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.
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.
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
- 6x XFX R9 390 (8GB, Double Dissipation 1015MHZ)
- Power Supply:
- 2x 1000W EVGA SuperNOVA PLATINUM
- 2x 4GB Kingston Ram
- Intel Celeron G1840
- ASRock H81 Pro BTC
- 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)
- Add2PSU Adapter (used to connect both power supplies together
- Power Button
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.
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.
(An example of what the remote control panel looks like within ethOS)
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:
However I would like to share my experience of creating the case to hopefully provide some guidance to newcomers out there.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Buy an electricity meter like Kill A Watt so you can monitor how much power you’re pulling from the wall.
- 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.
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!