Archive for the ‘Mining Hardware’ Category


The ZeusMiner Thunder X6 is probably the most interesting of the new low-power X6 series Scrypt ASIC miners from Zeus, even though with its 18-20 MHS hashrate it is already under 1 Litecoin per day as expected mined coins. The miner is rated at 18-20 MHS hashrate with 450 Watts of power usage using a total of 128 Scrypt ASIC chips and with a case designed to integrate the power supply inside the miner. At the right price this miner is very interesting if you are considering investing in Srypt ASIC miners with the “big boys” still not ready to start delivering.


Similar to the other X6 miners, here as well Zeus did lower the operating voltage and the frequency of the miner in order to achieve lower power consumption. The previous generation Thunder X3 was rated at 28 MHS with about 920W power usage, so we have about 2/3 of the hashrate with about half the power usage with the new Thunder X6 miner. That combined with the lower price of the new generation miner is what actually makes it an attractive option if you are moving to Scrypt mining with ASIC, though you should still do the math carefully.


We’ve mentioned that the case of the miner is designed to take inside a power supply, however we do not consider that to be so wise of an idea due to the way modern power supplies are made to be cooled. The normal installation of the PSU will make the power supply take hot air from one of the modules with chips and blow the hot air at the back of the miner where the cooling of the chip modules takes in the air that goes through the massive aluminum radiators. And the middle fan on the case of the miner will not do much of a work, so we do recommend keeping the power supply outside of the miner case.


The operating voltage of the chips inside the ZeusMiner Thunder X6 has been lowered to 1.1V in this version of the miner in order to provide the lower power consumption along with the lower operating frequencies used. Zeus does recommend to not go above 248 MHz as an operating frequency for the new X6 series of miners, though you would probably want to go lower in order to get less HW errors. Zeus does state 450W of power usage for the Thunder X6, however we have measured a power consumption of about 542-546 Watts at 250 MHz or like 100W more and the miner uses two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. This means you need to be careful in what power supply you are using, we do recommend to go for at least 600W 80 Plus certified PSU and to check the temperature of the power cables going to the miner as if the load is too much they will get too hot and that can cause possible damage to the hardware – something that you will want to avoid happening. A good quality power supply should handle the higher load it gets of about 270W per PCI-E line, but some not so good PSUs might have trouble handling well such a high load on the PCI-E lines, so be extra careful.


Taking a look at how noisy the cooling of the Thunder X6 is, we have measured about 70 Decibels (dBA) in normal operating mode. This is quite noisy and you would not want to have the miner in a room with people, it is designed to be kept in a dedicated mining room where noise is not a problem and good cooling is what you need to have. The cooling that the powerful 120 mm fans provide is adequate enough even if the ambient temperature is not so low, so you should have no trouble with the cooling of the miner.


We have already talked about the fact that the ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs are prone to producing more hardware errors that we are typically used to see with most other ASIC miners, however this is not a problem for them operating normally. With the Thunder X6 we are seeing a bit less than 6% of HW errors with the miner running at 250 MHz with the hashrate going to about 20-22 MHs, about 5% with a frequency of 240 MHz and a hashrate of 19-21 MHS and about 4.3% at 230 MHz with 18-20 MHs. So going too low with the frequency will not help that much in reducing the number of HW errors, but will affect the hashrate you are getting, so you need to find the best balance starting from about 250 MHz and going down.


Here is a look at the poolside reported hashrate from the LTC Rabbit Scrypt mining pool using the new fixed difficulty port with 1024 difficulty for Scrypt ASIC miners and the Hurricane X6 running at 250 MHz operating frequency. We have observed some issues with the ZeusMiners running at some pools with vardiff enabled (getting mostly HW errors), so we do recommend sticking to pools with fixed difficulty and 1024-2048 dificulty seems to work very well with the Thunder X6.

Our conclusion after testing the ZeusMiner Thunder X6 Scrypt ASIC is that the miner is working well and performing as expected, delivering the performance that is advertised, though at a slightly higher actual power usage. With the hashrate delivered you are already sure to get less than 1 LTC per day with the current Litecoin network difficulty, but if you secure a good price for the miner it might still be an interesting option for people with not so big budgets for mining hardware. The price per MHS is not as good as with the larger Lightning X6, but is still decent enough to make you think after you do some math about the expected return of investment. It will not get you rich for sure, but the Thunder X6 is currently the option to consider if you are not going to be getting the hardware to mine just for fun or get used to Scrypt ASIC mining with something not so expensive.


The ZeusMiner Hurricane X6 is the new lower power Scrypt ASIC miner from Zeus that is supposed to be offering 9-10 MHS hashrate with a power usage of about 230 Watt. The previous ZeusMiner Hurricane X3 that the new miner is based on provided 14-15 MHS with 460W of power usage according to the official specifications. So the new lower power X6 miner is supposed to offer 2/3 of the performance with about half of the power usage according to Zeus and this has been achieved by reducing the operating voltage and frequency of the chips in new miners with the number of Scrypt ASIC chips inside remaining the same. Now, if this has to been done with a significant reduction of the price of the new miners they might not have been so interesting, but the new price with the lower power usage does still make ZeusMiner an attractive choice for miners.


The case of the Hurricane X6 miner and the insides – two blades with 32 chips each or a total of 64 chips are also the same as on the previous Hurricane X6 miners. The main difference is that the operating voltage of the new Hurricane X6 miners has been lowered to 1.1V and thus Zeus recommends the maximum operating frequency to not exceed 248 MHz. You are able to set higher frequency though the software, however the results will not be very good as the level of HW errors you get will grow significantly. It seems that generally the ZeusMiner Scrypt ASICs are prone to more HW errors than we are normally used to see in ASIC miners, but they do seem to work just fine with an average HW error rate of about 5%.


Here you can see the actual power usage of the ZeusMiner Hurricane X6 that we have measured with our unit running at 250 MHz operating frequency of the chips. The actual power consumption we got was 276-278 Watts with a slightly higher power usage measured at the wall due to the very high efficiency of the PSU we have used at the load that the miner has on the 1200W power supply. This is a bit higher than the officially stated 230 Watts of power usage, but at that frequency we are also getting slightly higher performance than the one stated at the official specs, though the HW error rate was a bit higher than what we would like to see as well. What actually worries us a bit is that the device is powered via a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector and a power usage so high is already way above the official ratings of these power connectors. Even though physically these connectors are normally able to handle power of up to 300W, the PSU manufacturers are not required to design their products to handle such high loads. So with high-end power supplies you will most likely not have trouble, however on not so good quality PSUs you may have the cables overhead and melt causing a short circuit and damaging your hardware. So we advise you to check the power cable by touching it after you start the miner and if the cable is just slightly warm to the tough you should be Ok, but if it quickly feels hot or even very hot, then you may have trouble and better go for a higher quality power supply.


Even though the power usage of the Hurricane X6 is not so high, the fact that the device uses a single powerful 120mm fan that pulls air though the case of the miner and the cooling radiators inside it makes the miner a bit noisy. Not as noisier as the larger and more powerful X6 miners, but still a noise at around 60 Decibels that we have measured makes the miner not suitable to be used in your living room or even as some miners do – place it in the bedroom. We are going to try to do a dual fan modification for push-pull type of cooling in order to reduce the noise from the cooling of the device while maintaining low operating temperatures, so stay tuned for more information on these experiments later on.


Here is the situation with the Hurricane X6 running at 250 MHz using the new cgminer 3.1.1 with ZeusMiner X6 support for Windows. The HW error rate we are getting at 250 MHz is about 5.5% average, a bit high than we would like, but apparently acceptable for the ZeusMiner. Going down all the way down to 230 MHz we have managed to reduce the level of HW errors we are getting to between 4.5% and 5%, so not that much of a difference, however the reduction in terms of hashrate is more significant as we go to lower operating frequency. So even with a bit more HW error rate 248 or 250 MHz seems to be the better choice, though you should test your miner as there could be some variation in the results you are getting.


These are the poolside results average at the LTC Rabbit Scrypt mining pool using the new fixed difficulty port with 1024 difficulty for Scrypt ASIC miners and the Hurricane X6 running at 250 MHz operating frequency. We’ve observed the hashrate reported by the pool varying between about 9.6 MHS and 12 MHs, but the good thing is that even with the higher number of HW errors an average hashrate of 10+ MHS is achievable with this miner.

Our conclusion about the Hurricane X6 is that it is a nice and more affordable device that works and performs well and meets the advertised hashrate, though the power usage may be a bit higher. We do have a bit of a warning regarding the actual power consumption and would preferred to see the device using two instead of a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector, but if you are careful enough about the PSU you use that should not be a problem. The only drawback that the Hurricane X6 already has is that at the performance level it offers and the current LTC network difficulty it will be making you less than 0.5 LTC per day if you are mining Litecoin directly. Still it is a more affordable solution for smaller miners to get into Scrypt ASIC mining without too big of an investment and you can possibly increase the profit you get with it by mining altcoins or selling hashrate if that turns out to be more profitable.


We have been playing with the new NX Gen X6 miners from ZeusMiner for a few days already and have already shared some interesting findings from our testing, but it is now time for detailed reviews focusing on each of the new lower power usage Scrypt ASIC miners. Beginning with the top model – ZeusMiner Lightning X6 Scrypt ASIC miner, rated officially as 40-42 MHS at 980W power consumption and being sold by ZeusMiner for $1399 USD, though you can already find it cheaper at their distributors. What Zeus did with their new X6 miners is to lower the voltage and operating frequency of their Scrypt ASIC chips and as a result we got the new lower power usage products. Now, if the reduction in power usage was not combined with new lower prices of the devices they might not have been so interesting with the continuing to increase Litecoin network hashrate. The lower power usage and the new lower price however do make the new X6 series of miner interesting option to consider if you are planning to invest in Scrypt ASICs. The ZeusMiner Lightning X6 might not be currently the most powerful in terms of hashrate Scrypt ASIC miner, however it is probably one of the best ones in terms of price per MHS from what is currently available on the market… especially if you manage to get it at sub $1000 USD price.


Zeus has a strange policy of citing hashrate for their products, but not giving a recommended frequency for their products and the miner software does require the user to give an operating frequency for the chips. This is still valid for the new X6 miners, meaning that you need to find the best frequency yourself, though you should start at around 220-230 MHz for the Lightning X6 as per our tests results. With the smaller Thunder X6 and Lightning X6, and probably the Blizzard X6 as well a good start frequency seems to be 250 MHz and we have found out the reason for this frequency difference. The ZeusMiner Lightning X6 has the Scrypt ASIC chips inside operating at 1.05V and the other miners from the X6 series use voltage of 1.1V and as a result they are able to operate at higher frequency without problems. The lower voltage on the Lightning X6 was probably needed in order to bring the power usage level of the miner below 1000 Watts as otherwise the consumption could go as high as 1.1 KW or even higher and make it harder to find a suitable PSU for the device.


We have measured the power usage of the Lightning X6 operating at a frequency of 230 MHz and the result we’ve got was about 906-914 Watts as actual power usage and about 970W measured at the wall (taking into account the PSU efficiency). The actual power consumption measured at the wall could be higher depending on the PSU used, the 1200W Corsair 80 Plus Platinum power supply we have used does remain with high power efficiency at the measured load, so there is not much power wasted, but you can easily go above 1000W with other not so efficient one. So apparently Zeus did a good job in lowering the power usage almost two fold with just about 10-12 MHS lower power usage compared to the previous generation miners with 256 chips.


Our tests have shown that the optimal operating frequency of the ZeusMiner Lightning X6 Scrypt ASIC miner is around 220 MHz, though at that frequency the hashrate you can expect to get is slightly lower than what is being advertised – we are getting around 36-38 MHs with about 6.6% HW errors. If you increase the operating frequency of the chips to 230-235 MHz we can get about 39-40 MHS, but the level of the hardware errors does increase almost twice to about 12% which is even less acceptable. The higher the number of HW errors you get it means that you are pushing the hardware a bit too much, and even at 6.6% it is more that we would normally like to have. Zeus does advertise the Lightning X6 as a 40-42 MHS Scrypt ASIC, but we feel that a more adequate rating for the performance should be 38-40 MHS.


Here is the situation with the poolside reported hashrate at the LTC Rabbit Scrypt mining pool using the new fixed difficulty ports for Scrypt ASIC miners and the Lightning X6 running at 220 MHz operating frequency. We are getting an average hashrate of about 37.4 MHs with peaks to almost 38.5 MHS and drops to about 35.5 MHs. At 230 MHz the poolside result was slightly higher with an average of about 39.2 MHS and peaks going as high as 40.8 MHS and drops to about 37.5 MHs. Of course the poolside hashrate can vary a bit based on multiple factors, but the locally reported hashrate we are getting shows consistent results with what the pool is giving us out as performance data.

With the ZeusMiner Lightning X6 we see a good improvement in terms of lowering the power consumption for a 256-chip miner without too much of performance loss. The price of the miner is also very good considering that you can already find the Scrypt ASIC miner with a price per MHS of about $25 USD. We did not like very much the high level of HW errors that we are getting in order to be able to push a performance close to the one officially advertised hashrate, but the difference isn’t that huge. And only if the miner could not be so noisy, but at that power usage you can expect to have a lot of noise coming from the cooling fans used to keep the device cool.