Mini Burst Mining/Gaming Rig



  • I thought it would be fun and maybe even useful to put together some parts for a Burst mining rig to help out those who want to start mining on a larger scale. Building a proper Burst mining rig will set you back at least a few grand, so this guide attempts to maximize your investment should you decide to take the plunge...

    The requirements for this build are as follows:

    1. Capable of plotting and scanning multiple hard drives simultaneously for mining Burst.
    2. Capable of running most modern games at 1080p at decent framerates and graphics settings.
    3. Must not cost more than $1000 for the core build (not including input devices, displays, or HDDs).
    4. Must conform to the Mini-ITX form factor (just for fun).
    

    The core of the build comes in at around $800. These parts give us a good base to build a miner with and an easy upgrade path to a better CPU and/or GPU in the future.

    Intel Core i3-7100 Kaby Lake Dual-Core 3.9 GHz CPU $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819117734

    ASRock Z270M-ITX/ac LGA 1151 Intel Z270 Motherboard $130
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157742

    G.SKILL NS Series 16GB (2x8GB) 288-Pin DDR4 2133MHz (PC4 17000) RAM $100
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820232300

    SAMSUNG 960 EVO M.2 250GB NVMe PCI-Express 3.0 x4 SSD $130
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16820147593

    SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 470 4GB 256-Bit GDDR5 Video Card $170
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202230

    SeaSonic M12II 620W 80 PLUS BRONZE ATX12V/EPS12V Full Modular PSU $70
    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16817151095

    Fractal Design Define Nano S Black Mini-ITX Silent Computer Case $60
    Includes a 120mm and a 140mm fan.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352061

    SilverStone CPF04 SATA 1-to-8 PWM Fan Hub $20
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811999309

    Now let's move on to adding hard drives to use for mining Burst. We will need a surge protector with at least six largely spaced outlets for powering the external drives. We will also mount some additional 140mm fans in the top of the case and then place our external drives there to give them active cooling.

    APC SurgeArrest P11VT3 8 Feet 11 Outlets 3020 Joules with Telephone and Coaxial Surge Protector $25
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812106085

    Fractal Design Dynamic GP-14 Black/White 140mm Hydraulic Bearing 1000RPM 68CFM 19dBA Fan $15 (x 2)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835352020

    There are only two spots to mount HDDs in the Fractal Define Nano S, so we will fill up both of them with NAS drives. The $50 premium on each NAS drive goes into extended reliability, warranty, and better read/write performance. We will utilize the NAS drives to create and optimize our plots for Burst mining using the GPU plot generator before moving the plots over to our slower external drives. I recommend creating your plots files in large consistently sized chunks of 200GB - 500GB each to make it easier to manage them and move them around.

    HGST Deskstar NAS 4TB 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.5" HDD $150 (x 2)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822145912

    Seagate Expansion 8TB 5900RPM 128MB Cache USB3.0 3.5" External HDD $200 (x 6)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?item=N82E16822178951

    It will take approximately 24 hours of continuous plotting with the GPU plot generator in direct mode to fill up both 4TB drives with optimized plot files and about 8 hours to copy them over to the external drives. You can either wait for all of your plots to finish and then copy the files over or start copying about half way through. The reason we don't want to plot directly to the external drives is because the ones we are getting are cheap archive drives that use a technology called SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording). This technology allows you to pack more data on a hard disk, but it sacrifices random write speed tremendously. By plotting to the NAS drives first, we avoid a bunch of random writes to the SMR disks in favor of a few huge sequential writes instead. By writing optimized plot files, we also maximize the life of all of our disks because they will be able to read their plots quicker and more efficiently while mining.

    The 'expansion' drives actually contain Seagate 8TB archive drives in them, model number ST8000AS0002. This is a bit odd because the same bare OEM drives almost always cost more. It's also very easy to 'shuck' these drives to remove them from their external enclosures and can connect them via SATA to your motherboard internally if you wish. How many you get depends entirely on your preferences and your budget. I use six in this example because we have six USB3.0 ports on the back of our motherboard. As a general rule of thumb, a single USB3.0 controller can handle 640MB/s and a 7200RPM HDD averages 80 - 160MB/s.

    A few things to note about these Seagate Archive SMR drives:

    1. They will generate quite a bit of heat even when only being read from.  Keep a fan pointed at them.
    2. Try to limit how often you write to these drives and try to avoid random write operations entirely.
    3. Make sure disk write caching is turned ON when writing to these drives or write speed will suffer.
    

    How to turn on disk write caching:

    Control Panel > Admin Tools > Computer Management > Device Manager > Disk drives > Right Click a drive >
    Properties > Policies > Enable write caching on the device

    Total cost would be $2355 for this Burst miner with a rather substantial 56TB capacity.



  • I made a few changes to the build to improve it a bit and save some extra cash. Original post has been edited as follows:

    Upgraded the motherboard from H270 to Z270 chipset for $20 just in case the CPU is ever upgraded.

    Replaced the dual 8TB NAS drives with dual 4TB NAS drives to save $100, but still retain redundancy.

    Simplified the plotting process to be a bit more realistic on the user's time.

    Added a bit more explanation for why the parts were chosen over other similar parts.



  • This was a fun read and very informative, thank you

    Quick reminder folks if you're going to buy something on newegg please use the forums links as we share in the revenue it's just good business



  • One small thing, you only have 1 pci-e slot



  • @dagentlemang Someone needs to teach me how the newegg revenue thing works and maybe even cut me in on it.

    @Focus Very true, but I wanted to stick to the Mini-ITX form factor for this build. Much would change if we went full ATX.



  • @sevencardz I love reading about rigs, nice post with great content.
    Thanks :D



  • @sevencardz said in Mini Burst Mining/Gaming Rig:

    There are only two spots to mount HDDs in the Fractal Define Nano S, so we will fill up both of them with NAS drives. The $50 premium on each NAS drive goes into extended reliability, warranty, and better read/write performance. We will utilize the NAS drives to create and optimize our plots for Burst mining using the GPU plot generator before moving the plots over to our slower external drives. I recommend creating your plots files in large consistently sized chunks of 200GB - 500GB each to make it easier to manage them and move them around.

    Thanks for this build plan. I appreciate the challenge of the reduced /ITX scaling. Have you considered entering the components into an build assistant, such as PcPartPicker?

    Going in the other direction, what about an E-ATX rig? Some of the CPU /MoBo /Case options have capacity for ~14 or more internal HHDs (+ SSDs). Obviously, this costs more, but presumably it would be faster and more efficient - with less necessity for external components.



  • @BeholdMiNuggets Eh, I keep all my builds in simple text files so I mostly just copied and pasted from those and didn't bother with a picker list. :) Going E-ATX for a Burst miner is certainly ambitious, but it's also probably overkill. Once you get into high-end workstation or server builds, you start to run into large diminishing returns for your investment (unless you already have the hardware, plan to use it for other things, etc). Burst mining is meant to run on low-end machines and not draw a lot of power or resources, so I would advocate building multiple cheaper machines with normal ATX hardware rather than one monster machine. Besides inherently giving you more redundancy should a machine fail, there's also a limited number of add-on cards and devices you can connect to any given machine before things start bottlenecking or you just run out of IRQs, even if you still have slots or ports left on your mobo. Once you've stacked about 100TBs on one machine and you want more, it's probably going to be cheaper and easier just to build a second machine.


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