Budget Ethereum Mining Rig Build

Our Budget Ethereum Mining Rig Build, will be using Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB cards and the ethOS mining operating system. We have included the parts list that we use for this build as well as all the BIOS settings that need to be made. If all goes well you can be up and mining in three or four hours.

This guide is out of date. 3GB GTX 1060 cards are no longer recommended for mining. Our 6 GPU Mining Rig Build Guide with GTX 1070s is still valid, and the instructions work all the way up to 2021 Nvidia cards, with you only needing to be sure you have enough power (you may need a larger or two power supplies).

Jump to: Parts List · Assembly and BIOS · ethOS · Build Pictures

Budget Ethereum Mining Rig

Our budget Ethereum mining rig

For those who already have 3GB 1060s mining there’s a decent chance that it all came to a grinding halt recently. That is because Windows 10-based GTX 1060 3GB mining rigs can no longer mine Ethereum. There’s something called the DAG, or Directed Acyclic Graph. It get’s bigger all the time and has to fit in a GPU’s memory. We’ve talked about the DAG and GTX 1060 3GB cards before if you’d like to read a bit more about it. Anyway, the DAG still fits in a 3GB GTX1060’s memory just fine. For whatever reason it doesn’t work, however, if you’re running Windows 10.

So, the good news is that these cards are far from being dead in the water. GTX 1060s, even 3GB GTX 1060s, can mine many cryptocurrencies with Ethereum being just one of them. To squeak out some ETH mining we’re required to make the move to Linux. In this case, we’ll be mining with ethOS. There are good reasons to mine with ethOS, even beyond the 3GB barrier. If you’re never worked with Linux before, don’t worry about it. It’s not difficult.

And, if you’re looking for something with a little more horsepower (like GTX 1070s, 1080s or Tis), give our 6 GPU Mining Rig Build Guide a look.

Mining Ethereum in 2018

It’s really hard to tell how long mining Ethereum will be worthwhile, with 3GB 1060s or any other card. There’s two main reasons why. First, Ethereum would like to move to Proof-of-Stake. Without explaining everything here, Proof-of-Stake is a completely different task than hashing away at the algorithm. Second, Bitmain has announced an Ethash ASIC miner. That means the landscape will soon, and no one knows how soon, essentially be taken over by more efficient mining ASICs.

What else can this GTX 1060s mining rig mine?

There’s plenty of algorithms and cryptocurrencies you can mine with this ethOS-powered mining rig. Even if Ethereum does switch to Proof-of-Stake or ASIC miners erode away at mining profits, there’s still plenty to mine including:

  • CryptoNightV7 – Monero
  • Ethash – Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Expanse, HUSH, Pirl, Ellaism, MusiCoin…
  • Equihash – Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Private, ZCash, ZenCash, ZClassic…
  • Lyra2REv2 – Monacoin, Vertcoin…
  • PHI1612 – Luxcoin
  • TimeTravel10 – Bitcore
  • Xevan – BitSend

Those are just a few, but you get the point. And, all of those are currently well profitable after electricity as long as you’re not paying some insane electricity rate.

Budget Ethereum mining rig parts list

Below we’ve shared the exact parts on our GTX 1060 Ethereum miner. We’ve also included substitutes that, when used, allow the exact same build instructions to be used.

You’ll also need an HDMI monitor, keyboard and mouse to while building the mining rig.

If worried about the potential of static electricity shocking a component, get and use an anti-static wrist strap or other static electricity discharge solution.

Since the power draw on the GTX 1060s is minimal we will be powering the riser cards with SATA cables. For 1060 cards, we are fine with this. If you prefer to use a more substantial cable, as some do, you will have to count how many cables come with your PSU and buy some 8-pin cables and/or 8-pin to dual 6+2-pin Y-cables to use powering the riser cards.

Assembling the mining rig

We are going to do an assembly with a single GPU, configure BIOS settings and then start up ethOS. Once we ensure the system will boot into ethOS and recognize the GPU we will power it down and add the remaining GPUs.

Static electricity can ruin sensitive computer parts including just about everything you will be touching. Be sure that any buildup has discharged before touching any part. And, never work on the mining rig with the power supply plugged into the wall.

Mining rig frame

For professional mining rig frames assemble Following the instructions that came with it. If using a wire shelving unit, like we did, you only need two of the shelves and four of the posts. When you’re complete you will have one shelf and four posts left over.

Motherboard, CPU and RAM

For all of these steps use the instructions that came with the motherboard, CPU and RAM if you are unsure about how to correctly complete a step. You can ruin hardware by not following the manufacturers. Do not plug the mining rig in.

  1. Unpack the motherboard, CPU and RAM
  2. Seat the processor in the 1151 slot on the motherboard in the correct orientation and secure it per the motherboard’s instructions
  3. Place the included CPU cooler/fan atop the processor and secure it with the four push connectors
  4. Connect the power cable from the cooling fan to the 4-pin power socket on the motherboard labeled CPU FAN
  5. Install and secure RAM in one of the DDR4 slots in one of the four available RAM slots
  6. Secure the motherboard and its components on the mining rig frame. If using a wire shelving unit instead of a professional frame, use a piece of cardboard as a buffer between the motherboard and frame. Again, if using the shelving unit, secure the motherboard to one end of the lower shelf with zip ties (see photos).

Power Supply and one GPU

Again, Never work on the mining rig with the power supply plugged into the wall. An unwanted shock can ruin hardware.

  1. Unpack one GPU and the Power Supply
  2. If using the wire rack, place the power supply on the end opposite of the motherboard. If using a professional frame use their recommended location.
  3. Place and seat the single GTX 1060 in the wide 16x PCI-e slot. It is the only PCI-e slot on the motherboard marked PCIEX16.
  4. Do NOT plug the power supply in to the wall.
  5. Run both CPU cables from the power supply to the motherboard. There is a 24 pin cable as well as an 8 pin CPU cable.
  6. Supply the GPU with power with a single 8-pin to dual 6+2 pin cable from the power supply to the top of the GTX 1060.
  7. Plug the 2-pin power switch to the correct pins on the motherboard and affix it somewhere convenient (see photos).

BIOS settings

Our mining rig has no operating system, so all it can do is boot into BIOS. That’s fine because we need to change some settings so we can run all 6 GPUs.

  1. Plug in your monitor, keyboard and mouse. ethOS prefers that HDMI cable for the monitor is plugged into the 1060 GPU, not the motherboard.
  2. Plug in the power supply (to the wall).
  3. Push the power switch that you added at the end of the previous section. The mining rig should power up. If it does not, there is a missing or loose power cable or the CPU or RAM were incorrectly installed.
  4. The mining rig will likely go straight to the BIOS. If an onscreen message appears with directions on how to get to the BIOS, do so.
  5. Make the following changes and/or verify the following BIOS settings:
    • BIOS > Windows 8/10 Features: Other OS
    • BIOS > CSM Support: Disabled
    • M.I.T. > Miscellaneous Settings > Max Link Speed: Gen2
    • Peripherals > Initial Display Output: PCIe 1 Slot
    • Peripherals > Above 4G Decoding: Enabled
    • Chipset > Internal Graphics: Disabled
    • Power > AC BACK: Always On
    • To turn off laser light show: Peripherals > Ambient LED: Off
    • Peripherals > Thunderbolt (TM) Configuration >  Thunderbolt(TM) Support: Disabled
    • Peripherals > SATA and RST Configuration > SATA{n} Port {n}: Disabled (disable them all)
    • Chipset > PCIEx4 Slot Link Width: x2
    • Chipset > VT-d: Disabled
    • Chipset > Audio Controller: Disabled
  6. Our BIOS version did not have “mining mode”. If yours does, Gigabyte’s microsite says it should be enabled.
  7. Press F10 and agree to the changes that were made
  8. As the miner starts to reboot, shut it down the mining rig by turning off the power

Booting into ethOS and adding GPUs

In this section all we want to see is if the budget Ethereum mining rig will successfully boot into ethOS and recognize the single GPU that should still be plugged in to the motherboard.

If you have issues check our troubleshooting section below.

  1. If the mining rig isn’t powered off, shut off the power. You do not need to unplug the miner, just cut the power with the switch you installed or by turning off the power switch on the power supply.
  2. Connect the ethernet cable from the motherboard to your router.
  3. Place the flash drive with ethOS in one of the USB slots.
  4. Power up the mining rig.
    • If the mining rig has an issue and does not boot into ethOS you will need to check the boot order of devices in the BIOS.
  5. You should be greeted with an ethOS logo on a black screen as the mining operating system initializes
  6. Once ethOS starts, it will go through its initial setup and hardware recognition
  7. On a black screen ethOS will display some disclaimers, a username and password, how much RAM is installed and how many GPUs are detected. Be patient if this takes a few minutes.
  8. Within a few minutes you should have a line recognizing what the GPU in the motherboard slot is. It will read something very similar to this:
    • 01 NVIDIA GP106 [GeForce GTX 1060 3GB]
  9. Soon after a screen with an ethOS logo and a smaller black window on the right-side of the screen will appear.
  10. Not long after the Nvidia GTX 1060 fan will start spinning rapidly. Everything is fine. At this point, the rig is mining with that single card and mining into ethOS’ wallet.
  11. Stop the miner by typing minestop and pressing return.
  12. Shut down the miner.
  13. Disconnect the power cable from the GPU

GPUs plus riser cards

Our budget Ethereum mining rig build is just about complete! Now we introduce the most frustrating part of every build: the riser cards. If there is a failure of some sort there’s a strong chance it’s a riser card.

  1. Shut down and unplug the mining rig.
  2. Connect the riser card to the GPU
  3. Attach the riser card’s power cable (which will have a SATA cable ending).
  4. Secure the GPU on your frame. If using the rack hang the GPU with wire ties (see photos).
  5. Plug the USB cord in to the riser card and plug the other end of the USB cord into the smaller board.
  6. Plug the small board into the same slot the GPU was previously seated in. Make sure it is plugged in correctly. This could ruin a riser card or damage a GPU.
  7. Connect the riser card’s power cable to a SATA cable running from the power supply.
    • Important: as you add subsequent cards, never power more than 2 risers from a single SATA cable.
  8. Plug in the power cord.
  9. Start the miner.
  10. The miner will go through the same sequence as in steps 4 through 10 from the Verify ethOS can start section above except it should recognize all of the Nvidia GeForce 1060s that are connected.
  11. Complete through steps 1 through 10 for each additional GPU of this section until all 6 GPUs are being recognized.

Configure ethOS for mining to your pool and wallet

Follow the instructions provided by ethOS to configure your wallet and pool settings. Don’t skip the section about updating your user names and passwords. You wouldn’t want some hacker having control over your mining rig!

Photos from the build

We’ve added a few photos from one of our Budget Ethereum Mining Rig Builds.

Troubleshooting the Budget Ethereum Mining Rig

No matter if this is your first or fiftieth build, mining rigs can give you grief. Our build with this motherboard, cpu, GPU combination went really smooth. It almost went too well. To be honest, we added all 6 GPUs with riser cards, skipping many of the steps altogether. ethOS recognized all but one GPU. We realized that GPU had a bad riser, and were off to the races.

Here are a few tell-tale signs when something is wrong and what you can try to do to fix it. If we hear of challenges others are having and we can help them fix them we’ll post our solutions here.

The system will not boot into ethOS

If you can get to the BIOS, but cannot boot into BIOS, these are things that could have gone wrong:

  • The USB Flash Drive might not be recognizable by the USB slot you are using. Try other slots.
  • The USB Flash Drive could be corrupted. If you got ethOS from GPUShack, we doubt this is the case.

Other problems with ethOS

If you’re having issues with ethOS, our best recommendation is turning to the ethOS knowledge base.

The system will not recognize GPUs connected with riser cards

This is a common one. It’s almost always the riser card. Check:

  • Verify the BIOS settings were made as specified and that none of them reset themselves
  • Ensure the GPU and the riser card are powered properly.
    • There should be no more than two GPUs powered by one 8 to dual 6+2 cable
    • There should be no more than two riser cards powered by one SATA cable
  • Try another riser card
  • Be sure the USB connections are snug on each end
  • Be sure the smaller riser card is inserted into the socket properl

If you’re having persistent issues, check the BIOS version you are running. Compare it with the recommended mining BIOS for the Z170X Ultra Gaming on their website. We did not need to go this route, but Gigabyte suggests it for those having challenges.

Still can’t get things running?

First, try Googling the challenge you’re having and see if you can find a solution. There’s some great forums, like the reddit GPU mining forum or the forum for the motherboard manufacturer where people are happy to help. Others might be using slightly different settings, and that doesn’t mean that ours are wrong. We have seen other settings that work fine besides ours.

There are plenty of questions and answers when troubleshooting ethOS, too.

If you’re stuck and are using the hardware we recommended and have followed each step we will try to suggest fixes for you if you contact us. We do this as a favor and are not the technical support for any of these hardware or software vendors. We merely document builds that we have done and had success with. Give us 48 to 72 hours to respond although we try to do so as quickly as we can.

We hope that your Budget Ethereum Mining Rig Build went well and that you’re mining away!