Building Your First GPU Miner: Part 2 – The Build

This is the second part of our series and will dive into putting all of the hardware together to build your miner.

Part 1: The Hardware

Part 2: Putting it all together (this post)

Part 3: Setting up the software (coming soon…)

Prerequisites

If you’ve never built a computer before, head on over to this LifeHacker post which breaks down the whole process step by step in detail. There’s plenty of resources on how to build a computer all over the place, so we won’t go into it here. This will get you to a base computer configuration using the hardware in our previous post.

Now that you’re familiar with building computers, we can jump right into it. There are a few notable differences that you’ll notice right off the bat:
 
  1. How do I plug in all these graphics cards?
  2. How do I wire up the power supply for all of this?
So make sure the standard base these are installed first:
  • Install Motherboard
  • Install CPU + Heatsink
  • Install RAM
  • Install Hard Drive
  • Install Power Supply

Build and Verify in Steps

It’s really easy to get carried away and want to build and install everything all at once, but to save time and frustration, we recommend that you build your system and test it small steps. This allows you to catch and address problems earlier while things are less complex. 

Verify Your Base Configuration

First before adding any of the graphics cards, it’s a good idea to check to make sure things are working as expected. Let’s boot it up and make sure everything turns on. If all goes well, your computer should turn on and you should see the Power On Self Test (POST) screen. Everything look good? Good, power everything off and we’ll jump into how to hook up all your graphics cards. 

 

Connecting the Risers

Now you’ll need to prepare your riser cables and graphics cards. Your motherboard only has enough space for 3 GPUs, but you can fit up to 8 with Risers and an M.2 adapter. Here we’re only going to worry about connecting up to 6 GPUs using the PCIe slots. When you open your Risers you’ll notice 4 components:

  1. Power Adapter
  2. Riser – 1x-16x PCIe connector with USB type port
  3. 16x PCIe expansion board with power and USB type connectors
  4. USB cable
You’ll first connect the Risers (#2) to your PCIe slots on the motherboard, then connect the USB cables (#4) to the riser. At this point it will look like the bottom right image below.

You’ll then connect the end of the USB cable to the Expansion board, and then connect your GPU to that board. Make sure to lock it in and mount the cards so they’re stable.

Image from Biostar website showing riser cards. Connect GPU to 16x PCIe Adapter (#2), then connect the 1x-16x Riser to your Motherboard (#3)

NOTE: The power for the GPU and Riser Cards MUST come from the same power supply.

WARNING: The USB adapter on the riser cards is NOT normal USB, it is ONLY a connector for these riser cards and cannot be plugged into any USB device/adapter.

 

Connecting Power to the GPUs

If you’re running NVIDIA 1070 GPUs you’ll be able to run off of one PSU, if you have 1080ti’s you’ll need two PSUs. At this point your PSU should be connected to the rest of your computer already.

Single PSU:

If you’re using the EVGA PSU recommended in the previous post, connect the 8-pin VGA port to each GPU. The expansion board will need to be powered also, which you will provide using the SATA/Peripheral power ports on your PSU.  

Dual PSU:

If you have 6 1080ti’s you will need two power supplies because they require 2 PCIe power connectors and your PSU only has 6. You will use the 1st PSU to power the first three GPUs and the 2nd PSU for the last 3. Once this is connected, you will connect the two PSUs together using this 24-pin dual PSU adapter cable.

Additional Resources

Vice put together a great video on how to build your system that you can also reference. If there’s anything unclear on this post, feel free to leave questions in the comments and we’ll be sure to provide you answers. 

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