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I Built an Ethereum Mining Rig in 2020 for Under $1,000

Mining Ethereum in 2020 isn’t what it used to be, but it can still be profitable and satisfying.

t’s 2020, and I just built my first Ethereum mining rig. Really, it’s a GPU mining rig that can mine various cryptocurrencies, but I’m mining Ethereum while it’s still profitable. I’ve never built a mining rig or computer before. To get this one up and running, it cost me $978 — just under $1,000.

In 2016, I bought some Ethereum. I didn’t have much money at the time, but I’d been following Bitcoin since 2012 and was familiar with the crypto space. Ethereum was the new crypto to watch. Having read Bitcoin Magazine, I knew about Vitalik Buterin and thought Ethereum showed promise.

When I bought my first Ether (at roughly $12/ETH), I already owned some Bitcoin. Not a lot, but enough to make tracking the price interesting. I still had student loan debt to pay off and was never one to be too risky with any spare cash. My approach to Ethereum was the same.

I put a few hundred dollars in and become fully engaged in the space. Bitcoin had already hooked me, and now Ethereum was further reinforcing my desire to be part of the crypto community. From then on, I tracked prices, news, online forums, and chatted with friends about crypto every chance I got.

Somehow, I never got into mining until now. Looking back, I’m not sure what took me so long. It could’ve been a fear that I didn’t have enough technical knowledge to build a mining rig. Maybe I would start and fail, and feel bad about my effort.

Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t afford to invest any more money in a speculative space. I’m too cautious when it comes to my personal finances, and my small crypto portfolio still wasn’t anything life-changing. I also wasn’t a hardcore gamer, so I didn’t have the mindset of being able to simply repurpose a rig for gaming if it didn’t work out.

So, why build a GPU mining rig now? The simple answer is — COVID. I was home A LOT more. I started working from home (still am as of writing this). I didn’t have a commute that ate up big chunks of my morning and evening. When I was off work, I found time to dive deeper into my hobbies. One of those hobbies is crypto.

You can only do so much reading and chatting about crypto until you find yourself looking for another, more tangible, way to get involved.

Like I said before, I never had too much money in crypto, despite discovering it on the early end. I was more of an early crypto evangelist rather than a true early adopter, getting friends with higher-paying jobs and more money on hand to buy Bitcoin and Ether for themselves.

You can only do so much reading and chatting about crypto though until you find yourself looking for another, more tangible, way to get involved. GPU mining revealed itself as that more tangible action I could take.

I had my small yet calculated portfolio. To this day, my crypto holdings haven’t changed much. It’s mainly Bitcoin and Ether, but (like so many others) I dabbled in Litecoin, XRP, and a handful of other altcoins along the way. Today, building the GPU mining rig with the intention of mining Ether probably says something about my long term stance on various cryptos.

The GPU Ethereum mining rig is a way for me to be a more active participant in cryptocurrency.

I’m not a trader. The crypto I hold is just for that — holding for the long term. I HODL, and that’s it. When Bitcoin was used more commonly for payments years ago, I spent some BTC here and there, but now it’s all about stacking sats. And since it’s nearly impossible to make a profit mining Bitcoin as an individual, Ethereum, via a GPU mining rig that can pivot to other altcoins when needed, was the next best way to become a miner.

If you’re reading this, you likely know what a GPU mining rig is. Just in case you don’t though, I’ll explain. In short, a GPU mining rig is a specialized computer built for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies. This particular type of rig uses GPUs, or graphics processing units, to mine. You might also know these as graphics cards.

A GPU mining rig is a specialized computer built for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies.

Currently, Ethereum uses a proof of work (PoW) system. This means that Ethereum miners use their computers to spend time and computing power to solve complex mathemetical problems. Solving these problems verifies Ether transactions on the network and miners are rewarded for their efforts.

The good thing about a GPU mining rig is that it can adapt and you can mine a variety of altcoins — not just Ethereum.

The future of Ethereum, however, is moving toward a proof of stake (PoS) system. Ultimately, this changeover will force GPU Ethereum miners to other mine altcoins instead. The good thing about a GPU mining rig is that it can adapt and you can mine a variety of altcoins. And, a nice little extra perk is that, if you’re a gamer, you can use the rig as a solid gaming computer.

GPU mining Ethereum can still be profitable, even in 2020. Depending on the cards you’re using, your cost of electric, and your all in total you need to hit to reach break even, exactly what profitability looks like will vary.

The easiest way to estimate how much you can earn is by determining your cost of electric, parts, and by looking up the GPUs you’ll be using at a place like WhatToMine.

GPU mining can still be profitable in 2020. It’s not what is used to be, but it’s another way to earn more crypto over time with a set amount of money. Plus, you can likely build out your rig over time to increase your return.

Cryptocurrency mining profits aren’t what they used to be. In the earliest of crypto days, you could even mine right on your computer, using your CPU, to generate lots and lots of Bitcoin. I missed that boat… as did most of us. With it becoming more and more difficult to mine over time though, this has changed. You can’t realistically mine something like Bitcoin or Ethereum and make money by CPU mining.

While it’s not going to make the individual miner rich, GPU mining is another way to take a fixed amount of money, and instead of just buying the equivalent to that amount of crypto with it, you put it to work to ultimately earn more than that set amount over time.

Building your crypto stacks through GPU mining will still take time, but you can run the numbers for yourself. Based on your mining costs, determine when you’ll start generating more crypto than you would’ve gotten by just buying it on an exchange.

I did a lot of research before I bought everything for my GPU mining rig. Again, I’m not your traditional techie but was familiar enough with mining by being around the space.

I knew where to start looking for the right info. I also knew, however, that I wanted to do as much research as I could before getting started. The last thing I wanted was to hit some unforeseen roadblock that completely stumped me.

Before we get into a parts list, there’s plenty of other things to consider before you start GPU mining at home.

Do you have space for a GPU mining rig? A small rig is pretty compact, but it still takes up space and needs electricity. Will it bother anyone else that you live with? The larger the rig, the more heat and noise it’s going to make. Depending on where you put it and who you live with, this could make a difference.

Do you have time to start GPU mining? Once your rig is up and running, maintenance doesn’t eat up much time. Getting started can though. Assembling and adding parts becomes much much easier once you’ve gotten the hang of it, but there is a lot of waiting around for parts to arrive, time needed for research, and time needed for any unknowns you run into.

Now, a basic parts list. I’ll include links to what I bought.

  • Motherboard — I went with the asus b250 mining expert because it has a long enough track record of success. I bought mine new and it technically can support up to 19 GPUs if you want to get real crazy.
  • Hard drive — I used a solid state drive (SSD) but either a standard HD or SSD can work, and even just a USB drive in some cases.
  • RAM — depending on the size of your rig, you may want to add more RAM. I went with two sticks of 4 GB. Make sure it’s compatible with your MOBO.
  • PCIE Risers — these allow you to connect multiple GPUs to your motherboard and place them on a rack, spaced out above the rest of your rig. I bought a six-pack.
  • GPU — this, along with the motherboard, is the most critical piece. Checkout WhatToMine.com to see the profitability of different cards. The better the card, the more expensive it will be. I went with an older card that still has decent profitability. I started with 2, and am adding 4 more over the next few months.
  • Power Supply — your PSU is critical. Know how much power you need before you get started and don’t skimp on a PSU. As I scale up my rig, I’m also leaving space to accommodate a second PSU.
  • CPU — I bought a used CPU. The biggest thing here is to make sure your CPU is compatible with your motherboard. Look at your MOBO specs to find out.
  • CPU Cooler — if you’re buying a used CPU like me, it my not come with a cooler. These are cheap. I found one for about ten bucks.
  • Rig Frame — some people build their own frames. I didn’t have parts around to do that so I bought a 6 GPU frame kit. It was pretty easy to assemble. Took roughly an hour to assemble. For my frame, I went to eBay and won an auction for this frame for about $39. But they shouldn’t get too expensive, even for an 8 or more GPU frame.
  • Monitor — no link for this one. I had a monitor on hand. You can also just use a TV to get things setup. Just make sure your MOBO and monitor have like connections. I also am keeping my rig next to my home office setup so that I can easily connect to the monitor to check on things.
  • Keyboard, Mouse, Fans, etc. — there will be other things like these that help you actually get the rig up and running. No links bc pretty much any will do. Also consider things for cable management and general airflow throughout your rig. Cards can run hot. There are fans made for rigs or you can find another way to work in cooling.
  • WiFi Adapter — I’m using a WiFi adapter that plugs into a USB port on the MOBO. If your planning to have your mining rig close to your modem or router though, you can also connect it via ethernet.

GPU mining isn’t for everyone. I will say though, it’s not as intimidating as I thought it would be. Do your research. Talk to people. Join online forums like VoskCoinTalk, watch YouTube videos, dive deep into Reddit, and get into the nitty gritty of it all if you want to get started.

You’ll probably find that the cryptocurrency community is welcoming and collaborative. GPU mining has reinvigorated some of the same feelings I had about crypto several years ago.

Get creative with it and know that you can start small. It IS possible to GPU mine cryptocurrencies at a reasonable price point in 2020. You won’t become wealthy by it, but you’ll feel accomplished and more involved.

There’s a satisfaction that comes with building a GPU mining rig.

Once it was up and running, I was relieved and proud. You should also know that you can start small. You don’t need to buy a $2,000–3,000 graphics card to start getting some skin in the game.

I started by building a 6 GPU rig frame with only 2 cards actually running to keep my initial costs under $1,000. Then, simply add cards as you go. Budget money over the next month or two to add a card or bake in scaling up to your long term ROI. Get creative with it. It is possible to GPU mine at a reasonable price point in 2020.

Who knows — maybe the price of your particular cryptocurrency will spike. It’s happened before. All of sudden that small amount you’ve mined could be worth 2, 3, or 10X what you thought it was.

Some think Bitcoin will eventually reach $1 million per Bitcoin. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but… if it does, Ethereum will likely be worth a lot more than it is today. Throw potential price spikes out the window though. GPU mining is great if you want to get more involved in the community and maybe you’re also a techie or just want to explore a more technical hobby.

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