Experiment: Build A (Profitable) Ethereum Mining Rig From Spare Parts
Ethereum’s mining difficulty is on the rise, and the crypto-currency's value seems to be on the decline thanks to so much mainstream attention. That's probably good news for gamers and general PC enthusiasts, but we also wondered if it's too late to get into crypto mining if you’re just trying to make a few extra bucks.
We recently explored the idea of building a mining rig at no cost, simply using older parts we had lying on the shelf. My colleague, Eric Vander Linden, cobbled together a competent mining rig with zero upfront costs. The “free miner” includes two R9 290X GPUs, which net roughly 57 MH/s. At the current difficulty rate, that rig should bring in a little more than half an Ether per month, which would be profitable as long as the price of Ethereum doesn’t dip below $100.
I also built a mining rig out of older components. Unlike Eric, I wasn’t worried about keeping the budget strictly at zero. I prioritized building the most powerful mining rig I could without buying specialty components. I was also interested in building an efficient miner to maximize profits. Still, I set my sights on something somewhat more exotic. Serious mining rigs often feature a half dozen graphics cards, or more, and I have the distinct advantage of a collection of older graphics cards packed away from past reviews and a handful of current generation GPUs I use for VR testing.
In total, I have 17 graphics cards that could work for mining—11 cards with AMD GPUs, and six cards with Nvidia GPUs. Unless you’re a hardware hoarder who never sells older parts, you probably won’t have such an advantage. A build like this wouldn't be free for most people, but we'd wager a few of you have some semblance of hardware sitting around anyway.
Regardless, I'm going to pick up where Eric left off. With a stack of graphics cards at hand, I am ready to go down the mineshaft. Will this be a fool's errand, or is there still gold to be found? Let's find out.
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