Mining on video cards: how to choose equipment for a home GPU farm?

  • Bitzero 
Mining on video cards: how to choose equipment for a home GPU farm

Cryptocurrency mining is the first and most proven strategy for building a cryptocurrency business. It is based on the use of certain computer hardware and software capable of performing computational operations, for which the reward in the form of cryptocurrency units is assumed.

A conventional processor gives a very small resource for mining. This does not mean that it is impossible to mine on the processor, it is possible. However, it makes no sense to build a full-fledged CPU farm. To process the enormous amount of information that is needed for successful mining today, you will need to invest in powerful processors in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars – while mining on weak video cards of $ 400,500 will provide performance not much lower.

ASIC farms are being actively built, but, as a rule, by not ordinary citizens of the CIS countries. First of all, they require large capital investments, because ASIC itself cannot be called cheap. Secondly, servicing them is much more difficult due to the fact that related parts are not very common in the market. In addition, for most novice miners, these chips are a fundamentally new device, unlike video cards and processors, as a result of which failures and breakdowns are eliminated much longer.

Thus, the most common and affordable option for a long time are the farm GPU, that can be easily assembled on the basis of quite ordinary pieces of computer equipment. We will dwell on them.

Equipment for mining on video cards

To create a working GPU farm for mining, you will need a number of technical devices, as well as the ability to manually assemble a simple computer.

How to choose a video card for mining

At present, a farm operating with at least six video cards is considered profitable. It does not make sense  to take less, the profit will be so small that the costs will not pay off soon. If the budget allows, it is better to buy eight video cards at once. Such a farm is optimal in terms of income and expenses for the average miner.

In addition to quantity, the quality of video cards affects the efficiency of a home GPU farm, which in the mining context is determined by three key parameters

It is worth noting that a reasonably designed farm can mine most of the existing cryptocurrencies, but in practice some video cards work better with some currencies, others with others. Therefore, it is first necessary to determine the type of currency and after that select the appropriate hardware.

Not long ago MSI Radeon video cards were considered the undisputed leader in the field of mining, and among them the model 470 of the RX line, capable of operating at a very decent speed of 30 MH / s (megahash per second). It is difficult to find it now, because the queues of miners to it are huge, but if there is such an opportunity, this proven model should be used to pay for itself very quickly. Alternatively, you can pay attention to the models 480 and 580 of the same line, which are able to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency at a speed of 29 MH / s and 27 MH / s, respectively. Another option is slightly worse – the model 570, that gives a good indicator of the speed of 25 MH / s.

An alternative to MSI Radeon, after the models of video cards suitable for mining have disappeared from the market, became GeForce from NVIDIA. Leaders for home farms among them now are GTX1070 and GTX1080ti. The first one gives 28 MH / s, and the second – 35 MH / s, but its price is close to $ 1000. For comparison, the model 1070 can be bought for $ 550,600. The most affordable and at the same time suitable for mining at the GeForce is the GTX1060 video card. It will cost less than $ 500. Its standard speed is about 20 MH / s, and if properly tuned, you can increase it to 22 23 MH / s.

This parameter is not always critical, but when working with Ethereum, for example, a special file – DAG must be placed in the memory of a video card for successful mining. As cryptocurrency is released, this file increases by about 10 MB when every 30 thousand blocks are reached. This usually happens every few days, and the current size of this file is so large that video cards with 2 GB of memory can no longer handle it. Those who are equipped with 4 GB of memory, still cope, but will soon cease, because the DAG continues to grow. Therefore, when striving to long-term mining “ether”, it is necessary to take care that there is enough space in the memory of the video card for the DAG. That is, its volume should be at least 6 GB, and better – more than 8 GB. This indicator is enough with a margin for successful mining of any cryptocurrency from among those that exist today.

The original performance of a video card that exists at the time of its first connection to a computer can be increased by increasing the frequencies at which the video card core and memory are running. Increasing its performance is called overclocking and is done with the help of special programs that are easy to find on the Internet for every single card. In some cases, you can overclock the video card through a normal BIOS.

An important condition is that the video card must steadily keep overclocking – that is, maintain the performance to which it was overclocked. It directly influences on the stability of the GPU farm. In fact, the overclocking of a video card for mining does not have any fundamental peculiarities in comparison with the acceleration of a video card, for example, for games, so it is enough to choose the video card that has this indicator is good enough. According to reviews and miners, and gamers, the best overclocking hold memory cards from Samsung and Hynix.

Other equipment for video card mining

The motherboard must, of course, have ports (slots) in which you can place the required number of selected video cards. Usually we are talking about the PCI Ex1 and PCI Ex16 ports. In addition, you should not take the weakest fee, otherwise one day its resource will be exhausted. A good solution is MSI Z270 of different types (price – about $ 250), it will easily “pull” any home farm. A little more budget will be Asus on the same chipset (about $ 180,200), which is perfect for a farm with 6 video cards. In general, the choice is quite wide. By the way, if the motherboard was bought at a flea market or simply was released a long time ago (left from the old computer, for example), you should definitely update the BIOS, because otherwise there is a risk of running into problems at the most inopportune moment.

The processor and RAM, in fact, are of no fundamental importance. A large amount of memory for a mining farm is not required – 4 6 GB will suffice. You can go to any online store, find the right product categories and buy the cheapest processor and memory from the list. If, in the case of a processor, it still makes sense to pay attention to the manufacturer, in order to avoid surprises when buying “non-names”, then in the case of memory, it suffices that it works.

Similarly, you can do with the physical memory: it is enough to equip  computer with hard disk of 40 to 60 GB for mining. However, there are some craftsmen who use 16 GB flash drives in their home farms.

A budget farm with 6 inexpensive video cards will in most cases require a pair of 650 W power supplies. Naturally, for more advanced cards with higher power consumption, you will need more powerful and more expensive power supplies.

Raiser is a device that will protect the farm from overheating. In fact, this is a kind of “extension cable” in the form of a cable or a board that allows video cards to be kept at a distance that will provide sufficient air for cooling. It is advisable to use a riser, that makes it possible to position the video card at a distance of 17 20 cm from each other.

The case is required only to keep all the components in a position in which they will not overheat and interfere with each other. Therefore, it can be made of anything, so long as the selected material does not melt and is strong enough, and also does not delay the supply and discharge of air. Experienced miners prefer a simple aluminum frame, but this is generally a matter of taste.

Video card mining software

The operating system can be selected based on your own preferences. Among the Windows family, it is better to dwell on Windows 10, as practice shows, when using it, mining programs are less likely to “fly out”. From the Linux family will suit any familiar to the user option – for example, Ubuntu.

Also, the work will require special programs that will allow you to overclock the used video cards. In some cases, this can be done through the BIOS, but usually a suitable program must be found on the Internet, indicating the selected video card model when searching. You can control the work of the farm through a regular desktop computer by installing the TeamViewer program.

Immediately before installing a mining program, you must select a pool through which mining will be performed. Be guided by the following characteristics

Usually, pools contain information about which programs they recommend and how to set them up, and there are also those that provide detailed step-by-step instructions. In general, it is not necessary to strictly follow all recommendations – for example, it is possible to disrupt the procedure and first choose a program that will meet the tastes and needs of the miner (from currency types to design), and then choose a pool for it. Of course, for this you need to have enough confident knowledge in the program part of mining, so novice miners should start from the pool anyway.

If suddenly the mining process could not be started, then you should use a pool with step-by-step guidance and support of the miners, and also carefully read all the instructions again.

As a last resort, you can always turn to support, the problem, most likely, has a programmatic nature and can be easily eliminated with the help of a competent reconfiguration, which will open you the way to active and profitable mining on video cards.