My first GPU mining rig has been running smoothly (well, almost smoothly) for about 4 days. As there are so many questions about mining, I’m just going to post my entire adventure below. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll do my best.
1. How did I get into all of this?
I only bought my first $100 worth of Bitcoin in August, 2017. Then, $100 in Litecoin….then Ethereum… The prices kept going up so I kept buying a little more here and there. Eventually, I found Hashflare which is a cloud mining service. They basically have a warehouse full of Bitcoin mining equipment and they sell contracts to mine for yourself. For example, 1 Terahash of mining power costs about $220 and will make around $2.00 per day. Learn about Hashflare here. Then, I learned that you didn’t need special equipment to mine altcoins. (altcoins are all the other non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies. aka alternate coins) You can actually mine these coins with any decent graphics card in a computer. I then joined a few Facebook groups related to GPU Mining and absorbed as much as possible. (GPU = Graphical Processing Unit (aka a graphics card)
2. Where to start with GPU mining?
If you ask anyone on a GPU mining Facebook group about what coins to mine, the first response is almost always to check out the WhatToMine.com website. This is a great site that lets you select your desired graphics card(s), input a few parameters, and it’ll tell you what is most profitable to mine. I went through each one to see how much each would make per day. Then, I searched for the best prices for each card. Sprinkle in a little math and I had a list of cards by profitability and time to break even. (The prices vary so wildly, that rather than post a list, I think you’ll need to do your own legwork on this one.)
3. So how do you build a GPU mining rig?
I expected this to be more complicated, but honestly you can start today if your home computer has any of the graphics cards listed on the WhatToMine website. As you get more into it, you’ll want to add multiple GPU’s to your PC. Many newer motherboards can fit 2 GPU’s with no major alterations. Above that, and we have to introduce risers. But let’s not go there yet. Let’s assume you’re going to get started just like me.
4. The hardware bits:
I bought a new motherboard, power supply (PSU), SSD hard drive, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 2 GPU’s for about $1,500. I intended to use an old Xeon server case for this, but the graphics cards were so big that they didn’t fit. This led me to do what most miners do, and build an open air rig. This basically means to connect everything out in the open and tie it down as much as possible. Here’s my shopping list if you’d like to follow in my footsteps.
– Motherboard: $120 – MSI Pro Series Intel Z270 DDR4 HDMI USB 3 SLI ATX Motherboard (Z270 SLI PLUS)
– Power Supply: $100 – EVGA SuperNOVA 750 G2, 80+ GOLD 750W
– Processor: $46 – Intel BX80677G3930 7th Gen Celeron Desktop Processors
– Hard Drive: $50 – Kingston Digital, Inc. 120GB A400 SATA 3 2.5 Solid State Drive SA400S37/120G 2.5″ SA400S37/120G
– Graphics Cards (GPUs): $1,040 – 2X – MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 1080 8GB GDDR5X SLI DirectX 12 VR Ready Graphics Card (GTX 1080 AERO 8G OC)
– RAM: $100 – Corsair 8GB DDR4
After tax and whatnot, it all came to about $1,500.
As far as “building a rig frame” I just used some scrap plywood and screwed everything to that. Both GPU’s fit directly onto the motherboard, so there’s no need for risers or additional supports/mounts. The PSU sits on one side of the board, and the motherboard with GPU’s on the other.
5. What software to use for mining?
I bought this stuff with almost no idea how I’d actually go about mining. I knew I didn’t want to pay for Windows so I went with a specific Linux distribution for mining called SimpleMining. You just download the image for the SimpleMining OS (SMOS as some call it) and write the image to a USB or SSD drive. Plug that drive into your mining computer, boot up and you’re mining. Well, almost… You need to change one line in the config file so it uses your SimpleMining login email. This is how the OS communicates with the SimpleMining.net website, and that’s where you manage your rig. If you can’t edit the config directly on the USB, you’ll need to boot up your mining rig and use PuTTY to access the configfile. I thought that was all there was to it, but no, apparently you also need to join a miningpool…
6. What is a mining pool?
While SMOS is a great way to control your rig, you still need to pool your resources with other miners. Pooling resources evens out the payout. Rather than wait a month to mine a block, your resources are pooled with others. When a block is mined, everyone shares in the rewards. The pool I’m using right now is called MiningPoolHub. They take out a 0.9% fee from my mining which is the industry norm. Once you sign up for an account at MiningPoolHub then you can start mining… well…almost…
7. Now you need to choose what you want to mine and get the appropriate wallet.
Search for the most official wallet for the cryptocurrency you decide to mine. Make sure you own both the public and private keys. Without the private key, you don’t really own your wallet. There’s also an auto-exchange feature on MiningPoolHub which will…you guessed it.. automatically exchange whatever you mine into the coin of your choice. So, let’s assume you’re on MiningPoolHub and you have a wallet set up.
8. Config SimpleMining.net to work with MiningPoolHub
Let’s go back to SimpleMining.net and insert our mining pool info.
Under your rig groups, you’ll choose the mining software depending on your GPU brand (NVIDIA vs AMD) and you’ll enter a string as shown below.
–server us-east.equihash-hub.miningpoolhub.com –user myusername.myrig–pass x –port 20594
This will mine the equihash algorithm on miningpoolhub. “myusername” would be replaced with yours and “myrig” can be anything you want. Once you activate mining on SimpleMining, MiningPoolHub will identify your miner with whatever name you provide here. The password is usually just left as an “x”. And that’s all you should need to change. It’s scary to think that you missed something, but really the worst thing would be that you accidentally mine to someone else’s account until you figure out what’s wrong.
I hope that was a decent overview. If you’d like a deeper dive into anything, please leave me a comment.