PSA: don’t store your cryptocurrency in online exchanges!

I just read this sobering tale about a guy who lost $8,000+ worth of cryptocurrency after being hacked. I’ve said it before, but this bears repeating: don’t trust anyone to hold your cryptocurrency for you. Online exchanges aren’t banks, and leaving your digital currency under somebody else’s control leaves you vulnerable to hacks like this one.

I wrote a wallet security guide a few years ago, and the basic principles are the same today: keep your coins in wallet addresses that you control, back up your wallet keys, and store multiple copies offline. If you don’t want to deal with manually securing your keys, you may want to invest in a hardware wallet (like the Trezor or Ledger Nano S—both support BTC, LTC, ETH, and other coins).

The author of the story that prompted this post offers some additional pieces of good advice, such as not making it obvious that you hold cryptocurrency on social media, and using a separate secret email address when dealing with exchanges.

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”.

Is this another cryptocurrency bubble?

No doubt most of you have been following the explosive increase in cryptocurrency valuations over the past month. The price of one ether has risen about 400% in the past 30 days. The value of Bitcoin has doubled over the same period, with a single coin trading at an all-time high of nearly $2,500. Litecoin has similarly more than doubled in value.

In short, it’s starting to feel like late 2013 again. For those of you that weren’t around the last time this happened, this isn’t the first time that we’ve seen runaway valuations on cryptocurrency. In the span of 30 days between late October and November of 2013, Bitcoin saw its value increase roughly 500% to a then-high of over $1,000. Over that same one-month period in 2013, Litecoin saw a meteoric ~2500% (!) rise from about $2 to nearly $50.

If you were in the cryptocurrency game back then, you may remember that I urged caution to potential investors as digital currency prices continued to set new price records daily. Less than a month after I published my 2013 correction prediction, prices started to decline, and a few months later they were back to roughly pre-bubble levels. Lots of folks that bought BTC or LTC during the insane price run-up decided to panic sell on the way down, and some people lost a considerable amount of money.

I write this simply to remind everyone to stay sane when it comes to investing in cryptocurrency, especially if you’re thinking about committing money that you really can’t afford to lose. Price increases like the ones that we’re currently witnessing aren’t normal, and are mostly being driven by speculative greed—not new developments or adoption (and for evidence of this claim, look no further than the recent ~1000% price increase on Dogecoin, an essentially joke currency that’s been dormant for three years). When prices eventually reach a level that can’t be sustained (and admittedly, there might be quite a bit of additional increase before that!), expect a sell-off to follow.

Somewhat related: this is why I like mining. If I’m investing $1,500 today and use it to buy ETH directly, then I’ll be really disappointed if the price drops to zero tomorrow, as I’ve lost 100% of my investment. If I build a $1,500 mining rig with the expectation that I’m going to mine ETH and eventually turn a profit, then I’ll certainly be disappointed if the ETH price drops to zero tomorrow—but I’ll still have $1,500 worth of computer hardware that I can re-purpose or sell.

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!

Deal: EVGA 850 watt PSU for $91

Amazon has EVGA SuperNOVA G2 850 watt gold-rated power supplies on sale right now for $91. These are very highly-rated efficient units, and a good choice if you’re looking to build a mining rig composed of 3-4 RX 470 GPUs (PSUs are most efficient when delivering roughly half of their rated maximum power, which puts this unit in the sweet spot for a 3-4 GPU rig).

While this unit is technically capable of powering 6x undervolted RX 470 cards, you’ll be running it near its maximum capacity, which will hurt its effective efficiency quite a bit. I still strongly recommend a 1200+ watt PSU for 6 GPU rigs.

Litecoin available to trade on Coinbase

Coinbase, widely regarded as one of the largest and most trustworthy cryptocurrency exchanges, has finally added support for Litecoin as of a few minutes ago. Their LTC price is currently all over the place—immediately rising to nearly $35 before backing down into the low $20s (other exchanges are listing LTC at around $20). It’ll be interesting to watch the price over the next few hours/days.

Bitcoin price hits all-time high

Bitcoin has gained about 15% in value over the past week, putting it at over $1,450 on Coinbase currently. That’s higher than any point since its inception!

Ethereum and Litecoin are both also doing quite well. ETH is up roughly 50% compared to just one week ago, and LTC has nearly quadrupled in value since the start of 2017.

What’s driving the recent spike in cryptocurrency valuation? Other than the imminent SegWit activation for Litecoin, there doesn’t seem to be any big news that should be driving prices up at this pace. Are people reacting to political uncertainty around the world by converting some of their fiat currency into digital cash? I’m honestly not sure—but it’s certainly interesting to follow!

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.