Companies often bring products they aren't quite ready to announce to trade shows, and at CES 2018, Gigabyte was no exception. We spotted a new motherboard at the company's booth, and the company originally stayed mum on what exactly it had brought to the convention. Now the company has broken that silence by officially announcing a board made specifically for cryptocurrency miners, the B250-FinTech.
Motherboard vendors have never shied from the mining craze. The most recent Ethereum-fueled mining wave saw the release of dedicated mining motherboards from Asus and Biostar, but there are older ones existing from the early Bitcoin days. Gigabyte is joining that trend with the B250-FinTech, which is equipped with a total of 12 PCI-e slots, bolstered PCI-e power circuitry, and other mining conveniences.
Starting with the chipset, the B250 platform is Intel’s cheapest in the 200-series. It supports 7th-gen (Kaby Lake) and 6th-gen (Skylake) LGA 1151 CPUs and dual channel DDR4, for which the B250-FinTech has four slots. The board’s form factor is reduced-width ATX, which typically only has seven expansion slots, but Gigabyte has laid out 11 PCI-e x1 slots along with one full-length PCI-e slot in a grid on the bottom half of the board. Connecting GPUs to the slots requires the use of flexible PCI-e extender cables. This is fine for mining rigs, which are typically custom made and don’t have GPUs plugged directly into motherboard slots. Power delivery on the PCI-e slots is bolstered by two four-pin, 12V Molex connectors.
To make things more convenient for miners, Gigabyte packages the B250-FinTech with several useful accessories. The first is a 24-pin ATX PSU splitter cable that allows the motherboard to simultaneously boot up to three PSUs. That’s necessary because powering 12 GPUs is likely going to require more PSUs than the single one attached to the motherboard. The second useful addition is a small daughterboard that provides an on-board power and reset switch for the board. Similar to Asus’ mining board, the Gigabyte also has a “mining mode” setting in its BIOS that sets the default GPU for video output to the CPU’s integrated one and sets the protocol for the PCI-e slots to 1.0.
For a dedicated mining board, the B250-Fintech isn’t as stripped as one might expect, though. Along with six SATA headers, it sports six on-board temperature sensors and four PWM-capable fan headers. The board also has an audio configuration that would typically only be seen on consumer motherboards. Dedicated audio capacitors and electrically isolated audio traces seem like a wasted cost considering the futility of listening to anything in a room with 12 GPUs running on maximum utilization.
Gigabyte hasn’t announced pricing or availability for the B250-FinTech yet.
ATX (30.5 x 20.0cm)
Intel Socket 1151
DDR4 @ 2,400MHz
1 x16 (electrically x16)
6 x SATA 6Gbps
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port
4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x RJ-45 port
3 x audio jacks