How to Build a 6 GPU Mining Rig – Part 3: BIOS and OS

6 GPU Mining Rig Build: Part 1 · Part 2 · Part 3

The mining rig has come a long way. Now it’s time to setup the BIOS and OS. If you’ve walked through Part 1 and Part 2 you have an open air mining case and computer, the mining rig, which boots. In Part 3 we will be adding the mining rig to accept the 5 remaining GPUs.

There’s a bit of work to do before we can just add all the cards. If we did, there’s a very high chance Windows won’t be able to work with them. We will first update a handful of settings in the motherboard’s BIOS. Then we will install our Operating System (OS), Windows 10, using the bootable Windows 10 USB stick from Part 2. Finally, we will make a few changes to Windows 10 settings and update the video card’s drivers.

At that point we will go to what is generally the part of any build that can be frustrating: standing up the remaining video cards. But, to even get to that point first we need to take care of the BIOS and Windows OS.

Current state of the miner

Just as a recap, this should be the current state of the Mining Rig after Part 2:

6 GPU Mining Rig

The 6 GPU mining rig just before adding the power from the PSU.

  • The motherboard, which now has the CPU and RAM installed is mounted to the rig frame.
  • The PSU is also mounted to the frame.
  • The SSD has a data connection to the motherboard as well as a SATA power connection to the PSU.
  • The graphics cards are mounted to the frame (each complete with their part of a PCI-e riser card).
  • One graphics card has power running to it from the PSU, once to the graphics card, and once to the riser card
  • The same graphics card’s PCI-e riser is complete, and connected to the motherboard via the USB cable and small board. That small board is plugged into the grey PCI-e slot.
  • The remaining graphics cards are not connected to the motherboard or the power supply.
  • The mining rig boots to a screen which displays some information from the motherboard’s BIOS.

6 GPU Mining Rig Build – Part 3 Overview

With the majority of the hardware assembly completed in Part 2, Part 3 will focus on software. Here’s what’s next for the 6 GPU Mining Rig build:

Z270/Z370 motherboard BIOS configuration for mining

Let’s get all the settings we need to take care of in the Z270/Z370 BIOS in one shot.

  1. Plug in your USB Wifi Stick or network cable
  2. If it is off, turn the PSU power on
  3. Press the power button on the motherboard (see manual for location – be careful of static electricity)
  4. When the screen appears that reads “Press DEL or F2” to enter BIOS, do so. Keep depressing either F2 or DEL until the BIOS appears. Until you’ve entered the BIOS the mining rig may instead present a different screen with system information.
  5. Press F1 to enter BIOS Setup when the option is presented on the screen. You’re now in the BIOS.
  6. Press F7 to enter Advanced Mode.
  7. Update the following settings:
    1. Advanced > System Agent (SA) Configuration > DMI/OPI Configuration > DMI Max Link Speed: Gen1
    2. Advanced > System Agent (SA) Configuration > PEG Port Configuration > All PCIEX16_x to : Gen1
    3. Advanced > PCH Storage Configuration > All SATA devices that do NOT have an SSD set to: Disabled
    4. Advanced > PCH Configuration > PCI Express Configuration > PCIe Speed set to: Gen1
    5. Advanced > Onboard Devices Configuration > HD Audio Controller: Disabled
    6. Advanced > APM Configuration > Restore AC Power Loss: Power On (optional. this is for hard crashes or power interruption reboots once mining)
    7. Boot > Fast Boot: Disabled
    8. Boot > Above 4G Decoding: Enabled
  8. Plug the bootable USB Windows 10 USB stick in on the motherboard. We used the top-left-most USB port
  9. We’re done. Time to install Windows 10. Go to: Exit > Save Changes & Reset

Troubleshooting

Issue: If you made all the settings above and plugged in the Windows 10 installation USB, but the reboot didn’t start the Windows 10 Installer:

Possible Reasons:

  • The BIOS has the SSD as a higher priority device than the USB port. Solution: Power down the miner and reboot pressing F2 to enter BIOS. If in Advanced Mode, shift to Normal Mode. On right-hand side of the screen: Make sure the USB is higher in the priority list than the SSD. Exit and save your changes. Reboot and the Windows 10 installation should begin.
  • If the USB drive has a higher boot priority than the SSD but the Windows 10 Installer does not start on reboot, the issue could be with the installation USB itself. If after a couple of attempts you may want to consider re-creating it.

 

Installing Windows 10

Now we’ll start what is one of the longer, more boring steps: installing Windows 10. Continuing from the simple BIOS quick configuration above:

  1. Follow the prompts to begin Windows 10 Setup
  2. If you have used the SSD drive before, during the installation process you should format fit
  3. Screen will move on to the Installing Windows Status (Copying Files… Getting files ready… etc.)
  4. When prompted, answer any setup questions and allow Windows to perform Updates.
  5. Don’t enable OneDrive or Cortana
  6. Turn off Location, Diagnostics, Relevant Ads, Speech recognition, and Tailored experiences
  7. Windows reboots when everything is complete
  8. Log in to Windows 10
  9. In the search box for Windows type Device Manager and open Device Manager
  10. Expand Display Adapter
  11. You should see the Intel Onboard graphics and one NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070
  12. In the search box now search for and open Windows Update.
  13. Check for Updates and install any that are outstanding. Some updates can take a LONG time depending on what needs to be updated. Interrupting the updates often makes the process of getting the miner up longer, not shorter.

 

Installing Nvidia drivers

Windows 10 should have recognized the single GTX 1070 card we have plugged in. Regardless, we want to be sure we have the latest drivers from Nvidia’s website. Do not download drivers from any other source other than the Nvidia or official GeForce site.

  1. Open a browser and navigate to geforce.com/drivers
  2. Search for GeForce 10, GTX 1070, 64 Bit, Windows 10
  3. Download the most recent driver installer.
  4. Open the folder the drivers were downloaded to (like your Downloads folder)
  5. Right click on the installer and select Run as Administrator
  6. For Installation select Custom, not Express
  7. Uncheck everything except the Graphics Driver
  8. Check Perform Clean Install and click Next
  9. When the installer finishes and asks if you’d like to Restart – do so

Tuning Windows 10

There are a few settings that need to be taken are of in Windows 10. We are going to do the bare minimum.

  1. In the lower-left-hand corner, right-click on the Windows Icon and select the System option
  2. Click on the Notification and actions option
  3. Turn off everything
  4. Click on Power and sleep
  5. Set When plugged in, PC goes to sleep after to Never
  6. Click on the About option
  7. In the far right-hand column, click the System info option
  8. On the screen that presented itself, click the Advanced system settings option
  9. If you want to change your computer’s name on your network, click the Computer Name tab and do so
  10. Click on the Advanced tab
  11. Click the Settings button in the Performance section
  12. Select the Adjust for best performance radio button
  13. Click on the Advanced tab
  14. Click the Change button in the Virtual memory section
  15. Uncheck Automatically manage paging file size
  16. Select the Custom size radio button
  17. Set Initial size and Maximum size to 16384 MB
  18. Click Ok. Windows will alert you that changes won’t take effect until you reboot.
  19. Close all open windows until you are back on the About screen
  20. Click on the Home option to return to the main Settings screen
  21. Click on Update and Security and make changes as you wish *
  22. Close any open windows
  23. Shut down Windows 10
  24. Plug the HDMI cable that has been on the onboard graphics card to the GTX 1070 GPU that is powered
  25. With the mining rig still off, continue to the next step.

* There are obvious security challenges with Windows, and turning off automatic updates could put you at risk. On the other hand, if you do allow automatic updates, a reboot will halt your mining. You’ll have to decide how you want to handle updates.

Installing up the mining rig’s remaining 5 GPUs

GPU power from PSU

Using one PCI-e 8 pin to 2x 6+2 cable to power two GPUs.

This is the part where things can get frustrating, hard to diagnose, and buggy. Try not to get too frustrated. We’ll go through the process. As we hear of issues we will add troubleshooting notes beneath the section. To be clear, it is rare to get through adding all 5 cards without a lot of tinkering although it does happen.

  1. Ensure the mining rig is completely powered off, including turning off the master power on the PSU.
  2. Connect and power the GPU and Riser card for the open slot closest to the processor
  3. Make the connection between the motherboard and the riser card
  4. Power up the PSU. Turn the mining rig on. Windows may be sluggish at login as it is figuring out what has been added.
  5. Login and open Device Manager > Display adapters
  6. You should now have one NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 more than last boot up listed.
    1. If it doesn’t appear immediately, give Windows a minute to find it. The screen may blink or flicker and the mouse may be sluggish if Windows is still working through installing the new graphics card.
  7. Some mining rig builders re-run the Nvidia Driver Installer after each GPU is added. We only run it if there is an issue with a card being recognized or as a last resort if we have exhausted the other common issues with a GPU not posting or having erratic behavior. You can take whichever path you prefer.
  8. Issue? Did the GPU not appear in Device Manager, or does it have an alert icon beside it? See troubleshooting below. Having another issue? Contact us and describe what step you are on and exactly what is happening.
  9. Repeat steps 1 through 8 until all 6 cards are visible in Device Manager without the alert icon beside them. While adding GPUs, be sure to:
    Add, power and connect GPUs one at a time so if there is an issue you can isolate any issues.
    Only power a maximum of 2 1070s per power cable from the PSU
    Only power a maximum of 2 Riser Cards per power cable from the PSU

Troubleshooting GPU Issues

As we mentioned, this is the most frustration part of the mining rig build. Quite simply, we’re asking hardware and software to put themselves in a configuration that isn’t all that common. And, if things are done in a slightly different order, or if Windows slips in an update that affects the process, things won’t go smooth.

There’s a few things to check and do, usually in this order, when a GPU doesn’t surface in Device Manager.

GPU does not appear in Device Manager

Never work with the hardware with mining rig on. Power it down, turn off the PSU and unplug it from the wall. We won’t be stating that over and over for each troubleshooting step, but it is necessary.

  • Shut the mining rig down and check that all the connections for the offending GPU are snug. Unplug each and then plug them back in.
    • See if there is an unknown device listed under Other devices in Device Manager. If so, this could be the video card being incorrectly identified. Try reinstalling the driver for the unknown device.
    • The riser card is properly seated on the GPU
    • All riser card to power connections are snug all the way back to the PSU
    • The USB cable on the riser card and it’s connection to the small board that plugs into the motherboard are both snug
    • The 8-pin power that goes to the GPU is properly connected
    • The power cable at the PSU is correctly connected to the PSU and all the way in
    • The right types of cables have been used for all power connections
    • No more than two GPUs are powered by any single PSU cable
    • No more than two powered risers are powered by any single PSU cable
    • With all of those things checked out, reboot the computer and see if the video card has now appeared in Device Manager. If it has continue. If not, continue below.
  • Shut the mining rig down. Ensure the riser card is functioning correctly and the slot o the motherboard is being recognized.
    • Unplug the small part of the riser card that is plugged into the slot on the motherboard. Try it in another slot. Reboot and see if the card is recognized. If it is, there was likely a step or setting missed when configuring the BIOS.
    • If the video card wasn’t recognized try one more slot and if things are the same, there is a very high chance that one of the components of the riser card are defective. Completely remove all of that riser card’s components and try a new riser card.
    • If the new riser card and components aren’t recognized, try the riser card setup with different GPUs to see if the riser card is functioning. If the riser card is fine, the problem is that either (a) the GPU is defective, which is highly unlikely, (b) the power to the GPU isn’t properly cabled or there are loose connections, (c) something went horribly wrong with the Windows installation. Diagnose those angles. If you are highly frustrated, consider moving on to another video card, skipping that one entirely for the time being.
GPU Appears in Device Manager but is incorrectly identified or has issues

if the GPU appears in Device Manager under a different name, or if it appears with the right name (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070) but has an alert icon beside it’s name, there are a few things to try:

  • Right-click and disable the device and re-enable it to see if it is correctly recognized.
  • Right-click on the device and choose Update Driver. Do not search for a driver. Instead, point Windows to C:/Nvidia/ and allow it to search in child directories. Windows may recognize the drivers are for the hardware and update it.
  • Uninstall the device by right-clicking on it. Go to Action > Scan for hardware changes and see if the device is reinterpreted (correctly) as the graphics card.
  • Finally, re-run the Nvidia driver installer. There is a chance it will identify the hardware correctly and install the right drivers.

Still can’t get all 6 GPUs running?

If you cannot get all 6 GPUs running and have taken the suggested steps we provided you may want to turn to the forums with the specific challenge you are having.

If you can’t make any ground and are using a Z270 or Z370 series motherboard, a 1200W PSU and Nvidia GeForce 10x family GPUs, drop us a line. We can’t jump on video conferences or phone calls. This guide is about getting you the steps we take so hopefully you can get it to work for you. If you email us we will do our best to point you in a good direction, though.

You will need to be explicit about what step of the guide you are on and precisely what behavior you are seeing. If you have skipped steps or have significantly different hardware, mention it. We may be able to help if we understand what exactly is going on. We’ll try but obviously can’t diagnose every issue every person is having.

Did you get the 6 GPU Mining Rig complete and fully functional?

Congratulations, you took on and worked through the challenges and issues of building a mining rig of your own!

You’re ready to start mining cryptocurrencies!

What’s next? Go get mining!

GPU Mining Guides

We will continue adding mining guides for different cryptocurrencies and mining software. As we do we will link to them.

Waiting sucks. Don’t wait on us! We’ll do our best to get more guides up. But, if we don’t have a guide for the cryptocurrency or mining software you’re interested in, the process is usually fairly simple: get a wallet for that cryptocurrency, select a mining pool and install and configure the mining software the pool recommends.