Yes! Yes you can, this is how Bitcoin mining started. However, as time has passed, and new mining hardware called ASICs have been introduced, mining with a CPU is like “an ant fart in a hurricane” (source).
Keep reading for details:
Can I mine Bitcoin with a CPU?
A CPU can make a few hundred hashes per second, which was nothing to sneeze at back in the day. However, as mining difficult increases for Bitcoin, with terahashes of power in the BTC network, a few hundred is such a tiny amount that it will amount to nothing.
If you put 200 hashes/second into the calculator at WhatToMine.com, for the Bitcoin SHA-256 algorithm, you’ll see they give you an estimated 0.000000 BTC rewards for mining after a year.
Even if you did luck out with mining, or even if you had access to thousands of CPUs (maybe perhaps you have something like this bitcoin miner that uses old Samsung Galaxy phones), you still need to determine if CPU mining for Bitcoin will be profitable, not just possible.
Is Bitcoin CPU Mining Profitable?
Even if you did luck out and earn some bitcoin with mining, how much did you actually make with your CPU? If you didn’t get the CPU for free, you’ll need to factor in purchase cost.
Then of course, the big cost, is likely your power usage. A high performance CPU can use 4 to 10 watts, which doesn’t seem like much, but if you left it running all year, it would use between 35 KWh and 90 kWh. Depending on how much you pay for electricity, that’s real, out of pocket cost to run your bitcoin CPU miner for 1 year, and to potentially earn 0.000000 BTC.
Bitcoin CPU Miner Conclusion
Mining Bitcoin with a CPU is not profitable. Sure it could be fun, and it can be a great way to get your feet wet in the BTC mining world. If you are purely viewing it as a learning experience, or a way to research whether you want to spend some money on some ASIC mining rigs, then I say go for it!
If you think it’s a good way to cash in on all the money people are making with Bitcoin, sorry to say that in a year you’ll likely feel disappointed, and perhaps even have a burnt-out CPU that’s no good for anything anymore.
If you want to earn some money with your high-end CPU (think Ryzen Threadripper etc), then look into mining Monero with your CPU.