I’m dabbling in all things bitcoin these days. Investing, exchanging, technology, and mining… To name a few. It’s an incredible time to be alive and paying attention; and not just because the price of a bitcoin went over $260 recently. There is a whole world to bitcoin with tens of thousands of people interacting; & mostly all of us are working towards making bitcoin take off and become the next major world currency.
So two weeks after building my first dedicated mining rig, I’m ready to spill some details & pictures. First of all, here is the output, from the windows-based Bitminter client:
What you’re looking at on the dial there is the total hashing rate (in Mega-hashes per second) that my rig is adding to the Bitminter mining pool. I do not use the CPU on this machine, only the 3 Graphical Processors. (GPUs)
It has been running for about 1 day, 23 hours at that point (since a reboot) and it is earning me 0.0783 Bitcoins per 24 hours at that rate. (Plus about 2 Namecoins a day too, which I sell for more fractions of a bitcoin.)
All in all, I’m earning a bitcoin every two weeks at the current difficulty level. When I started mining 2 weeks ago, the difficulty was obviously lower though, so I can tell that mining won’t be profitable forever unless of course the price of bitcoin jumps back up and pretty much keeps rising forever.
The total price for the whole rig was about $1,200… But then of course there is the cost of electricity, and my rig is sucking about 950 watts constantly with the two massive GPU cards.
See how there are three GPU’s on the app above? The first one was a total bonus. If you pick the right processor for your rig, it magically appears. On the new Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors, there is a tiny GPU built into the chip, which is giving me that cute little 11 Mhps hashrate above. That is still an order of magnitude more hashes than the CPU itself uses however, and it doesn’t slow the system down to use this one so I included it for maximum economy.
The two big GPUs are what cost the lionshare of the money for this rig. At $400 each, I bought two MSI Radeon 7970 GPUs to build the rest of the machine around. After lots of research over at bitcointalk.org, it turns out that this card was the best one I could buy in a store near me… Excepting for $900 cards that only got 1/3rd better performance.
This whole rig is one I built myself out of off-the-shelf parts, from scratch. Luckily I have decades of experience building PCs from scratch, so it was nothing for me to do that once I figured out the needs of the GPUs, which of course you have to plan the rest of the system around to support.
So without further ado, here is my rig’s manifest, with prices taken from Microcenter.com:
- 2 x MSI R7970-2PMD3GD5/OC AMD Radeon HD video cards @ $409.99 Each.
- 1 x MSI Z77A-G45 Socket 1155 ATX Motherboard @ $114.99
- 1 x Intel Core i3 3225 3.30 Ghz LGA 1155 Processor @ $9.99
- 1 x Kingston HyperXRed 4 GB DDR3-1600 Memory @ 30.99
- 1 x OCZ Technology Elite XStream 1000 Watt ATX 12v Power Supply @ $69.99
- 1 x Refurbished Western Digital 320 GB SATA-3 Hard Drive @ $42.00
- 1 x CoolerMaster HAF912 Mid Tower ATX Case @ $57.99
- 1 x CoolerMaster Megaflow 200mm Case Fan (for top) @ $19.99
- 2 x Coolmax UV Crystal LED 120mm Case Fans (for side and front) @ $6.99 each
- 1 x Store-brand 8GB thumb drive to load the OS with @ $4.99
- Total: $1184.89, plus tax.
And here is what they all look like still in the box:
And here is what most of them look like in the case, before you connect all the cables and close the lid:
Everything worked right out of the box like butter. The airflow is pretty amazing, I might have even gone overboard with the fans but that great OCZ power supply made sure I’d have enough juice for them all regardless. The case comes with two other fans, so if you count the fans on the video cards, cpu, and in the power supply too, there are a total of 9 fans spinning inside this thing, and all but two of them have their speed controlled by the motherboard automatically!
This board was a great find because it allows for two honkingly huge video cards to plug into it’s 2 well-spaced PCIe3x16 slots. I purposely spent as little as possible on the hard drive, processor, and RAM, however, because mining only uses a negligible amount of these resources. It’s all about the video cards and airflow.
It looks pretty sweet all put together and running, just a black box with lights coming out of the fan slots, kinda like KITT from Knight Rider if he were shaped more like a PC.
Also in common with KITT; fire shoots straight out of the back of this thing the whole time it is in Turbo Boost mode! I wouldn’t recommend mining with this kind of power where electricity costs are high or tolerance for excess heat are low… Either could make your mining experience unhappy, to say the least.
Lastly, the Operating System and software that I’m running on this rig deserves a post of it’s own, so I’ll get into that another day. For now you’ll have to be satisfied with the fact that it’s a dual boot (Win 7 / Ubuntu) so I can play with the various mining software and see which does best.