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In case you don’t already know, Solana (SOL) is currently the fastest blockchain in the world and the fastest growing ecosystem in crypto sphere, with over several hundred projects spanning DeFi, NFTs, and more. At the end of August 2021, Solana’s price skyrocketed to new highs, and the cryptocurrency amassed nearly $40 billion in market value. Thanks to the booming popularity of NFTs (which Solana supports through smart contracts), Solana has the potential to rival both Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). This is why mining Solana in 2021 proves to be a very profitable business, and in this quick guide we’ll tell you how to do this by yourself.
Before we get into the depths of how to mine Solana, let’s clarify some terms first. Technically, Solana can’t be “mined”, but it can be “minted” or “forged” through a process called “validation”. However, for purposes of this guide we’ll use term “mining” instead of “forging” to keep things simple. Unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are based on PoW (proof-of-work) algorithms, Solana is based on PoS (proof-of-stake) consensus algorithm. This means that instead of having users who are trying to solve a cryptographic puzzle with the help of their hardware (a.k.a. mining), Solana uses an election process in which one node (user) is chosen to validate the next crypto block. In PoS system, there are no miners, but only validators. To become a validator, a node has to deposit a certain amount of coins into the network as stake (in Solana’s case, this is roughly 0.027 SOL). The size of the stake determines the chances of a validator to be chosen to forge the next block. As a reward, the node receives the fees associated with the transactions inside the validated block. If you want to find out more on how PoS system works, please watch this video.
In short, if you want to mine Solana you need to run a validator node. However, to run a validator node, you’ll need a beefy workstation PC. Solana’s developers recommend having a PC with a CPU featuring at least 12 cores and 24 threads (or more), with support for AVX2 instruction and AVX512f/SHA-NI instruction sets. It is also strongly recommended that this PC should feature at least 128 GB to 256 GB of RAM, as well as one 500 GB drive for accounts, one 1 TB drive for ledger, and one 500 GB drive for an operating system. Solana also supports GPU validation with the help of CUDA-based graphics cards, but this feature is still in experimental stages.
As you can see, the two most important parts of every Solana validator node are CPU and RAM. If you are not sure which CPU should you choose for your own node, then be sure to check out our guide about the best CPUs for mining crypto in 2021, which we’ve already covered before. In this guide we’ll solely focus on the best RAM for mining Solana. So without further ado, let’s take a look.
Best Overall: Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4-3200
Speed: DDR4 3200 MHz | Timings: 16-20-20-38 | Operating Voltage: 1.35V | Capacity: 2 x 32GB
- Reliable and simple memory sticks
- Aluminum heatspreader
- CAS 16 latency
- Low-profile design
- XMP 2.0 ready
- Not compatible with all motherboards
- Mediocre overclocking potential
The Corsair Vengeance LPX 64GB DDR4 is a perfect memory kit for building a high-end Solana validator node. Designed to be used in a combination with the latest AMD Threadripper CPUs, this memory kit has a lot to offer for a fairly reasonable price. The kit consists of two low-profile 32GB memory sticks that come with pre-installed aluminum heatspreaders. With CAS latency of 16, the Corsair Vengeance LPX also leads the way in low-latency RAM favored by high-end workstation PCs, which is why it takes the top spot as our pick for the best RAM for mining Solana.
Both memory sticks in this 64GB kit operate at speed of 3,200 MHz, and feature XMP 2.0 support. There is no RGB lighting, but the sticks are available in two different colors – black and white. Performance-wise, these are very fast, simple, reliable and straightforward memory sticks. Unfortunately, they are not fully compatible with all X570 or Z590 motherboards, so be sure to check QVL for your motherboard before you decide to buy them. Lastly, it must be said that these sticks aren’t very well-suited for overclocking above advertised frequencies. This however, isn’t too big drawback, since 3,200 MHz is considered to be a “sweet spot” RAM speed for most workstation PCs.
Maximum Capacity: G.Skill Trident Z Neo 256GB (8x32GB) DDR4-3600
Speed: DDR4 3600 MHz | Timings: 18-22-22-42 | Operating Voltage: 1.35V | Capacity: 8 x 32GB
- Extremely large capacity
- Very good performance
- Great overclocking potential
- Top-notch RGB lighting
- Fantastic cost per GB
- Timings could be better
- CPU cooler clearance issues on some motherboards
If you are planning to build a Solana validator node with as much RAM as possible, then getting this G.Skill Trident Z Neo 256GB memory kit will save you the trouble of buying multiple low-capacity memory kits. Plus, the Trident Z Neo offers a fantastic bang for your buck, as its cost per gigabyte of RAM is far lower than that of some 64GB of 128GB memory kits. But besides featuring incredibly high capacity (thanks to its eight 32GB sticks), this kit can also boast with great performance, as its memory sticks run at speed of 3,600 MHz, and feature CAS 18 latency.
The Trident Z Neo sticks can also boast with brilliantly designed RGB lighting done in a very pleasing manner, as well as with highly efficient heatspreaders that are doing a great job keeping them cool. These memory modules are also very good for overclocking, since they can be easily pushed above the advertised 3,600 MHz speed, but only if you know what are you doing. The only major drawback of the Trident Z Neo is that its heatspreaders are quite tall, and may not offer enough clearance for a CPU cooler on some motherboards.
Best Budget: TeamGroup T-Force Vulcan Z 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4-3200
Speed: DDR4 3200 MHz | Timings: 16-20-20-40 | Operating Voltage: 1.35V | Capacity: 2 x 32GB
- Affordable price
- Aluminum heatspreader
- CAS 16 latency
- Solid performance
- Impossible to overclock
- Limited motherboard support
Building an efficient Solana validator node on a tight budget can be quite challenging. If RAM is one of the things you are trying to save the most money on, then consider purchasing this T-Force Vulcan Z 64GB memory kit by TeamGroup. Right now, the T-Force Vulcan Z is one of the cheapest 64GB DDR4-3200 memory kits currently available on the market, and is able to offer a fantastic cost per GB of RAM. Besides that, the T-Force Vulcan Z can also boast with CAS 16 latency, as well as with very efficient pre-installed aluminum heatspreaders.
Of course, affordable price comes with certain compromises. Firstly, the T-Force Vulcan Z features no RGB lighting (which is quite understandable), and secondly, its overclocking potential is almost non-existent. Reducing latencies and overclocking its modules beyond their XMP frequencies without making them unstable is completely impossible. Also, not many motherboards seem to have T-Force Vulcan Z on their QVL list. Nevertheless, these are quite decent memory sticks, and are perfectly suited for minting Solana, provided that you have a motherboard that supports them.
Maximum Speed: Crucial Ballistix MAX 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4-4000
Speed: DDR4 4000 MHz | Timings: 18-19-19-39 | Operating Voltage: 1.35V | Capacity: 2 x 16GB
- Outstanding overclocking potential
- Very high operating frequency
- Built-in temperature sensors
- Low-profile form factor
- Very high cost per GB of RAM
- Not available in 32GB variant
Most workstation PCs and servers feature RAM that operates at speeds of 3,000 to 3,200 MHz. These frequencies are considered to be a “sweet spot” for most high-end computers, and anything faster than that is considered to be an overkill. However, if you plan to build a Solana validator node that will validate blockchain transactions as quickly as possible, then you may want to invest in even faster RAM. This is why memory kits like the Crucial Ballistix MAX exist. Built specifically for high-end PCs with AMD Threadripper CPUs, the Ballistix MAX memory modules are designed to operate at mind-blowing frequencies of up to 4,000 MHz.
With a simple XMP automatic overclocking, the Crucial Ballistix MAX memory sticks can easily reach 4 GHz operating speed. Working at such high speeds dramatically increases heat output, which is why these sticks come with high-quality extruded aluminum heat spreaders, as well as with precision temperature sensor on each DIMM module designed to monitor thermals as you push performance thresholds. With proper cooling and tweaking, these modules can be pushed up to 4,444 MHz speed, but only on select motherboards. However, high operating speed does come with some drawbacks, Firstly, these memory modules are very expensive due to their high-quality components, and secondly they are only available in 8GB and 16GB variants.
Best ECC RAM: NEMIX RAM 64GB (2x32GB) DDR4-3200
Speed: DDR4 3200 MHz | Timings: Unspecified | Operating Voltage: 1.20V | Capacity: 2 x 32GB
- High-quality Micron E-die
- Extremely reliable
- Good overclocking potential
- ECC unbuffered memory
- Limited motherboard support
- Relatively expensive
- CPU cooler clearance issues on some motherboards
Since minting Solana heavily relies on your system’s RAM performance, you may want to prevent as many memory errors as possible in order to efficiently and precisely validate transactions on Solana’s blockchain. To do that, standard non-ECC memory may not be enough. This is why you need ECC memory modules. Compared to non-ECC RAM, ECC sticks have a chip count divisible by three or five. This extra chip detects if data was correctly written or read by the memory module. Non-ECC modules do not have this error-detecting feature, and are more prone to errors.
The NEMIX RAM workstation and server memory modules are one of the best ECC memory modules for building a reliable Solana validator node. Featuring a capacity of 32GB per stick, as well as an operating voltage of 1.2 V, these are one of the very few ECC memory modules on the market that run at frequencies of up to 3,200 megahertz. Although they don’t support automatic XMP profiles, these modules can easily be overclocked to 3,400 MHz, and achieve CL22 latency. In short, if you are in search for some high-end ECC RAM, then these memory modules are the best choice for you.
Ultimate Performance: G.Skill Trident Royal Z 128GB (4x32GB) DDR4-4000
Speed: DDR4 4000 MHz | Timings: 18-22-22-42 | Operating Voltage: 1.40V | Capacity: 4 x 32GB
- Outstanding performance
- Extremely high operating frequency
- Large capacity
- Efficient heatspreaders
- Kitsch design
- Advertised speed can be achieved on few select motherboards
- Expensive price
The G.Skill Trident Royal Z memory sticks look a little bit too kitsch. Their heatspreaders are coated with a thin layer of gold, and on top of them you’ll find some fake Swarowski crystals that have their own RGB lightning. We personally don’t like these aesthetics, especially in a workstation PC. However, when it comes to performance, the G.Skill Trident Royal Z obliterates any kind of competition.
With a CAS latency of 18, and operating speed of 4,000 MHz, the Trident Royal Z are one of the very few 32GB DDR4 memory sticks on the market that can reach such high working frequencies with simple activation of XMP profiles. Unfortunately, these speeds can only be reached on few select Intel X299 motherboards, so be sure to check out official QVL before buying these memory modules. These RAM sticks also don’t come very cheap, but that is to be expected given their incredible performance. Overall, the Trident Royal Z are a perfect choice for users who want to build fast, powerful and efficient workstation PCs.