Bitcoin was $13.50. In May 2013 it was selling for around $200/BTC. When I finally got around to buying some Bitcoin (on November 10) it had jumped to $460/BTC, and as I write this on November 26 the price has skyrocketed to $920/BTC. Not too shabby.

But enough on the background of Bitcoin, there’s plenty of places to read about that. Let’s get down to business and how to mine Bitcoin using your Mac.

The 25Gh/s ASIC miner from Butterfly Labs - Jason O'Grady
(Photo: Jason O’Grady)

First, some bad news. While it’s technically possible to mine for BTC using your Mac’s GPU, it’s not profitable. The hashing difficulty has increased to a point where you’ll spend more on electricity than you’ll get in Bitcoin in return. It’s possible that the new Mac Pro (with it’s dual AMD FirePro GPUs) might be able to mine for Bitcoin profitably, no one’s benchmarked its hashing performance yet.

The good news is that you can purchase purpose-built mining hardware that will mine Bitcoin. While potentially profitable, there are several caveats. ASIC mining hardware is backordered, expensive, power hungry and…

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