Why we built our crypto miner
In our last post, we showcased our new cryptocurrency mining rig and outlined its purpose of mining Ethereum for Team Trees, a charity that plants 1 tree for every $1 donated.
That article can be found here:
How to build a crypto miner
There are three main phases to successfully building a crypto mining rig: planning, building, and mining.
The planning phase requires the most thought of the three, without a solid plan you’ll be mining inefficiently and your costs will be higher.
The building phase is simple, it’s just the execution of your plan. In this guide, we outline exactly which components we used and why. By leveraging this guide, building your own crypto miner can be as simple as replicating what we did. If you’ve never built a PC before, we’d recommend following a video guide on how to assemble each part.
The mining phase requires the most technical skill but can be made simpler by using mining-specific operating systems such as HiveOS. After the initial setup, you’re ready to start mining!
If you’re interested in building your own cryptocurrency miner, then keep reading because we’re going to explain exactly how to do it in the most cost-effective way!
Phase 1- planning:
The planning phase consists of assessing our options and selecting the most cost-effective and easy to source components:
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
- GPUs are the most important and expensive component of the build, so it’s essential we select the correct one(s). To find the most profitable GPUs, we have to weigh up the cost to output ratio. This can be achieved by researching both the cost of the GPU(s) you wish to purchase and the power output. We recommend either a 3070 or 3090 GPU, we’ve listed our choice of GPUs below.
- We also need to decide on how many GPUs we wish to use. The more we have, the higher the cost, however mining power will be increased accordingly. This comes down to your personal budget, our budget allowed us to purchase a maximum of 5.
We chose the most profitable GPUs we could source at the time, being 5x 3070 Graphics cards. The specific brands we purchased were:
– Asus KO GeForce RTX 3070 O8G
– Asus TUF GeForce RTX 3070 O8G
Operating System (OS)
There are 3 main choices when deciding on which operating system to use, each having their unique pro’s and cons:
Pros- Everything is GUI-based and drivers are plentiful and easy to install.
Cons- It’s doesn’t have as much automation opportunity as Linux versions.
Pros- Allows for total control through manual configuration and the ability to write your own start-up and automation scripts to overclock/control and monitor mining. This process also provides the most learning opportunity.
Cons- Everything must be configured manually, and this process takes a significant amount of time, effort, and technical skill to set up.
Mining Specific OS (HiveOS):
Pros- HiveOS is a mining-specific operating system, it has most of the automation, remote control, and monitoring built-in.
Cons- Less opportunity for learning the software side of mining. It is also much more hardware-specific than the other two options as network drivers are limited to AMD. It can be difficult to install correct drivers without manually finding them and copying them to a USB.
We chose to use Ubuntu initially so everyone involved could get the most value out of the learning experience. We’ve since moved onto HiveOS due to its simplicity.
We need to assess which coin is most profitable by calculating the mining efficiency of our selected GPU for each coin. Taking into account your chosen GPU, you can calculate which currency will be most profitable to mine here: https://whattomine.com/coins
We are currently mining Ethereum because it has the best profitability at this time. This can always be quickly changed to any minable currency.
Power Supply (PSU)
We calculated that we require a power supply of 1000W for the miner to operate efficiently. The best efficiency range is between 50% and 80% of the maximum power output. Having an overflow of power is always a good choice. Each GPU will be set to draw 140 watts of power, when you multiply this by 5 GPU’s you reach a total consumption of 700W. This makes a PSU of 1000W or more the ideal choice, any lower and we would be over the 80% power output threshold.
We chose the Corsair HX1200 Platinum 1200W Power Supply. This was the best value PSU that provided more than 1000W of power.
Motherboard & Processor (CPU)
The motherboard and CPU should be purchased to complement each other if you plan on using Hive OS as your operating system. Considering our choice of running a 6 GPU set-up, it’s necessary that we source a motherboard with at least 6 PCI-E lanes to support all of our GPUs using risers. Another nice feature to look for in a motherboard is having BIOS with crypto support.
Your CPU choice should consider whether it has built-in ethernet drivers. AMD has ethernet drivers, however, Intel does not (they would have to be downloaded separately and manually installed). In this decision, you should be looking for the most cost-effective motherboard and CPU combo with enough PCI-E lanes to suit your GPU’s requirements.
We chose the MSI B450-A Pro Max Motherboard as it was the most cost-effective motherboard with 6 PCI-E lanes. Our processor choice was the AMD Ryzen 5 1600 AF Processor with Wraith Stealth because it supports native ethernet drivers within HiveOS and it was the cheapest available Ryzen processor.
Solid State Drive (SSD)
The SSD was something that we forgot about in our own planning phase. As a result, we had to make a last-minute purchase on the build day, which was not the optimal choice as we didn’t have it readily available. If we had planned for this, we would have chosen an M.2 SSD of 240gb+ since it requires no SATA cables and no power cables, it connects straight to the motherboard.
The PCI-E risers are necessary to provide additional space in the mining rig for multiple GPUs.
We purchased the most cost-effective available set of 5 PCI-E risers (one per GPU) on eBay.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
We need 8GB of RAM for the miner to operate efficiently. The best choice is to find 8GB of RAM at the most cost-effective price as more expensive brands won’t impact the mining efficiency.
We chose the most affordable 8GBs of RAM we could find- Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB (2x4GB).
The case/frame is used to hold everything together in an organised and efficient manner. There are many options you can choose, and it’s going to come down to your budget.
Some considerations for a good case are:
– It’s ability to hold sufficient GPUs for your build
– It’s ability to hold fans and ventilate air throughout the whole mining rig to prevent overheating
– It’s sturdiness and strength
– Stackability with multiple frames for future expansion needs.
We purchased a sturdy, open-air case from eBay with the ability to stack another frame on top in case we wanted to expand the rig in the future. We also made sure the case had at least 5 GPU slots because we planned to purchase a maximum of 5.
When purchasing fans, we suggest opting for the most cost-effective solution and purchasing as many low-cost fans as you can fit into your case to provide maximum ventilation at the lowest cost. Don’t forget to make sure the fans are the correct size for your case!
Our fans came with the case we purchased, so there were no need to buy any. If yours don’t come with the case, we’d suggest a low-cost option.
Phase 2- building:
Now that we’ve decided on everything we need in our plan, it’s time to purchase all of the components and begin the build!
The build phase is much simpler than the planning phase, it’s just the execution of your plan. If you’ve ever built a PC before you won’t have any troubles, if not, then we’d recommend watching a video guide on how to correctly assemble everything along with following this guide.
Step 1: Assemble your case/frame.
Step 2: Attach your fans to your case/frame.
Step 3: Attach your PCI-E risers to your case/frame so that your GPUs can be installed later.
Step 4: Install the CPU and CPU Cooler into the motherboard.
Step 5: Install the RAM into the motherboard.
Step 6: Attach the motherboard to the case/frame.
Step 7: Attach the PSU to the case/frame.
Step 8: Plug in the motherboard to the PSU using the ATX and CPU cables provided with your PSU.
Step 9: Install all of the GPUs onto your PCI-E risers.
Step 10: Connect the PCI-E risers to the PSU using a SATA cable provided.
Step 11: Plug the GPUs into the PSU to power them.
Step 12: Plug in a monitor to begin the set-up for the mining phase.
Phase 3- Mining
Depending on what operating system you’ve chosen, the difficulty of this phase will change.
If you’ve decided to run a mining-specific operating system such as HiveOS, regardless of your technical skill the difficulty will be low. If you’ve decided to run Windows or Ubuntu you may need more technical experience.
Mining with HiveOS
We recommend following HiveOS’ quick installation guide for this process. It can be found here: https://hiveos.farm/getting_started-quick_install/
Mining with Ubuntu
Mining with Ubuntu is a far more difficult process with very little knowledge base on the web. We will be releasing a separate guide on this process as we will need to go much more in-depth.
Mining with Windows
Using Windows will provide you with a nice user interface to view all of your miner’s statistics. To mine with Windows OS, we recommend installing and following the guide for Minerstat. The installation guide can be found here: https://minerstat.com/help/how-can-i-set-up-windows-mining-software
Learnings from building our own crypto miner
It’s safe to say that everyone involved in this project has learnt a lot from it and we’re ecstatic about sharing our knowledge and experience with anyone who’s interested in doing the same.
Plan, plan, and plan
We can’t stress enough that the planning phase of this project is by far the most important, optimising your plan to be as cost-effective as possible will result in the best investment long-term. We spent an extensive amount of time planning and researching before we dove in and built the crypto miner. Even with all our planning we still managed to miss one component, albeit a small one (SSD).
Stick to your budget and regularly sell your profits
In our case we’re donating all of the proceeds to the Team Trees charity, so we’ll be regularly selling the mined Ethereum and donating to ensure we’re maximising our donations.
If you use this guide to build your own crypto miner for a passive income, we’d recommend creating a budget for parts and estimating the monthly return. This will give you a break-even point, where if you regularly sell your profits- you’ll break even after a certain amount of time. Regularly selling your mined crypto will allow you to dollar cost average your investment, making it much safer long-term.
Anyone can build a crypto miner
Regardless of your technical skill, with a good guide (hopefully this one) anyone can build a cryptocurrency mining rig. We had members in our team with little technical knowledge, who can now go home and build their own crypto miner!
We’re very proud that we were able to learn and share our knowledge with the community whilst doing our part for the Team Trees charity at the same time!