My mining journey — how to build a mining rig

@roblorduk

The purpose of this article is to share my experience on building my first mining rig and my approach to it. A question that I frequently have is why are you building a mining rig now? And my answer has been would you rather buy bitcoin at $20,000 or ~$6,000? Its been something that I’ve wanted to get involved in for a while and for me right now is the perfect time to dive in. People are turning off their mining gear and selling, which for me is somewhere near the bottom of the current bear market. This has given me a great opportunity to pick up some discount equipment and my build is mostly made up of second hand kit.

Kit List

  • Motherboard — ASUS PRIME Z270-P ATX Motherboard — LGA1151 Socket
  • CPU — Intel Pentium G4400 3.3 GHz Dual-Core
  • Memory — Crucial CT4G4DFS824A 4 GB
  • GPU — 1 x Radeon RX 570 8192M, 1 x Radeon RX 580 8192M, 1 x Radeon RX 580 4096M
  • Minercase — 6 GPU frame with PICe risers and fans
  • PSU — EVGA Supernova 850w G3
  • Storage — 32GB pen drive

Total Cost ~£900 = ~$1200

Rig Build

The building of the rig wasn’t overly complicated. I’ve been dealing with enterprise level hardware for over 10 years. So it was a case of fitting everything into its correct place.

Fig 1 — Seating the mothboard
Fig 2 — PCIe riser required for each GPU
Fig 3 — GPU fitted to riser card
Fig 4 — Prepping the frame to install GPU
Fig 5 — GPUs installed. As you can see one of them is resting on a piece of plastic. I had to adjust the frame to enable me to rest the riser cards on the support bar.
Fig 6 — GPUs once correctly installed
Fig 7 — Rig up and running for the first time

Rig Configuration

The rig configuration was where I started delving into bits I hadn’t done before as they were specific to mining. I first started running the monitor off the onboard graphics as I was planning on using Simple Mining. I fired up the rig and went into the BIOS first off and set about updating.

Fig 8 — BIOS main menu
Fig 9— Into tools menu to find update option
Fig 10— Select update via Internet
Fig 11 — Accepting latest BIOS
Fig 12 — Following onscreen instructions, the BIOS started updating

I then configured the following settings in the BIOS: -

  • Advanced\System Agent (SA) Configuration and enable Above 4G Decoding
  • Advanced\System Agent (SA) Configuration\DMI/OPI Configuration, set DMI Max Link Speed to Gen2
  • Advanced\System Agent (SA) Configuration\PEG Port Configuration, set PCIEX16_1 Link Speed to Gen2
  • Advanced\PCH Configuration\PCI Express Configuration, set PCIe Speed to Gen2
  • Advanced\Onboard Devices Configuration, set M.2_1 Configuration to PCIE
  • Advanced\APM Configuration, set Restore AC Power Loss to Power On

Once this was done I rebooted my machine after saving the settings and inserted my USB drive I had flashed with Simple Mining using Etcher. The only configuration I needed to do with this was to insert my email address in the config file on the drive so the rig would be registered to and managed by my account on Simple Mining.

The machine loaded and detected the three cards. Awesome! But then I came across this error which forced a reboot.

Fig 13 — Error received before reboot

After a quick chat with the guys in Crypto Walken group it transpired that it was automatically trying to dual mine off the bat due to the settings in Simple Mining. So now I knew I needed to get my config file updated. I generated a config file for ETC on Nanopool. With this I then copied and pasted my config file into Simple Mining.

Fig 14 — Config for mining ETC

When the rig rebooted it pulled down the new config and I had hashes!

Fig 15 — Hashing away — result!

I was a bit disappointed with the hashing rate straight out of the box. I had read that some people experienced this too whereas other had not. At this point I left the rig running for 24 hours to make sure all was okay before looking to BIOS flash the GPUs.

Flashing GPU’s

So the next stage was to get the GPU’s flashed. I had looked around and the initial information I found suggested I would need Windows to do this. For me this was a pain as I’d need to install the OS and get all the drivers etc set up. Thankfully I stumbled across Hive OS. I’ve found this to be really easy to use, to flash and over clock with. I also think the interface looks a lot better than Simple Mining and its also free to use up to 3 rigs. Being able to flash the BIOS by the web interface was a big win for me. I used Polaris to modify the BIOS on my cards. The only thing that needs to be adjusted is the timing strap. Everything else can be done via over clocking. I flashed a new pen drive with Hive OS using Etcher again. This time I did not need to set any config as you add the rig by inputting the ID and password you generated on the Hive OS site on first boot. I also had to change my first GPU to be my primary display in the BIOS and this is a requirement of the OS + VNC. Once booted I went to the web interface to input my mining config and to flash my GPUs. Each card needs to treated individually for flashing. Rinse and repeat.

****Flashing incorrectly can render your cards unusable. Flash at your own risk****

Fig 16 — Take backup of the current BIOS
Fig 17 — Select which GPU BIOS to download
Fig 18 — Download to your local machine
Fig 19 — Append file name so its identifiable as the original
Fig 20— Open BIOS
Fig 21 — Select your BIOS
Fig 22 — BIOS is loaded with correct memory size and brand. Click bottom right to patch
Fig 23 — You can now see the straps have been adjusted
Fig 24 — Save the modded BIOS and make sure its identifiable
Fig 25 — Upload the flashed config.
Fig 26 — Select the correct config to upload
Fig 27 — Make sure to select the correct GPU to flash
Fig 28 — BIOS being uploaded to rig
Fig 29 — BIOS successfully uploaded. Now ready to reboot.

After rebooting I waited for my rig to appear as online again. And my card has now gone from 20 MH/s to 30 MH/s.

Fig 30— new hashing power
Fig 31 — Over clocking settings (still experimenting)

So as of now I have fully operational 3 GPU rig running at ~91 MH/s which took me in all approx. 20 hours to get up and running. Its been a great experience and will be looking to add more cards if they are the right price.

Shout out to Crypto Christopher Walken (Twitter) for running an awesome Telegram group which can be found here — Walken on the Moon. Guys are very helpful and assisted me with any issues I encountered.