All About BTC, LTC, ETH mining as well as other alternative crypto currencies
We have been testing the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC Miner, the unbranded version, which is essentially the same as the first batch of ZeusMiner Thunder X3. The later batches have been branded with red GAWMiners cases and have some fixes and improvements from the initial design, addressing most of the small details that needed fixing from the first batch. Things like optimized the case and cooling, providing space for integrated power supply and so on are now available in the new design, so we are not going to be talking much about the small flaws in the first batch as they have apparently been resolved in the new and improved batches.
GAW ships their Falcon Scrypt ASIC miners bundled with a ZenController by ZenMiner, essentially a Raspberry Pi with an image designed to provide support for the miner and offer cloud-based control of the device directly through a web site. This makes it easier to monitor and control your miner remotely without having to have direct access to the IP of the miner, be on the same network, or use remote connections etc. A convenient way to get started without having to rely on a PC to connect and control the miner, though the Falcon does have a USB port and you can use it with a direct connection to a computer as well. If you are not happy with the ZenOS there is also the option to use a different RPi image with support for the Zeus ASIC chips, there are already a few alternatives available.
The cooling of the Falcon miner is done with two 120mm fans (HFD12038M12BL), the larger type that are 38mm and not 25mm and these are quite powerful and not so silent. But that is to be expected considering the power consumption of the miner, and is something that pretty much all big ASIC miners that provide a lot of hashpower have in common. Unfortunately we could not find details about the specifications of the fans used, but in general it is not a good idea to try to replace these fans with ones that are more silent as that may lead to not so good cooling efficiency and the device overheating. The cooling of the miner is designed in a way that the fans are pulling the air from inside the case and the airflow goes through the large heatsinks, an effective solution from our tests, though the chips still do get quite hot.
Here is a look at the noise level of the miner running, measured at 1 meter distance from the device – almost 68 dBA. Not very silent, but we have seen other big miners that have been even noisier than that. What is clear however is that you will not be willing to put this miner in your living room or bedroom for 24/7 mining as the noise level is not suitable for that, you would want to use the miner in a room where the noise is not an issue and the air circulation is good.
Looking at the specifications of the Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner you can see that the power consumption on GAW’s website is 1040W, so apparently a good quality 1000W power supply is recommended to be used with the device. We did measure the power usage of our unit and you can see the results above, but generally speaking a 1000W 80 Plus rated ATX PSU is a good idea to be used. Our test has shown that the actual power usage of the miner is about 916W. The fact that we are using a more powerful 80 Plus Platinum power supply gives us very high efficiency of over 94% at this serious load, so the total power consumed at the wall is roughly 970-975W.
Inside the Falcon miner you can find 4 boards with 32 Zeus Scrypt ASIC chips on each. These are attached to large aluminum heatsinks, though the contact point is not the top of the chips, but instead the back of the PCB. This is the easier approach that many ASIC miners use, especially if you have boards with a lot of smaller chips on them, while if you have fewer larger chips they usually have a heatsink on top of the chip. This cooling design does work well, though often with the back contact point the operating temperature of the chips is higher, but apparently no problem for the 55nm Zeus chips.
We did take some images with a thermal camera of the Falcon miner in order to have a better idea on the cooling efficiency of the device. On the outside the Falcon is pretty cool with the hottest areas barely getting up to about 42 degrees Celsius, so the cooling method used is doing very well.
We’ve opened the case of the miner to take some thermal images of the inside, and as you can see on the left image, the four big aluminum heatsinks remain very cool at about 30-35 degrees Celsius while the fans are pulling a lot of air though them. Looking at the boards with the ASIC chips they do seem a bit hotter as to be expected, the chips are pretty hot as the design of the miner uses the back of the PCB to transfer the heat to the heatsinks as we’ve already mentioned. Temperatures of about 60-70 degrees Celsius are apparently something that is not a problem for them, though you should be careful not to get the temperatures much higher like for example leaving the miner to work with an open case for some time. The power modules of the boards do seem cooler than the ASIC chips, though they do get a bit hot as well.
Time to talk a bit about the performance you can get from the 27 MHS Falcon Scrypt ASIC. These miners are rated at 27 MHS or more from GAWMiners and they do manage to deliver even slightly higher average performance when you run them at the recommended operating frequency of 328 MHz. The minimum average hashrate we got at the LTC Rabbit mining pool for a period of 24 hours was 25674 KHS and the maximum was 29332 KHS with an average across the whole day of 27882 KHS. Trying out the Scrypt ASIC miner at the ScryptGuild mining multipool where you mine altcoins and get payments directly in BTC has shown us very similar performance – the average hashrate poolside was about 27738 KHS.
Looking at the locally reported hashrate when running the cgminer 3.1.1 with ZeusMiner support also shows an average performance of 27.5 MHS as well, looking at the reported WU number that is recommended to be used for judging the actual local hashrate.
So we can conclude that the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner is really delivering what is being promised and the power rating, although a bit high, is also true as claimed (actual power usage is a bit lower with a good quality PSU). The unbranded Falcon miner from GAW did have some small design flaws that we have noticed, but we’ve seen pretty much all of them being addressed in the newer design that the branded Falcons (with red cases) use. What still seems to be missing though are the rubber feet on the bottom of the case, but you can easily add these yourself, so not much of a problem anyway. With the current price of $1929.95 USD for the latest batch the Falcon does look quite attractive with the performance it offers, though do not forget that you will also need a 1 KW ATX power supply as the miner does not come with a built-in one, so that is some extra cost if you don not have the PSU already. The Falcon using the Zeus 55nm chips at the current prices is an attractive choice as the main competition, currently also shipping hardware, that uses 28nm Innosilicon A2 chips with lower power consumption is about twice as expensive in terms of price for the same hashrate.
Our testing of the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC continues and in the last few days we’ve been moving the ASIC miner through different pools in order to check what is the actual performance that you can expect from it. If judging the performance based on what cgminer reports you should be looking at the WU reported speed as the actual one and not the one for the last 5 seconds or the average reported by the software. Though do note that the WU reported speed is for the last minute based on the shares submitted. To get a more accurate result we need an average that covers longer period of time such as an hour or even a day and you can easily get such results from a pool monitoring and reporting not only your current hashrate again based on the shares submitted in the last minute for example. Do note that the Falcon Scrypt ASIC from GAWMiners is essentially the same in terms of hardware inside as the ZeusMiner THUNDER X3 and should produce the same hashrate. So far the recommended operating frequency of 328 MHz seems to work very well, though the standard rating of the ZeusMiner ASIC chips seems to be 300 MHz. The results you see here are made using the 328 MHz operating frequency with a HW error rate hovering around 5%, slightly higher than we would want, but still acceptable and apparently the normal one for the Zeus chips.
Here you can see a 24 hour chart with the hashrate reported by the LTC Rabbit mining pool. The minimum average hashrate per hour we got at the pool for the 24 hour test period was 25674 KHS and the maximum was 29332 KHS with an average across the 24 hour period of 27882 KHS. A very good result and with that hashrate you can currently get about 2.5-2.6 LTC mined a day, not too bad with the difficulty recently going past 10 thousand, but not that great either with the current exchange rate for Litecoin. So mining LTC now and not selling it immediately seems like the smarter choice if you have decided to invest in larger Scrypt ASIC miner such as the GAW Falcon.
Trying out the Scrypt ASIC miner at the ScryptGuild mining pool where you mine altcoins and get payed in BTC has shown us very similar performance. The average hashrate poolside was 27738 KHS and with it the expected payout for 24 hours of mining could get you around 0.05 BTC at the moment. So poolside we are actually getting a bit more than the 27 MHS promised by GAWMiners, though we are a bit short from the 28 MHS that Zeus claims for the THUNDER X3, but it is still acceptable. It is possible that with some tweaking that we can get slightly better results by lowering the HW error level. The quite high power usage of the miner however does not leave that much room for optimizing the cooling and squeezing some more MHz from the miner. We are not ready to give up, so stay tuned for more information as we continue to play around with the miner. It will be interesting to compare this miner with the A2-based 27 MHS mini miner that uses Innosilicon A2 Scrypt ASIC chips and we are hopefully soon be able to compare the two devices.
We have been using and testing the 27 MHS GAWMiners Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner for a few days already and we did measure the power requirements of the device and are ready to do some recommendations for a suitable PSU to use. On the GAW website the power consumption of the miner is stated as 1040W and since this is essentially a ZeusMiner THUNDER X3 inside, we have also checked the specifications announced on the Zeus website – 920W. Zeus however does recommend a 1200W modular 80PLUS Gold or Platinum rated power supply to be used for this miner, though you can actually do well with a slightly less powerful model if it is a good one.
As you can see from our measurement on the image above, where we are using a Corsair 1200W 80Plus Platinum power supply, the actual power usage of the miner is 916W, so very close to what Zeus has stated on their website. The fact that we are using a more powerful 80Plus Platinum power supply gives us very high efficiency of over 94% at this serious load, so the total power consumed at the wall is roughly 970-975W. This means that even with a good quality 80Plus rated 1000W power supply you should be fine. No need to go for 1200W as recommended, though the higher power model will most likely help you minimize the power wasted as it will be operating at better efficiency when not pushed to the limit. We did a test with a 1000W power supply that was barely managing to work at 78-80% level of efficiency and got a power usage of almost 1100W at the power socket. So if you want to save yourself some heat and waste less power, you better go for at least 1000W power supply that is rated 80Plus Gold.