Ethereum usurped Bitcoin as the hottest cryptocurrency. Like Bitcoin mining, Ethereum mining is growing in popularity. But what kind of computer do you need?
Start with the GPU. GPUs are the most important cryptocurrency mining hardware. Whereas Nvidia dominates in the gaming market, AMD Polaris graphics cards like the Radeon RX 480 and 580 meet Etherum mining needs. Additionally, some mid-range Nvidia GPUs handle cryptocurrency mining well. Here are the best computers to mine Ethereum.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is a technologically advanced version of Bitcoin. Though Bitcoin uses blockchain technology, its blockchain is unique to itself. Ethereum, as Blockgeeks explains, is an open platform with blockchain as its foundation. It’s similar to how Bitcoin works in its public, distributed blockchain network setup. A significant difference arises in intent. Bitcoin’s blockchain tracks ownership of individual Bitcoins. Ethereum’s blockchain instead allows any app to use its underlying blockchain infrastructure. Notably, Bitcoin’s blockchain is capable of making the world more secure.
What is a Hash Rate?
A hash is defined as the output of a hash function. Hash rate is, therefore, the speed which a hash function is completed. Thus, you’ll want a GPU with a higher hash rate.
Coin Mining Rigs suggests a GTX 1070, RX 580, RX 480, or RX 470. The GTX 1070 clocks in a 32 MH/s hash rate with only 140 watts of electricity according go Coin Mining Rigs. A 580 mines at about 29 MH/s, costing 135 watts. Step down to the 480, and you’ll achieve 27 MH/s with 150 watts, and the 470 hits 29 MH/s on 140 watts. Here’s a digestible deep dive into Bitcoin, blockchain, ASICs, merged mining, and related cryptocurrency lingo.
The Best Computers to Mine Ethereum
What hardware you select for a computer hinges upon use. While Nvidia GPUs are best for gaming, AMD GPUs feature a better price-to-performance ratio. Xeon processors are excellent for servers, and Intel CPUs yield more efficient video transcoding than their AMD counterparts.
As Hot Hardware reports, Nvidia and AMD debuted cryptocurrency-ready GPUs. These lack video outputs like HDMI or DisplayPort. Additionally, these may arrive with a lower clock speed.
GPUs aside, hardware manufacturers like ASRock offer motherboards targeting the cryptocurrency mining community. For instance, the ASRock H110 BTC+ boasts 13 PCI Express slots and an Intel H110 chipset. CPUs aren’t as essential in a GPU mining build. Therefore a modest CPU is acceptable. AMD recently mounted a comeback with its high-performance line of GPUs and CPUs.
The CyberPowerPC Gamer Ultra 2235 comes equipped with an AMD FX-6300 CPU, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, a 1 TB hard drive, and AMD Radeon RX 480 GPU. Since Ethereum. On the motherboard, you’ll find a PCIe x16 port, PCIe x1 slot, and a standard PCI as well. Since there’s little to no data transfer between cards, PCIe x16 or x1 doesn’t make much of a difference.
With its expandability, the Gamer Ultra 2235 is a fantastic option. You’re limited to GPU expansion to three total GPUs. However, most pre-built PCs don’t offer as many PCIe slots as a motherboard specifically engineered for Ethereum mining.
Like the CyberPowerPC Gamer Ultra, this Acer Aspire T AT3-715A-UR11 boasts a beefy AMD RX 480 GPU. But its Intel Core i7-6700 CPU easily bests the CyberPowerPC. Its i7 is overkill for Ethereum mining. But the RX 480 delivers a high hash rate.
Moreover, the Acer Aspire T AT3-715A-UR11 includes two free PCIe x1 slots. Since GPU throughput doesn’t matter, this pre-built system is perfect for Ethereum mining. Because of its two available PCIe x1 slots, the Acer Aspire T accommodates up to three GPUs.
The CybertronPC Rhodium is an excellent rig. Its AMD Radeon RX 580 with 8 GB of DDR5 is well suited to Ethereum mining. Due to its high hash rate, the RX 580 Rhodium is a powerful machine. Additionally, the AMD Ryzen CPU offers enhanced performance over AMD’s previous line of processors. While that doesn’t matter for mining which is GPU-intensive, not CPU-intensive, it’s still a major bonus if you plan to use your PC for tasks other than mining.
Unfortunately, there’s only one extra PCI slot. However, the RX 580 is plenty powerful so that a single additional GPU should be sufficient. The CybertronPC gets bonus points for its fashionable lights. Although these serve no functional purpose, you can mine in style.
It’s definitely at the higher-end and doubtless a gaming PC. Nonetheless, the CyperPowerPC Gamer Xtreme S630 is one of the best Ethereum mining PCs available. Its i7-7700 is an added bonus since the hash rate is GPU bound. The 120 GB SSD makes for speedy boot times and there’s a 1 TB hard drive for large file storage.
The AMD RX 580, however, makes the Gamer Xtreme S630 the best bet as an Ethereum mining PC. Moreover, you’ll find two free PCIe x1 slots. Therefore, assuming a single slot GPU, you can fit in up to three GPUs for Ethereum mining. It’s this feat as well as its RX 580 8 GB DDR5 GPU that makes the Gamer Xtreme S630 one of the best computers to mine Ethereum.
DIY Ethereum Mining Build
Although it’s pretty easy to find PCs capable of mining Ethereum, there’s another option. Plus, this route is arguably more cost-efficient: the do-it-yourself route. A DIY rig saves money. Since most machines with AMD RX 480 and 580 GPUs are gaming PCs, you’ll pay more than simply buying a non-gaming PC and adding a capable GPU or building from the ground up. We’ll focus on the latter.
The Motherboard: Biostar TB250-BTC
In a DIY Ethereum mining build, most motherboards should function. While there are dedicated mining motherboards, these may be pricey. What differentiates mining motherboards from other varieties is the number of PCIe slots. The Biostar TB250-BTC motherboard is a mining-specific motherboard. Sure, it can be used for other purposes. But its single PCIe 3.0 x16 slot and whopping five PCIe x1 3.0 slots are excellent for multi-GPU mining. Since it’s an LGA 1151 motherboard, you’ll need an LGA 1151 CPU.
The CPU: Intel Pentium G4400 SkyLake LGA 1151
Since you don’t need a very powerful CPU, you can build a fairly inexpensive mining PC with the TB250-BTC and a G4400. It’s a dual core LGA 1151 CPU. Although it’s a step below an i3 dual core CPU, the G4400 is a fantastic value. Especially since Ethereum mining won’t yield a huge payoff, you’ll want to keep the price of your build low. The G4400 performs well enough for its purpose here. Ethereum mining is not CPU intensive, so it’s best to stick with a barebones CPU. You may consider the i3-6100T as well. It delivers slightly more performance than the G4400 albeit at a more than twice the cost.
The GPU: Visiontek AMD RX 480
AMD Radeon RX 470, 480, and 580 cards sport the best price to performance ratio among GPUs for Ethereum mining. However, the GTX 1070 is a solid mining GPU as well. But with its price, it’s tough to recommend for an Ethereum mining rig. The Visontek Radeon RX 480 is the best bet. This AMD GPU delivers 8 GB of GDDR5. It’s available refurbished at sub $300. Sapphire and MSI also make fabulous GPUs for mining. With its 25 MH/s hash rate, the 480 tops the 470 as well as HD 7990.
However, cryptocurrency mining led to a shortage on Radeon RX 580 and 570 cards. Therefore, AMD RX series GPUs are out of stock most places. Considering AMD RX series GPU potential scarcity, the GTX 1070 is an excellent contender as well. MSI’s GeForce GTX 1070 is a fantastic 8 GB GDDR5 CPU. With its balance of performance and power consumption, the 1070 is arguably the best Nvidia graphics card for Ethereum mining.
RAM isn’t essential in a mining build. However, you may want 8 GB if your build handles both mining and general use. For gaming or media center purposes, you might want 16 GB or more.
A case, however, is pretty important. Because you’ll potentially have several GPUs working in tandem, heat is a major concern. An open air case like this six GPU aluminum case is a top pick. Alternately, the Cooler Master HAF XB Evo is an amazing case. The Haf XB Evo is also perfect for home theater PC and gaming builds as well.
Mining Your Own Business: Ethereum Mining
The most important consideration for an Ethereum mining rig is payoff. Although GPU mining does yield cryptocurrency, it’s not an economical venture on its own. Therefore, consider alternate uses for your PC. A gaming PC is an excellent choice, though you’ll definitely want a dual GPU set up. That way when gaming, you can still mine (just a little) in the background. A combo gaming PC mining rig won’t require a beefy GPU.
Alternately, an HTPC-mining machine is a great choice as well. Since you won’t have to transcode, you can get by with a modest CPU and allocate GPU resources to mining. Alternately, a headless server build could be great. All GPU resources can mine, while the CPU is used for transcoding. I use a Lenovo ThinkServer TS140 as a media server, primarily for Plex use. Its Xeon CPU is incredibly capable. However, you’ll want to add a GPU as well as replace the 250W power supply. There’s no operating system or hard drive, but still, its low price point and versatility shape the TS140 or TS150 as a stellar mining rig foundation.
It’s best to buy or build an Ethereum mining PC with multiple purposes in mind. With a huge demand for AMD GPUs for cryptocurrency mining, if you’re going the DIY route your best best is buying a refurbished AMD GPU or a new GTX 1070. For a pre-built, AMD offerings are better as they still brag a better price to performance ratio than their Nvidia counterparts. Since standalone mining simply isn’t economical, consider alternate uses.