I get often asked “Is it worth it”, quickly followed up by “How would you recommend I start”?
I first began mining DigiByte back in 2014 with a pair of AMD Radeon R9 290X’s, back when they were the newest cards on the market. It’s pretty terrifying throwing a couple of thousand dollars in to buying graphics cards for a computer. However, if you do your research, do the math, and do it right, you just might find mining can be profitable.
Fair warning: This is a rather long ranty post, with very few images, but hopefully you’ll be able to learn a LOT from my experiences
Keep in mind that DigiByte is not a pump and dump coin, and the value of the coin will go up and down, hashrates will fluctuate as others mine and stop mining DigiByte, but one of the fantastic things about it being multi-algo is you can mine Skein, Groestl and even Qubit with your GPU!
So look at 4 things in deciding if you want to build a rig, and with what GPUs:
- What’s the up-front cost of your cards (Useful to know how long it’s going to take to repay your initial investment)
- What sort of hashrate can I expect to get from the cards (Across all 3 algos)
- What is the power consumption of the cards I’m looking at, and what’s that going to cost me to run daily?
- What is the hashrate of the network doing (To figure my rate vs nethash to get an idea of how many DGB you’ll mine each day)
So figure out your expected Hashrate, vs the network hashrate (Check whattomine.com for each of the algos under “Network Hashrate”), work out the cost of your power, the power consumption of your mining rig, figure out how many DGB you might expect to mine each day, and if that will cover the power consumed.
Seeing as most AMD cards at the time of writing have been snapped up to mine Ethereum, we’ll look at nVidia specifically, and it’s what I chose to mine with myself.
Short background: I sold my house and spent a little over NZD$50,000 on mining DigiByte, so I did my math with that spend-limit in mind.
I did the math, and I found that I would be able to buy slightly more hashrate by going for the GTX1060, compared with the GTX1080, GTX1070, and even the GTX1050Ti. The up-front cost vs the power consumption (Which was going to be around NZD$2,000 a month for me) meant that it was a little more cost-effective. Unfortunately, I didn’t take in to account the additional physical space that over double the GPU’s would take up, and the heat they would generate, but more on that later.
You should definitely make yourself a Google Docs sheet, it will quickly become your best friend in deciding what kind of GPU’s to get, what sort of rigs you should build etc:
I wasn’t entirely sure what hashrate I could expect from the 1060’s (I had a GTX1080 and a 1080Ti in my own gaming computers to use to test with). However, in a local computer store they were gracious enough to let me fire up a miner for 30 seconds on one of their demo PCs. The GTX1060 though was a 6GB model and I didn’t take in to account that they had overclocked it, so it was getting 360MH/s on Skein.
When I later went out and purchased 108 of the 3GB models, and got one to take home early and play with while the other 107 stock was arriving. Out of the box the particular GTX1060 model I had ordered was only getting around 270MH/s, so because I’d pre-paid for the others, I was pretty worried of course.
Everything all came to a head rather quickly, and there’s little point in having $50K of hardware sitting around, doing nothing (Or even operating at ~65%), when they could be mining bringing in DGB.
It became a mad rush to sort out a few key things I’d overlooked:
- Risers, I was waiting for them to come from China, and should have just spent an extra $50 on shipping, I would have more than made that back in a days worth of mining, and the waiting for two weeks wasn’t worth it
- Physical space, 3x GPUs may take up a little space, but 6x GPUs take up double that (If not a bit more) and 108 GPUs take up… Well, a LOT more room! I ended up renting a sort of “store-room” locally.
- Cooling, it’s easy to let the air from 3x GPUs just dissipate into the room, but if you have 6 running hot, it’ll start to affect the ambient temperature of the room. Even just setting up 36 GPU’s, without risers, in my home, it became an OVEN! Later I got some large fans and an AC unit installed where I operate the rigs. Also, spacing of the cards, moving the hot air away, all things you’ll work out as you go.
- Rig building, it takes a LOT of time to perfect it, I spent ~300 hours over 6 weeks both with assembling them, helping a builder with specs to build me shelving, sorting out the hashrates, safe OC rates and so much more. It takes time to install Windows or Linux, sort it out so it doesn’t restart for updates, and if anything goes even slightly wrong, it takes a lot of time to figure out why a card isn’t being detected etc
The GTX1060’s were best bang-for-buck, but having not anticipated the sheer heat from 108x GPU’s running around 65-70 degrees, it pushed up the ambient temperature of the room so cards began regularly sitting around 80-85 degrees. Not cool 🙁
Were I to do it again, I’d probably not go for the GTX1060’s, but rather spend the little extra on GTX1080’s or 1080Ti’s and not have to deal so hard with the physical aspect, 3x as many rigs to assemble, 3x as much rubbish to dispose of, 3x as much space taken up, 3x as many cards generating heat, 3x as many shelves to buy / build, 3x as much room taken up prior to unpacking it all, and you get the point.
Even though the GTX1080Ti’s would be more efficient, power-wise, because of the ability to purchase more hashing power by using GTX1060’s as opposed to a gruntier card, I was able to buy a couple of extra miners up-front. This meant I was able to get approx 36GH/s for my money with 1060’s as opposed to 30GH/s with the 1080’s. 20% more hashrate means 20% more DGB, so the bottom-line was all I was thinking about, which in hindsight caused additional issues that largely offset that. This is less of an issue if you’re only ponying up for one or maybe two rigs, but it’s worth being mindful of for sure!
Getting some good risers also matters. Some come with an insulation pad underneath them which is also really nice. Some have 30cm cables, some have 50 / 60cm cables, and the longer cables are a definite benefit when you’re cramming 6x GPU’s into the one motherboard.
So you can see the 60cm cables here are definitely beneficial!
The motherboard I chose was also problematic for me, the Asus H270-Plus had enough PCI-e slots (2 of the 16x and 4 of the 1x) which was great, but, the problems encountered with having to set a bunch of BIOS options that meant I had to wipe Windows and reinstall it with UEFI and a bunch of other small issues, so look in to your motherboard, they’re not all created equally when you’re trying to run 6x GPU’s off it.
Funnily enough, power wasn’t an issue. I did my research there and made sure I had enough power. If you’re running a rig or two at home, you’ll want to be mindful about how much power each power socket can provide, along with the fuses at home (Are they 10 Amp?).
There was no problem running half the GPU’s off one PSU with the motherboard, and the other half just on a PSU of their own. Because the GTX1060’s are 120w TDP, running 360w off each, allowing a little head-room for overvolting / overclocking, plus the CPU / Motherboard too, a 550w PSU was *plenty* of room. It was much cheaper to get 2x 550w as opposed to 1x 900w as well.
It’s really easy to use them too, to turn the second power supply on, just short the 3rd and 4th pins to keep the power-supply on (Leave the cable in at all times):
This just means you’ve got to flick that power supply off at the switch either at the wall, or on the power-supply switch too, as it won’t turn off when you shut down the rig.
But that’s OK, because you want your rig online, at all times right? You want it mining, and working away for you, bringing in those DigiBytes!
If you just have one PC, it’s not too bad only running ccminer. It’s not difficult to keep track of, such as having a VNC connection to your mining rig. You can keep MSI Afterburner open (Which works on all brand GPU’s, not just MSI – For the record), to keep an eye on the GPU temperatures at a glance, but if it overheats and crashes, what do you do to restart the miner?
This is where it can be really nice having Awesome Miner there to look after things for you (I don’t get anything for referrals BTW), such as having it auto-restart the mining software when it crashes (Say from overheating GPUs, or from a reboot of the mining rig), it can give you notifications when temperature reaches certain warning / alert limits, it can alert you if the hashrate is low.
The WebUI that it offers is really nice to check on your miners from a remote PC, or from your Cellphone too! It’s also nice to be able to bulk overclock your GPU’s remotely too. All you need is MSI Afterburner (Which you should have anyways) and the MSI Afterburner Remote Agent, and you’re good to go! It meant when I decided to undervolt all my cards, to try and sort out the heat, it took all of 20 seconds to do 108x GPU’s, as opposed to having to log in to every single one of my 18 miners and manually overclock them all.
It also made it *really* easy to change between miners, so where previously I was using ccminer sp-MOD, I was able to change to Alexis78 build of ccminer (Which offered approx a 3% performance improvement, not a lot, but worthwhile) and push that Alexis78 ccminer to 18 mining rigs and begin using it, in the space of about two minutes.
Keep in mind that doing anything once, is fine, especially if it only takes “Just a minute”, but when something takes “just a minute” and you’re doing it 108x over, it suddenly takes a really, really long time!