In this article, we will talk about the main instrument for extracting cryptocurrencies. Let’s have a closer look at the equipment, assembling, and configuration of the mining farms, as well as optimal components for building them.
A mining farm is an ordinary computer with several video cards connected to it. A standard home-based farm includes 4 to 6 video cards. This number is optimal in terms of choosing the motherboard and power supply (one server power supply or two synchronized power units). With the help of special software, the computer farm uses its processing power to hashrate blocks of the cryptocurrency you are currently mining.
Miners usually use standard mass produced video cards (for games and regular work), but in July 2017 a special line of video cards for mining from NVIDIA P106-100 and P104-100 (analogs of the mass market GTX 1060 and GTX 1080) was presented on the market. These models are adapted for mining and differ from the mass produced ones by the large hash power (the extraction speed). However, their warranty period is only 3 months. Video cards like P106-100 and P104-100 are already on sale but, due to a very short warranty period, these models are not popular among miners.
- Why do we need miners in the Blockchain network?
- How to start cryptocurrency mining: a step-by-step guide
- What to mine: Bitcoins or Altcoyins?
- What is in a standard mining farm?
- Tips on selecting the best equipment for your farm
- How to get your cryptocurrency wallet
Why do we need miners in the Blockchain network?
In the Blockchain network data is stored in a database of unique chains-blocks. Each computer mines its chain separately and if it manages to get ahead of all others, it gets rewarded by a fixed sum. In fact, miners ensure that cryptocurrency operates in the same form as it was established.
How to start the cryptocurrency mining: step-by-step guide
- Purchase several video cards (optimally 4-6) with good cooling system and the best hashrate (productivity)/cost ratio. Do not forget to get enough amount of memory storage , because, due to the large DAG file, most cryptocurrencies (in particular, Etherium) cannot be extracted by cards with memory volume in 2 Gb or less. By 2018 the volume of DAG file will grow to 4 Gb, thus you will need to purchase memory cards with the storage capacity of 6 Gb and more.
- You will also need to use a power supply. Mining equipment has high power consumption (from 0.7 to 1.5 kW). You have two options: to use one server power supply or two regular power supply units synchronized with the help of a special cable. Both options have their own advantages, so it’s up to you to decide.
- The next step is to build a construction similar to the server racks used at mining farms. There are lots of such racks on offer and they can be purchased for about $30.
- The equipment is connected and assembled as an ordinary PC, however, the video cards are connected by special risers (Molex or 6pin).
- The last thing you will need to do is install the software. Start with Windows (preferably 10), then add standard mining software, speed up tools, and you may start the production!
Of course, this is a very short list of steps. Below, we will discuss the assembling and configuration processed in more detail.
What to mine: Bitcoins or Altcoyins?
Today Bitcoin mining on video cards does not make sense because the complexity of the network is too high. The only way to make GPU farms profitable is to mine alternative coins like Ethereum, Zcash, and Monero. If you want to mine Bitcoin (BTC), then you have the following options:
- Cloud mining on Hashflare and Genesis Mining services. It is the best option for extracting Bitcoins in 2017-2018. Basically, this is the best choice for mining any popular cryptocurrency. It can be started with little investments and pays off rather quickly. Moreover, it does not require setting up and maintaining equipment.
- ASIC. It is special equipment intended for extracting exclusively Bitcoins. It is the most expensive option and it has a long payback period.
- Mining altcoins with video cards and their instant conversion to Bitcoins on NiceHash service. Of course, it is not the most profitable option for using video cards, but earnings will go directly to BTC.
What is in a standard mining farm?
- SSD-disk (its main advantage is steady and fast operation);
- Video cards (4-6 pieces);
- Power supply (with maximum wattage rating at least 20-30% higher than you need for the entire farm);
- Risers (one for each video card);
- RAM (4 GB is enough);
- USB WatchDog;
- Monitor emulator.
The last two items are not necessary for the functioning of the farm, but the USB WatchDog ensures security when there is a short circuit and you are not around, and a monitor emulator allows you to run a farm without a monitor (but first you will need to set TeamViewer run at startup).
Tips on selecting the best equipment for your farm
The main criteria for choosing motherboards for mining farms are:
- Number of ports PCI-E x16, PCI-EXPRESS x1 and M.2
Note: All PCI ports must be ACTIVE (they may be parallel and in this case, only one of the pair will work).
The price should be as low as possible, and the number of ports as large as possible. In addition, the ports should be conveniently located, so that you could easily access them. Some motherboards are known to be specially designed for mining, for example, the ASRock BTC series or Biostar boards.
The most popular mining motherboards like ASUS PRIME H270-PLUS are very difficult to find in stock. It is because they are mentioned in different how-to guides, and most people do not care or dare to choose equipment by themselves, so they just follow the instructions and buy these models. However, there are lots of similar motherboards, which are also great.
Setting up the motherboard for mining
For proper operating, disable all unnecessary functions in the BIOS like sound and USB 3.0 ports. Next, got to the Standard SMOS Features and switch the “Halt On” to “No Errors” (this way you ensure that there is no error checking at the beginning of the operation and that the farm quickly restores operation after reloading). Disable the HDD S.M.A.R.T function. Find the AC Back function and turn it on (the farm will automatically start operating after the power is supplied).
And the last but not least, you should install Windows 10 from a USB flash drive. Some cards require additional settings. For example, ASUS PRIME H270-P requires you to turn on 4g Decoding (advanced\system agent). If you don’t have this point in your BIOS, you will need to update it.
All video cards should be connected with special adapters (risers). They are universal and can be connected to both PCI-E x16 and PCI-E x1 ports. You should buy USB 3.0 risers only and make sure they are at least 60 cm long.
Risers have different versions. They differ in types of power connectors. Choose them depending on your power unit. When connecting the power supply to the farm, make sure it has minimum 80Wh of additional capacity besides the video cards’ needs. BE CAREFUL WHEN CONNECTING A RISER TO A PCI-E x16 SLOT, it can be connected with the wrong side facing ip and it will look like it fits the slot, however, it will not work and the results will be terrible. Pay attention to the position of the key on the connector!
To connect an additional card to the M2 port you will need to buy a separate adapter.
In 2018 processors are not so important for mining. That is why we recommend you to choose the simplest and most inexpensive models based on the socket of your motherboard. The processor must support Windows 10 and mining software. A good example of the processor that meets all these requirements is Celeron G1840 BOX. It is better to choose BOX version because it comes with a cooler.
Which video card to choose for mining? It is probably the main question of this article. At the moment, the issue is even more complicated by the availability of video cards in stores, or, to put it better, unavailability. Actually, there are special online income and payback calculators that would provide information on the profitability of mining on specific video cards. They use only latest data, which isregularly updated (because mining difficulty and rate are constantly changing). Thanks to these calculators, you can find out how much a farm will bring you depending on the video cards you use and the coins you mine.
The effectiveness of video cards may vary according to the coin you mine. For example, cards from AMD are most effective for extracting Ethereum, and Nvidia cards are usually used for mining Zcash.
As for now, the most popular models are:
- GTX 1050ti,
- GTX 1060,
- GTX 1070,
- GTX 1080 and 1080ti.
- RX 470,
- RX 480,
- RX 570,
- RX 580.
AMD cards perform better if you upgrade their BIOS and buy a monitor emulator to ensure the stable system’s operation.
In short, buy the video cards that are available. But do not purchase RX 470 for $600 when their real price is no more than $450. Lastly, try to choose cards with good cooling systems.
Mining farms should be built only with good power supplies from proven manufacturers that have 80+ certification. You should not save on them and have at least one additional unit for emergencies. Do not let the device run at its full power and keep 100 W in reserve. When connecting several power supplies to one farm, evenly distribute the load between them and use a special add2psu relay to combine them into a chain that will simultaneously start and stop operation. Connect to the Molex relay to the lead unit, and 24 pin to the subordinate one.
Windows setup and registration at mining pool
Install all driver updates available for your equipment and 20 GB paging file. Download MSI Afterburner for overclocking your video cards. Install TeamViewer for remote control and HWiNFO64 for monitoring the system (optional). Then install the mining software. For our example, we have chosen the pool (the network through which we will mine coins) Nanopool.org
Choose the currency (in our case it’s Zcash) and get to the zec.nanopool.org section. Then go to the Help section and download the mining software (claymore for AMD and CUDA; and if you have Nvidia cards, don’t forget to turn off the antivirus!)
Next, right-click on the start file (it can be under a different title), choose Change, and edit with the help of a notepad app. All you need to do is to add the address of your wallet (below we’ll tell you how to create one on the asset exchange), the name of your farm, like Miner1, and your email, where you will receive notifications about the power cuts at the farm.
Press save, start the file and begin mining. Set your mining software run at startup. By the way, you can check the mining statistics on the same website; just fill in the search line with the address of your wallet.
How to get a cryptocurrency wallet?
The full list of the available wallets is here. For beginners, all wallets can be used for free; they may differ in functionality and reliability.
Let’s consider a quick way of getting wallets on Poloniex and Bittrex asset exchanges.
Get registered on the website (for our example we have chosen Poloniex), go to the section “Balances”\“Deposits & Withdrawals,” remove the checkmark from “hide zero balance,” find the necessary coin in the list and click the “Deposit” button. Read the warning and click the “Got it. Show me the Deposit Address” button. Now you see the address of your wallet.
If you want to get more information on asset exchanges and wallets, you should visit the relevant sections on our website.
If this type of mining seams too difficult to you, we suggest that you pay attention to cloud mining. It is interesting because it does not require technical knowledge of cryptocurrencies and equipment. Moreover, at the beginning of 2018, it is even more profitable than setting up your own farm.