Category Archives: Mining

TP-Link’s HS110 Smart Plug: the mining rig accessory you didn’t know you needed

Last weekend, I took a few days to visit with family in another state. Shortly after arriving, I noticed that I had an alert from nanopool.org indicating that my mining rig was offline. I didn’t pay much attention to it, as I’ve received a few false positives before, and my rig hadn’t crashed in nearly 90 days.

When I had time later that evening, I checked on my miner and found that it indeed hadn’t submitted any work in hours. I grabbed my laptop, logged into my miner remotely via SSH, and found that one of the GPUs had crashed—causing Claymore to hang (my guess is that my switch to dual-mining the previous week was enough to introduce some instability). No problem, a quick “sudo reboot now” at the prompt should be enough to get it running again, and I could troubleshoot the cause when I returned home in a few days.

Except my miner never came back online. Since I’d be away for three additional days, the missed mining time would cost me about $80. I needed a reliable way to remotely power cycle my rig in the event that something like this happened again in the future.

Enter the TP-Link HS110 Smart Plug. This simple device is exactly what I was looking for: a remotely-accessible power switch for my rig that I can control with my phone from anywhere. Read on for my mini review!

Dual mining with Claymore

Mine SC, DCR, LBRY, or Pascal alongside ETH with Claymore's miner!If you’ve followed my Ethereum mining guide and successfully set up your own rig, you may have noticed that the Claymore mining software we’re using supports a dual-mining mode. The premise of dual-mining sounds great: mine another altcoin alongside ETH, ostensibly for free. Sounds like an easy way to increase profitability without any downside, so shouldn’t we all take advantage?

Read on for the pros and cons of dual-mining with Claymore, and instructions to guide you through enabling it.

Global shortage of AMD GPUs due to cryptocurrency mining

If you’re looking to get your hands on an AMD RX 570/580 GPU, you’re probably out of luck—at least for the foreseeable future. News outlets (even mainstream media!) are reporting that AMD GPUs are basically sold out globally due to tremendous demand from cryptocurrency miners. If you’re able to find an AMD RX 470/480/570/580 GPU at all these days, it’ll probably be on the secondary market—where you can expect to pay double or triple retail price.

I initially recommended AMD GPUs in my mining guide because they were much cheaper than nVidia alternatives. But given current market conditions, consider nVidia GPUs if you’re building a mining rig today. A GTX 1070 GPU will roughly match the ETH mining performance of a RX 570/580, and they’re still available to buy at most retailers. Just remember that if you opt for an nVidia GPU and plan to follow my mining guide, you’ll need to install nVidia GPU drivers instead of the AMD ones that I’ve linked!

My Litecoin story, or the build vs buy question

“I have some money to invest—should I use it to build a mining rig, or should I simply buy [insert cryptocurrency of choice] directly?” That’s probably the most common question I hear from people looking to get into digital currency.

I was facing this same question when I decided to jump into Litecoin in early 2013. I’d done some casual single-GPU Bitcoin mining in prior years, but I wanted to make a more substantial investment into cryptocurrency this time around. I waffled a bit between building my own rig or simply buying LTC directly before eventually settling on mining. Read on for my reasoning, how things turned out for me, and how they would have been different had I taken the “buy” path.

ASRock to offer motherboard with support for 13 GPUs

ASRock is demoing a new mining-focused motherboard at this year’s Computex show in Taiwan (tomorrow through June 3rd). The new board is designated the H110 Pro BTC+ and features an incredible 13 PCIe slots (!). Click the image to the left for a preview.

ASRock has long been a favorite in the cryptocurrency mining community. Their 970 Extreme4 was a top pick for LTC mining a few years ago, and more recently their H81 Pro BTC is a favorite for ETH mining (if you can find one—they’re more or less sold out).

No word on when to expect retail availability other than “soon”.

Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 5: FAQ

In this fifth and final installment of our Ethereum mining rig guide, I answer some common questions about setting up your own rig, profit expectations, and mining in general. If you’ve read the rest of the guide and still have some unanswered questions, you might find what you’re looking for here.

Hit the “read more” button for the FAQ!

Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 4: Optimization

Same hardware: before (top) and after (bottom) GPU BIOS mods. Click to enlarge.

This fourth installment of our Ethereum mining guide will focus on optimizing your rig’s performance via GPU clock speed and voltage setting tweaks to achieve maximum efficiency.

The tweaks that I outline in this article are applicable whether you’re using Linux or Windows. If you’re using the hardware that was recommended in the first part of this guide (or very similar hardware), you should expect to achieve Ether mining performance gains of 20-25%, compared to stock settings! At the same time, you’ll reduce power consumption by 10-15% (and consequently, lower GPU temperature and fan noise).

More speed for less power—how is that possible? Click “read more” to find out, in our mining performance optimization guide!

Radeon RX 5xx cards are available; RX 470 still king for ETH mining

Just a quick note that the new Radeon RX 570 and RX 580 cards have become available for purchase over the last few days. Several people have sent me messages asking if they should be considering these for their mining rigs over RX 470/480 cards. The short answer is probably not, unless you find that the 5xx cards are actually significantly cheaper than their 4xx ancestors.

The new 5xx GPUs are essentially 4xx cards with higher core clock speeds. Memory clock speeds are unchanged—and memory speed is the most important factor when it comes to Ethereum mining. The increased core clock speed comes with a corresponding increase in power consumption, which probably makes the new cards less efficient for mining when compared to the older 4xx GPUs—at least at stock settings.

Unrelated, but I’m (finally) nearly finished with part 4 of my Ethereum mining guide. I should have it posted sometime tonight or tomorrow.

Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 3: Windows Setup

Ethereum & WindowsNo doubt some of you saw the Ethereum mining guide for Linux that I published last week and balked at all of that “command-line nonsense”. Linux isn’t everyone’s thing, and that’s ok—if Windows is your OS of choice, then this guide is for you!

While Linux offers some significant advantages when it comes to GPU mining, Windows does have one potentially important edge: undervolting your GPUs currently requires quite a bit less effort under Windows. If you want your mining rig to run at its maximum efficiency, you’ll want to keep power consumption to a minimum, and with Linux that generally requires flashing a custom BIOS to each GPU—whereas in Windows you can usually accomplish this at the driver level with a simple software setting.

The bad news is that if you want maximum performance out of your rig, you’ll probably eventually want to flash your GPU BIOS under either operating system, but we’ll get into that in part 4 of this guide. But if you already know that overwriting your GPU BIOS with a custom replacement is outside of your comfort zone, then sticking with Windows will at least allow you to undervolt.

So with all of that in mind, if Windows sounds like the best option for you, read on for our setup guide!

Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 2: Linux Setup

In this second installment of our DIY Ethereum mining guide, we’ll look at how to install and configure Linux to setup your rig as an automated, remotely-manageable appliance. Don’t be dissuaded if you’ve never used Linux before—our step-by-step guide makes it simple!

Why Linux over Windows? First, it’s free—and saving ~$100 on the operating system is a big plus when you’re trying to maximize profitability. Other reasons include lesser hardware requirements (Linux is perfectly happy running from a USB stick plugged into ancient hardware!), simpler remote administration capabilities, and oftentimes better stability. The downside of running Linux is that video driver support isn’t on the same level as Windows, and things like GPU undervolting are trickier (but still possible via BIOS mods).

If you missed the hardware portion of our guide, make sure to check it out first. Otherwise, read on.