All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
We got a tip about a motherboard that should be capable of driving seven video cards for mining, namely the MSI Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon, so we got one to give it a try. It is a Z170A Intel chipset motherboard for Socket 1151 processors (there are cheap Celerons available for it) and it uses the newer DDR4 memory. The motherboard is even packed with some fancy extras that are of no use for the purpose of mining, but they do increase the price of the product. Also do note that even if a motherboard has 7x PCI-E slots that does not mean that it will be able to work with 7 video cards connected with x1 to x16 PCI-E risers, it only means that there is a chance that it might work. Unfortunately there are actually not that much such motherboards available and the only few are usually high-end boards with a higher price tag and that is making them not so attractive for miners, especially compared to the use of the popular AsRock H81 Pro BTC motherboard for 6x GPU mining rigs.
The first thing you need to do with this motherboard, prior to attaching any external video card, is to make sure it is running the latest BIOS and if not to update it to version 1.7. This motherboard BIOS is just a few months old and is apparently what allows the particular motherboard to be able to run up to 7 video cards, so make sure you have it flashed before continuing.
The next step is to set some things in the motherboard BIOS. You need to go to the Settings \ Advanced \ PCI Subsystem Settings and switch the PEG0 and PEG1 Max Link Speed to Gen1 as well as set the Above 4G Decoding option to Enabled. These are pretty much the only settings you need to set in order to be able to run 7x GPUs, just make sure you set them in the BIOS before you start connecting the video cards otherwise you may experience instability of the system or it even not properly booting and allowing you to enter the BIOS. So set them first and then everything should be working fine, or almost.
You can see that Windows 10 properly sees 6x R9 390 video cards and a single RX 480 GPU connected in the device manager with the video driver installed and working properly. We actually have a weird issue with this motherboard as after setting up what is needed for it to work with 7x GPUs we are not able to properly get inside the BIOS of the motherboard. If at boot we press F9 to enter the BIOS the system just freezes and needs a restart, if we don’t press the F9 BIOS key it boost into the operating system and works just fine with seven video cards mining or whatever. In order to get inside the BIOS of the motherboard however we’ve had to clear the CMOS memory and redo the settings each time. We thought that it might be a KVM issue, but even with direct PS2 and USB keyboard connection we had the strange F9 freezing issue most of the time, even though a few times it worked just fine actually loading the BIOS and not freezing the system.
Anyway, while we are not entirely sure what is causing the BIOS freezing issue when you try to get inside with F9 after you set the required options to make the motherboard work with 7x GPUs everything else seems to work just fine. The system boots and sees all 7 video cards, even if they are different ones like in out 6+1 configuration, and you can run a miner that will see and start using all 7 video cards. So the MSI Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard apparently works, though there are still some glitches that may need fixing. The only issue with this motherboard is the higher price and that may be enough of a reason to make you stick with the more affordable and problem free use of AsRock H81 Pro BTC for 6x GPUs instead. Still if you already have a 6x or even less GPUs on some mining rigs and you have a suitable power supply an upgrade to a 7x GPU motherboard might be an interesting choice. Then again you would need to replace not only the motherboard, but also the CPU and the RAM as well, because of the newer chipset used by the MSI motherboard.
With the recent spike of interest in GPU mining thanks mostly to Ether a lot of people are getting back to building GPU mining rigs using more up-to date hardware much like back in the days of the Litecoin and prior to that of the Bitcoin mining boom. Nowadays it is much easier and you have way more options for different motherboards that have the option to work with 4, 5 or even 6 video cards by utilizing not only full width x16 PCI-E slots, but also the multiple available PCI-Express x1 sots with the help of extenders. We have prepared a list of all possible candidates for use as motherboards for multi-GPU mining rigs 4-6 GPU mining from ASRock, the company that has made its name among miners thanks to their dedicated BTC-branded motherboards made especially for GPU mining rigs. Other motherboard manufacturers such as Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and others also have products that might do for a multi-GPU mining rigs, but these are not dedicated for such use and this may cause some problems.
Nowadays ASRock has a lot of BTC-branded motherboards that are designed for use as multi-GPU mining rigs for different processor platforms from both AMD and Intel. There are also quite a few more non-BTC named motherboards that could do the job perfectly and some that might also work fine, but some of the PCI-E slots might not be available for GPU use under specific conditions, so you need to be careful. What is important for a motherboard that will be used with multiple GPUs for mining is for the motherboard to have enough PCI-E slots, to be affordable in terms of price as you don’t need extras targeted at gamers or enthusiasts and to be able to be used with cheap dual-core CPUs. ASRock’s BTC-branded motherboards do come with some extra features that may help by minimizing possible issues such as the fact that they have been designed to provide extra power to GPUs and have dedicated connectors for additional power from the PSU. They do not share PCI-E lanes with external hardware such as network controllers, audio cards, storage controllers or USB controllers that may cause problems if you want to use all of the available PCI-Express lanes for video cards and so on. These motherboards are offering just basic features, but ensure stable and problem free operation even under not so good conditions that often are available with GPU mining rigs that generate a lot of heat an may not be optimally cooled.
The list below covers all possibly suitable ASRock motherboards for 4-6 GPU mining rigs, you should choose to go for the models that do have the BTC in their model nae as they will most likely be the best choice. The next are Anniversary and Pro series and then the others if you have no other choice, but with such a big list you should have a lot of options. Unfortunately the only 6 GPU capable motherboards are for Intel socket 1155 and 1150 CPUs, still no affordable options for the latest Intel 1151 platforms or AMD FM2 sockets. Sure the company has some high-end enthusiast level products that can do 6 GPUs, but these are pointless for use as multi-GPU mining rigs as they will add to much to the price of the setup and you will be better off spending the extra cash for more video cards or more powerful models. After all you need to find the right balance that includes cheap motherboard, cheap processor and powerful GPUs along with some PCI-E extenders (powered preferably) with PCI Express x1-x16 USB 3.0 Extenders being the best choice if available.
Intel Socket 1151 ASRock Motherboards
Intel Socket 1150 ASRock Motherboards
Intel Socket 1155 ASRock Motherboards
AMD FM2/FM2+ ASRock Motherboards