Hardware and other reviews

6 GPU Nvidia 1070 Mining Rig

    Today I present to you the latest in the rig family, the 6 GPU 1070 mining rig.  As usual, we have a cheap, efficient and portable rig rack.  I’m sure this will interest many people due to the fact that AMD GPU’s are now quite expensive and still hard to find.  People are buying millions of them.  Millions.  When history repeats itself (and it will), I will be buying them off ebay for insanely cheap prices.  Nvidia high end cards, on the other hand, can mine multiple algos much better and will most likely have a better resale value.  Moving on !

In this system we have the following components (or similar, buy what is on sale for decent price/quality) :

    Win10 works well (enable win10 mode in bios, install, then turn off), remember to disable all the nonsense and updates and to create a power profile that doesnt turn your stuff off.  For other software you can get MSI afterburner, EWBF for ZCash, ccminer/excavator by nicehash or other for different algos.

    Building an Nvidia rig is so much simpler and easier.  The overall system is much more stable too.  There is literally nothing else to do.  Your GPU’s should be detected, if you set PCIE to gen1 and above 4g enabled in the bios (if available).  There may be other options depending on your motherboard.  Here are some results for the most profitable algorithms (power usage is for overall system, from the wall with wattmeter) :

  • ZCash (380 to 435 sol/s).  Mem -502, core +135.
    • 65% tdp : 700w
    • 75% tdp: 800w
    • 90% tdp: 950w
  • ETH (27 to 30mhs).  Mem +395, core -150.
    • 65% tdp : 700w
    • 80% tdp : 835w
    • 90% tdp : 920w
  • LBRY (260 to 290mhs).  Mem -502, core +135.
    • 75% tdp: 805w
    • 90% tdp: 910w
  • DGB-Skein (500mhs).  Mem -502, core +135.
    • 65% tdp: 700w
    • 75% tdp : 800w
    • 90% tdp : 940w

    You results may vary depending on core and memory clocks.  It is more efficient to run at a lower TDP.  If you like this review, consider supporting the site by buying through the amazon referral program (all links are referrals), donating or just saying thanks by email/comments.  If you have miner specific questions, it is best to go to the bitcointalk thread and read up on it there, and ask your question there.  Other than that, i’ll be happy to help, happy mining !

6 GPU RX570 rig with Z170A build

    Welcome to the build from hell.  There has been a lot of despair and confusion with the parts contained in this build and I will show you how to make it work.  Lets talk expectations :  This is a low-cost solution that is semi-portable, fits into a 15A dedicated socket and will be dual-mining Pascal and Ethereum.  Let’s get to work !

    The rig itself is a cheap rack from Walmart, all metal and easy to setup.  It costs 26$ (all prices will be in CAD).  I have inserted a piece of wood/shelving that somehow (the crypto gods have smiled upon thee) fit just perfect.  Whatever you do, do not put any exposed components (motherboard…) directly on metal.  I have also purchased a 3000+joules 6 foot cord surge protector from Newegg, for about 20$.  The rest of the parts are straightforward.  8gb RAM DDR4 2133mhz, Pentium G4440 CPU socket 1151, 120GB Hynix SSD, 5 RX570 MSI Armor 4g and 1x RX570 ASUS STRIX 4g, EVGA 1000GQ PSU and of course the infamous MSI Z170A SLI motherboard.  All these parts were chosen because they were on sale and at a good price, and two, because they work well for rigs (except the motherboard mind you).  The reason I have chosen this cursed motherboard is because of non-availability of 6 GPU motherboards.  This particular model was also on sale, plus a Mail in rebate and was too cheap to ignore.  I can suggest doing a 5 GPU rig, it may be much easier to do.

    Now we assemble.  First is the CPU, which is easily placed into the socket (do not assemble on the anti-static bag, because it is only anti-static INSIDE), then the stock CPU cooler, which is also very easily installed.  Next install the RAM by pushing firmly down on it.  I have sourced case screws and used them to prop up the motherboard so it leaves a gap under it to permit airflow, although that is optional.  At this point set up your PSU and install all cables.  Connect the motherboard main cable, and the CPU 8 pin cable.  Then insert your first GPU in the x16 slot.  Connect your SSD to the SATA port.  You are now ready to plug in your screen, mouse and keyboard.

    Start it up !  Press del to enter the bios.  You must enable WIN8/10 mode in the options, and set the PCI to GEN 1 (or gen 2).  Set 4G decoding to disabled.  Save and reboot, and install WIN 10.  Once that is done enter the bios again and disable the WIN8/10 mode.  We won’t be needing that anymore.  Set Power ON after reboot/power outage.  Install your remote monitoring software, Claymore dual miner, GPU-Z, MSI Afterburner, SRBPolaris V2.6, ATIWinFlash, DDU, ATIPixelPatcher, and download AMD drivers.  In this particular case, you need to download an older version – such as 16.9.1 or 16.11.x, and a newer version, such as 17.4.4.  Use DDU to reboot into safe mode.  Select shutdown option.

    Install all your GPU’s and connect them with the USB risers.  No more than 2 on a single cable.  Don’t use the Molex adapter if you can.  Start it up again.  Open device manager, you should see all 6 GPU’s, with little yellow triangles.  All is well so far.  Now, thanks to atanas012 on bitcointalk (if i’m getting the source wrong someone please correct me), this is THE ONLY WAY I HAVE FOUND TO MAKE IT WORK on this mobo.  Read it here.  Open the older driver install file, and extract it.  Once its extracted, close the installation window.  DO NOT INSTALL IT.  Then, do the same for the newer driver.  DO NOT INSTALL IT.  As atanas012 puts it:  “Copy and replace all content from “C:\AMD\Non-WHQL-Win10-64Bit-Radeon-Software-Crimson-16.9.2-Sep21\Packages\Drivers\Display\WT6A_INF\B307117”  to “C:\AMD\WHQL-Win7-64Bit-Radeon-Software-Crimson-ReLive-17.4.3-Apr17\Packages\Drivers\Display\W76A_INF\B313057” (Basically you copy the old driver over the new)“.  Go in your device manager again and right-click on the first GPU with a yellow triangle.  Select update drivers, and manually select the newer driver folder (in this case, the 17.4.4).  It will install and tell you that all is well.  Don’t forget to accept when it tells you its a weird driver.

    Reboot and enter BIOS.  You must now enable 4G decoding.  Save and reboot.

    Now all should work.  Run MSI afterburner and GPU-Z to check your ASIC quality for an indication of how low you can put your voltages.  The thing with this Frankenstein driver approach is that you may not be able to modify your voltages anymore (EDIT:  You can still modify your GPU BIOS to have the voltage you want, 0.88v is a good place to start).  But you can use Afterburner to reduce your clock speed, and that will change the phase and lower the voltage according to the voltage table.  Put memory clock to 1900 or above to start.  Set up a custom fan profile, and select overclock on startup.  Save profiles.  You should get voltage at full load around 0.87 to 0.97mv.  Your claymore .bat file should look like this:

“set GPU_FORCE_64BIT_PTR 0 //optional for 570/580
EthDcrMiner64.exe -epool pool:port -ewal user.rig -epsw x -esm optional -allpools optional -dcoin second coin -dbg 0 (for logs) -mode 0 or1 (dual mining) -mport -3333 -dpool pool.port -dwal user.rig -dpsw x -dcri depends on GPU -di 012345″

    Run the file and check your voltages, and power usage.  Once that is done, close it.  Run ATIPixelPatcher now.  Open ATIWinFlash.  Select your GPUs, and save a copy of the BIOS for each different GPU.  Now in the ATIWinFlash, you can only see 3 GPU’s at a time.  I suggest you use the command line, its better.  Its Atiflash -p GPUnum filename.rom to flash.  Check your GPU’s with atiflash -i.  But first, open up SRBPolaris, and open your saved .rom files.  Go into memory timings, and copy 1500 to above.  If you feel like it, you can try other options, 1625 to above, or even input your own memory timings and test things out.  I will keep it simple.  Save to A DIFFERENT FILE NAME.  Next, use atiflash to flash the bios to all your cards.  Reboot.

    Run Claymore again.  You can now play with the memory clock, 2000mhz is a good starting point for most cards depending on memory type and memory timings.  Everything should work fine.  If your rig crashes, open the log file and see which GPU froze.  Increase the core clock and reduce the memory clock of that GPU, and try again.  Check your power usage with a Watt-meter.  I can get anywhere from 930 watts dual mining Pascal, 170mhs and 1500mhs depending on voltages.  Good luck and happy mining !  I hope this guide helped you, and please consider donating to the people who made this possible on bitcointalk and elsewhere, to the people who made the tools you use to make it all work, and if you feel inclined, to me 🙂

Building a 6 GPU mining rig

We have now finished our cheap and easy PVC 6 GPU mining rig.  This is something anyone can do and it is relatively easy to accomplish.  Perfect for a small garage or basement / room heater.  It is quiet and “portable”.  Although not as nice to look at compared to those sleek aluminum designs, this is significantly cheaper and easier to do.  Total cost for the PVC rig is under 30$.  Ours has 4 Rx470s, 2 Rx480s on a Biostar TB85, 8gb of ram, a 120gb ssd and with a 1000w EVGA GQ PSU.  Total hashrate for ETH is 165mhs for 900w.  With further tweaking it is possible to bring the power draw a bit lower, maybe by 30-50w max.  Mining ZEC is about 100w less, and monero consumes about 700w for 4150 h/s.  Zec mining results in 1275mhs, but with Optiminer you can expect close to 1500mhs.  This rig at current difficulty and price gives us 0.0075 btc per day or 6.75$USD.

Total ROI for this rig is just under 7 months, including all accessories, risers, PVC and hardware, if you assume price and difficulty being equal.  We hope you enjoyed the review and if you want to build your own, you basically need 8×90 degree 1/2 inch PVC fittings, 4 “T’s” and about 2 lengths of 10 feet, all 1/2 inch.  You can make it as wide or long as you want depending on how much space you have.  Don’t try to drill into the PVC to place your GPU’s, its easily and faster to just tie them up with some speaker or thin electrical wire.  As Red Green from the Red Green Show would say, If women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.  Feel free to use duct tape on the rig.

***Edit:  After finding time to play with the clocks, we get a stable 176mhs for virtually the same power draw, memory clocks are about 2050 on average for cards.  If you do up your memory clocks, beware incorrect shares and always change clocks when your software is off.  Dont forget to reboot.  Good luck !  So far this build is rock solid and very quiet. Zec and Monero hashrate is also up around 10%.***

All you need to know about USB Risers

    USB Risers can confuse people sometimes.  So here is a quick review of what you can buy and how they will help you with your GPU mining.  You shouldn’t buy anything below v.5, although that doesn’t mean they won’t work – It just means you aren’t getting the latest products.  For Molex connections, you should buy Ver.5c.  Then we have Ver.6c, which enables you to connect a 6 pin connector.  And finally, the Ver7.s enables you to connect a SATA wire directly into the riser, without the use of the sketchy molex/SATA adapter.   Remember never to overload your cables – You won’t have this problem with the 6 pin usually, but for SATA its better to have just one or two max on a single cable, and same for Molex.  In case of doubt, use less, and always check cables for heat while running.  If they are hot to the touch, then your setup needs to change.  Below are some sponsored links to each version that you can buy on Amazon.

Sapphire Nitro R9 Fury Review

    Happy new year everyone !  A new year brings a new GPU to Cryptominingtalk.  Today, we review the wonderful R9 Fury from Sapphire.

    These are on sale pretty often with the new generation coming out in a few months, we picked one up for 340$ + tax and shipping (CAD, newegg.ca here, referral link).  Out of the box, we get 31.5mhs on ETH and 380-400 sol/s on ZCash.  At 55c and fans running at 48%, this GPU is silent and cool.  You can under-volt it way past -100mv for optimal performance, and overclock the core up to 1200mhz.

    We couldn’t let this GPU just mine all day, so it went into the main gaming rig.  Due to high demand from gaming, you can’t under-clock it as much if you want 100% stability.  But so far at -66mv stable and overclocked to 1100mhz, we have a power consumption right at 210w.  You can bring this down to around 150w.

   This GPU features a dual bios button, triple fan cooling, and amazing gaming performance as a plus.  Its simply beautiful.  If ZCash stays relevant, this is a no-brainer, 360 sol/s for 150watts makes the R9 Fury a great choice, that is, until VEGA comes out.

Biostar TB85 Review (6 pcie slots) and GPU Ghetto PVC Rig build

    New Hardware just in the crypto lair !  This time we review the affordable Biostar TB85 motherboard.  Biostar made this for the specific task of crypto mining.  The TB85 features 6 PCIE slots, the LGA 1150 Intel chipset and all the usual goodies, usb 3.0 and sata 6gb/s.  RAM is supported up to 1600mhz, and two sticks in dual channel are the maximum you can put in.  This certainly isn’t a good buy for a normal gaming rig, but for a dedicated mining operation it does the job !

    Basically you have one 16x and 5 1x PCIE slots, BUT you cannot use the 16x without a riser if you want to use all 6.  The reason is your GPU will cover up one 1x slot, and thus limit you to 5.  In the BIOS, there aren’t too many options, but you can select what is important for GPU mining – auto-restart on power loss, and Gen 1/2 for pcie lanes.  All important drivers are already pre loaded so there isnt much to do really.

    Onboard LAN works like a charm right out of the box, but the CPU fan default setting is pretty much maximum.  Remember to change it to the auto setting, and you have the option of “quiet”, “aggresive”, or manual.

   There are 2 molex 4 pin connectors on the motherboard.  I suppose you would use them if you had 6 non-powered risers, but since most people will use usb 3.0 powered risers (you really should) these aren’t needed at all.  The downside here is that there is a lack of fan connectors directly on the motherboard (only one), same for the cpu fan header.

   In conclusion, for about 60$usd this is a good buy.  Cryptominingtalk approves.    We have had no problems so far, and if we do we’ll let you know.

   Bonus content !  Here is our little Crypto Mining rig, PVC Style !  You can build this yourself for very little money (around 20-25$) and little tools (hacksaw and drill).  For the dimensions, just buy 2 lengths of 10 feet 1/2 inch PVC pipe and you should be good.  8 90 degree corners and 4 “T”‘s.  No glue was used, the PVC fits very well and is hard to take out once inserted all the way.  Cut it up how you want it !  This one is made overly long (about 2 feet 1/2), but there is a lot of space so the only concern was space between the gpu’s, and a hassle free installation.  Of course these are not super esthetic, nor stack-able, but those weren’t part of the criteria for building it !  For cheap builds, you can also buy a wire rack that can fit 2 rigs for about 30$.  Have fun building and send us your pics !  Feel free to ask questions too.  Stay tuned, we will add pics once we get 6 gpu’s on it.  The PSU here is the EVGA 1000GQ.  It was on sale at a great price, has plenty of PCIE 8-pin connectors and is rated Gold.  A little trick:  Since it only comes with one Molex cable strand, just open a ticket with EVGA and ask for 2 extra molex cables.  They just might send them to you for free !

MSI ARMOR 470 4G Review

    ***Updated for Claymore’s Zcash Miner V9.0***

***Update: Some variants (new ones) have an 8pin connector and Samsung memory,  With mem clock up to 2050, you can expect 28.5mhs stable***

    (This doesn’t really make a difference as the card doesnt overclock much, and power usage with  ZEC is quite low, but still)

    The all new MSI armor 470 4g just arrived in the mail today.  So let’s review it !

    Compared to the MSI GAMING X, the Armor has a smaller box, and is a smaller GPU too – All thanks to the less impressive heat sink.  After running DDU and the latest AMD drivers, we are all ready to go.

    Stock:  The MSI Armor hashes away at 205 sol/s on Claymore’s v8.0 ZCash miner.  Not bad, but what is impressive is that undervolted to -96mv on MSI afterburner, with stock 1230 Core Clock and 1750 memory clock (a bit overclocked – default is 1650/6600Mhz and Memory type is Hynix) we find ourselves with a voltage of 0.95v, and a GPU-Z power consumption of 72w.  At the wall we are talking about a 105w total !  This card has an 82% ASIC quality, so there is possibility of bringing the voltage down even more, perhaps saving another 10w.  If you fine tune yours, let us know !

    BIOS Mod:  A simple BIOS Mod through ATIWinFlash and PolarisBIOSeditor for the memory timings (1500 timings copy pasted to all higher values) nets us a 215 sol/s, with a slight core overclock (1250) for 105w total.

   This card is cheaper, well built, smaller, backed by a 3 year warranty and is a solid GPU all around.  Although it may be cheaper than the MSI GAMING X, there is a big price difference.  It may be worthwhile to pick that one up on sale, but we are very impressed with the results so far.  It also has an 8 pin power connector.  A total performance of 215 sol/s with 105w at the wall usage (Gold PSU on 120v) means .49 watts used per sol/s performed (Or 2.05 sol/s per watt).  Let us say this again, very good results.  Good Show MSI.

    NOTE:  MSI confirmed these are Ball Bearing fans.