Building a GPU Mining Rig – Part 1

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April 11, 2016 at 5:21 pm  •  Posted in Mining by  •  0 Comments

GPU Cryptocurrency mining can still be highly profitable. You won’t be mining Bitcoin directly but you can mine many alt-coins that have a profitable alt -> BTC -> USD exchange rate. Building a GPU mining rig can be complicated. Sourcing parts, good information, and keeping your costs down is a challenge.

GPU Mining Rig Hardware

Motherboard

I’ve decided to use the ASRock H81 Pro BTC motherboard. The big feature of this board is PCIe expansion slots. That means you can get 6 GPUs running (with risers) on a single board. The motherboard has a great layout and the BIOS is very easy to work with. The price isn’t bad either. These can be found between $60 – $90 around the internet.

There is no built-in power switch. You can buy a switch from Amazon or any local supplier for cheap, or you can jump the power pins with a screwdriver.

CPU

The H81 Pro BTC motherboard uses an LGA 1150 connection for the CPU. Due to the nature of this GPU Mining Rig, we don’t need a powerhouse of a CPU. Instead, I opted for a low cost Intel Celeron G1840. The price? A whole $45.99.

RAM

I already had RAM on hand for my build. However, the motherboard supports DDR3 RAM and it can be found for cheap at most online and sometimes local retailers. I used a 4GB stick that has been sitting in my closet the last couple of years. For the sake of being helpful, here’s a link to a 4GB stick of RAM. Plan on spending around $20

PSU

Next to the GPUs, this will be the second most expensive part in this build. Mining takes a lot of power and you should plan accordingly. I made my power calculations using the eXtreme Power Supply calculator. Granted, the calculator only goes up to 4 GPU but using the information I found that a 1300W GPU should be able to power 5 GPUs without issue. I chose an EVGA 1300W PSU. This cost around $180.

I will likely have to add a second PSU if I add a 6th card to this build. You can do it fairly easily by using this adapter.

Hard Drive or Solid State?

This is one of those things I had on hand. I had an extra solid state in my closet. You don’t need high performance storage for GPU mining. Find yourself a SATA SSD or HDD and move on. In theory you could run your miner off a live USB stick instead of having dedicated storage. Haven’t tested at this point but will provide an update when I do. This piece shouldn’t cost more than $60

Risers

You will need five 1x to 16x PCIe risers. These cables make it possible to hook all your GPUs to your motherboard. I went a slightly more expensive route and grabbed five ASRock BTC PRO Kit from NewEgg. They are more expensive than some of the cheaper models on Amazon. However, I think the quality is worth the extra expense.

If I add a 6th GPU to this rig in the future, I will need to get a 16x extension riser for my one unpopulated PCIE slot.

I ended up spending around $100 for the risers. You can get them for much less though.

GPU

This is where things get expensive. I lucked out and was able to get three VisionTek Radeon R9 390s for free. However, I still had to buy 2 more GPUs. Ended up purchasing two MSI R9 390. Each card will cost you between $300 and $400 depending on where you shop and what brand you go with.

Case

Who needs a case? At the moment, everything is sitting on a bamboo shoe rack. I may write another article in the future dedicated to making it look a little less ghetto.

Stay tuned, the next few articles will cover assembly, software, and performance.

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