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A few thoughts on ethereum mining and overclocking

Author: LB 2022-01-19 257

The number of cryptocurrencies available for miners keeps growing and it’s a daunting task to find the best one, especially if you’ve never mined any of these digital assets. Bitcoin needs no introduction, but due to it’s insanely high mining difficulty I don’t think that mining bitcoin is the most interesting enterprise we can indulge in this year. This guide will be about altcoin mining in 2022, paying special attention to the ins and out of ethereum mining in addition to sharing my personal experiences in building mining rigs.

So if we set bitcoin mining aside but we still want to stay in the PoW world we are in a position to talk about GPU mining as one of the most popular means to build up passive income sources in the crypto world. Owning a GPU is almost as common as having a vacuum cleaner in the house. Therefore running some test calculations to see how for example ethereum mining works should be pretty straightforward even for average PC users. There are dozens of miners available on the Internet and they hardly differ from each other. Running the latest t-rex miner or the latest nbminer will give you pretty much the same mining performance and most of these miners are available for both Linux and Windows.

Building your first mining PC is relatively easy, after all there is a high chance that you already own one. Gamer PCs usually come with a single GPU and you can try out ethereum mining on your home configuration. You only need to download a miner, have the necessary cuda or amdgpu drivers installed, open an account on a crypto exchange and you can start mining your first scraps of ethereum, and ethereum is not the only cryptocurrency to GPU mine in 2022. There are a handful of other digital assets, such as Ergo, Conflux, AE, Beam, Ravencoin, Cortex and Toncoin for GPU miners, however mining profitability is slightly worse for these coins, than that is for ethereum. The Russia-based Toncoin project attracted many ex-ethereum miners at the end of 2021, but as mining difficulty increased, prices descended and profitability degraded many of these miners have already switched over to other coins.

One of the most important things to consider when you want to start mining these coins using GPU is scaling. While it might seem that GPU mining is easy, because you just have to buy these high performance graphic cards and launch the miners running a GPU mine which is an order of magnitude bigger in size than your originally planned mine can be tough. Suppose you have one Geforce RTX 3090 and you’re mining ethereum. One such card consumes 280W of electricity when the optimal overclocking and power limit settings are applied. 280W might not seem like a huge number, but if you have ten of these cards, then we’re talking about 2.8kW of electric power and if you want to keep your profit rates and make sure that you realize a good ROI on your GPU farm, you need to run these cards for 24 hours a day. This should not be a problem for the electrical wiring in modern buildings, but if you live in an older apartment your wires might get overheated. There is a similar issue with noise pollution, especially if you don’t have enough space and you have to place your cards close to each other. In such a situation, fans would run close to 100% and they create significant noise. These issues get worse with overclocking, but unfortunately the sites that are publishing ROI data on ethereum mining for a given card are usually adopting the optimal overclocking parameters and obviously there are no caveats shared on how important it is to add additional fans to the mining rigs and what costs this would incur.

If you’re living in an average residential building, then I think you can live with a mining rig of 6 Geforce RTX 3090 cards at most. Anything bigger than that would generate such noise that you wouldn’t sleep comfortably during the night. You’re luckier if you have a garage or a spare room and you can find some space for your mining cards.

Finding space for your mining rigs is the first and one of the most important tasks. If you’re building your rigs in winter the place might seem cool enough, but as temperature goes up in summer you might have to find a new place for your GPUs in the upcoming months.

The next decision you have to make is whether you’re ready to hassle with risers, or you choose a motherboard that can take up to 6 cards. The Asrock H510 Pro BTC+ is a great option if you don’t want to spend countless hours on debugging your riser cables. Risers can be powered using SATA, Molex and PCIe connectors and these standards vary in the amount of power they can provide to the GPU. It’s also hard to figure out whether your card needs more power than what a SATA connector can provide or not. If yes, then you need to use Molex or PCIe, and still in some cases the motherboard can randomly reboot and you are left with an unstable system. Once you have all your riser connections stabilized you can place your cards apart from each other and you can cool them down in an effective manner, which is important especially when you are trying to overclock your devices. If you can get the temperature down on the Asrock H510 Pro BTC+ motherboard, then you can forget about risers and you eliminated several points of possible failure from your system.

Using Nvidia cards with the latest CUDA drive on the Asrock H510 Pro BTC+ motherboard might be the most convenient solution, because you can simply install an instance of Ubuntu 20.04 and use the latest t-rex miner or nbminer to mine ethereum for example. Note that some linux kernels don’t implement the necessary ethernet drivers for this motherboard and you might have to spend hours on finding the best Ubuntu/Cuda/miner versions. If you have AMD cards, then you need to install the correct version of amdgpu for the corresponding linux kernel. A version mismatch can cause serious headaches.

Once the rig is assembled and the necessary software is installed, the next step is to perform some kind of benchmark calculations on the cards. Back in the days, when there were only a few cards available for ethereum miners, finding the optimal overclocking settings was pretty easy. These days, there are several altcoins that can be mined using these cards and the number of cards is also increasing day by day. In 2021 Nvidia has introduced a limitation on the new cards and the GPU you can find in retail stores all come with LHR (low hash rate) technology. LHR cards react to overclocking in a completely different manner and this added to the increasing number of cards and coins creates a huge chaos, in which only very experienced cryptocurrency miners can find the best GPU for mining with the most profitable coins.

On the other hand, finding the best memory clock, core clock and power limit parameters for a certain algorithm can significantly increase mining profitability and decrease electricity consumption, therefore this field is closely watched by miners. There has been attempts on this site to find out the best overclocking parameters for ethereum and toncoin mining on the Geforce RTX 3090 card with no LHR, the RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition LHR and the RTX 3060 Ti. As HiveOs and other mining operating systems use nvidia-smi and amdgpu calls from Ubuntu 16.04 installing an Ubuntu server on the mining rig can give you similar functionalities, albeit from command line. My intention is to keep the reader updated with the latest results of this ongoing study and shed light on the peculiarities of the LHR cards.

Interesting entries


Best GPUs to mine ethereum in 2022


Dual mining ethereum and toncoin on RTX 3060Ti and RTX 3070Ti LHR


Profiling the RTX 3060 Ti and its memory transfer rate


Core clock settings for RTX 3060 Ti when mining Ethereum


Core clock settings for RTX 3070 Ti Founders Edition when mining ethereum