Creating a new source of income through crypto mining was something that had my brain spinning like few other things ever did. I had done the math. I was working multiple spreadsheets, and I knew I could relatively quickly get my money back if I did it right.
I’d lay awake at night planning out my first two rigs: I wanted to make sure I did it right from the beginning. So when I wasn’t researching hardware, I was assembling them in my mind. Truth is, I still made plenty of mistakes.
In this post I’ll be sharing what I know now in regards to hardware, and hopefully can put you on the right path to get going quicker while also saving money.
Save Where You Can
This should go without saying: If you have hardware laying around – even if it’s older – see if you can repurpose it. The goal with crypto mining should be to make your money back as quickly as possible. So – as our grandmas used to say – a penny saved is a penny earned.
If you or someone you know has an old functioning computer laying around – or even parts of one – see if you can use it in your new build.
Another option is to buy functioning hardware used off of local buy-and-sell groups. I’ve heard of people having a lot of success using local Facebook buy-and-sell groups. Just do your due diligence to make sure it still works before shelling out your hard earned money.
Best Graphic Cards (GPU) for Crypto Mining
The best graphics card to mine with is obviously the one you already have (assuming it can be mined with). I’d recommend heading over to What to Mine to see what you should be mining with it.
The best card to buy is the one that you can get your Return On Investment (ROI) quickest. Just about any latest generation GPU is a good investment IF you can get them at (or very close to) MSRP.
Personally I’d still try getting a 2000 series Nvidia card (ideally 2060 Super or 2070 Super). They are CRAZY efficient still and definitely a favorite of mine. The AMD variant (RX 5700 or RX 5700 XT) are also a miners dream card – largely because of how efficient they are – which makes them hard to get at a good price.
If you are on a budget, consider getting an older card at a good price. For example:
- RX 470 (8GB)
- RX 480 (8GB)
- RX 570 (8GB)
- RX 580 (8GB)
- RX 590
- GTX 1660 (any model)
- GTX 1060 (6GB)
- GTX 1070 (any model)
- GTX 1080 (any model)
I personally never buy a card that has less than 8 GB of VRAM just to future proof myself a bit, and still won’t pass up a good deal on any of the older RX series cards listed.
If you prefer going with newer (more efficient) GPUs, consider looking at some of these:
- Radeon VII
- RX Vega 56
- RX Vega 64
- RX 5600XT
- RX 5700
- RX 5700 XT
- RX 6600
- RX 6600 XT
- RX 6700 XT
- RX 6800 XT
- RX 6800
- RX 6900 XT
- RTX 2060 Super
- RTX 2070 Super
- RTX 2080 (any model)
- RTX 3060 (any model)
- RTX 3070 (any model)
- RTX 3080 (any model)
- RTX 3090
Some of these – especially the big cards – are still crazy expensive. While they tend to mine their fair share, they likely will have some of the worst ROI times.
Again, some of the best deals can be had through local marketplaces. I myself use GPU Drops to keep an eye on good deals for cards I am looking for and have bought pretty much all my cards through eBay or Amazon.
Best GPU Mining Motherboard
It’s easy to salivate over the latest and greatest crypto mining motherboards or one that promises to have slots for 19 graphics cards. I’ve been there and done that. So take my word for it: they are not worth it. Especially right now where such boards are ridiculously overpriced.
Yes, you can probably start with a basic motherboard that has room for 1 – 5 graphic cards. If you plan on only mining with a few GPUs, this is a fantastic cheap option. But if you plan on getting a real mining motherboard, an affordable one I use and HIGHLY recommend is the BTC-B250C.
- It’ll only cost you between $89 – $129 USD (other subpar boards cost double to five times that)
- It is about half the size of a standard gaming motherboard (this comes handy when building tight rigs)
- Is compatible with newer/faster hardware like DDR4 RAM
- Allows you to use older (more affordable) yet efficient LGA 1151 processors
- Allows you to plug HDMI directly into motherboard which helps with cable management.
- Allows you to plug riser cables directly into motherboard USB slots (not into flimsy PCIE bracket that then go into motherboard). This completely eliminates a common point of failure, which is a HUGE plus!!!
I bought my first one for about $128 USD and I was super impressed with it right from when I got it. It’s by far my favorite (also cheapest) mining board.
There are other 8 GPU On-Board (riserless) mining boards as well (BTC-37 or a variation thereof). They are basic (with older tech), but do the trick I am told and are mainly used in enclosed mining cases. I have no experience with them as they are more designed for older (narrow) graphic cards and limit how you can set up your rigs.
Still, not a bad option seeing that they come with a processor built in and can accommodate a bunch of graphics cards without you needing to use risers.
Best Processor (CPU) for GPU Mining Rig
Unless you plan on mining with your Computing Processing Unit (CPU), it does not have to be fancy. So, the cheaper, the better. I personally use a G3930 Intel CPU on the motherboard mentioned above and it does what I need it to do.
The G3930 used to sell for like $70 last year, but due to it’s popularity with miners, the price for it has gone up drastically. Meaning you (oddly) can buy a much better CPU for less now. So you might as well.
Main thing to look for is that it’s LGA 1151 (6 or 7 series).
A few options:
Any of these should work. As long as you buy from a reputable seller, buying a used CPU is not a bad option if it saves you a few dollars.
Best Risers for GPU Mining
GPU risers have evolved drastically over the last few years. Meaning just about any sold on the market today are going to be pretty good. I’ve bought different ones from different sellers. Some are fancier than others, some are pricier, but they all work just as well.
Here are a few options:
- Riser #1 (Older generation. Basic. Only has 6 pin power plug)
- Riser #2 (Newer. Plenty of safe power options)
Some people look for risers that have more capacitators to help protect their motherboard and graphics cards but most risers today should have plenty.
I know they all come with SATA cables but AVOID powering your risers via SATA. Too many fires have been started with those. ALWAYS opt for 6 pin PCI-E or 4 pin Molex
Best Crypto Mining Power Supplies (PSU)
A Power Supply Unit (PSU) is one you will NOT want to cheap out on. Each power supply has a different rating: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Titanium. Avoid anything that is not gold, titanium or platinum.
I once got cheap and bought a few bronze rated PSUs and believe it or not, they died on me (one after the other) a month in. They are probably okay for gaming but useless for mining, as they are just not built for constant power draw.
With that said, I have never had a gold or higher rated PSU die on me. Even with a better PSU, you want to do the math on approximately how much power you’ll need to power your rig, and then add 20% on top (as a safety buffer) to get an idea of how big of a power supply you will need.
Here are a few PSUs I own that I can recommend with confidence:
- Segotep: (Gold, 600W) *
- FSP Hydro G PRO: (Gold, 1000W)
- Cougar ATX12V: (Gold, 1050W)
- SilverStone Tek: (Titanium, 1500W)
- Server PSU: (Platinum, 1027W)
* NOTE: I personally no longer buy massive PC power supplies just because they can get very expensive. What I started doing is: I buy a smaller (600 Watt) PSU with gold (or higher) rating just to power the motherboard, fans, memory, etc. And then I get server PSUs to power the risers and GPUs.
Main reason for this is because server PSUs are a lot cheaper, a lot more durable, and more efficient as well. They are built to run nonstop.
One caveat for server PSUs is: If you run them in a warm environment or max out their power draw, their little fan can wind up and become noisy. Because I have a dedicated mining room, this has never been an issue for me, but something to keep in mind if you’re going for “as quiet as possible”.
Best Storage Memory for GPU Mining Rig
I know of a lot of miners that run their rigs off of USB sticks. I personally run my Linux based rig using a 32 GB USB 3.0 stick. I’ve run it off a simple 8 GB USB 2.0 stick as well without a problem.
Here are some cheap USB stick options:
For my windows rigs I run them off of 120 GB Solid State Drives (SSD). Here are some affordable options:
PRO TIP: The reason I run windows rigs off of SSDs is so I have plenty of space to increase the virtual memory on the rig later on to 100GB or more to help the system use each GPU more efficiently. You can download and install windows 10 for free (from here). If you’d like to activate your windows 10 license, you can buy a key for about $20 on eBay.
Best Crypto Mining Frames
There are a ton of different prebuilt mining cases and mining frames. Depending on your rig setup, you might want to consider one over the other.
I personally have always built my own frames, but if you prefer to shortcut your rig building, purchasing a prebuilt mining frame won’t break your bank.
Here are some affordable frames:
* Please note: The first two frames are cheap and should work well. My complaint with that style of frame is that the fans are basically blowing at the GPUs from the rear-end. Which is fine for pretty much all cards except for blower GPUs, as they blow their how air out at back. If you don’t intend on using blower GPUs, this is not a problem.
Best Crypto Mining Rig Cooling Fans
This I feel almost I shouldn’t even mention here just because the fans you’ll need will vary greatly. However, I feel I should mention a few things I have learned.
The common fan is 120mm, but they are not all made the same. When I started out, I bought a bunch of the cheapest 120mm fans I could find that had LED lights in them. I wanted my rig to look cool. And it did just that.
However, the fans were USELESS. They pushed no air worth mentioning. Largely because despite having 120mm hole rating and looking pretty, the fans were tiny and turning at very low speeds. So, if you’re going to get fans, here are a couple things to look for (things that actually matter):
- Fan blade size: Is the fan blade size on par with the size of the fan? You do not want a fan blade that is 80mm to sit in a spot where you need a 120mm fan.
- Fan speed: Yes, low fan speed is going to be quiet, but them being quiet usually means very little airflow. Low airflow sadly does not protect your GPU investment.
- Fan style: No, not how pretty they are, but what were they designed to do? Are they static pressure fans, or are they high airflow fans?
Noctua is the golden standard when it comes to fans, and the price reflects it. Their fans are plain and ugly, but they are efficient and push a lot of air. Especially their industrial line.
Arctic is another popular brand that is a LOT more affordable and has some decent options.
Hey listen: Building your first rig can be overwhelming. Hang in there… it really isn’t all that complicated. If I was able to figure it out, so can you. It’s an addictive yet rewarding hobby!
I remember researching so many random things before finally pulling the trigger. Which is partially why I wrote this post: To give you a base outline to work from.
You might get tempted to get everything perfect from the get-go with just the right color scheme, etc. Just remember that none of that matters. It’s cool to want all the bling but just like chrome rims don’t make a car go faster, so the fancy color scheme on your rig won’t make it more profitable. If anything it will delay you earning your investment back.
So go ahead. Check what hardware you already have, and then buy the parts still need. And if you need a quick guide on setting up the software side of things, check out my guide on how to start mining crypto!