BT-Education: How to build a cryptocurrency mining rig
When miners verify the hashes of unconfirmed blocks, they receive a reward for each verified hash. Mining can be energy and computationally-intensive, requiring specialized hardware and crypto-mining software.
Understanding cryptocurrency mining is vital for those who want to invest in cryptocurrencies. After all, miners play a critical role in ensuring the security and decentralization of blockchains. Cryptocurrency mining is a process that requires the use of specialized crypto mining hardware, software and a mining pool. The process can be difficult to understand and set up without proper guidance, so here are some essential details to get you started.
What is a cryptocurrency mining rig, and how does it work?A mining "rig" is a customized personal computer (PC) that contains all standard PC components: a CPU, motherboard, RAM and storage. The main difference is that mining rigs use graphical processing units (GPUs) instead of central processing units (CPUs).
GPUs are better at solving the cryptographic equations needed to verify transactions on a blockchain. A single high-end GPU can outperform a standard CPU by up to 800 times in terms of instructions per clock. This makes them essential for anyone looking to mine cryptocurrencies.
GPUs also have much higher hash rates and are easier to maintain, making them a popular choice among miners. The hash rate is a measure of how fast a computer can solve cryptographic equations and is used to determine the profitability of mining.
Another key difference is that mining rigs are often outfitted with multiple GPUs. This is necessary because the more GPUs a rig has, the higher the hash rate will be. Cryptocurrency mining rigs work by using GPUs to verify transactions on a blockchain.
It's also worth noting that not all miners use GPUs. In some cases, such as Bitcoin mining, miners may prefer to use an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) instead.
Some things to consider when looking to build a mining rig are:
- The cost of equipment: GPUs and ASICs can be expensive, so it's important to factor in the prices of all the necessary equipment.
- The cost of electricity: Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive process, so it's essential to consider the cost of electricity.
- Trial-and-error: Building a mining rig is not like building a custom PC; it can be a trial-and-error process that involves a lot of tweaking and adjustment.
What components are required to build a mining rig?Several key components are required to build a mining rig. These include:
As mentioned before, GPUs are the critical component of any mining rig. The number of GPUs needed will depend on the hash rate one is looking to achieve. But one or two GPUs should suffice for someone who's just starting.
ASICs are specialized machines that are designed specifically for mining cryptocurrencies. They usually come with a higher price tag than GPUs, but offer much higher hash rates.
The motherboard is the backbone of any computer, and a mining rig is no different. It needs to be able to support all the GPUs that will be used in the rig.
Some beginners choose to mine with CPUs alone, which is also possible. However, they need to be high-end, capable of meeting mining demands. When using GPUs for mining, a basic rig only needs a low-end or moderate CPU, such as an Intel 8th or 9th generation.
Random access memory (RAM) is essential for any computer, as it's used to store data temporarily while the computer is running. For a mining rig, it's important to have enough RAM to store the data of all the GPUs used in the rig.
Power supply unit
The power supply unit (PSU) is one of the most important components in a mining rig. This is because the PSU needs to be able to provide enough power to all the rig components. A good rule of thumb is to get a PSU that can provide at least double the power your rig will need. Typically, a PSU with A 1200w platinum rating will work well.
Like with any other computer, a mining rig needs some storage. This can be in the form of a hard drive or an SSD. The storage size will depend on how much data you plan on mining. Typically, any 240 GB or larger drive should suffice.
Besides the hardware components listed above, a few other things are needed to build a mining rig. These include:
- Mining software such as CGMiner, EasyMiner or BFGMiner;
- An operating system such as Awesome Miner, Rave OS or Hive OS;
- A crypto wallet to store your mined coins;
- A riser to elevate your GPU for increased airflow;
- A stable internet connection; and
- A flash drive with at least 5GB capacity.
How to build a mining rig: For beginners
Now that we've discussed the components needed to build a crypto-mining rig, it's time to put one together. Below is a quick step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Attach the motherboard
Make sure the lever securing your CPU's socket is in the released position. Next, place the motherboard outside the mining frame on top of something that will keep it static-free — like a foam box or an anti-static bag.
Step 2: Attach the processor
Attach the processor to the motherboard. Create a mark on both the CPU and the motherboard sockets to identify which one is which later. Also, be careful while attaching the CPU pins to the motherboard as they can easily bend and damage the whole processor.
Step 3: Install the RAM
Inserting a RAM module into a motherboard's RAM socket is very straightforward. Carefully push the RAM module into the RAM socket after opening the motherboard slot's side brackets. The RAM must be installed in the correct orientation, and care must be taken in doing so since the RAM may only lock into the socket in one way.
Step 4: Attaching the PSU
Make sure to attach the PSU to the motherboard securely; if not, the mining rig will fail to start. The CPU's 8-pin power connector should go into the motherboard slot closest to the processor.
Step 5: Attaching USB risers
These are needed to connect the GPUs to the motherboard. Insert them into the available PCI slots on the motherboard.
Step 6: Attaching GPUs
Secure the GPUs onto the frame by using USB risers. Then, plug in PCI-e 6+2 power connectors into the GPUs. Lastly, double-check that all the cables are plugged in properly before booting up the mining rig. Once everything is plugged in, it's ready to start mining for cryptocurrency.
The Basics of Mining Bitcoin at Home
Noise ManagementBitcoin mining isn’t a quiet activity. ASICs are loud.
A typical ASIC’s noise levels range between 50 DB and 75 DB, or a noise level similar to a food blender or a loud vacuum.
Preparing an at-home mining operation with robust noise cancellation or noise control materials is essential. Noise management strategies can vary from installing ASICs in a remote outbuilding to installing acoustic foam panels to placing ASICs in insulated portable coolers with exhaust ports.
Power SupplyBitcoin mining needs a lot of reliable power.
Mining at home typically requires a 220 to 240 volt connection. The typical American household outlet, for comparison, is 110 V with the exception of outlets for electric dryers and ovens.
The cost of installing a 220 V outlet is typically a few hundred dollars.
For miners without 220 V outlets, ASIC manufacturers like Bitmain sell power supply units (PSUs) for their machines. For an older model like the Antminer S9, Bitmain sells APW3++ which has an input voltage range of 100 to 240 V. Newer ASICs like the Antminer S19 have a PSU (APW12) built into the machine, which serves the same purpose. Decreasing the power supplied to an ASIC also decreases its hashrate.
Cooling SystemBeside noise, heat is the primary byproduct of mining. Preparing a reliable cooling system for ASICs is essential to a profitable mining operation and better ensures a longer lifespan for mining machines.
Most at-home miners use air-cooled systems consisting of everything from large fans circulating air in the mining room(s) to flexible exhaust ducts attached to the fans of each ASIC. Some miners even direct the heat exhaust to warm pools and baths.
Immersion cooling is an alternative strategy that requires a more complex buildout, but some at-home miners have built their own immersion systems to replace air cooling.
Joining a Pool
After noise, power, and cooling are addressed, the final steps for at-home mining involve simply plugging in the machine and joining a pool.
The process of joining a pool is short and simple.
- Choose which pool you want to join.
- Input the Stratum addresses of the pool to your mining software.
- Connect a wallet that will receive pool payouts.
- Configure your machines to the chosen pool.
- All the information needed to join a pool will be provided by the pool’s team.
MaintenanceSometimes Bitcoin ASICs break. Maintaining and repairing machines eventually becomes a consideration for every miner.
If a machine is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, at-home miners should have an easy time finding licensed ASIC repair services.
If a machine’s warranty has expired, miners can choose between contacting ASIC repair services or crowdsourcing repair instructions and tips from Reddit, YouTube, and other social media platforms where other at-home miners frequently post repair videos, tutorials, and experiences.
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