Tag Archives: mining

Radeon 7950 GPUs are becoming scarce

Many of you have contacted me recently asking for my opinion of x brand/model of 7950 GPU, given that some of the top choices from my mining hardware guide are sold out everywhere. Thought I’d throw up a quick post with some of the best alternatives for those of you that are looking to build a rig.

Yes, the Radeon 7950 is still the best GPU mining platform (and probably will be for quite some time), assuming you don’t have access to free electricity. Click “read more” for the list.

Please be reachable if you purchase one of my custom mining rigs!

Just a quick note that I have been unable to reach a couple of the people that have purchased a custom mining rig from me over the past few days.

I need to be able to reach buyers so that I can gather mining pool worker credentials and some other information in order to set up each rig up properly—as well as give myself some peace of mind that the person on the other end of the transaction isn’t trying to scam me, which is unfortunately always a possibility with Paypal. If I’m unable to reach you after a few days of attempts, I’ll simply cancel your order and refund the purchase price of the rig to you.

If you’ve purchased a custom rig from me recently and we haven’t yet established a dialog, please contact me ASAP.

On a related note, it’s getting difficult for me to locate enough quality parts to build these things as fast as the orders are coming in, given the recent upward price explosion of cryptocurrency. If you’ve been putting off buying or building a mining rig, you may not want to wait too much longer.

On mining profitability

With the price of litecoin and bitcoin on the rise, I’ve received a tremendous amount of email over the past couple weeks from people wanting to know whether or not it’s “too late” to get into mining. Or how soon one can expect to break even on a new mining rig purchase. Or what my predictions are for the future value of cryptocurrency in general. I’ve responded to many of you already, but it probably makes more sense to post something here publicly.

Full disclosure: I don’t have a crystal ball. I have no idea what the future holds with regard to bitcoin or litecoin valuation. There are far to many variables and unanswered questions—especially on the regulation front—to make predictions with a high degree of confidence. However, I’d be happy to share some observations that I’ve made over the past few years, and offer my 2 cents in a general sense. Read on if you’re interested.

PSA: Don’t use GPUs to mine Bitcoin!

USB ASIC miner

A couple of these ~$20 USB ASIC miners are just as effective as a $300 GPU when it comes to SHA-256 (Bitcoin) mining.

With the recent price surge of Bitcoin, I’ve been getting a few messages from people asking about the viability of building a GPU-based rig to mine bitcoins directly. Don’t do that! GPU mining is only suitable for scrypt-based cryptocurrency (Litecoin, etc).

If you’re interested in mining Bitcoin, then you absolutely must use ASIC hardware if you hope to turn a profit. For example, six of these will mine as many bitcoins as a full-size triple GPU rig, and they’ll do it at less than 10% of the cost and power consumption (remember to pick up a USB hub if you plan to run a few, and perhaps a small fan or two—they run fairly hot)!

The downside to ASIC-based mining is that the hardware cannot be re-purposed once it becomes obsolete—and with the rapidly-increasing Bitcoin mining difficulty, that will happen fairly quickly unless the price of the currency keeps pace. Remember that you can always mine scrypt-based coins with your GPUs and trade them for bitcoins on an exchange, as well.

Undervolting in Linux via modified video BIOS

Hex

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!

AMD 7990 GPUs available at Amazon

Amazon has some of the new Radeon 7990 video cards available. These behemoths are essentially two 7970 GPUs on one card, but require less power than two individual 7970s. That package should make it quite a good choice for cryptocurrency mining, if you can stomach the price tag (although it currently comes with vouchers for 8 free games, which defrays the cost a bit if you choose to resell them).

Anyone tried mining with one of these yet? The speed/power consumption ratio should be comparable to a 7950 (the current king of mining), but with a huge advantage in potential GPU density.

CryptoBadger’s custom mining rigs for sale!

Several of you have contacted me to ask about buying pre-assembled mining rigs over the past couple months. Some people don’t have the time and/or confidence to build their own, and would rather buy something that they can just plug in and have work so they can get into mining without the potential installation headaches.

Up until today, I’ve been telling people that I’m not in the business of selling mining rigs. After doing a bit of research on the options available for people that want to buy a pre-built mining rigs (it’s not pretty: expensive and underperforming 7970-based rigs, rigs that require external cooling, rigs that use ridiculous amounts of power, etc), I’ve decided to give it a try and see how it goes.

I expect the vast majority of you will be better served by reading my guide on how to build your own rig. But for those of you with more money than time and/or extreme technophobia, you’re welcome to take a look at what I’m offering.

WeMineLTC litecoin pool possibly underpaying miners

If you use WeMineLTC as your litecoin mining pool, you should take a careful look at your earnings. There have been an increasing number of reports from miners that the pool is underpaying by ~30%, either because the operators are intentionally skimming, or because the pool is misconfigured. You can read more in this Reddit thread, or here on the Bitcointalk forums.

I have never used WeMineLTC, so I can’t comment personally. Mining pool scams certainly aren’t unheard of, so regardless of which pool you choose, make sure to keep an eye on your earnings to ensure that they’re in line with expectation (don’t forget to account for the pool’s fee, any pool or miner downtime, and internet latency).

Update 5/29: Apparently there was a vulnerability in WeMineLTC’s pool code that was exploited by some users to steal coins. It has been patched as of today.

The altcoin explosion… and how to profit from it

AltcoinsIf you’re following the cryptocurrency mining scene at all, you’ve probably noticed that there are digital currencies other than Bitcoin and Litecoin. Quite a few of them, actually. Bytecoin, Terracoin, PPCoin, Feathercoin, Freicoin, Novacoin… the list goes on and on, and it seems like there is a new addition weekly.

The sad reality is that virtually all of these coins bring nothing significant to the table when compared to Bitcoin. The Bitcoin code is open-source, which means that anyone with a few hours of time on their hands can make some minor adjustments and fork off a brand new virtual currency that is nearly identical to the original in everything but name.

But why would somebody make a near-clone of Bitcoin? Why would anyone use a knock-off currency when they could just use bitcoins instead? Read on for some answers about altcoins, and how you can profit from them as a miner.

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!