Home-built crypto currency mining rigs are a great way to invest in the new digital currencies, while avoiding some of the risk involved in purchasing the coins outright. This guide will show you how to assemble a fairly easy to build ‘milk crate mining rig’. This rig is capable of mining at over 2,800Kh/s. As of the date this guide was updated (2/20/2014), a 4 GPU Litecoin mining rig like this can generate over $350 USD worth of Litecoins per month or around $500 USD worth of Dogecoin, and will cost you between $2,000-$2,500 to build. If you want to see the live current calculation yourself, click here, for a pre-configured Litecoin calculator or here for a Dogecoin mining calculator. You’ll just have to enter your electricity rate to calculate your net profits. I have built several of these rigs for myself and friends. Build time should be no more than 2 hrs.
Mining Hardware Build List
- Power Supply - $250 – 1300 watt Gold Rated PSU - If you are having a hard time finding these larger power supplies in stock, an alternative is to get two lower powered 750 watt Gold Rated PSU’s and connect them together with this add2psu adapter to power your rig.
- Motherboard – $90 – ASRock MB-970EX4 Socket AM3+/ AMD 970/ AMD (best motherboard for mining at the moment). If it is out of stock, this one or this one are good alternatives.
- Graphics Cards (GPU) - $400 x 4 AMD Radeon R9 280x - This is one of the best graphics card for alt-currency mining. It is capable of over 750Kh/s per card, bringing your total rig power to 3,000 Kh/s. Stick with the Sapphire, Gigabyte, ASUS or MSI brands and avoid the HIS, Powercolor and XFX brands as they are known to have issues with mining. There are several other recommended mining cards that will work with this rig guide listed here. Just remember to calculate the power requirements for whichever cards you decide to go with.
- CPU – $40 - AMD Sempron 145 Processor - We’ve chosen the cheapest option here, since the CPU doesn’t affect mining efficiency.
- RAM - $50 - 4 GB Corsair DDR3 RAM
- 1x to 16x Powered Riser Cables - $6 x 4 - PCI Express 1X to 16X Powered Riser Cables - These riser cables allow you to suspend the graphics cards abover the motherboard for better airflow/cooling. We recommend powered riser cables which plug directly into the PSU to reduce the wattage required from the motherboard. The 1x male end of the cable plugs into either the 1x or 16x slot on the motherboard, and the 16x end of the cable is where the graphics card gets plugged in.
- Hard Drive – $40 - Small Solid State Drive
- Case - $6 - Plastic Milk Crate (you might be able to pick one of these up at an office supply store for less). Alternatively, for a much more aesthetically pleasing build, check out the custom built cases designed and built by Rich Chomiczewski. I’ve personally used his cases and can recommend the excellent build quality and customer service he provides.
- Extra Cooling - $30 - Box Fan - Best cooling for a mining rig, as it pushes all that hot air away from the rig.
- Operating System - $0-$90 - Windows 8.1 – If you’re familiar with Linux you can of course download it for free (some folks consider Linux to be the best OS for litecoin mining, since it keeps your overall costs down, improving your litecoin mining ROI). If you want to load the OS from a CD you might want to pick up a $29 external USB powered DVD drive. Many laptops in the ‘thin & light’ category are shipping with no internal optical drive, so it will probably come in handy for other uses as well.
- Monitor, Mouse and Keyboard - Most people already have this trio somewhere around the house, but I included it since you’ll need it to set up your rig. Once the rig is setup it can run without these as a ‘headless mining rig’.
A note on ROI (or return-on-investment). I built my first rig in April 2013, and it paid for itself in less than 6 months, however there is no guaranteed return on mining rigs, so use your own judgement, do your due diligence, and decide if this is an investment you want to make. If nothing else, you will learn a LOT about computers in the process of building your rig.
If you’d like to trade Litecoins or any other Scrypt based currency to Bitcoin, I would recommend the Cryptsy exchange. Also, I personally use and highly recommend CoinBase for buying and selling your Bitcoin for USD here in the US. If you sign up through that link, they’ll give you $5 worth of Bitcoin to get you started as a reward for buying your first coin through them!
Putting it all Together – Assembling your Litecoin Mining Rig
Here’s a quick Youtube Video Assembly Overview followed by step-by-step instructions:
- Unpackage everything
- Install processor and RAM on motherboard
- Plug in all riser cables
- Place motherboard in plastic crate
- Plug in SATA hard drive
- Connect all GPUs to riser cables and fasten them to plastic crate evenly spaced out for maximum heat dissipation
- Plug in all power supply connections
- Connect mouse, monitor and keyboard and an internet connection (I used a USB WiFi adapter)
- Check all connections once more
- Fire it up! Install the OS if needed. Install Graphics card drivers. Install mining software. Make sure fans are doing their job. Fire up the mining software, tweak for maximum hasrate and let ‘er run!