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Saturn V Mining Rig [updated 04/08/2014]


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coming soon!


The goal of this build, other than to just make a mining rig, is to make it with only basic tools and materials. I will be using some common tools that I have laying around (screwdriver, pliers, tape measure, hand saw, sandpaper, basic drill), and materials that are readily accessible at home improvement stores for cheap :) In addition to having the non-mining parts be cheap, I wanted this build to look somewhat aesthetically pleasing at least, since it will be sitting in the open heating my house for the remainder of the cold weather this year :)


Another goal of this build is to provide some information about mining for cryptocurrencies, since there is a lot of misinformation out there. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have questions!




ASRock Z87 Killer Motherboard

Intel Celeron G1820 CPU

Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM CPU Cooler

2x2 GB PNY XLR8 DDR3-1600 ram

Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 1500w power supply

6x R9 280x

5x powered PCIE risers

Steel storage rack

Zip ties

some wood



I will be posting why I chose each part as I move forward. 


updates incoming :)


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Would be nice if all that bitcoin miner computing power was used for something more usefull, such as folding@home...

(I know many people do that too already..)


Although I understand the general idea behind bitcoin and being de-centralized, still many issues occur. Prices are not stable and many different coins are being created everyday it seems. But besides bitcoin, and maybe litecoins, is there really a market for all those other coins? Seems to me that those resources are such wasted potential.

And people get greedy, see what happened to Mt.Gox. (okay, not 100% confirmed it was an inside job.) Also read somewhere (need to look for source) that 90% of all bitcoins are being owned by 2% of the users. To me that does not sound like a good thing and makes it easier to manipulate the exchange rate.


edit: found a link about bitcoin distribution: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=sdr8n6q3k6ts3jfip0hn71bq15&topic=316297.0

Maybe not 2%, but still a small(er) number owns a lot of bitcoins.



Anyways, building a rig is always fun :)

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About folding@home, there's always curecoin that's basically a cryptocurrency but the power goes towards folding. I don't know much about it though.


For the small number of people holding a lot of coins, the really large ones could be cold storage wallets for online wallets, like coinbase and the like.


I do agree with you though, that there are WAY to many coins and most are without any purpose at all. 

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I'd like to start by outlining the non-mining parts of the rig. (computer parts - GPUs)


Cooler Master SIlent Pro M2 1500w Power Supply


Other than the graphics cards, the power supply is the most important part for mining. Of course, the power supply has to offer enough power for all of the graphics cards and it has to offer it reliably. With 6x R9 280x gpus, the power output should be really close to maxing out the 1500w output of the Silent Pro M2. More detail on how I managed the power later when I talk about the GPUs! Here's a picture of the power supply in front of my parents' fireplace :P I was in town at the time, and that was the best lit part of the house :)





The included cables with the power supply!



Probably too small in the picture, but this power supply has a whopping 1440w on the 12 v rails! I'll be needing that much for the GPUs though.



The power output is clear enough here :)



Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Killer




The Z87 Killer motherboard was about $120 USD when I got it. I considered getting one of the motherboards specifically designed for mining, but I could never find them in stock anywhere. This motherboard is a lot better than those, but it's also about $50 more. The Z87 Killer also looks way better :P




 I chose this one because it had 7 PCIE ports (!), which is the most important part of a mining rig's motherboard. There are only 3 16x PCIE ports, but another 4 1x ports. The risers can plug into either 16x or 1x ports, so it doesn't matter that 4 of them are 1x. Pretty much all of the extras on this motherboard (better than average integrated sound card, network adapter, etc) are not needed for mining. They're nice for if I eventually turn it into a normal computer though :P The E2200 network adapter actually turned out to not be the best for a mining rig due to some issues with Linux drivers, but more on that later!



CPU: Intel Celeron G1820


The Celeron fits into the 1150 socket, so it's a Haswell chip. It was chosen due to it's low TDP of 53w (which it probably never ever hits) and it's super low cost. I bought it for $40 USD at a shop called Microcenter. CPU mining is largely useless nowadays, so there's no point in getting a nice quad/hex/octo-core to mine on. It costs more in energy than it's worth, and GPU mining gets way more bang for the buck. There is an integrated GPU in the Celeron, but integrated GPUs have really weak mining performance. Even on the AMD APUs, which have pretty powerful integrated graphics, the mining performance isn't very good.



CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM


I had this lying around, and I thought it'd be nice to have mounted for passive cooling, even though the stock cooler would have been more than enough. 



It's a bit dusty since it's seen a decent bit of use :P
Look at the dinky stock cooler  :lol:

Memory: 2x2GB PNY XLR8 DDR3-1600


There is no minimum required memory for most GPUs for mining, although I've heard some people say mining with R9 290 or R9 290x gpus is best with 16 gb of ram or more. Since I don't have any of those for mining, I just used some RAM I had sitting around. Fast ram doesn't benefit mining at all, so a standard 1600 is more than enough!



Fans: 5x Cooler Master Turbine Master Fans


With all the heat output, I'll need some airflow to keep temperatures down! A lot of people use box fans to cool their mining rigs, but I wanted something a bit more integrated that I could move around easily.



3 are 1800 rpm and 2 are 1200 rpm

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About folding@home, there's always curecoin that's basically a cryptocurrency but the power goes towards folding. I don't know much about it though.


For the small number of people holding a lot of coins, the really large ones could be cold storage wallets for online wallets, like coinbase and the like.


I do agree with you though, that there are WAY to many coins and most are without any purpose at all. 


Well happy to hear that there is atleast 1 coin for a good purpose :)


Also: my comment wasn't meant to be personal, just more of a general comment on bitcoin mining :) (Bitcoin trading is a whole  different topic, but still heavily related of course.)

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I figured your comment was more of a general statement on mining. A lot of people share that sentiment, including me. It would be nice if the power was going to something useful.


I'm just having fun with it though, no massive warehouse of mining equipment here :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry it's been a while since my last update. Just had a huge week of exams/HW! (2 anatomy exams, 1 statistics exam, an anatomy project, and 2 hw sets!) I wanted to write an update on hardware for the system, and I'll get into a little bit of the actual building process soon!


There are 2 more computer-based items for the mining rig that I haven't talked about- the PCIE risers and the GPUs. 


First, the PCIE risers


There are a few types of risers out there, and I'll cover a few of the more common types. The most straightforward riser is the 16x riser that basically plugs in exactly the same as a gpu would- using up all of the pins on a 16x port, and having a full size port for your GPU to plug in. These can have external power or just use the power from the motherboard. For external power, they'll have a cable running off of the riser that you plug into molex or SATA power. The benefit of this is to lower the load on your motherboard. These 16x risers allow you to play games properly with the GPU, since the full bandwidth is there. This allows for some unique system builds if you use them :)



An example of a full 16x riser with a molex power connector.


The most popular for mining is the powered 1x riser. Electronically, this plugs into any PCIE port, but only uses the 1x pins. Mining doesn't require that much bandwidth to the GPU, so a 1x PCIE slot is more than enough. Of course, for gaming, 1x is way too slow, so you can't use these to game unless you're ready for bad performance on good or even just decent hardware.


For mining, these should always be powered by molex or SATA. What most people say is that if you have more than 3 GPUs attached to the motherboard for mining, it's recommended that you use external power. There are many cases of people mining where their motherboard burns out because the power draw is too high through the motherboard power connector. 



If you don't use powered risers, this might happen to you!


Typically, the 1x PCIE riser looks a lot like the 16x one that I posted earlier, but just with less cables and a smaller plug. Recently, one of the popular versions of the 1x PCIE riser is a USB one. These risers use USB cables to connect the 2 ends of the riser. It'll probably fry any USB device you plug into it though, so it's not really USB. It's just using the wires in a USB3 cable in order to transmit all the data and power of PCIE. 




These risers usually cost more, but there are a few benefits. First, the power connectors on these are usually higher quality. The typical grey ribbon type usually has a cable or a couple of capacitors soldered onto one of the PCIE pins and hotglued down. You can see an example of this kind of stuff on the 16x riser picture. For the USB type risers, there's a PCB with capacitors on it, so it's less likely to break and should have cleaner power. Next, the detachable cable makes building the mining system a lot easier, and makes cable management a lot better. (Ribbon cables are a pain to clean up nicely!). Finally, I think the USB type looks WAY better :)

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Finally, the GPUs!


In front of the fireplace :)





For GPUs I have 5x MSI R9 280x's here. I ended up using 4 of the 5 of these GPUs and added to the collection a Sapphire Dual-X 7970 and a Visiontek R9 280x. As you might know, the 7970 and 280x are exactly the same card, so they use the same settings for mining :) The 7970/280x is considered to have one of the best cost:khash ratios, so it's the most popular card used these days. There are a couple other good GPUs out there as well, such as the R9 270. The 7950, if you can get a hold of one still, is also considered to have one of the best ratios.



Other parts!

Shelving unit



I used a shelving unit from Target that was about 20 USD. It was one of the cheapest ones I could find that had enough space and was sturdy. Apparently it can hold 160 lb evenly distributed per shelf level. I never tested this out though :P


Piece of wood



I bought a square dowel (3/8 inch by 36 inch) for under $1 at Home Depot. I wanted something propped under the motherboard to keep it from contacting the shelving unit and shorting out. $1 for a piece of wood was the cheapest I saw that would do the job :)


Zip ties

I also bought a bag of small zip ties for about $3 :)

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