Litecoin Rig Building 101 Singapore, Asia (Litecoineer)
Was making a new site at Litecoineer.com
Update: Seems that Sim Lim is out of 7950s and 7970s, although you may find one hidden here and there
With the recent run up in Litecoin to match with its previous rate with bitcoin before bitcoin’s very rapid recent ascent, it has become once again very feasible to mine litecoins on scrypt with top end graphics cards. This goes to for the other scrypt coins such as bbqcoin as the general cryptocoins competitions have been buoyed by bitcoin’s increasing publicity. SHA256 coins like Peercoins would require the ASICs road of course. Having purchased litecoins a long time ago last year when it hovered in the two plus region, I wasn’t feeling too bad about the price spike. It certainly led to a lot of interest from friends, and I am pretty sure it has minted quite a few litecoin millionaires just as bitcoin had minted bitcoin millionaires. Unfortunately, unlike one of my friends, I am still far far away from that mark.
With the run up however, I had a friend wanting to join me in a litecoin rig attempt like a joint stock vehicle attempt. Here’s the journey: I generally followed Cryptobadger’s guide which you can find at: http://www.cryptobadger.com/build-your-own-litecoin-mining-rig/
1) The Core Selecting the graphics card. There are generally the top 3, a balance of tradeoffs. Generally Sapphire and MSI seems to be the way to go, but with certain caveats and pitfalls and special exceptions. You will probably have to google your card re litecoin just to be safe.
The usual stereotypes are Sapphire, Value for money Best bang for the buck, MSI, higher hash and flexibility for higher price, Asus, pricier due to focus on build quality
7950: The Industry Standard 600+kHz/200W/$339-$408 (MSI may be $429) At 600+ kHz and a power draw of 200W ++, coming in at about 339-408 SGD, This is the Sweet Spot Card. Remember that PCI-e slots are scarce on the motherboard. You can also go with one of this and expand later. If you have the capital for it go for this. It’s a lot cheaper now than it was in the past. Amazon had the normal sapphire on black friday going for $199 USD ($250 SGD free shipping) which is a pretty good deal but it was snapped up ultra fast (no surprise, this was after the litecoin ramp out). Newegg may have 199 usd deals too. If you can get any of these 199 USD deals its a clear cut winner. If you’re in Singapore, the base Sapphire is 339 and up, Sapphire Vapor-X at $389-$418, MSI at $429 and up. Cryptobadger uses MSI as his standard, apparently the MSI afterburner allows for the most efficient undervolting. Vapor-X is the cooling and has the advantage of reduced sound (it’s still noisy though) compared to the other cards (since they will be running at full fans and speed). Substitutes R9 280x, 290x, 7970, 7990, From cryptobadger, it seems if you can’t procure a 7950, you may try for R9 280x which is almost a reskin. 7970 costs more, draws more power, but doesn’t have a commensurate return in hash rate. I think the 290x is the equiv of 7990, which is dual 7950 at a price premium it looks.
7870: The Guzzler, Lower capital cost, Higher run costs 400kHz/200W/$200 (you may be able to find deals on Amazon or Newegg and ship it in) For the same budget pool you will be able to buy quite a bit more of the 7870, assuming PCI-e risers and extenders are not an issue, or you have a LAN center of coms to farm, spending on 3 7870s gives you the kHz of 2 7950s (1.2mhz) at 25% off ($600 compared to $800) but at an increase of 50% power draw (600W to 400W). This is the card to use if you need a lower startup cost and electricity is not an issue. Such as in other jurisdictions, if you are crossing the causeway (to Malaysia), going to Hong Kong (variable rate pricing, run it at off peak) or China, or Indonesia, all of which has cheaper to far cheaper electricity than Singapore. (dunno about South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, should be cheaper still though) (not sure if cards are cheaper in Malaysia, can check lowyat) Substitutes The 78xx series
7790: Budget, Starter Card 200+kHz/75++W/$125 and up (you will probably want to ship this in) This is the card that is like a lite version of the 7950. Its good if you can’t afford multiple 7950s, or you are outfitting subsidiary computers. One possibility is that you’ve just heard of litecoin and you want to give it a whirl. You can get this and swap out your existing Nvidia card, or existing card. If you are getting 3 of this on one computer, it will be cheaper to just get a single 7950 due to motherboard and extender costs, as well as save a bit of electricity. If you are introducing scrypt mining/litecoin to a friend, this is not a bad card I think, especially if you can get it on offer for 100 USD with free shipping, that will make it about 125 sgd. To me this card seems to be like the USB miners for ASICs. It’s not really going to make you serious coin, but it’s a good start and introduction as well as pretty fun. Those who tinker will probably like the fun of trying to tweak the best speeds out. (not me though haha) Substitutes 77xx Series Litecoin google spreadsheet: Someone on the forums made a spreadsheet so you can punch the numbers in. Seems helpful. (remember to tweak it for local prices though)
2) Setting Forth, Rest of CPU and Assembly I really really didn’t want to build a whole CPU from scratch, lazy to do wiring and bios and driver frenzy and installation issues. The good thing about Singapore is that they have the parts and also have building services. Pay $20 and problem solved. The spread they have on their parts are not too bad too, this being Singapore as a global trading hub and shipping port. The prices are not too far from Amazon/Newegg bar discounts. Especially so for 7950 which seems to be largely out of stock in America’s Online shop shelves. You may be able to ship in cheaper motherboards with 1 more PCI-e slot however. Cryptobadger’s mobo was 50 usd on discount and 99 usd usual (if it is in stock). You can also spring the money for a solid state drive, or an ultra cheap basic HDD.My deal with my friend was that this rig’s backup plan and phoenix down was as a gaming com. Otherwise you don’t really need the i3, the pentium clocks will do. Cryptobadger uses the AMD processor. If you’re shipping from here and there you will need to check if the chip and mobo matches. PSU got a 1000W just in case I expand the rig to a third card. Pretty much got the cheapest parts for everything else. It’s ship shape for gaming since there’s not much need for i5, and all you need to do is to drop a solid state drive in.
The case is a bit pricier for extra space and airflow, think I should have gotten an extra fan though.
So an i3-4130 on an asus h89 lga1150
Random cheap hdd and ram
2 vapor x
Coolermaster Storm Enforcer SGC-1000-KWN1
Corsair RM 1000W
So that’s $1808, or about $1446 USD, at 30 usd litecoins that will take 48.2 to clear, 35 usd 41 ltc, 40 usd 36 ltc. Estimated difficulty was 1733 but due for a jump soon, putting it at about 20+ a month if it ran at full power 24/7. (I already had litecoins for long ago, so this is in part an experiment, as well as a way to get cheaper litecoins without burning wire fees. If you were in the States you can probably ebay most of the parts, they should hold some resale value) I went with windows ($120) and a HDD ($65, cheapest/2nd cheapest one there) because I was lazy and didn’t want to Linux it up ;D. It’s harder to undervolt on a Linux, you have to mess with the BIOS of the cards and flash (is it the firmware?) stuff and all that. I’m not really good at this kind of stuff. If you want to attempt the linux, you can save the $120 and $65, and just buy a 8gig thumbdrive and load from there. I think getting MSI may be easier than Sapphires for undervolting however. I went to Fuwell at Sim Lim Square to get the rig assembled, and I had an interesting experience with the shop.
Interesting Experience: It started pretty normally as making rigs go with the usual parts, but things got interesting when I selected the graphics card. The shop person looked at me, then looked at the other staff and then looked back at me. They moved back aside to talk a bit before coming back. The 7950 was out of stock! I was like, sure thing no problem, I can get it from another shop and come back right. They were, its okay we can do that for you we will go down and take a look. A while later he was back with the Sapphire 7950 Vapor-X. Who are you people, what are you guys doing? Why does everyone want this card? What are you building? Is it for a factory? It seems they ran out of stock over the past few days (coinciding with the run up in litecoin). I was trying to explain bitcoins in chinese and english but I didn’t get very far. I was asking my friend prior, doesn’t this feel like commodities trading. But instead of being on the trading floor, it was more like a commod house, buying cocoa or coffee beans or just beans off the ground. We were seeing the run on the 7950. He was, heh, alternative investments and alternative commodities huh. Later when picking up the rig, the person doing it was, oh you are the weird ones. Your parts totally don’t match. I look at the graphics card and PSU, and then at the rest of it, the i3 and hard drive, it totally doesn’t match. And the kicker is the absence of a dvd drive. What is this?? I wonder if Sim Lim will deplete its supply of 7950…
My guess is a single card version will cost $1038 if you down toggle and ask for assembly there. I think 2 card is sweet spot for a hybrid PC however. If you’re going all out probably you will have to procure the difficult parts like mobo and assemble yourself in a frame. (it will be cheaper however, like IKEA I guess) So roughly, 1038 for the single hybrid ($900+ if no frills), 1808 for the dual card ($1500+ for a no frills), and 2300-2500 for a tri card (if they even have a case to fit in, otherwise its a ikea style plastic bucket or metal frame, but that should shave a few hundred off) Estimate No Frills: 900, 1500, 2100, Each step is about 600 Hybrid: 1038, 1808, 2300-2500, Step of 770 and about 600
At this point I facepalmed and realize I shot myself in the foot. The guy had forgotten the wifi usb, and I hadn’t noticed, more preoccupied with the other parts. Failed in doing a network bridge from my windows laptop. So I had to call it a day, well it was late anyway. The next day I facepalmed myself again as I realized I could tether from my phone, which I did.
Ate up quite a bit of my bandwidth downloading this and that, as well as updates. The actual mining itself doesn’t eat much bandwidth, so it should be possible to stick a cheap plan 3g stick onto it. But windows updates eat up space like a cookie monster eats up cookies. Facepalmed myself again the next day when I bought a wifi stick. It required a cd install (micro cd). I didn’t get a dvd drive. Neither my mac air or windows had a dvd drive to network. Thumbdriving driver installation files over didn’t work. Continued tethering facepalming myself. Plenty of crashes. More crashes trying to tweak settings and try new ones.
Hitting 1k khz, or 1 Mhz, so average 500khz per card. This is the starter clock I guess. Good start, but I wasn’t going to let it end there. Turns out the cgminer made a difference. Cryptobadger was using the 2.11.4 then that was the version for his guide. Using 3.7.2 made a huge difference, bumping 1 Mhz by 15% to 1.15 Mhz straight off the bat. More crashes still. Shaders crashed. Thread concurrency crashed. Finally found working settings later. 1792 for shaders and 21712 for thread concurrency. Not in that order. More crashes. Friend saved the internetz here by delivering a different wifi stick. This one worked!
Didn’t really know how to use Sapphire Trixx to undervolt. Undervolt reduces heat, power costs and improves performance. The catch was that I had zero idea how to use it. Even downloaded MSI Afterburner. Turns out the trick was that you just had to start with Sapphire, and it will lock the voltages. At this point was pretty satisfied with 1180+ so about 590+ per card. It was pretty close to cryptobadger’s limited parts target of 1810/3 cards so 603 per card. At some point I found the blue overclock button. I had read about it, but I guess it flew over my head. Another facepalm moment.
A while after I facepalmed myself again. Seems like Trixx can force the voltage, but the memory clock will fly up and down. cgminer sets it to 1250, the numbers I saw on the forums for 7950 was: 1026 GPU Clock (GPU Engine clock) 1500 Memory Clock (GPU Mem Clock) 1081 VDDC (or 1.081 v). I couldn’t get the 0.962 volt to work, but 1.081v is good too I guess. So I keyed that into cgminer. Looking good after bajillion crashes. At one point I first hit 1.240+ and then the pool server crashed. At first I thought it was an issue on my end. (Actually it was because my failover code didn’t work) But it was a server down. Didn’t really know how to hit 1.240+ til quite a bit later.
So I guess the trick I used was to load Sapphire trixx at 1026, 1500, 1081 for both cards. I saved it to a profile and kept loading and applying for it til the clocks reached this start point. Then I keyed higher clocks in for memory into cgminer, 1111 (lucky) and 1038 and then a bit (this gpu is closer to the psu, runs at a lot higher heat so it crashes pretty fast if I push it). So the com starts up with sapphire, locks it into undervolt, and then cgminer opens to ramp up GPU clock. Note that I have to take off the case in the afternoon to prevent overheating and crashing if I push it. If I was leaving the case on I would set lower clocks. Probably 1083 and 1025. The case on case off thing is a bit tricky since there are bugs that come in to say hi, and it would be difficult to clean up if a mosquito flew into the fans or cooks itself on the cards. If I am monitoring I often take the case off, and if I’m not I leave the case on. The heat difference is considerable, it can go up to about 10 degrees for my GPU 1, so 75 degrees v 85 degrees (the crashing zone) I suppose another fan could be installed. As for the 24/7, it is really noisy, so it’s not such a good idea to sleep with it on. I estimate it may be about 35 decibels? And the vapor x is considered the quiet card. I’ve tried sleeping with it on once and the sleep wasn’t very good. Not recommended if you have work the next day. If you don’t have time to monitor, its probably safer to go with lower clocks and set up a remote desktop solution.
One setting for the bat file possibly if you have better heat dispersal: timeout /t 30 setx GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT 100 setx GPU_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS 1 cgminer –scrypt -I 20 -v 2 -g 1 -w 256 –shaders 1792 –thread-concurrency 21712 –no-submit-stale –gpu-engine 1100 –gpu-memclock 1500 –gpu-vddc 1081 –gpu-powertune 0 -o stratum+tcp:// [your own pool]
Then you can just eyepower it from elsewhere. If I have time to monitor/in close proximity, I try to push the settings, since I can reset it relatively easy as opposed to if I was using remote. And that’s about that! At 1733 difficulty and 1240 khz, it would be:
0.72 LTC / Day
5.04 LTC/ Week
21.59 LTC / Month
262.69 LTC / Year
But difficulties have changed so at 1934 difficulty
0.63 LTC / Day
4.44 LTC/ Week
19.04 LTC / Month
231.69 LTC / Year
Probably won’t be leaving it on for too many a nights, unless I move the rig elsewhere. So I guess at about 2/3 of .63 that would give me about .42 as a target to hit, but that the actual number would be less due to imperfections. (the cgminer hash rate is more accurate than the pool data, I think pool data is a snapshot)
Remains to be seen if this capital investment is worth it! Maybe it will all go to zero and this will be a fancy gaming computer, or it would simply have been cheaper to just buy litecoins straight. Areas of expansion: Shipping a voltmeter in (kill a watt) Trying for 962v, as well as more clock toggles, interim target of 1267 mhz (cryptobadger standard) and then 1333 mhz (msi standard with 962 I think, don’t think I will be able to hit this without removing the case) try out cgwatcher Automation/find another place to put the rig