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Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category

It has been almost 3 months since we first got our hands on the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G Mining GPU based on the Nvidia GP106-100 (a miner oriented variation of the consumer GeForce GTX 1060). Our first impressions from the mining version that Gigabyte has offered on the market weren’t that good on a few things and one of these being the use of sleeve bearing instead of ball bearings for the fans. Previously we’ve had bad experience with Gigabyte Windforce fans using sleeve bearings for not being very dust resistant and durable for mining use and starting to degrade in terms of cooling performance and even fail. We wanted to try out the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G fans and since these cards are being sold with just 3 months warranty we had to check the situation with the fans a bit before the warranty expires…

We have purposely left the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G running for almost three months in not that great conditions for mining, without cleaning the dust getting accumulated and with the GPU running a bit hotter than we consider optimal at around 50 degrees Celsius. Of course we did not use extreme conditions here like a very dusty environment and high temperature, even though some people do run miners in such conditions and not care about the possible problems they can have with the hardware running 24/7 for long period of time under heavy load. The good news is that even though there have been a bit of dust buildup on the whole video card, the fans did not show any sign of degrading in terms of cooling performance. So the good news is that they will not fail before the warranty of 3 months will run out (most likely), good job Gigabyte, but since these are mining GPUs they will need to work much more than just 3 months. We actually had issues with some Gigabyte fans on some AMD Radeon RX 400/500 series starting to have issues in just about 3-4 weeks, though most usually do continue working fine for longer periods of time.

However we have seen some signs that are giving up early warnings that in 3rd to 6th month of operation if the fans are not maintained they could start degrading and ultimately failing at some point after that. There was almost no dust particles found inside the sleeve bearing after disassembling the fans to check them, however the lubricant that was plentiful when the GPU was brand new was almost completely evaporated in a bit less than just 3 months of use. Once the lubricant evaporates the performance of the fan starts degrading and things can start failing once the sleeve bearing starts to get damaged and clogged with dust. This is precisely why sleeve bearing fans are not that good for mining, so if you have video cards that you use for mining that have sleeve bearings you need to take more care for them. They need to be cleaned from dust more often and it is a good idea to lubricate them every few months in order to extend their life. This is especially important for mining video cards with limited warranty where you cannot just replace a card because of a failed fan after the 3 months warranty of these GPUs passes.

Our advice is to go for GPUs with ball bearing fans when possible when you are building mining rigs and not for ones with sleeve bearings. Ball bearing fans do tend to have larger life and be more durable especially under higher operating temperatures when compared to sleeve bearings. The higher the operating temperature, the lower the reliability and durability of the sleeve bearing fans will be and we all know that with mining we have constantly higher operating temperatures. In both cases however regular maintenance can and will help you get longer life of the fans without trouble. If you are already past the point of having sleeve bearing fans operate at their best or they are even starting to fail, then you might want to check our guide on how to repair non-serviceable GPU fans. In it we cover how to disassemble sleeve bearing fans and remove the metal bushing and replace it with ball bearings in order to bring back to life and extend the operating time of the fans (if it is not too late to revive them). The whole problem with ball bearing fans is that they are just more expensive than sleeve bearings and yet even on high-end and very expensive GPUs we can still find companies using sleeve bearings for their fans, so what is left for cheaper ones and especially models where the manufacturer is looking to save on costs like with some of the mining GPUs.

We got an interesting tip about some new motherboards intended for GPU mining rigs. Colorful, a Chinese manufacturer of video cards and motherboards as well as some other computer related products, seems to be joining the GPU mining market as well with three different motherboards for miners. Colorful is apparently focused mostly on the local Chinese market, though some of the company’s products are available in other parts of the world, their English website however is nothing much to be proud with. There are not that many details about the three mining motherboards in question in English, but you can still get a decent idea on what they offer and what to expect. If you don’t live in China the chances of being able to find these motherboards on the local market are actually not that high anyway…

The first motherboard Colorful C.H81A-BTC V20 is essentially not entirely new, it was announced a while ago and should already be on the market, while the other two new models will most likely be available later this month. The C.H81A-BTC V20 is based on Intel H81 chipset and is intended for Intel LGA1150 processors, providing support for up to 6x GPUs. A pretty basic alternative to other popular solutions like AsRock’s H81 Pro BTC for example that this product from Colorful kind of seems to be designed from. For more information visit the official English product page of the C.H81A-BTC V20.

The next model which is more up to date in the form of chipset and features is the Colorful C.B250A-BTC V20. It is an Intel B250 based motherboard intended for the more recent Intel LGA 1151 processors with support for up to 12 video cards, though that 12 GPU support may be limited depending on the operating system you use (up to 8 AMD/Nvidia under Windows). What is more interesting here is that the motherboard actually has just 6x PCI-E slots and the other 6x GPUs connect via USB 3.0 connectors. This simply means that you do not need to use the small PCB board that plugs in the PCI-E slots from the usual package of PCI-E riser boards that rely on USB 3.0 cables for data. For more information visit the official English product page of the C.B250A-BTC V20.

The third offer is with a non-standard motherboard in terms of size and features as it is probably originally intended to be used in dedicated GPU miners like the ones with 8x GP106 mining edition cards from Nvidia. The Colorful C.B250A-BTC PLUS V20 is based on Intel B250 chipset and is intended for 8x GPUs without the need of any PCI-E risers as the board comes with full size x16 PCI-E slots with enough space in between them. The presence of two rows of 8x PCI-E power connectors suggests that the motherboard is designed to handle higher power loads, there are some more specifics about this product as well like the use of SO-DIMM memory slot. The connectivity of the backplane is more limited in terms of connectivity and there is no traditional 20/24-pin ATX motherboard power connector apparently being used here. For more information visit the official English product page of the C.B250A-BTC PLUS V20.

It seems that BitMain is willing to extend its presence from just the ASIC mining market as the company is apparently releasing two new devices for miners that are essentially dedicated GPU miners. For now the devices dubbed G1 with 8x GeForce GTX 1060 GPUs and G2 with 8x Radeon RX570 GPUs are only listed on the Chinese website of the company with prices only in CNY. This means that they are most likely targeted initially for the Chinese miners market and may not be sold outside of the country. Inside the server like cases we are expecting to see mining versions of the GPUs being used as this is the way to go with such solutions intended for large scale mining operations and not for small home miners. As one would expect the devices are targeted at Ethereum (ETH) miners with hashrates listed for the Ethash mining algorithm, though you should in theory be able to mine pretty much any other cryptocoin that can be mined with GPU. The first batch of GPU miners from BitMain is apparently for 500 units of each.

BitMain G1 8x GTX 1060 GPUs:
– CPU: Inter Broadwell-u 3215 or 3205
– Memory: 4GB SO-DIMM, DDR3 / L-1600
– Hard disk: 1 x Msata 64G SSD
– Ethernet: 1 x 10M / 100M / 1000Mbps (Intel I210-AT)
– USB interface: 2 x USB 2.0
– Display interface: 1 x HDMI
– Graphics card: 8 x NVIDIA GeForce GTX1060
– Hashrate: ETH Hash Rate: 200MHash ± 10%
– Carton size: 530mm x 320mm x 160mm
– Weight: 12.5Kg (without power)
– Price: 18700 CNY or about $2863 USD

BitMain G2 8x RX 570 GPUs:
– CPU: Inter Skylake-s G3900-LGA1151, PCH-B150
– Memory: 8GB UDIMM, DDR4 -2133
– Hard disk: 1 x 2.5inch Sata 128G SSD
– Ethernet: 1 x 10M / 100M / 1000Mbps (Intel I210-AT)
– USB interface: 2 x USB 3.0
– Display interface: 1 x VGA
– Graphics card: 8 x AMD Radeon RX570, GDDR5
– Hashrate: ETH Hash Rate: 220MHash ± 10%
– Carton size: 555mm x 445mm x 132mm
– Weight: 15Kg (including power)
– Price: 19700 CNY or about $3016 USD

There is no mention of power usage and what power supplies are included in the miners or you need to take care of this on your own. Based on the description of the miners it is possible that the G1 does come without a PSU (there are external PCI-E power connectors on the chassis) while the G2 may actually have one built-in (judging from the photos), but it is not very clear. No information of the GPUs inside are mining edition cards or not, nor what is the amount of video memory of the video cards used 3/6GB for Nvidia or 4/8GB for AMD. These are all things that people interested in GPU miners would really be interested in and currently they are not being listed as details.


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