Part 1: Hardware Requirements
Mining rigs come in all shapes and sizes. For the purpose of this guide, we will focus on building a very basic rig. This guide is intended to get you started and to assist in building your first rig. Once you know how to build one, you can grow your rig empire as big as you want. We will show you how to build your very first rig for under $1000. If you don’t want to invest any money in hardware and simply want to use your current computer to start mining, you can skip ahead to Part 2: Software Requirements.
The first thing you need to know about mining, is that currently, mining power is processed using your graphic’s card (GPU). The days of mining with your CPU only are long gone. GPU offer a much faster way of solving the algorithms required to generate your coins. GPU’s should be your main focus when designing your rig. You can get a full list of the various GPU’s and their expected performances here: https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison or here: http://litecoin.info/Mining_Hardware_Comparison. These are the most current and accurate listings for GPU hash rates. When you are mining, the same values that apply for Bitcoin mining will apply to any SHA-256 coin mining. The same is true for Litecoin and all other Scrypt based coins. We currently like the ATI HD 7950 card’s. We feel they currently offer the best bang for your buck if you are operating on a budget. Of course, you can always replace your graphics card for a better one in the future.
Generally, there are only 3 things you want to worry about when building a mining rig.
- Graphics Card: This is the bread and butter for your rig and what is actually going to be generating your coins. Don’t cheap out on these
- Power Supply: You will need adequate power to run your rig. If you are getting 2 or more graphics cards, don’t get anything under 750w. We’d even recommend 1000w+ in case you want to expand
- Motherboard: The only thing you need to look for here are the amount of PCI-E slots (or places for your video cards). Try to find one with a minimum of 3 slots so you can expand if needed
The rest of the hardware doesn’t really matter.
- CPU’s are virtually useless, you just need it to run the OS.
- RAM, mining is not RAM intensive, so you don’t need to worry about it.
- Hard drive, again, you only need it to run the Operating System.
- Computer case, less is better. The less constricted your components are, the more air flows through and helps with cooling. Most of the rigs we build don’t even have a case.
Let’s get started!
Below are the components we recommend for a basic rig. Feel free to swap out parts for better performing ones if you wish. This is just a basic outline of a generic budget rig. This rig will get you anywhere between 1000-1200 kh/s when mining Scrypt coins and 950-1150 MH/s when mining SHA-256 coins. Once you are done, the rig will look something like this:
- Motherboard: ASRock 970 Extreme3 – $120-$150
- Power Supply: SeaSonic X Series X-850 – $175-$200
- Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 7950 (x2) – $200-$300/each
- Processor: AMD Sempron 145 Processor – $40-$50
- RAM: 8 GB Corsair DDR3 – $40-$60
- Hard Drive: WD 500GB – $50-$60
- Total Cost: $825 – $1120
Putting it all together
Now comes the fun part. Building your rig! Now that you have all your components, you can start setting everything up! Make sure to keep the manuals that came with the components in case you get stuck on a step.
- First things first! Unpack all your goodies and set them aside!
- Place the motherboard on a flat surface and carefully install the CPU and Heatsink following the directions in the manual
- Next comes the RAM, place your RAM sticks in the appropriate location on the Motherboard
- Install the hard drive using the SATA cable that was included
- Place the video cards in their appropriate slots
- Set up the power supply in a safe location and connect all the cables to their respected devices
You’re almost done! This is the part where you’re probably wondering why you didn’t get a monitor, keyboard, mouse or a CD drive. Basically, once you have everything setup, you won’t need them anymore. If you’re reading this and are interested in mining coins, you probably already have a computer in the house. Simply take the monitor, keyboard and mouse and set it up on the rig temporarily so we can get things set up and configured.
The next step is simply to power it up and install an Operating System on the machine. You can install Windows or Linux from a USB key or CD-Rom drive. (If you install from CD, simply take a CD-Rom drive from another computer temporarily to get through the installation). To install windows from a USB key, you can follow this guide.
The rest of the guide will assume you are using Windows.
So, now you’ve got your rig installed with an operating system. Let’s move on…