By now you’ve heard about the recent CryptoCurrency mining craze! Maybe, you’re trying to cut yourself a piece of the pie, which is still doable today, even with the spike in mining difficulty across most coins. Whether you’re doing this as a hobby or for profit, you’ll need a powerful computer – a mining rig – to make it worth your while. Sifting through all of the computer parts can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to this. So, we’ve laid out below everything you need to know in order to build a successful general purpose mining rig (as opposed to building a rig for a specific coin, which we will do later).
We will be building this rig with Ethereum in mind, as it is currently the most popular cryptocurrency to start mining.
The Motherboard (MOBO)
The Motherboard is the big flat piece of your computer “guts” that EVERYTHING plugs into. Every part that you choose needs to be compatible with your MOBO, so keep that in mind. The motherboard is going to dictate what kind of CPU you have, how many GPUs you can hold, how much memory you can have, etc. All of your other parts rely on your motherboard, so choose wisely.
The main compatability issue will rise from you MOBO/CPU combo, as the motherboard has to have a matching CPU socket. An easy way to check if your parts are compatible is to use the PC Part Picker tool.
Now, most MOBOs have multiple slots for multiple GPUs. Right now, a standard Mining Rig MOBO will have the capacity for 6 GPUs. However, many GPU companies are starting to add slots for even more GPUs. Check out this one that can hold TWELVE GPUs!
Anyways, we’re going to build a standard 6 GPU rig, so this is a bit of an overkill. So, this MSI Pro Solution Intel Z170A LGA 1151 DDR4 USB 3.1 ATX Motherboard (Z170A SLI Plus) should work perfectly! It has 6 GPU slots, which is exactly what we’re looking for!
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The CPU in a mining rig isn’t all that important. It is important, but you don’t need a high-end CPU for it. An i7 would be a huge overkill, heck, even an i5 would still probably be a bit much. You don’t need it to be super powerful since it will do one thing and one thing only, mining. It appears that everyone gravitates towards the Intel Celeron series. They are powerful enough to get the job done, yet inexpensive to help keep the costs of your rig down.
The Intel Celeron G3900 Dual-core (2 Core) 2.80 GHz Processor is the most common CPU found particularly in Ethereum Mining Rigs, but it will also work well for mining just about anything else! It is powerful enough to be very successful in mining, yet it is only $41.00. Definitely a good buy while they’re readily available!
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
This is probably the most important part of a mining rig. Since most cryptocurrencies are mined with a GPU, you’ll need a powerful one to yield the highest hashrate possible and therefore earn coin faster. Choosing a GPU can be a daunting task because there are so many with different specs, RAM, chipsets, and a whole lot more that effects your hashing power. Since we’re building this to mine Ethereum, we need to look at the Ethash alogrithm to give us some insight to what we are going to need out of our GPU. You can find details on Ethash by taking a look at their white paper, but it can be fairly technical and requires a fair amount of knowledge to understand.
Previously, the AMD RX 580 was king in the realm of Ethereum. It has the highest hashrate for the lowest cost GPU. However, they’ve all been bought up and it is ridiculously difficult to come across them now. You’d most likely have to get your hands on them from a private seller for a gouged price. Outside of the RX 470/480/570/580 realm, NVIDIA reigns supreme! Their GTX 1070, GTX 1080, and GTX 1080Ti have been killing it! They’re not as powerful for mining Ethereum as the RX series, but they are still competitive and generally NVIDIA products hold their value better than AMD. So, if you ever wanted out of the mining game, you could salvage your parts for a decent amount.
There’s two main things that you’ll need to look out for when purchasing a GPU:
- GPU RAM
- Mining Efficiency
GPU RAM is important because without it, you won’t be able to mine. You need enough GPU RAM to at least cover the DAG file size, which is a bit over 3GB for Ethereum, as of this writing. So, you’ll need AT A BARE MINIMUM 4GB of RAM on your GPU to cover it, anything less and you may not be able to mine. More is better, so if you can afford a GPU with more RAM, GET IT! It will ensure that you are able to keep mining even as DAG Files get bigger (which they continually do). It is recommended to go with a GPU that has atleast 6GB of RAM to allow for the increase and give you some wiggle room, again… more is more!
You want to get the most bang for your buck, right? Well, you can do that by calculating your GPU’s mining efficiency (in terms of hash per dollar) by looking up its hashrate for the coin you want to mine, and divide it by the cost of the GPU. You want the highest hashrate for the least amount of money for maximum efficiency.
How do you find out the hashrate of the GPU? We’re working on a database for you so you can look it up. In the meantime, you’re just going to have to google it and get the answer from others who are using that same GPU.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
At least 4 GB RAM is about all you need. You don’t need a lot of system memory to mine ethereum effectively. 4GB is about as small as a stick of RAM comes these days, so I recommend just picking up a cheap one as long as it is DDR4 desktop memory.
Power Supply Unit (PSU)
1300W Power Supply Unit should do the trick for most 6 GPU rigs. You can calculate how many watts you’ll need by looking at the power requirements for each component of your computer and adding them together. No PSU is 100% efficient, so take that calculated number and go with a PSU that has a little bit more. It is always better to have a PSU that can hold more than you need, than not enough. Too little power and you’ll over work it and could start an electrical fire, which is bad in most opinons. Look for Gold or Platinum rated (as opposed to silver or bronze). This is the industry standard for rating the efficiency of a computer’s power supply unit (PSU).
You’ll need a drive for storage. Since this is a purely mining rig, you barely need any. You’ll want a solid state drive (SSD) as they are much faster than hard disk drives (HDD), but 128GB should be PLENTY! Go smaller if you can, but keep in mind you’ll need enough space for the operating system, mining software, and a little bit extra just to be safe.
Operating System (OS)
It is argued that Linux is best for mining. If you chose AMD GPUs, you could use EthOS on linux to optimize your Ethereum and ZCash mining. However, if you chose NVIDIA GPUs, Windows 10 is the best to go with, typically. Ultimately, it is all up to user preference.
You can make just about any rig into a mining rig. Only a few pieces of hardware really make a difference. The biggest difference maker in the mining world is your choice of GPU. You can mine with any GPU that has enough RAM to hold the DAG file, but that doesn’t always mean it will mine well. Soon, we’ll be releasing our database to the public of all the GPUs, their respective hashrates for each coin, efficiency, etc. This is all going to be available for you to use at your disposal. We want to make cryptomining available for EVERYONE! It all starts with building your rig, so let’s get building!