Before you even ask: no, you will not be able to use dedicated mining hardware such as the Bitmain Antminer S9 we have already reviewed/covered here. Ethereum and other cryptocurencies of its ilk, like Monero and Zcash, were designed from the outset to be ASIC-proof. The creators opted for this policy to prevent large mining operations from eventually pushing the little guys aside. What this means in terms of Ethereum mining hardware is that your task becomes rather messy: you will have to build your own mining rig, or you will have to purchase one built by someone else.
Why do You Want to Mine Ethereum?
Before you even begin pondering the question of mining hardware though, you need to get a few things out of the way. First of all, you need to ask yourself why you want to mine Ethereum, Monero and other such cryptocurrencies. If your answer to that question is that you just want to have some virtual money, you’re probably better off just buying some ETH straight up and holding on to it. To be a miner, takes a special kind of dedication. Those who mine, become members of a sort of cryptocurrency inner circle in a way, and those who do it well, may indeed reap outstanding profits. You cannot half-bottom it though.
Once you’re certain that you do indeed want to mine, and you know you have the money it takes to set off on the right foot, you need to learn to view the equation from the perspective of profitability.
With ETH mining rigs, it is easy to get carried away, aiming for the biggest and best there is, but that’s not what you want to do. This is not gaming, and your mining rig is not the equivalent of a muscle-car that you will want to show off (unless that’s specifically what your aim is – but that has nothing to do with profitable ETH mining).
What you need are reasonably-priced GPUs, with decent hash-rates, that do not consume a lot of electricity. As always with mining, the cost of your initial hardware investment and your local electricity costs will determine your profitability. What all this means is that you will need an EFFICIENT rig.
You will also need mining software, an Ethereum mining pool, such as Ethpool/Ethermine, f2pool, DwarfPool, Ethfans and MinerGate, and an Ethereum wallet, where the proceeds of your mining activity can be sent and stored.
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Ethereum Mining Hardware
As stated above, you cannot use ASICs for Ethereum/Monero/Zcash mining. What you need are GPUs. GPU is short for Graphics Processing Unit, and if you are a gamer, you are probably quite familiar with the term. The central components of graphics cards, GPUs have been found to be the most efficient at handling the sort of hashing needed for Ethereum mining. This is why you need to pile up as many of the most efficient ones as possible.
To handle say 7 GPU’s, you will need a motherboard and a CPU (Central Processing Unit) capable of handling that many graphics cards, as well as some proper RAM. In essence, what you will be building (or purchasing) is a sort of super-computer, optimized for Ethereum mining. Gamers are once again in a privileged position here, especially those who already built a gaming rig or two in their lives. Building your Ethereum miner will call upon those same skills.
Fortunately, motherboard manufacturers have long bought into the crypto-mining craze, and nowadays, they make a wide range of products optimized for cryptocurrency mining. This usually translates to several PCI-E X16 and PCI-Express X1 slots implemented on the motherboard. Obviously, the CPU and the motherboard as a whole need to be able to properly handle all the GPUs that you are going to hook up, so they too need to be optimized in this regard. The motherboard will also have to deliver more power to the GPUs, and it has to come with additional connectors to draw more power from the PSU.
ASRock manufacture an impressive range of such motherboards, with various sockets and number of PCI-E slots supported.
If you were wondering whether the addition of several GPUs to the system will result in a drop in its overall performance – the way it would happen if you used the GPUs for actual graphics – worry no more: the nature of Ethereum hashing is different from the way the calculations needed for actual graphics are made. ETH mining does not tax the communication between the various system components to nearly the same degree, so more GPUs do indeed mean more hashing power.
In regards to the motherboard, you should also consider the CPU. Sometime further down the line, you may want to use you rig for CPU mining, thus, planning ahead may make sense in this regard.
Obviously, ASRock aren’t the only motherboard manufacturer you should consider. MSI can be a good choice as well, specifically their Z270 XPOWER Gaming Titanium motherboard, with at least 16 Gigs of 2,666 MHz RAM and an Intel Core i5-7600k CPU. Such a system will likely suck up more power than you’d like though.
The motherboard/CPU combo will fill the role of the controller in your mining rig. You will need a bunch of PCI-E risers too, to connect your video cards to the motherboard. These cards should be kept in an easily cooled spot, where proper air circulation is a given.
The GPU’s fill the shoes of the hashing boards – to build on the parallel with the Antminer. They are the ones doing the actual work. As such, you will need them to be powerful, with low consumption and with at least decent hashing capabilities.
AMD Radeon graphics cards are generally better for this purpose than nVidia’s Geforce line.
The Radeon RX Vega 56, with block chain drv. 1900 MHz memory is one of the best GPUs for Ethereum mining. The Radeon RX Vega 64, with block chain drv. 2000 MHz memory is a close second. The former can apparently handle some 36.48 MH/s, while the latter is capable of 35.22 MH/s.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the Geforce GTX 1060 FE, which handles some 19.04 Mh/s, but only consumes 177 watts, topping the benchmark-ranking in this regard.
The above examples are excellent illustrations of the efficiency-related challenges you shall have to tackle when building your own Ethereum mining rig.
Purchasing Ready-made Rigs Online
There are companies out there which manufacture plug-and-play Ethereum mining rigs. Prices range from USD/EUR 2.5k, all the way to USD/EUR 9.5k. The investment is indeed a serious one, but such equipment is quite a bit more versatile than ASIC-based miners, when it comes to mining different crypto currencies. It will give you more room to maneuver on your quest for profitability.
Here’s an example of a reasonably priced, yet efficient, Ready-made Ethereum Mining Rig which you can purchase on Amazon.com:
If you prefer to pay more and get a product with better specs, then check out also CoinJuicer’s Ready Made GPU Mining Rig.
Once you set up the hardware, how do you start mining Ethereum?
You would need to use a mining software, such as Wineth.
Are you using or planning to try GPU Mining Rigs? Leave a comment and let us know!
For more information about mining, visit our cryptocurrency mining guide. Feel free to subscribe to ScamBitcoin.com to receive all our posts directly to your e-mailbox.