Build Your Own GPU Mining Rig for Ethereum and Other Altcoins

With Bitcoin and other digital coins such as Ethereum and Litecoin skyrocketing in value over the past year, it is now profitable to start mining again.  Building a mining rig is really like growing your own money tree.  The rig will run and crank away and create wealth (in digital currency) while you sit back and reap the rewards.  It takes a little tech savviness but anyone can learn how to build their own rigs.  

gpu mining rig

This post covers how to build a GPU mining rig that you can use to mine scrypt-based coins such as Ethereum and ZCash.  Bitcoin is different and is extremely hard to mine. You can’t mine Bitcoin profitably without having a large data center full of specialized Bitcoin miners.  But it is profitable to mine Ethereum and Zcash (and many others), sell them or exchange them to Bitcoin.

A few years ago when you consider the value of the coins, the cost of hardware and the cost of electricity – mining simply wasn’t profitable.  But now with Ethereum hovering around $300 and Zcash hovering around $280, payback time is a little bit under 4 months.  If you consider that you’ll be able to sell the equipment back after mining is over, then ROI is 2 months or under.

Mining Calculator

If you want to calculate your payback time or ROI, use this mining calculator.  You can select a few digital currency and the calculator allows you to plug in things such as hashing power, power consumption, cost per KW/h.

Mining Pool

Mining solo, while sometimes more profitable, it’s usually not the right choice for most miners. When mining solo, you are doing all the work alone which means that you’ll receive the entire block reward, the problem is that mining is also based on a luck factor, which means that if your hashpower isn’t high enough, you may never see a reward come your way. With pool mining, however, this variance is eliminated and you receive payments that correspond to the portion of the work that you have done.

MinerGate is an established smart-mining multipool that allows users to mine the most profitable cryptocurrency at the time.

MinerGate allows users to mine coins through a smart-mining option (auto switches to most profitable coin) or choosing your favorite cryptocurrency manually. Merged-mining is available for FCN and MCN, allowing you to mine two currencies at once without the loss of hashrate for the main coin.

Components

Graphics Cards (VERY HIGH DEMAND)

When it comes to picking GPUs, you want the select the best bang for the buck.  You’re looking for something with high hash rate, low cost, and low power usage.  You can start with as little as 1 GPU or as much as 6 GPUs within one rig.  The hash rates listed below are for Ethereum.  Different coins will result in different hash rates but overall you can see the performance you’ll get from each card.

Due to the very high demand for GPUs, if you see them available make sure you grab them very quickly.

The hash rates listed below are for Ethereum.  Listed from best to worst considering hash rate and power consumption.

  1. ​​​Radeon Rx 580 – This card can mine at 29 MH/s using 250 watts
  2. Radeon Rx 480 –    27 MH/s using 240 watts
  3. Geforce GTX 1070 – 27 MH/s mining using 200 watts
  4. Radeon Rx 470  –   25 MH/s using 190 watts
  5. Radeon R9 290x – 28 MH/s using 300 watts
  6. Radeon R9 280x – 25 MH/s using 250 watts
  7. Geforce GTX 1060 – 21 MH/s mining using 170 watts
  8. Radeon RX 460 – 12 MH/s using 160 watts

Update 7/4/2017

Due to Ethereum dipping a little bit in value, Zcash is more profitable to mine at this point.  The Geforce GTX 1080 and 1080Ti were not listed up above for Ethereum mining simply because the cards do not mine Ether well given the high price tag.  However, that is not a problem when mining Zcash as the high-end GTX dominates hashing.

Case

If you are hardcore and wanted to save money, you can build your rig in a plastic storage or milk crate.  The plastic crate is cheap and allows you to fit as many as 6 GPUs.

The openness of the crate also allows maximum airflow to dissipate heat.  Of course, things won’t look the greatest but when your mining for profit, you want to save as much money as you can.

Image result for mining rig milk crate

But if you want something cool and professional looking, you can buy mining cases such as this one.

 

Or buy a complete setup such as this Cyberpower PCs with Dual AMD Radeon 480s like this one.

1200W Gold Certified Power Supply (VERY HIGH DEMAND)

The standard power supply in a computer can be anywhere from 300W-500W.  But when your mining and you are powering up to 6/7 GPUs, you want to make sure you have enough power.  1200W+ is what you’re looking for and you want to make sure that it is Gold or better certified for efficiency.  Also, modular power supplies allow you to configure your cables individually which helps greatly when building out your rig.

Due to the very high demand for power supplies, most of the 1200W+ ones are sold out. If you see them for sale, make sure you grab them quickly.

Or another option is to use dual power supplies and use an adapter cable like this Thermaltake one.

Motherboard + CPU Combination

For mining, you want to maximize the number of GPUs your motherboard will support. Most motherboards inside computers can handle 1 or 2 GPUs, you want to use ones that support up to 6.  These are usually hard to find in stores so getting them online will be your best bet.  As for CPU, you just want something basic such as the Celerons. Mining does not tax the CPU; all of the work is done on the GPUs.

LGA 1151 Motherboard/CPU Setup

LGA 1150 Motherboard/CPU Setup

RAM

Single 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz RAM is all you need.  Nothing more and nothing fancy.

Powered Riser Cables

In order to mount the GPUs within the crate, you’ll need riser PCI cables to extend the connection from the motherboard.  Get as many PCI Express 1X to 16X Powered Riser Cables as you can to match up with the number of GPUs you have.   There are many different variants, like this one or this or this.

SSD Hard Drive

Get a basic 60GB SSD or 120GB SSD drive for installing the OS and running your mining software.

Accessories

You’ll need a basic Monitor and Mouse/Keyboard combo to configure all the software and mining settings.

Box Fan

You’ll need at least one box fan per rig.

Operating System

If you’re into Linux, Eth OS is a 64-bit Linux OS that mines Ethereum, Zcash, Monero, and other GPU-minable coins.  If you’re a windows guy, here is Windows 10.

Mining Software

I suggest using the mining software provided by Minergate.

Wallet

You’ll need a wallet to store your coins.  Get a hardware wallet like the Ledger Nano S.  It is immune to malware and nearly impossible to hack.  The screens also provide extra security by verifying and displaying important wallet details.  The hardware wallet also supports a wide support of coins (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Zcash, Dash, Stratis) and most importantly an attractive price tag.  For more options, check out the wallet section.


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