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The Idiot tries GPU Mining

What started as a mild curiosity with spare hardware turned into a deeper look into the world of mining Ethereum.

In the early months of 2018, both work and school have taken me away from my favorite non-liver-destroying pastime: PC Gaming. In an effort to “get some use” out of the hardware, I tried my hand at mining Ethereum.

Note: This is a quick-and-dirty rundown of my experience with building and running a mining rig. I’m not being sponsored by any of the links below. I simply am showing you the tools I use to get the job done.

Why Ethereum? I felt r/ethermining it was the most active reddit community when I started this journey, and therefore likely would be the most helpful if I came across any issues. It’s also the considered the 2nd most valuable coin next to Bitcoin, so I personally feel it will be more valuable in the future.

So, there’s three basic things you need to start mining:
1. A system with at least one acceptable gpu (in Ethereum’s case, Nvidia GTX 1070/AMD Radeon RX 480 or better)
2. A cryptocurrency wallet. You can buy a hardware wallet (highly recommended, so long as you buy it direct from the vendor) or an online wallet, like from Coinbase.
3. A mining pool. You can attempt to solo mine, but that’s not really considered profitable for a hobby miner. Poolwatch.io listed ethermine as the most profitable mining pool, so I selected that.

I started out with just one GTX 1080. If you’re patient, however, and pay careful attention to Craigslist, Letgo, and r/minerswap, you may stumble upon some decent deals. I bought 5 additional GTX 1070s over the course of a year and didn’t pay more than $280 per card. I wouldn’t recommend buying new cards for this, as it would take longer to make your money back.

More cards means having the right supporting hardware, right? So, in addition to the CPU, Memory, and 750w Power Supply I already owned, I purchased:
A 6 GPU Open Air Mining Rig
An ASUS Mining Expert Motherboard
5x 120mm Computer Fans
An additional 750w Power Supply
6 Pack 6-Pin Powered PCI-E PCI Express Riser

I have used Windows as the underlying OS for awhile, with Ethminer, but I found Windows loves to interrupt with random updates. To that end, I switched to HiveOS and I’ve been running it ever since.

HiveOS, a straightforward WebUI that gives you all hardware stats at a glance

Getting HiveOS running properly is a little complicated. So in an effort to save time, I recommend checking out Seth’s Hive OS Tutorial for getting HiveOS installed, configured, and tuned.

Now, even properly tuned GPUs run hot. Typically, it’s best to put a mining rig in a room unoccupied by people and that is well ventilated. During Winter months, however, it’s an excellent space heater.

A quick word on profitability. There are two basic schools of thought: Some people mine and sell a portion of their profits to offset hardware purchases and electricity costs while others may simply eat those costs upfront and HODL (a popularized typo of “Hold”, and the idea that a coin will be profitable one day, if not today). I personally HODL, but keep a casual eye on the ETH-USD rate on Coin360.

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