Tag Archives: how-to

Recent Ubuntu release causing issues with AMD 17.x drivers

Update 8/27: Reports are coming in that this issue has been resolved with the latest AMD drivers (17.30-465504).

Reader Zelda brought this advisory from AMD to my attention: it describes some serious issues with Ubuntu 16.04.3 and the latest (17.x) versions of AMD’s GPU drivers. Some of you have written in recently describing black screens after installing AMD’s drivers when following my Linux mining guide, and it looks like this is the culprit.

If you’re running into issues while trying to get your Linux-based rig up and running, make sure that you stick with 16.04.2 for now. I recommend Xubuntu 16.04.2 in my guide, and that’s safe to use—just skip the “sudo apt-get dist-upgrade” command at the end of step 3 to avoid updating to 16.04.3.

If you already have a Linux rig running AMD GPUs in operation, make sure that you hold off on OS/security updates until after this issue has been resolved! If you’ve already upgraded and are now experiencing problems, you can try downgrading your AMDGPU-PRO driver to version 16.x, although I haven’t been able to confirm that non-17.x drivers will definitely work on 16.04.3 without issues (edit 8/22: at least one reader has tested and reported that 16.x drivers result in the same black screen issues with 16.04.3).

Hopefully AMD and Canonical can work out a fix quickly.

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!

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.

Build your own Ethereum Mining Rig, part 1: Hardware

Ethereum GPU mining rig testbed.

My open-frame GPU testbed, mining Ethereum on a couple Radeon RX 470 video cards.

It’s finally time for an update to my popular 2013 Litecoin mining guide! It’s four years later, and Ethereum mining is where it’s at for GPU miners, so that’s what I’ve focused on. I’ve kept the same format and detail level as my old guide, so if you were around back then, you’ll know what to expect.

If you’re new to the world of crytocurrency mining, this guide should give even an absolute beginner all of the knowledge needed to put together an efficient Ethereum (or other GPU-minable altcoin) mining rig using readily-available consumer hardware.

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 Ethereum miner together.

Undervolting in Linux via modified video BIOS


Before VBE7: Creating custom vBIOS files meant manually editing hex and hoping for the best—yuck!

For a long time, I’ve held off on writing a guide about modifying your video BIOS for the purpose of lowering voltage. Undervolting has the potential to reduce power draw by about 50 watts per GPU, so it’s easy to understand the appeal—you’ll see a significant savings on your electricity bill if you’re running a 3×7950 rig (like the one in my guide) 24/7. Unfortunately, the AMD Radeon drivers in linux don’t allow voltage control, so the only current way to lower voltage below manufacturer-specified levels in linux is to modify your video card’s BIOS.

In the past, such a hack involved manually editing your vBIOS file by hand, using a hex editor. Most folks hesitate to make such a modification, as performing the edit can be tricky if you’re not familiar with hexadecimal—and a mistake can mean a bricked GPU. Due to the potential danger I had decided not to post a guide about manually modifying your vBIOS ROMs. After all, nobody wants to be left with a $300 paperweight after inadvertently trashing their video card.

Enter VBE7, a GUI-based vBIOS editor for Radeon 7xxx series GPUs. Now anyone can easily make changes to their vBIOS without having to muddle around in a hex editor, praying they get things right. I’ve been testing VBE7 for a few days now, and it appears to work brilliantly. Read on for my guide on creating your own custom power-saving vBIOS!

Guide: Cryptocurrency Wallet Security

Litecoin walletSo you’ve built your own mining rig, you’ve mastered the art of trading for profit on the cryptocurrency exchanges, but you haven’t given much thought to securing your digital fortune against theft and accidental loss? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Wallet security isn’t exactly a glamorous topic. In fact, many of you might even assume that you don’t need your own wallet at allafter all, mining pools and currency exchanges are more than happy to hold your money for you, right?

Letting somebody else control your money is a mistake that will likely end up costing you at some point. That mining pool operator that you assume is trustworthy could very well be a teenager halfway around the world that has no problem stealing your coins. The various digital currency exchanges are unregulated, not necessarily secure, and a daily target for hackersgood luck getting your money back when one is breached or goes belly up.

Since it’s still basically the Wild West when it comes to cryptocurrencies, the only way to ensure that your digital wallet can’t be stolen or lost is to secure it yourself. Thankfully, this isn’t all that difficult if you follow a few basic rules. Read on for the guide.

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!