Hardware and other reviews

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.

Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470/480 Review

***Claymore V9.0***

Sapphire Nitro 480: 230sol/s @ 130w for 1.77 sols/watt or .57 watt/sols

    ***Updated for Claymore’s V8.0***

    The Sapphire RX 470 / 480 is a solid mining GPU all around.  It features excellent power efficiency, decent overclock and reliability.  One feature is very interesting is the dual bios switch, which permits the user to experiment with bios mods without voiding the warranty.  And of course, if you brick your card you can simply switch it over to the normal bios and flash again.  The fans are easily removable (one screw), so maintenance on the cards is also quite easy.  The chassis is very well made and air flow is decent.  To keep your VRM’s cool you should make sure you run a custom fan profile of 50% minimum.

    They come in 4gb and 8gb variants and have the following specs:

  • Core Clock: 1260mhz (470), 1306/1342 (480 4gb/8gb)
  • Mem Clock: 7000mhz/8000mhz (4gb/8gb)
  • The newer 4gb version of the Nitro+ cards come with Elpida memory.  You cannot edit Elpida memory with the Polaris bios editor, but there are bios mods available.
  • 110w/150w TDP (470/480)
  • Two ball bearing dual fans
  • 8 pin connector

The downsides to owning a Sapphire card is the RMA process, where you have to pay shipping.  In addition the warranty is only 2 years, compared to 3 years for other manufacturers such as MSI.  These can have a hashrate of 27-31 mh/s depending on the model for ethereum and 175-200 sol/s for ZCash.

And now for the final stats, we have a power consumption of 120w for 200 sol/s (480 4g model), so 0.6w/sols or 1.67 Sol/s per watt used.

***Edit: With memory clocks up to 2050 for example, you can expect 28.5/30.5mhs stable***