Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 4: Optimization

cgminer with optimized settings

One of my optimized rigs, using the hardware from part 1 of this guide, getting over 1.9 Mh/sec in cgminer while using about 680 watts of power.

This fourth installment of our litecoin mining guide will focus on getting the most out of your hardware—finding the sweet spot between maximum performance and acceptable power usage (and noise/heat generation!).

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 see a performance increase of 10% or more in your litecoin mining hashrate, compared to the baseline cgminer settings that were given in our Linux and Windows setup guides.

In addition to increasing your mining speed, I’ll also show you how to set up a backup mining pool to automatically failover to in case your primary pool becomes unavailable. There is nothing worse than having your mining rig(s) sit idle because your pool went down!

Click “read more” for our mining performance optimization guide!

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

Litecoin mining setup guide for WindowsBy now you’ve probably seen our Linux Litecoin mining setup guide (and hopefully the hardware guide that preceded it). Perhaps you’ve decided that Linux just doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. If Windows is more your thing, you’re in luck—this guide is for you.

Let me just reiterate that for most people, Linux is likely the better choice. With Linux, you can use a $5 USB stick instead of a $50 harddrive, and you save yourself the cost of a Windows license as well. The actual mining performance will be the same on either platform, so the cost savings of Linux would seem to make it a no-brainer as long as you’re comfortable with the slightly more complex setup (although our guide makes it simple!).

However, if you have GPUs that aren’t voltage-locked (such as the MSI 7950s that we recommend in our hardware guide), and you plan to take advantage of that feature to undervolt your cards (we’ll show you how), Windows might become the better long-term option for you, depending on how much electricity costs in your area (edit 10/2013: easy undervolting in linux is now possible, too).

So with that in mind, if Windows sounds like it’s the right choice for you, read on for our setup guide!

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

Linux Litecoin Mining Setup Guide
In the second installment of our DIY litecoin mining guide, we’ll look at how to install and configure Linux to properly mine with your GPUs at optimal settings. Don’t be dissuaded if you’ve never used Linux before—our step-by-step guide makes it easy.

Linux has a few advantages over Windows, including the ability to install to a USB stick (which means you don’t need a harddrive), lesser hardware requirements (you can get by just fine with less than 4GB of RAM), and simpler remote administration capabilities. Best of all, Linux is free! However, be aware that if you’d like to undervolt your GPUs to save power, Windows might be a better choice for you (update 10/2013: no longer true!).

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

Build your own Litecoin Mining Rig, part 1: Hardware

Litecoin mining rig in plastic crates

One of my finished mining rigs. Using plastic crates instead of a standard PC case helps improve airflow and cooling.

So you’re interested in mining cryptocurrency, but you’re not sure where to start? No problem, this guide is all you need to set up your own headless litecoin mining rig—even if you have absolutely no experience with this sort of thing.

First, let’s get the obvious question out of the way: why litecoins? After all, bitcoins are worth more, right? The simple answer is that at the time of this writing, litecoins are currently the most profitable cryptocurrency to mine when you take into account how much each coin is worth, and the time required to mine one. Rest assured that if the situation changes, and another cryptocurrency suddenly surpasses litecoin as the best mining option, the rig outlined in the guide should have no problem switching over to a new coin.

This guide will be broken into several parts, each focusing on a different aspect of building your first mining rig. First, let’s take a look at what you’ll need in terms of hardware to put a respectable miner together.

Bitcoin on the Colbert Report

A hilarious piece on bitcoin appeared on the Colbert Report yesterday:
(video removed)
(Click here to go directly to the video if you can’t see it here.)

Steve Forbes: Bitcoins are not money

According to Steve Forbes, bitcoin does not qualify as a currency. The basic reason? Bitcoins do not have a fixed value, thanks to their outrageous volatility:

Money is most optimal when it is fixed in value just as commerce is facilitated when we have fixed weights and measures. When you buy a pound of hamburger you expect to get 16 ounces of meat. An hour has 60 minutes. A mile has 5280 feet. These measurements don’t “float.”

Forbes makes a valid point. Cryptocurrencies in general don’t stand a chance of widespread adoption until the massive swings in daily (hourly) value calm way down. Nobody wants to worry about their own personal version of the $2 million bitcoin pizza every time they spend cryptocurrency, after all. mining pool operator trolls users; steals their litecoins

Troll FaceIf you’re currently using as your litecoin mining pool, and you’re not aware of the extreme shadiness that went down there last week, you may want to read on. In fact, even if you don’t use, it’s important to be aware of the fact that some of the mining pools out there are run by dishonest operators looking to scam you. Don’t treat mining pools like banks: cash out often, and scrutinize activity to make sure that you’re not being cheated.

Is cryptocurrency mining an environmental issue?

Mark Gimein, writing for Bloomberg News, commented that bitcoin mining uses quite a bit of power. Enough that he calls it a “real-world environmental disaster”:

About 982 megawatt hours a day, to be exact. That’s enough to power roughly 31,000 U.S. homes, or about half a Large Hadron Collider.


Real-world mining of precious metals for currency was a resource-hungry and value-destroying process. Bitcoin mining is too.

Others aren’t quite convinced that virtual mining causes the same level of environmental destruction that the real thing does.