Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category

It seems that there is a new wave of HDMI dummy plugs coming from China at very cheap prices (At least if you order directly from there) that are based on the Headless Ghost display emulator. These HDMI display emulator devices just plug inside the main video card of your mining rig and simulate the presence of a display with up to 4K resolution. As a result your mining rig boots normally (if it does not boot without a display connected) and you can use a custom resolution when you are remoting the mining rig and/or not be limited by low resolution. It seems that the HDMI dummy plugs from China are mostly available under a brand called Fueran, though we’ve seen some photos with unbranded adapters as well (including some photoshopped images).

These new HDMI dummy plugs can be an interesting alternative to the commonly used HDMI to VGA adapters that most GPU mining rigs get equipped with, though do note that you do not get the option to connect any kind of display to them. With HDMI to VGA adapters you are able to connect a cheap analogue VGA connector equipped monitor or a KVM device for monitoring the rig directly or even remotely with an IP KVM for example. So the new HDMI display emulators just look cooler and take less space, but are not as functional and do not really come much cheaper anyway, though you can find them more expensive and you can even buy the original Headless Ghost at even higher price.

If you do not need the VGA output that the HDMI to VGA adapters also simulating the presence of a monitor, then these new HDMI dummy plugs might be just fine for you. The new HDMI dummy plugs are available through eBay and Chinese sites such as Aliexpress for a price that can go as low as $3-$4 USD, the prices in Europe or US is usually a few times higher than that. The only drawback when ordering cheap from China is that the wait time for the delivery can be inconveniently higher than ordering locally at a higher price.

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.


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