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How to Build a Mining Rig in 2021: A Step-by-Step Guide

12 Mins read

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Mining cryptocurrencies has become a very profitable business, and many miners have already earned a considerable amount of money by hashing out crypto coins. Despite this, it’s never too late to start mining. Mining Bitcoin may not be as profitable as it once was, but there are plenty of other altcoins to mine, such as Ethereum, Monero or ZCash. In this guide we’ll show you how to build your first mining rig, and start earning money in no time.

What is a mining rig?

Mining rig is essentially a desktop computer that features multiple graphics cards (a.k.a. GPUs). Due to its large dimensions, a mining rig can’t be placed into a standard computer case, which is why many of them are installed into large mining frames. Mining rigs can perfectly operate with one motherboard, CPU, hard drive, and power supply unit, which means you can invest all of your money in getting the extra GPUs.

To build a mining rig you don’t need to have a lot of computer knowledge. With basic understanding of how computer works, and by closely following the manuals, you can build a powerful mining rig without too much problems. Truth be told, building a mining rig is just like building a really big gaming or office PC.

Which GPU should I pick to build a mining rig?

The graphics cards (GPUs) are the most important components of any cryptocurrency mining rig. These devices are the most responsible for generating profit.

When choosing the right GPU for your mining rig, you should take into consideration three important things:

  • How much does a GPU cost?
  • How much profit per day can a particular GPU generate?
  • What is the power consumption of it?

In short, you should purchase the GPU that has the fastest return on investment (ROI). The ROI can be calculated by dividing the purchase price of your GPU with its net daily profit. For example, if you buy a GPU for $300, and this GPU can generate you $3 of daily income (with electricity expenses already calculated in), this means that the ROI of this GPU is 100 days. So, after 100 days of mining with this particular GPU, the GPU will pay itself off, and all of the money you earn afterwards will be pure profit.

We’ve already written a few buying guides about the best cryptocurrency mining GPUs in 2021, as well as about the best GPUs for mining Monero (XMR) in 2021, so be sure to check them out.

Overall, these are the GPUs we consider to be the best for building a mining rig:

If you want to check the profitability of each GPU per specific mining algorithm, you can do that at betterhash.net.

Which PCI-E riser cables should I get for my mining rig?

PCI-E riser cables are very important for mining as they allow rising the GPU away from the motherboard. This means you can spread your GPUs further away from each other in order to increase airflow and achieve better cooling. PCI-E riser cables for mining are usually considerably cheaper than the ones used for PC gaming rigs. However, low-quality cables are prone to failure, so investing in high-quality PCI-E riser cables is mandatory if you plan to build a reliable and stable mining rig. Here are some PCI-E riser cables we recommend to purchase:

Typical PCI-E riser cable

What CPU and RAM should I get for a mining rig?

The CPU is one of the least important components when it comes to building a good mining rig. This means you can save a lot of money if you don’t plan to mine cryptocurrencies with your CPU.

Some cryptocurrencies, such as Monero (XMR), can be mined with the power of a CPU. If this is something that interests you, then be sure to check our guide on the best CPUs for mining Monero in 2021. If, however, you are only interested in GPU mining, then feel free to pick whatever low-end CPU you like. The mining performance of your graphics cards won’t be affected by your CPU’s performance.

Intel Core processors are very bad when it comes to mining cryptocurrencies, so be sure to get an AMD Ryzen or AMD Threadripper CPU if you plan to achieve the best possible hashrate to mine crypto coins. Here are some very good CPUs that you can use in your mining rig:

Speaking of RAM, this is the least expensive and the least important component when it comes to mining. If you are using a cheap entry-level CPU, and don’t intend to mine with it, then 8GB or even 4GB of system RAM will be enough to get your mining rig running. However, if you plan to mine coins with AMD Ryzen CPU, then we recommend getting some high-quality memory modules that can achieve CAS 14 latency, and can reach speeds of up to 4,000 MHz while being overclocked.

Which is the best motherboard for mining rig?

There are two important things you should pay attention to when buying a motherboard for your mining rig:

  • Which type of processor socket does the motherboard support?
  • What is the amount of GPUs than can be connected to it?

Intel and AMD processors use different CPU sockets. Most Intel motherboards feature the LGA 1200 socket, while AMD motherboards come with AM4 socket. It is important to pick the motherboard that will suit your CPU, otherwise you won’t be able to assemble your mining rig.

Both PCI-E x16 and PCI-E x1 slots can be used for mining

The number of PCI-E connectors is another very important thing to take care of. PCI-E connectors are slots on the motherboard in which you can plug in your GPU. In normal circumstances, the GPU is plugged into a PCI-E x16 connector (the longer one), however, in mining rigs the PCI-E x1 connectors can also be used to connect a GPU to the motherboard. For that purpose we use PCI-E riser cables.

Check out our detailed guide about the best motherboards for building a cryptocurrency mining rig.

If you plan to build your mining rig with AMD Ryzen CPU, then we recommend getting one of these motherboards:

If you plan to build your mining rig with Intel Core CPU, then we recommend getting one of these motherboards:

What power supply should I buy?

Power supply unit (PSU) is another very important piece of equipment for building a stable and reliable mining rig. Choosing the right PSU primarily depends on the number of GPUs your rig has, and the total power consumption of your mining setup.

Before you pick a PSU for your mining rig, you have to calculate the total amount of power your system will draw. To do that, you need to calculate the total power draw (TDP) of your GPUs, and then add another 150 watts to the equation for the rest of you system’s components (i.e. CPU, motherboard, RAM, disk, etc). Once you do that, multiply that number with 1.2.

Power supply units perform the best at around 80% load. This means that 1000 W PSU will perform the best if your total system draw is 800 watts. Having an oversized PSU has many benefits, but keep in mind that you don’t have to buy an extremely overpowered 1500 W PSU if you really don’t have to. If your system features 4 or 6 GPUs, then a PSU of 1000 to 1200 W will be more than good enough.

If you plan to build a serious mining rig, then we recommend getting a modular power supply. This will save you the hassle with cables, and will allow you to comfortably connect all of your system’s components. A good PSU should have enough PCI-E power cables to power all of your GPUs, so keep that in mind when you’ll be buying a PSU for your mining rig.

Check out our in-depth guide for choosing the best PSU for your mining rig. There you’ll also find some extra information about smart power supplies which might prove useful to you when mining cryptocurrencies.

We suggest the following PSUs for a mining rig:

Which frame should I get for my mining rig?

The size and design of your mining frame will largely depend on your personal preferences and the size of your mining rig. Professional miners tend to build mining frames by themselves, however, many high-quality mining frames can be bought online these days.

In our opinion, the ASTARIN Aluminum Open Air Frame for Cryptocurrency Mining Rig is one of the best mining frames overall, as it features 8 GPU mounting points, aluminum alloy material body, strong and durable construction, as well as plenty of space between graphics cards to ensure optimized airflow and cooling.

Do I need a hard drive for my mining rig?

If you are planning to use Windows 10 to run your mining rig, then getting an internal hard drive is mandatory. Any SSD or HDD will suffice, no matter how fast or spacious it is. Here is a couple of buying guides that will help you choose the right storage drive for your mining rig:

However, if you are going to use a Linux distro to power up your mining rig, then a simple 16GB USB flash drive will be more than enough to boot up your system and initialize the mining process.

How to assemble the mining rig?

Once you’ve bought all of the components you’ll be using in you mining rig, you’ll now have to assemble it. This process might seem intimidating at first, but in truth, it’s quite simple.

Step 1 – Installing the CPU on the motherboard

Put your motherboard on the package box with anti-static bag beneath it and release the lever holding down the CPU socket protection plastic. Once you do that, properly insert the CPU in the motherboard. The small triangle at one corner of the CPU must be placed on the same side as the triangle engraved on the motherboard. Once you do that properly lower the lever in order to lock the CPU in place.

After that apply a small amount of thermal paste onto the CPU, and then place the CPU cooler on top of it according to your motherboard’s manual. Some coolers have pre-applied paste, so applying the paste by yourself might not be necessary. After that, connect the cooler’s power cable to the CPU_FAN1 pins on the motherboard.

Step 2 – Installing the RAM

In order to install the RAM, all you have to do is insert the RAM modules into the RAM sockets on your motherboard. Before you do that, be sure that you’ve opened the side brackets of the RAM slots in which you’ll be pushing your memory modules. Side brackets will close by themselves once you push your RAM sticks into the slots.

Step 3 – Mounting the motherboard to the frame

Carefully place your motherboard to the mining frame, or inside your PC case. Be careful not to scratch the bottom part of your board. If you have a case made of metal, be sure that motherboard is not touching the metal frame and that it’s standing on dedicated standoff screws. Once you do that, fix the motherboard with screws.

Step 4 – Connecting the power supply unit

Unpack your PSU and place it somewhere near the motherboard. Your mining frame should have a dedicated area where you can install your power supply unit. After that, find the 24-pin ATX power connector and plug it into your motherboard. Now do the same with an 8-pin CPU connector.

If you have any other components, such as hard drives, fans, or other internal devices, be sure to connect them to your PSU accordingly. Some of these components require to be connected with Molex power connectors, while others have dedicated power connectors (i.e. SATA power connector).

Step 5 – Connecting your GPUs to the motherboard

Mount all of your GPUs onto the mining frame accordingly and fix them in place with your screwdriver. Next, plug one end of your PCI-E riser cable to the motherboard, and hook one end to your GPU. Repeat this process for every graphics card you have. Now power up your riser cables. Some of them require a SATA cable to draw power, while some of them require Molex or 6-pin PCI-E connector. Connect each riser cable accordingly. It is recommended to use 2 or less SATA or Molex connectors per PSU cable, so keep that in mind in order to avoid any damage to your components.

Most PSUs come with different types of power cables

Next, plug the PCI-E 6+2 power connectors from your PSU into each separate GPU. Some graphics cards require even one 8-pin and one 6-pin power connector to draw power. Repeat this process for every GPU in your mining rig.

Step 6 – Boot up your rig

Once you’ve done all that, and made sure that you did everything correctly and in accordance with your instruction manual, it’s time to power up your rig. Connect your monitor to the GPU that is seated in your main PCI-E slot, and hook up your mouse and keyboard to some of the available USB ports.

To turn on your rig, you can either connect the power switch to the power pins on your motherboard, or you can close the circuit with your screwdriver by touching the power pins. Once you do that, turn on the rig and see what happens. If you get the BIOS message, you are ready to go. All you have to do now is install the mining software and start mining!

Configuring BIOS settings for a mining rig

Once you’ve assembled your mining rig and powered it on, it’s time to configure its BIOS settings in order to maximize its mining performance. By tweaking your BIOS you’ll also be able to optimize the performance of your graphics cards, and thus increase your overall mining profits.

There are a few things you should change in your BIOS settings. First you have to access your rig’s BIOS by pressing F2 or DELETE button during the boot sequence. Each motherboard has its own BIOS interface. Some even come with advanced user interfaces called “UEFI”. Please consult with your motherboard’s manual before attempting to do any of the following steps.

Some motherboards come with specialized Mining Modes

Once you access your BIOS, find the “Restore AC Power Loss” option and set it to “Always On”. This will enable your mining rig to power on automatically after the power is lost. You should also enable “4G decoding” option in case you motherboard isn’t recognizing more than 4 GPUs connected to it.

In order to maximize your mining performance, it is recommend to use a CPU with integrated graphics solution. This way your CPU will handle the display interface, while GPUs can fully commit to hashing out cryptocurrencies. To set your CPU as the primary video output device, first connect your monitor to the DVI or HDMI connector on your motherboard. After that, go to your BIOS settings and set your “Primary Video Output” to your CPU or any integrated graphics solution listed in the dropdown menu.

Installing mining software

Before you install any mining software, be sure to first install an operating system on your mining rig. Here is a very detailed step-by-step guide which will show you how to properly install a Windows 10 operating system on your machine.

If you don’t plan to use Windows 10, there are plenty of Linux distros that will allow you to efficiently mine crypto coins. You can either install a Linux distro on your hard drive, or you can use a USB flash drive as a boot device. Whichever method you choose, be sure to check out this comprehensive guide on installing and booting Linux OS.

Once you booted up your operating system, it’s time to install some mining software and start mining. Since there are plenty of cryptocurrencies, and each of them has its own mining algorithm, it’s impossible to write a general guide on how to install and run every crypto mining software. Nevertheless, we recommend you to start familiarizing yourself with all the cryptocurrency mining algorithms by reading this quick guide. Once you decide which cryptocurrency you’ll mine, setup your cryptocurrency mining account, and find the appropriate software to start mining it. After you do that, initialize the mining tool, and start earning coins!

Overclocking the mining rig

DISCLAIMER: Use overclocking at your own risk! This will void the warranty of your system’s components, and may destroy your CPU, motherboard, GPU, and even corrupt your hard drive. ViCadia.com does not take any responsibilities related to overclocking or performing any adjustments to your computer. You have been warned!

Overclocking can be a tricky job, but it can pay off well, provided that you know what you’re doing. With overclocking you can increase your mining rig’s performance, and improve your total mining hashrate. When it comes to mining rigs, overclocking the GPUs is the most common overclocking procedure. After all, GPUs are the main components that are bringing you the money.

MSI Afterburner is one of the most popular tools for overclocking GPUs

Overclocking the NVIDIA and AMD cards isn’t the same. With NVIDIA cards, all you have to do is set core clock, memory clock, and power limit. Overclocking AMD cards is a bit more complicated. Most AMD cards come with Dual BIOS support, which allows you to modify their BIOS settings, and use two different BIOS – one for gaming, and one for mining. Unlike NVIDIA cards, AMD cards mine better while being undervolted.

To get fully familiar with overclocking your GPU, we suggest visiting the r/overclocking subreddit on Reddit. There you will find plenty of posts and guides how to efficiently overclock your GPU. There is also a very simple, but informative guide on overclocking your GPU, so be sure to check it out before performing any overclocking operations.

Conclusion

And that’s it! Building a mining rig isn’t so hard as it may seem at first. You can now start mining and earning those precious cryptocurrency coins. We hope you found this guide useful. If you have any questions, or thoughts you would like to share with us, feel free to post them in the comments section below. Happy mining!

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