Cryptocurrency mining has been around for years, starting with Bitcoin (BTC) in 2009. In the early years, Bitcoin mining Difficulty was low enough that Bitcoin miners could mine substantial quantities of the digital currency. This allowed miners to earn impressive profits from Bitcoin’s appreciation in value.
In the years that followed, a range of other cryptocurrencies entered the market with a similar mining model to Bitcoin. This presented an opportunity to mine alternative digital currencies (altcoins) with less competition than Bitcoin.
Whichever cryptocurrency you choose to mine, your first step is purchasing or building a crypto mining rig. In this article, we’ll dive into what cryptocurrency mining is, what mining rigs are, and how to build a mining rig.
What Is Cryptocurrency Mining?
Cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to create decentralized and distributed networks composed of nodes. Each of these nodes, whether run by an individual or group, collectively secures the network by authenticating data on the blockchain through a process called consensus.
The exact method of securing these networks can vary, with the two most popular being mining and staking. We’ll be focusing on mining.
Mining-based networks use a consensus mechanism called Proof-of-Work. Miners “mine” blocks of transaction data, which are then added to the blockchain ledger.
To mine these blocks, miners must carry out computationally intensive tasks in the form of cryptographic puzzles. For their effort, they receive the network’s cryptocurrency as a reward. This process is repeated to ensure an up-to-date ledger representing the latest network transactions. Rewards are earned by the first miner that completes the “mining” task.
As the number of miners on the network increases or decreases, so does the mining Difficulty level. This mechanism regulates the time it takes to mine rewards, which prevents coins from being mined too quickly or too slowly and ensures that transaction processing times are relatively constant.
These days, mining requires specialized hardware to perform increasingly intensive mining tasks. In the beginning, you could mine with regular computer hardware, but the constant increase in Difficulty has made it almost impossible to mine without specialized equipment.
In fact, if you’ve ever heard stories of NVIDIA GPUs being out of stock, this is because miners purchase these powerful hardware units to perform mining!
Another important mining mechanism is the halving, or ‘halvening’. This idea is used to ensure the ‘scarcity’ of a digital currency supply, which can help combat economic inflation (although how well this works is subjective).
If we use Bitcoin as an example, mining rewards are halved every four years or so. The most recent Bitcoin halving took place in May 2020, which reduced mining rewards from 12 BTC to 6.25 BTC. The next halving is predicted to take place sometime in 2024 and will reduce the rewards to 3.125 BTC.
Why Should You Mine Cryptocurrencies?
If mining requires specialized hardware and is generally becoming more difficult, why should you even bother doing it? Well, there are a few reasons.
Firstly, you can choose alternatives to Bitcoin for cryptocurrency mining. While the Bitcoin mining Difficulty level can be very high, this may not be the case for other ‘smaller’ cryptocurrencies.
Suppose you want to know how profitable it can be to mine these other cryptos. In that case, you can use online mining calculators to estimate how long it will take to recover your investment in hardware and electricity costs.
Secondly, there is the distinct possibility that the cryptocurrencies you mine will appreciate in value. The time it takes for this to happen can vary depending on whether the crypto market is in a ‘Bull’ or ‘Bear’ market, but over a long period of time, it can provide a tidy revenue stream.
The two main costs to consider when it comes to turning a profit are hardware and electricity bills. If you can mine enough crypto to recover these expenses and make a profit, you might be looking at a steady income stream.
And lastly, there is the idea that you’ll play a part in securing the specific cryptocurrency network. This can be appealing if you believe in the fundamental principles of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.
What Is a Mining Rig?
A cryptocurrency mining rig is a combination of hardware that’s been designed to perform computationally intensive mining tasks in the most efficient manner possible. Depending on the mining setup, this could be via CPUs, GPUs, or even application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs).
As of 2022, CPUs are rarely used for actual mining as they have been almost entirely replaced by GPU or ASIC mining rigs. These can be hundreds of times more powerful than a CPU-based mining rig, but they are also much more expensive.
Ultimately, a mining rig is a computer that has been designed for a particular purpose. And if you want to know how to make a crypto mining rig, you’ll need these components:
- Mining Rig Frame
- GPU(s) or ASIC(s)
- Storage (SSD or HDD)
- Power Supply Unit (PSU)
- PCIe USB Risers
On top of that, you’ll need a cryptocurrency wallet (hardware or software) to store your mining rewards, mining software, a bootable OS (Windows, Linux, etc.) loaded onto a flash drive, a monitor, and of course, a mouse and keyboard to complete the software setup.
How Much Does a Mining Rig Cost?
Multiple factors go into deciding the budget for your mining rig. The GPU or ASIC is by far the most expensive component of the rig, and even the most straightforward setup will cost you somewhere between $1,300 - $1,500 in 2022.
You might be tempted to choose GPUs since ASICs are more expensive, but remember that you may need at least two GPUS for an effective setup.
And then there’s the unavoidable and constant cost of electricity to run your rig, which will vary depending on where you’re located.
The best bet here is to find your electricity rates, calculate the total wattage needed to run your rig for 24 hours, and then you should be able to estimate the monthly expense. Ensure you don’t overlook this cost when figuring out your cryptomining setup!
Which Cryptocurrencies Can You Mine?
There are several cryptocurrencies that you can mine. Bitcoin may be the most prominent and popular choice, but this is probably out of reach for the vast majority of individuals due to huge levels of competition and mining Difficulty.
Instead, you’ll want to turn your attention to other crypto tokens like those in the table below. The block rewards for each will vary as time goes on, as will the actual dollar value depending on the token’s current price.
But who knows how much profit you might make if you can mine a popular coin or one with the potential for future adoption? Take DOGE, for example; if you had mined this in 2020 and sold when the price surged at the start of 2021, you would have been very happy indeed!
Mining Reward Per Block (2022)
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
Want to boost your crypto skills?
How to Build a Mining Rig
Now that you know what cryptocurrency mining is, why it’s useful, and which cryptocurrencies you can mine, let’s look at how to build a mining rig.
We’ll focus on building a GPU mining rig, and we’ll assume that you’ve already picked out your components from the list above.
1. Prepare the Motherboard
The motherboard is at the center of your mining rig.
To start, you’ll need to place your motherboard on a static-free surface. You’ll then be ready to install the CPU in the motherboard’s CPU socket.
2. Install CPU, Heat Sink & Fan
Be careful when installing the CPU.
Before doing anything else, ensure that the CPU lever socket is in the released position. You’re then going to place the CPU into this socket.
Important: make sure you can see an arrow that tells you how to orient the CPU in the slot.
When handling your CPU, you need to be extra careful not to bend the CPU pins, so gently place the CPU in the socket and then turn the lever to the locked position.
Next, apply thermal paste to the top surface of your CPU. You’ll then be ready to mount the heat sink and fan on the CPU. Finally, you can attach the fan’s cable to the motherboard.
Note: we recommend you refer to your component manuals for any specific instructions at each stage of the rig build process.
3. Install RAM
You won’t need much RAM for your mining rig.
Now it’s time to install your RAM in the motherboard’s memory slot.
To start, open the RAM bracket catches at either end of the RAM slots. Then, gently but firmly push the RAM into the memory slots.
You’ll know if you’ve installed the RAM correctly as you’ll hear an audible click as the end brackets automatically latch onto the RAM modules.
4. Install Motherboard
We’ll install the motherboard on the lower deck of the mining frame.
Whether you’re using a metal frame, or a wooden frame that you’ve built yourself, you may want to rest the motherboard on a non-conductive (wooden or plastic) object to prevent any short circuits or scratching of the motherboard’s underside.
Otherwise, you must ensure that the motherboard only makes contact with the fixing screw holes.
Finally, screw the motherboard in tightly.
5. Install Power Supply Unit (PSU)
The PSU delivers power to all of your rig’s components.
Next, we’ll install the Power Supply Unit (PSU) in a location close to the motherboard. We can then connect the 24-pin power cable to the motherboard and an 8-pin cable to power the CPU.
Note: refer to your PSU’s manual to check for the correct 8-pin cable for the CPU. Don’t confuse this with the GPU’s 8-pin cable, which is usually thinner.
6. Install PCIe USB Risers & GPU
The GPU is at the heart of the mining rig.
We’ll start with the PCIe risers.
Firstly, connect the x1 end of the USB riser to a free PCIe slot on your motherboard; this can be an x1 or x16 slot.
Next, we’ll attach the GPU to the top of the frame to ensure excellent airflow around the unit. You can then connect the x16 end of the USB riser to the GPU.
The final stage of the riser install is to connect a USB cable between the x1 and x16 USB riser cards. This completes the GPU’s connection to the motherboard.
The only thing left for this step is to take care of power.
To start, you’ll need to connect power cables to the x16 end of the USB riser (connected to the GPU). Depending on your PCIe riser model, this could be a 6-pin PCIe connector, 15-pin SATA, or 4-pin Molex cable.
Finally, you’ll need to connect the PSU’s PCIe 6+2 power cables to the GPU.
7. Install Storage (SSD or HDD)
Now you’ll need to choose a location to mount your storage device (SSD or HDD). You’ll then need to connect this to your motherboard with a SATA 3 data cable (pick any free SATA 3 port), and it will also require a SATA power cable from your PSU.
If you’ve opted for newer and faster NVMe SSD storage, you can connect this to a free PCIe x16 slot without additional cabling.
And that’s it. You’ve assembled your cryptocurrency mining rig!
How to Setup a Mining Rig
Now, it’s time to focus on setting up the mining rig.
Before doing anything else, we need to connect the GPU to a monitor with a suitable cable (HDMI or DP). We then need to connect a mouse, a keyboard, and an ethernet cable for internet access.
We’re now ready to complete our crypto mining set up. Let’s configure the miner!
Firstly, switch your mining rig on, then press F2 or ‘delete’ to access the BIOS settings for your motherboard. Then press F7 to access the advanced settings screen.
Next, we’ll configure our rig’s hardware settings.
- Click System Agent (SA) Configuration, select DMI/OPI Configuration, and set DMI Max Link Speed to Gen1
- Stay in the System Agent to access PEG Port Configuration, and change all PCIEX16_x to Gen1
- Access the PCH Storage Configuration screen, then disable all ALL SATA devices that are NOT connected to an SSD
- Still within the PCH Configuration screen, access PCI Express Configuration and set PCIe Speed to Gen1
- Access the Onboard devices Configuration screen, then disable HD Audio Controller settings
- Access the APM Configuration screen, then set‘Restore AC Power Loss’ to ‘Power On’ (this step is optional)
- Access the BIOS Boot settings screen, then disable Fast Boot and enable ‘Above 4G Decoding’
Now, plug a USB flash drive with a pre-configured bootable Windows OS into a free USB slot on the motherboard. Wait for this to boot, and follow the installation steps to install the OS.
Note: Do not install OneDrive or Cortana, and make sure you turn off all unnecessary services like location and advertisements.
After the OS install is complete, log in to Windows and head directly to the Nvidia website to download the latest drivers for your GPU. When you install these, uncheck all options apart from the graphics driver (we don’t want to bloat our miner with unnecessary apps and software).
Now you can install the GPU mining software of your choice. Follow any instructions and wait for the installation to complete.
The final step is connecting to a mining pool via the GPU mining software and following any instructions on the mining pool’s website.
Awesome, you’re all set, and you can start mining cryptocurrencies!
Things to Keep In Mind
There are a few things to keep in mind before building your crypto mining setup.
Firstly, electricity costs. This plays a huge role in the profitability of your mining rig. As the one guaranteed recurring expense for all miners, you need to keep an eye on it, as it can eat into your earnings.
So, if you’re planning to run your rig’s hardware 24/7, it’s unsurprising that this can lead to massive power consumption. It’s a no-brainer to say that knowing how much your electricity costs is key to calculating how much profit you can make from mining.
Of course, your mining activities' actual profitability depends on the crypto token’s current value. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to ride the wave of a wild ‘Bull’ market, much like that in 2020-2021, which led to huge appreciations in value for many cryptos, including mining tokens.
The next thing to keep in mind is cooling. Your rig’s hardware components, especially the GPU, will run very hot, and you must cool these efficiently to ensure a long life.
Related to cooling is the actual physical location of your mining rig. Generally speaking, rigs can be noisy machines that increase the ambient temperature of their surroundings.
So, if you can, it’s always a good idea to keep your rig in its own, ideally cool, room, as this can keep the noise away and help with passive cooling.
Perhaps the most important consideration for any mining rig is the selection of GPU or ASIC.
Unsurprisingly, there are many options in this area, and as you’d expect, the more powerful the device, the better it performs, and the more it costs. If you’re thinking of building a GPU mining rig, but you’re unsure which to pick, check out our article on the 8 best GPUs for Crypto Mining.
Lastly, if you want to get involved in crypto mining but are unsure if you’re ready to build a mining rig, you can also consider cloud mining platforms.
These allow you to mine crypto without purchasing or building a physical mining rig, removing the need to worry about electricity costs or hardware maintenance. You simply buy a cloud mining contract, and off you go! If this interests you, check out our article on the 8 best Cloud Mining sites.
Let’s look at a few common problems and their solutions that you may have to troubleshoot at some point with your mining rig.
Rig won’t boot
Display working? Yes: Faulty CPU, Faulty GPU, or Faulty GPU/CPU connections; No: Faulty boot drive, Data corrupted
GPU not recognized
Check PCIe risers & cables, Check GPU, Check PSU connection & cables, Reinstall GPU drivers
Check PSU providing enough power, Check overclocking settings, Reset Windows OS to factory settings, Check BIOS settings
Check GPU cooling fans, Check CPU fan, Check overclocking settings, Ensure adequate room ventilation
Cryptocurrency mining has been growing in popularity since the release of Bitcoin in 2009, yet constant increases in mining Difficulty and competition mean that Bitcoin mining has become less accessible to the hobbyist or individual miner.
Despite this, the aspiring crypto miner can choose from several other cryptocurrencies to mine, with less competition and lower up-front hardware costs.
This article has covered the key steps on how to build a mining rig for crypto in 2022. This includes the main hardware components you’ll need, how to connect these together to create a mining rig, and how to configure your new rig to start mining crypto tokens.
Want to learn more about blockchain technology? Check out:
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How Much Does Building a Mining Rig Cost?
Mining rig costs can vary based on how powerful you’d like it to be. Generally speaking, you can expect it to cost somewhere between $1,300 - $1,500 in 2022.
2. How Much Can a 6 GPU Mining Rig Make?
There is 5-10% profit potential with a 6 GPU mining rig. But, many factors are involved, including electricity costs and the token’s current or future value.
3. Is It Worth Building a Mining Rig in 2022?
Some cryptocurrencies are still profitable to mine in 2022. But, you must calculate whether the investment in hardware and ongoing electricity costs is worth it.
4. What Is The Most Profitable Crypto to Mine?
Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR), and Dogecoin (DOGE) are some of the more popular and profitable cryptocurrencies to mine. However, you need to perform your own calculations to see how long it will take for your rig’s hardware investment and ongoing electricity costs to turn a profit.
5. How Much RAM Does a Mining Rig Need?
In 2022, you should be fine with 4 to 16 GB of RAM for a cryptocurrency mining rig. Beginner miners should be fine with 8 GB of RAM.