Building an Ethereum Mining Rig



Ethereum

I recently took my interest in cryptocurrencies to the next level by building my first ever Ethereum mining rig. It was an exceptionally rewarding and fun experience that I’d like to share. To those thinking of taking the plunge themselves, scroll down to the “Things to keep in mind” section for helpful tips on avoiding the time consuming mistakes I did.

Ethereum is currently gaining an immense amount of interest for it’s contributions to the cryptocurrency / decentralization community. There’s many reasons to be excited for the future of Ethereum as-well as its coming applications. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t keep my interest bottle in any longer and decided to get involved.

Thoughts beforehand

Ethereum will eventually be moving to a “proof of stake”1 confirmation system. No one knows for sure when this switch will happen yet. Some speculate as early as this fall while others think early next year to be more likely. Essentially this means the community will be moving completely away from what we’ve known as traditional mining. Like ASICs, This will reduce all of our mining rigs to the status of useless—at least for Ethereum. Therefore if you’re thinking of getting into mining I’d recommend doing it quickly as your chances of making money are running out.

Costs and profitability

I’m currently spending about $150 / month in electricity—$100 of that is the cost of the mining rig itself. You probably pay a different rate per kilowatt hour, but it’s important to do the math yourself to see how much overhead you’ll incur overtime. Remember to assume that you’ll be keeping it running 24 hours.

In total I spent about $2800 dollars including building materials for the case. As of this writing, I’ve made back $1,084 or 38% of the total cost of investment. At this rate I’m expecting to ROI sometime in September.

rig.3

Rig Specs

I wanted my rig to be as future-proof as possible. Those in the Ethereum community know that as the DAG file2 increases, our GPUs will need to have the necessary RAM to cache it. Keeping this in mind I went with 8GB cards which is probably overkill, but I figured it would help in the resell value if I ever decided to liquidate. I also wanted to generate a decent hash rate which needed a higher-end card. Keeping that in mind, if I were to build a new rig right now I would probably go with something less expensive like an R9 370 to ROI more quickly.

Hashrate: 155+ MH/s
Revenue: $645.56 per month as of May 22th, 2016

GPUs:
6x XFX R9 390 (8GB, Double Dissipation 1015MHZ)
Power Supply:
2x 1000W EVGA SuperNOVA PLATINUM
RAM:
2x 4GB Kingston Ram
CPU:
Intel Celeron G1840
Motherboard:
ASRock H81 Pro BTC
Risers:
2x PCI-E PCI Express 1x to 16x
3x PCI-E 1X to 16X
1x PCI-E Micro PCI Express 16X
OS / SSD:
ethOS (operating system)
Misc:
Add2PSU Adapter (used to connect both power supplies together
Power Button

ethOS

I can’t give enough credit to the folks at gpuShack for creating ethOS. As a new miner, I didn’t want to spend hours of time setting up linux on a spare SSD potentially loosing precious mining time. So I took a chance and purchased their mining software pre-installed on an SSD which they shipped to me.

hardware.1

To give some background, ethOS is a linux based software specifically designed to mine Ethereum. It offers a lot of valuable tools like remote monitoring, remote configuration, and very useful analytics about your rig. I highly recommend them.

ethOS Remote Monitor
(An example of what the remote control panel looks like within ethOS)

The Case

I won’t be going into a step-by-step tutorial on how to construct the case itself. If you’re interesting in building a case like mine, head over to the BitsBeTrippin Youtube channel and follow their guide. I based my case heavily on their design and can attest to its durability and effectiveness. Here are the two videos in particular to checkout:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jnp9Ka8WVpA
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5xNrlxsCVs

However I would like to share my experience of creating the case to hopefully provide some guidance to newcomers out there.

Case Materials

The materials I used are fairly straight forward. Again, the dimensions and quantities can all be found in the videos listed above. You could construct the entire case using angled aluminum, but I found the wood was much easier to work with. Of course if it caught fire it would pose a higher risk so that’s something to keep in mind.

Case Materials 2

Case Materials 3

One of the things that surprised me after I finished was how loud everything was. It wasn’t something I considered prior to building so in an attempt to reduce the noise, I put feet on the bottom with soft circle pads.

Case Materials 4

Case Materials 5

This helped reduce the rattling quite significantly. Of course the main source of the noise comes from the fans on the graphic cards spinning at full speed, so be prepared for this. If you don’t want a lot of noise, look into water-cooled GPUs or do the opposite of me and keep your rig outside of your living room 🙂

Things to keep in mind

  1. If you decide to use ethOS, make sure you change the default system password from ‘live’ to something else. The reason this is important is because if anyone gets ahold of the public IP of your rig, they’ll be able to SSH into your box, change the wallet address in your local config file, and potentially steal your Ether while you mine. To change the password go to the command line within ethOS and type “passwd”. Then follow the prompt to change the password.
  2. Make sure to buy the power button. If you don’t it’s a giant pain to continuously hot-wire the power switch using a screwdriver during the debugging and installation period.
  3. Make sure to buy two longer PCI-E risers. If you build a rig with 6 cards the 5th and 6th cards will need them!
  4. The rig will generate a lot of heat. If you’re in the unfortunate situation of living in a studio apartment like me, make sure to keep your rig next to an open window so you can exhausted all the hot air directly outside. Otherwise you’ll end up hot-boxing your entire apartment.
  5. If you’re building the case yourself, pay close attention to the size of nuts + bolts you’ll use to connect the angled aluminum. They don’t need to be very big.
  6. Buy an electricity meter like Kill A Watt so you can monitor how much power you’re pulling from the wall.
  7. It’s probably a good idea to split the power usage between different outlets if you’re worried about tripping the breaker. Make sure to plug them into different areas of your house / apartment with an extension cord so it’s not all going into the same breaker.

Ethereum Resources

Conclusion

I still believe Ethereum mining is profitable depending on the strategy you utilize. There’s many variables to keep in mind like electricity cost, building materials, Ethereum price, etc so make sure to do your homework. My recommendation would be to get in as soon as you can. The mining difficulty is rising everyday and will become less profitable as the weeks pass.

Building a mining rig is a long-term investment that will take time to pay off. Just be patient and have fun!

Ethereum rig final

  • Amir

    Dear Andrew
    thanks a lot for your great report
    but in these sentences i couldn’t what you do exactly . do you purchases this ethOS and they shipped to you in how much time or other thing you do?

    ethOS
    I can’t give enough credit to the folks at gpuShack for creating ethOS. As a new miner, I didn’t want to spend hours of time setting up linux on a spare SSD potentially loosing precious mining time. So I took a chance and purchased their mining software pre-installed on an SSD which they shipped to me.

    • Hey Amir,

      They sell both a digital download as-well as a physical SSD that has ethOS already installed. I opted for the latter option to save time 🙂

      Hope that helps!

  • albie_cilliers

    What a nice Blog, and also post ! Congrats.
    Busy building my own first rig too from old PC parts. Got it working on Linux Mint and CPU mining. Just waiting for my new R9 390 8GB to arrive .

    • Hey Albie,

      Thanks for the kind words. Very nice … looks like the cards I bought myself. Good luck! If you have any questions let me know — happy to help.

  • Guntis Vitolins

    Great post, very detailed explanation. This here is what i use for my rigs, hope this is helpful to some of you 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhU1KQJiSFs
    If you are to lazy to build your own rigs, i have some fore sale!

    • Mohammed Hanif

      How much it cost me and do ship to India

      • Mohammed Hanif

        My email address is hanifx786@gmail.com kindly give the price and details of Eth ring

    • Awesome setup!

      • Guntis Vitolins

        Thank you!

  • Juan Manuel Otero Fernandez

    Hello,

    great post. Thanks for your work. I´ve start to build my own rig and it was a great experience for me after reading your post.

    The only issue I have, is that I didn´t know how to do the following:

    I´m using ethOS. I change the prederteminated wallet with my wallet. After a few time I see in the local.conf again the prederteminated wallet. What I´m doing wrong.

    Thanks and regards from Spain

    • Hey Juan,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      It sounds like you’re customizing the wrong config file. ethOS doesn’t do a very good job at linking to their documentation, but you can find it here in case you haven’t seen it already. http://ethosdistro.com/kb

      In particular check out the section “Setting up your own remote config” here: http://ethosdistro.com/kb/#remote-config

      • Juan Manuel Otero Fernandez

        Hello Andrew,

        thanks again for your help. Finaly I get it. but not with the documentation from ethOS. Google will be my partner to solve this. Now its running perfect.

  • Hey Juan,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    It sounds like you’re customizing to the wrong config file. ethOS doesn’t do a very good job at linking to their documentation, but you can find it here in case you haven’t seen it already. http://ethosdistro.com/kb

    In particular check out the section “Setting up your own remote config” here: http://ethosdistro.com/kb/#remote-config

  • B-2

    What are you pulling from the wall with this setup?

    • About 1200 Watts split between two separate breakers.

  • Chad

    With the proof-of-stake coming soon is it worth building a miner now?

  • David Flying

    Thanks, I’m just getting started mining. What wallet should I use? A web one? http://ethereum-wallet.net

  • Jose A. Posada

    Hey, how about using an old motherboard whith a Pentium 4, and one RX480 graphic card? shall be compatibility issues? I want running low in costs due to the proximity of ASIC’S ethereum chips, and how big the ram will be? maybe in some time i will upgrade to 2 Gpu’s. Thanks for the post!!

    • Mark Christ Jr

      Um… the old Pentium 4 board will not have PCI-E. AGP at best. I can tell you don’t have much experience with hardware. My best solution for you is to check out some builds and use them as a guideline.

  • Mathieu

    Hey Andrew,

    Thanks for your great post. At the moment I am really questioning myself if I should build one… A quick question, would it be easy to switch from currency? As the difficulty rises it might be more profitable to change to another currency. And is it worth it to start with a single GPU? I would love to make this my hobby but investing a few grand right away in something I am not good at (yet) feels a little bit wrong haha… Would love to here your response! Thanks again.

    • Hey Mathieu!

      Yeah in my opinion it’s becoming unprofitable at this point to invest 3k into a mining rig. I’ve actually stopped mining Ethereum myself (~2weeks ago) as I was consuming more in electricity than I was making in Eth.

      My plan moving forward is to research other alt-coins to mine. However I’ve been so busy with work lately that I haven’t been able to make it a priority.

      As far as moving from currency to currency, I’m not aware of an easy way to do that. However there are tools out there that will allow you to easily swap from one crypto coin to another. For example https://shapeshift.io and https://poloniex.com/

      I hope that helps. Good luck! And if you find another alt coin to mine let me know!

      • Mathieu

        Hey Andrew! Thanks for your fast respond. It seems indeed that ETH is stable at the moment around 12 – 13 $.. However Monero has caught my attention and made a great raise this month, might be worth checking out. Perhaps a more general approach of mining software would suit my needs. Something like http://www.multiminerapp.com/, but I need to do more homework for that.. Maybe it will help some others out! Greetz

        • Thanks Mathieu, appreciate your thoughts! I’m going to look into Monero.

          I’m also waiting for Filecoin http://filecoin.io/ … should be big once it hits.

  • raymond

    Hei Andrew, you just mention it is not profitable to mining ETH this day, what if I said i’m using office power for my rig mine said it is operating 8 hour/day, do I can get profit?

    I’m in very tight budget around $1.000 for investment. what do you think?

    • Hey Raymond,

      Yeah if you’re getting your electricity for free then the only overhead you have are the initial capital costs of your rig equipment. In that case you should be on your way to making a profit much sooner.

      I would make sure to do the math before investing the 1k to ensure that you’ll have enough hash rate.

      Good luck!

  • Cryptocurrency Mining

    Hi Andrew, The page is very nice and clear. Your rig is very clean and
    well constructed. Thank you for sharing your experience. it helps a lot.
    I had get inspired by it constructing my own. I am sharing my
    experience in https://miningcryptocurrencyblog.wordpress.com /maxco

    • Hey maxco,

      No problem at all, yours looks great! Lots of good info. Especially enjoy your explanation of spinning up the Linux box. That piece can get complicated quick 🙂

      How’s mining going for you so far?

  • Aleksandar

    Hello Andrew, your explanation is very nice. I enjoed reading all this.
    Btw, im readdy to spent ~2.000€ for equipment. What is the best opinion for that money? Also, the electricity in my country cost around 0,07 usd.

    • Hey Aleksandar,

      Glad you got some value from it. If I were you I would try finding some used R9 370s or 390s for cheap. I personally use 6 390’s and get over 100 MH/s.

      Also I’d recommend playing around with this profit calculator before making a purchase: https://www.cryptocompare.com/mining/calculator/eth?HashingPower=100&HashingUnit=MH%2Fs&PowerConsumption=800&CostPerkWh=0.07

      Good luck!

      • Aleksandar

        As i said, i planing to start mining together with my friend, and as a experiment, we choose to buy Antminer S9 batch 23 (13.5 Th/s, power consuming 1400w). Also, we have an empty apartmant where we plan to keep it. Also, the electricity in my country (Serbia) is around 0.07$ (0.0668). So, basicaly we will mine 9$ daily – 2.3$ electricity is around 6.7$ daily * 30 = ~200$ monthly. If im wrong corect me.

        So i think, it’s the simplest way for mining. With miner.
        Also we looking the way to start maybe with ETC, but there’s no “Miners” like s9, s7, r4 … And Ether is more dificult to set up… Buying all components and all of this equipments.. huh.. tak

  • Interesting step by step article but i prefer Radeon RX 480 4GB Rather than XFX R9 390 because it is cheap and less electricity consume. Here is guide for RX 480 Radeon. http://www.thecryptomining.info/2017/03/how-to-build-ethereum-mining-rig-with.html

    • cory321

      Too bad these cards are no longer available :

  • Faw HQ

    If you are using rx 480 it will give you more profits and less electricity consume. I also build a rig with 6 RX 480 from this guide (http://www.thecryptomining.info/2017/04/6-gpu-ethereum-mining-rig-guide.html) it cost me very cheap and produce 150 mh/s of mining speed. Hope this will helpful for you guys!

  • Igster

    Ive spent 20 hours + trying to set up a similar rig, using 5 Radeon r9 390 xfx’s. My situation has been a lot more frustrating than rewarding. Windows 10 only recognizes 2 gpus. Ubuntu 14 and 16 only recognize 1. Driver support for these cards seems to have died a long time ago. Ive got 5 cards so i can switch them out and they get recognized individually, i doubt all the cards are broken. Windows 10 only runs Genoil miner for 5 minutes before crashing, then the program stops opening so i have to redownload it every time. I doubt trying ethOS is going to solve my problems but im trying it next, im out of other ideas at this point.

  • Christian Ulirsch

    Hey, do you mind helping out with a miner issue? I will pay you for your time.