Erik Weijers, 6 months ago

What is a mining rig?

A mining rig is the assembled hardware you need to mine crypto. Bitcoin is the best-known example of a coin that comes into circulation through mining. However, Ethereum is also (still) mined. Doge and Litecoin are also well-known coins in this list.

A mining rig is a kind of purpose-built computer specially designed to generate the highest possible computing power as efficiently as possible. The components are similar to those of an ordinary computer. Miners can be placed hundreds in a row in a professional mining farm. But home miners can also have a single one in the attic.

photo: Moneybright

ASIC mining

The main difference between a miner and a normal computer is that instead of a CPU, a miner contains a specialized central processor. In most cases, this is an ASIC. This is an Application Specific Integrated Circuit: a processor built to run just one algorithm as fast as possible: for example, Bitcoin's SHA-256 hashing algorithm. Incidentally, Monero is still mined with CPUs. The number of coins still being mined with GPUs (graphics cards) is small and will likely only decrease.

To get a rig up and running and keep it running, you need more components:

  • A "command center": in the case of ASICs, this is needed. A separate interface on which you can read out performance. In the case of GPUs, it can also be done on the computer that controls the GPU.
  • Mining software: this must be compatible with the type of processor. Is that an ASIC or another kind?
  • Power supply: a stable power supply is obviously important for these power-hungry machines.
  • Cooling: is essential to neutralize the heat generated. Good for the longevity of the components.
  • A rack or frame: a miner must be able to dissipate its heat and therefore have good space.

Maintenance

You can't set up a rig and think: I'm not going to look at it for a while. A rig needs maintenance, regular monitoring and tweaking. Every now and then you might want to decide whether you want to continue mining the same coin or switch to another one. That depends on the price of the coin in question and the competition from other miners (and of course if your miner is compatible/profitable for other coins). So setting up and maintaining such a rig should also be a bit of a hobby!

Is it worth it?

Depending on the price of the coin, it is still possible to mine at home at a profit. By the way, there are also small, silent, off-the-shelf mining computers that can be profitable - sometimes focused on mining a specific, lesser-known coin. You download an app and link it to a mining pool. You see the hashrate your miner provides. If and when you earn this back depends on your electricity price and the purchase price of the miner. There are sites where you can calculate this.

From the perspective of miners, it is unfortunate that alternative Layer 1s (the "Ethereum killers") are no longer being mined. They are all proof-of-stake and so miners can no longer grab big profits by mining from the beginning - which they could still do with Ethereum.

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