Tuning the ASUS 1060 DUAL 6GB GPU for Ether mining

When mining for ETH you really want to get the most hashes per second at the lowest power consumption possible. There are a couple of calculators out there to help you play around with these parameters and see what kind of profit you would be getting.

I bought a power meter and plugged it in to see how much power my rig was consuming when mining. I also installed ASUS GPU Tweak II to be able to control some parameters of the ASUS 1060 DUAL 6GB GPU and HWInfo to get more detailed reading on memory frequencies, temperatures and power consumption. This was from running on stock settings:

mining on 1060 DUAL 6GB on stock settings

mining on 1060 DUAL 6GB on stock settings

consuming ~138w when mining on stock settings

consuming ~138W when mining on stock settings

I was getting out ~19 MH/s from the card and reaching temperatures of around 66C. The machine consumed about 138W and the GPU was using 100W.

It turns out, these stock settings are not optimal for mining as described in this article. You can lower the power target of the GPU and boost the memory clock significantly to get higher hash rates at lower temperatures and lower power consumption! Almost sounds to good to be true, but have a look:

mining on 1060 DUAL 6GB on modified settings

mining on 1060 DUAL 6GB on modified settings

consuming ~119w when mining on modified settings

consuming ~119W when mining on modified settings

I was now mining at ~22MH/s at 60C and only consuming 119W instead of 138W and the GPU only drawing 82W. The conclusion is that tuning matters, a lot! Numbers add up quickly when you have a mining rig running 24/7.

I played around a bit with the parameters of GPU Tweak II and found that the memory clock is the one that counts when it comes to hashrate. Underclocking it by 1500 Mhz got me a hashrate of ~12,2MH/s and overclocking it by 1500 MHz got me to 22 MH/s. The power target parameter mainly affected the power consumption, although bringing it down to 50% killed the hashrate as well. Setting the power target at 70% got me the best hashrate per Watt ratio. The GPU Voltage and GPU Boost Clock parameters didn’t do much for the hashrate at all.

Also, it looks like I’m not really utilizing my 750W gold rated PSU. I might try sticking in one more 1060 GPU in there. I wont be able to run the cards in SLI so it won’t improve gaming performance, but it would double the hash rate when mining.

What a difference a GPU makes

Putting things together

CPU mining wasn’t getting me anywhere as I wrote so I went shopping. Worst case was that I would be losing interest in mining and end up with a perfectly good gaming PC so win-win! This build isn’t at all optimized for mining but it did help as a proof of concept, and it does run Battlefront on Ultra settings in full hd at 60 fps. Here is what I went with:

  • ASUS Prime Z270-P motherboard
  • Intel Core i5-7600K
  • ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DUAL GPU
  • Corsair PowerSupply (PSU) RM750x 750W
  • Corsair Vengeance LPX White 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 / 2666Mhz / CL16
  • Fractal Design Define R5 – White / Window case
  • Samsung SSD 960 EVO 250GB
  • be quiet! Pure Rock CPU cooler

When building a mining rig you wont need that much RAM or a powerful CPU. Just lots of GPUs, some means to connect them all to your motherboard, a special case and a really powerful PSU. My build, as I said, is more of a mid range gaming PC that happens to do some mining.

components for gaming/mining pc

result of shopping spree

I hadn’t put together a PC from scratch for at least 15 years so this was good practice for me. It took a couple of hours, I struggled some with that CPU cooler, but in the end it worked out great.

Putting things together. Yes, I know that cooler is upside down. No, I wont fix it.

Payoff

I had been getting about 80 kH/s mining Ether on my Azure Ubuntu VM. Now was the time to see what that 1060 GPU could do. Turns out, a lot better. ~19 MH/s. And the thing wasn’t even running that hot (66C) and almost completely silent inside that Fractal case. The first payouts from Nanopool were coming in after a couple of days and my Ethereum wallet were no longer showing 0.00 ETH in balance.

Next up, tuning it.

gpu mining

mining eth on stock settings with 1060 DUAL 6GB

1060 in case

a look through the window of the fractal case

And more fans!

It wasn’t at all necessary for this build, but I got two more case fans some days later just because I could. One pushing in cold air from the bottom and one pulling out hot air at the top. This meant taking out some parts of the Fractal case and that was easier said than done. End result:

gaming-mining rig

Everything put together with two extra case fans

When you set up a mining vm in Azure and accidentally end up with a WordPress site

So that happened, and I might just keep it…

Long story short. The WannaCry ransomware attack happened, and I got interested in how that might affect the price of BitCoin. I read up a bit on crypto currencies and got fascinated by blockchain stuff in general and Ethereum in particular. During that time the USD/ETH chart looked like this:

eth/usd chart may-june 2017

eth/usd chart may – june 2017

That volatility was enough for me to decide that I needed the ability to trade the currency and learn more. First step was to download Mist and create an Ethereum address to be able to hold any ETH. Then, signing up for an account at an exchange that trades fiat and crypto currencies, and I ended up with Kraken. At the time of this insane ETH price development, I was apparently not the only one with this idea. Trading using Kraken requires that they verify some basic personal information before you can trade, and people were rushing to the site to set up accounts. I took me two weeks to get tier 1 verification and I’m still waiting on tier 2 about three weeks after applying.

So I was stuck with a very disappointing empty Ethereum address with no way to fill it up with Ether, except for mining that is. I had some Azure credit laying around unused so I thought maybe I could set up a virtual machine in the cloud to do some mining for me, and I inevitable stumbled upon this excellent post by David Burela on how to do just that.

cpu mining on ubuntu

azure cpu mining on ubuntu in progress

There’s lots to write about setting up a wallet/address, protecting your keys, what smart contracts are and how they make Ethereum great, setting up a miner, using a mining pool, and so on. By now there are many good resources out there on these topics so I won’t be covering any of them in great detail.

It turns out that mining ETH with a CPU is not good for anything except maybe learning about the process. CPUs just aren’t good at it. GPUs are though. So I finally had the perfect excuse to build a gaming PC! More on that in the next post. Anyhow, my Ubuntu VM in Azure wasn’t really helping anymore so I repurposed it as a web server and installed WordPress. And here we are! My plan right now is to mine some ETH with my gaming PC, sell that ETH for fiat currency on Kraken and transfer that money to my regular bank account. Once the whole process has been tested out, I’ll start building a proper rig, and what ever I learn I’ll post here.

This post is so for pretty useless for anyone who reads it, but it’s my first post and I need to start somewhere. Here is some condensed information on what I’ve learned so far:

  • CPU mining wont get you anywhere. You’ll get kH/s speeds when you need MH/s if you ever want to see a payout.
  • Mining on your own wont get you anywhere. Join a pool. I’ve tried Minergate which has it’s own GUI miner for Windows and low payout thresholds, but later switch to Nanopool and the Claymore miner after ETH payouts stopped working on Minergate for a coupe of days.
  • Syncing the blockchain with your own Mist-instance takes time. Lots and lots of time. Literally days for me. The syncing is done by geth which Mist runs in the background. For some reason the syncing just stopped for me when running it via Mist. I discovered that the latest version of Mist was using a old version of Geth. In order to sync with the chain for the first time I had to download the latest version of Geth and sync on my own. After that Mist has been able to keep the chain up to date. Hopefully this is no longer an issue for newer versions of Mist.
  • You don’t need to sync the chain to see the balance of your Ethereum address. Just use Etherscan.
  • You will want to read up on what happened with Ethereum Classic and the hard fork.
  • ICOs are the new IPOs and they are all the rage in the Ethereum network, raising tens of millions of USD in hours.
  • You will also want to know that there are ambitions of switching from the current Proof of Work protocol to a Proof of Stake protocol and that will affect mining in the future.
  • Follow what Vitalik and Vlad are up to.
  • What if the human race trusts cryptography with their most important communications and assets and someone successfully implements a quantum computer that essentially makes the algorithms in use obsolete? Mayhem. Also, people are already thinking about this and taking measures.