Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category

sapphire-nitro-plus-rx-480-8gb

We’ve managed to get our hands on an AMD Radeon RX 470 video card and not just any, but the best out there – the 8GB Sapphire NITRO+ AMD Radeon RX 470, so we’ve had to put it to a test to see how good it will perform for mining Ethereum (ETH) and other popular crypto currencies using different mining algorithms. The Sapphire NITRO+ 8GB model of RX 470 is probably the best you can get in terms of mining performance among other RX 470 offerings because it comes with memory clocked at 2000 MHz (8 GHz) or with other words the same memory frequency as the reference design RX 480 GPUs.

This faster video memory makes it interesting especially for mining Ethereum, but there are other good points to that video card as well such as the 8-pin PCI-E power connector, the good cooling solution and the 1260 MHz boost clock of the GPU. The only drawback is that the price of the Sapphire NITRO+ AMD Radeon RX 470 8 GB should pretty much be the same as the price of 8 GB reference design RX 480s. The 4 GB models of RX 470 are apparently equipped with slower memory, so as far as Ethereum mining goes they will perform slower than the 8 GB NITRO+ version, though i other algorithms they may not be much slower.

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The hashrate that the Sapphire NITRO+ AMD Radeon RX 470 8GB manages to provide out of the box for mining Ethereum is about 24.5 MHS or almost much what the reference design Radeon RX 480 manages to deliver mining ETH. Again this is because of the 8 GHz video memory used on that model from Sapphire, other RX 470 cards with 4 GB come with 7 GHz or 6.6 GHz video memory and that will for sure result in a slower hashrate for Ethereum. The Sapphire NITRO+ manages to keep just fine the GPU boosted to the maximum 1260 MHz is supports all the time, though for Ethereum mining you can lower that frequency by reducing the power limit below 100% on the Power Target as ETH does not benefit much from the higher GPU frequency and you can reduce the power usage without a hit in performance.

What we did not like much is the default fans profile that try to keep the rotations per minute at a low value maintaining a silent operation of the GPU, but with it working at higher temperature. While mining Ethereum the RX 470 wanted to keep the fans in the 30-ies as percentage or about 1300 RPM and as a result the temperature spikes above 70 degrees Celsius, so manually increasing the cooling temperature curve or setting a fixed higher percentage is a good idea to keep the GPU cooler while mining, especially if you mine coins that use more GPU intensive algorithms unlike the one used by Ethereum that is more memory dependent. Also the default power usage of the Sapphire NITRO+ can definitely use some tweaking as it seems to be slightly higher than that of a reference design RX 480

rx-470-oc-eth-8400

Overclocking the Sapphire NITRO+ AMD Radeon RX 470 8GB has left us a bit disappointed. We kind of expected to be able to push the 8 GHz video memory to at least 8.8 or 9 GHz like you can on most reference design RX 480. Unfortunately we ended up with up to 8.2 GHz (2050 MHz) maximum limit from AMD’s WattMan and maximum 8.4 GHz with the use of the ASUS GPU Tweak II tool. We are still somewhat short on options for overclocking tools for the new AMD RX series of GPUs, so this forced overclocking limit has left us disappointed. We are not sure if it was forced because the GDDR5 memory chips from Samsung are not capable of working at higher frequencies without problem or as a safety measure so that the RX 470 turns out slower than RX 480 even when overclocked.

The result of the limited video memory clock is important only for Ethereum mining as the result is slower maximum hashrate. At the maximum of 8.4 GHz (2100 MHz) for the video memory we were able to get just about 25.8 MHS mining Ethereum or with other words just about 1.3 MHS more than the stock clocks hashrate. We are yet to see how the 4 GB models of the RX 470 will perform with Ethereum due to their lower default video memory clocks as well as how much it will be possible to overclock them.

rx-470-hnm-hashrates

When the AMD Radeon RX 480 was released there was an issue with the drivers that prevented users from successfully mining many of the crypto currencies that used sgminer as the miner just crashed with an error. Since the RX 480 was actually a new architecture there was no way to just get back to older video drivers and have no trouble running sgminer, however it seems that the situation has improved significantly since then, though it is still not perfect for some algorithms and miners. Since at that time most people were using RX 480 for Ethereum mining where no problems with the miners were present that was not much of an issue, but due to various reasons a lot of people have since moved to other alternative coins. Above you can see the hashrates for many of the more popular algorithms supported by Nicehash and tested with their dedicated mining solution that bundles multiple miner programs in a single package.

You can see some benchmarks of the AMD Radeon RX 480 using the NiceHash miner here and note that quite a few of the algorithms back then reported 0 MHS hashrate. At the moment it seems that only Neoscrypt, WhirlpoolX and Blake256r14 are still problematic and are reporting 0 MHS hashrate. That is of course only for the listed algorithms supported by NiceHash and there are quite a few others as well. It is important to note that the Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470 8GB is getting pretty close in terms of performance to a stock RX 480 with 8 GB and in some cases the results are even slightly better (due to further optimizations) and in the others the performance is not behind by much. Still the presence of a little more Stream Processors in the RX 480 gives it an advantage in the more GPU intensive algorithms compared to the RX 470. Unfortunately the GPU frequency of the RX 470 cannot be pushed much higher like on the RX 480, so hoping to compensate the difference with higher OC will just not do.

Just to add information about some more algorithms, the LBRY sgminer crashes the video driver, so we could not get a result in terms of hashrate. As for the SiaCoin sgminer, it has managed to provide us with 906 MHS hashrate mining on the Siamining pool using Stratum, so there were no problems with that miner. Hopefully the issues with some miners and some algorithms not working with the new AMD RX series of GPUs will be resolved as AMD is probably already preparing the faster RX 490 for a release alter this year and it is highly likely it being an interesting solution for crypto miners as well.

baikal-x11-asic-mini-miner

Baikal Miner started with an interesting X11-based ASIC not too long ago and now the company has just announced two new miners that support multiple algorithms. The new ASIC-based Baikal Mini Miner and Baikal Quadruple Miner offer support for X11, X13, X14, X15, Quark and Qubit algorithms with surprisingly good specifications. The Mini Miner is capable of providing users with 150 MHS hashrate in all of the 6 supported algorithms while the Quadruple Miner (essentially for of the smaller units) are capable of 4 times the hashing power or 600 MHS. Do note that the prices cited below are for the miners only, power supplies are not included and the shipping cost is not added.

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Baikal Mini Miner Hash Rate and Power Usage:
– X11: 150 MH/s @ 40W
– X13: 150 MH/s @ 46W
– X14: 150 MH/s @ 47W
– X15: 150 MH/s @ 48W
– Quark: 150 MH/s @ 25W
– Qubit: 150 MH/s @ 28W

baikal-2

Baikal Quadruple Miner Hash Rate and Power Usage:
– X11: 600 MH/s @ 160W
– X13: 600 MH/s @ 184W
– X14: 600 MH/s @ 188W
– X15: 600 MH/s @ 192W
– Quark: 600 MH/s @ 100W
– Qubit: 600 MH/s @ 112W

Pricing of the Baikal miners:
– Mini Unit Price: $500 USD or 56 DASH
– Quadruple Mini Unit Price: $2000 USD or 224 DASH

Do note that this information has been provided by Baikal Miner and we have not tested any of the products of the company to confirm if they can deliver on the promises made for multi algorithm support and/or for the hashrate and power usage claimed. The numbers however do seem quite interesting and if the information turns out to be true they are going to change the mining landscape for a few more crypto currencies using the other five algorithms supported besides X11.

We were not able to test the first generation of X11-based ASIC miners from Baikal due to them being hard to find in Europe or available at speculative prices as compared to what the manufacturer in China apparently sells them for. Unfortunately the purchase procedure directly from Baikal was not well made, so we gave up trying to get a X11 ASIC miner for testing from them.

For more information about the new miners from Baikal visit their official website…

amd-radeon-rx-480

The new AMD Radeon RX 480 is now officially out and we have some results from tests we have actually performed ourselves, results that pretty much confirm an earlier leak that was posted about the expected hashrate. As you will see the number of tested algorithms is only one – Ethereum’s Ethash as it seems that there are some problems at the moment running sgminer with most algorithms on RX 480… could be a driver issue, could be something else. Anyway, we are sure that most of you are interested in the Ethereum hashrate that the RX 480 is able to deliver and we have information about that. The hashrate for Ethereum mining that thr Radeon RX 480 delivers is good, though the power level is not that great, the cooling of the reference design RX 480 is also not that great for mining and the price is also not what some people in some regions expected and on top on shortages, though in many places you can buy the card at the price that AMD announced or close to it and there are enough cards.

Before we move to the tests we should note that there are two variants of the Radeon RX 480, one with 4GB video memory that apparently runs at 7 GHz and is with a lower price (the $199 USD price) and a more expensive 8GB model with memory running at 8 GHz. At launch it is hard to find 4GB versions as apparently they are much fewer as compared to the 8GB models, but if you are buying a card for mining the 8GB model is the one you would want. We have tested an ASUS reference design Radeon RX 480 card with 8GB and 8 GHz video memory, so the results below are for mining Ethereum with that card. The 4GB model with 7 GHz video memory should be slower by about 2-3 MHs compared to the 8GB 8 GHz version, so if you are buying these for mining Ethereum go for the 8 GB models.

rx-480-claymore-ethereum-default

We are using Claymore’s Dual Miner, starting with the default settings of 1266 MHz for the GPU and 8 GHz for the video memory withing the standard 150W TDP limit of the Radeon RX 480 GPU. The result we are getting is about 24.7-24.8 MHS at stock settings with GPU-Z reported power usage of about 108 W, but with actual power usage measured at the wall of 177 Watt. So taking into account the power conversion efficiency of an 80 Plus Gold PSU that was used the actual power usage of the card is apparently 150W at the default settings. This is further confirmed by the fact that while mining Ethereum with the default settings the GPU frequency hovers up to about 1240 MHz and does not go all the way up to 1266 MHz. Essentially hitting the power limit of 150W that the card has, increasing a bit the power limiter by a few percent over the default 100% allows the GPU to stay at the full 1266 MHz… not that it makes any difference for mining Ethereum, but it could be important for other not so video memory intensive crypto algorithms.

With dual mining mode enabled to mine both Ethereum and Decred at the same time the results show about 24.3 MHS for Ethereum and about 365 MHS for Decred (at default intensity of 30). Further increasing the Decred intensity to 35 decreased the Ethereum hashrate to about 24 MHS and increases the Decred mining hashrate to about 450 MHS. So essentially the RX 480 does pretty well in dual mining mode with not so much of a drop in the Ethereum hashrate while providing some good extra performance for mining Decred.

rx-480-claymore-ethereum-overclocked

Moving to overclocking, the only thing we need to do is increase the video memory to the maximum and in this case this means 9 GHz (the card might be able to handle more, but the overclocking software or the driver is apparently capped at 9 GHz max). With the video memory at 9 GHz the RX 480 is capable of delivering about 28 MHS hashrate for mining Ethereum. It is highly possible that even higher hashrate could be achieved if you manage to get past the 9 GHz limit for the video memory, but for the moment AMD’s WattMan software or the Asus tool that we used do not currently allow for more. With the memory overclocked the power usage is increased with just about 7-8 Watt at the wall, so definitely worth overclocking it for mining Ethereum. We were a bit disappointed by the lack of overclockability headroom of the GPU that was able to get just about 1340 MHz with the stock voltage. Of course no point in overclocking it for Ethereum mining, in fact you might want to actually downclock it to get better power efficiency if mining only Ethereum.

asus-rx-480-overclocked-ethereum

What we are not too happy with is the stock cooling solution and how it handles the heat from the RX 480. AMD has optimized the default profile for the fan to keep the card silent and very hot, so obviously it is a no go for mining. What seems to work pretty well is setting up the fan to about 80% and getting decent temperatures with a moderately noisy card – good choice if noise from the mining rig can be an issue. With the cooling fan at 80% you can expect temperatures of about 72 degrees Celsius for the GPU, something that is a bit higher than you’d probably want for 24/7 mining. Going for 100% fan the noise increases significantly and the temperatures drops to about 68 degrees Celsius, so not by much.

We are not too happy with the power usage and the hashrate you get from the RX 480 for mining Ethereum, we kind of expected better results in that area. But then again by lowering the GPU operating voltage and frequency you might be able to get better power efficiency without actually loosing any performance and this is a must if you are mining Ethereum… that is if you are actually able to downclock the GPU, a modified video BIOS with the right settings might be a good solution to that problem, but that would also need some time.

We are going to be doing some more tests to see if things with the sgminer crashing on most algorithms and looking for other options to improve the power usage when mining Ethereum etc., so stay tuned for more info about the RX 480. For the moment however we are not very impressed by the new AMD Radeon RX 480, though a non-reference design with some extra tweaking might be able to change our opinion.


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