If your planning on building a crypto mining rig you're going to need the basic components of a computer system to make the whole thing work.

In this article, we'll be investigating what RAM, CPU, and motherboard you should choose when building your first mining rig.

As an added bonus we've got a wildcard motherboard that might fit your mining rig strategy depending on how many graphics cards you plan to have on your first mining rig.

My take:



I've only got one mining rig at the moment. It's a 3 GPU setup hosting Geforce 1080Ti's which works great. I basically took my existing desktop PC, put it on its side and put a mining rig frame on top to house the cards.

It does the job - the best part about this is the fact about this setup for me is that I did not have to buy a separate motherboard, RAM or CPU. I just made do what I already had.

my rig

My mining rig - with desktop PC on it's side.

I was in a lucky position though as my kit is only around 5 months and my motherboard supports multiple PCIe lanes. That's the first gotcha when building a mining rig for the first time. How many PCIe lanes do you have to play with?

I did have an initial problem with utilizing my daily working PC as a mining rig and that was the inability of the 1080ti's to actually just used for daily tasks. As they are constantly on and mining, anytime I wanted to play a youtube video or open up photoshop things stuttered to a halt.

Since then I've managed to do a small workaround by using a cheap graphics card for displaying and running my desktop. The 1080TI's are used solely for mining now.

You might not be in as good a position as me though. Depending on how old your motherboard is it just not might support multiple GPUs that well. There are other factors to like how much RAM you've got to play with. Again I was lucky having 32GB so plenty of headroom.

If you are indeed building a mining rig from scratch or just want to have everything separate - which I plan to do at some point then you will need to make sure you're buying the right CPU, RAM, and motherboard.



So which motherboard?



Your system is going to be on 24x7 so you don't want to get some really cheap make of motherboard. You also want to make sure you have enough supported PCIe lanes on the motherboard.

Look for a motherboard that has solid caps (capacitors). Most of the time when a motherboard fails it is down to a capacitor leaking. As your mining rig is going to be running all the time it's best to reduce the risk of this by looking for a solid capacitor motherboard.

They tend to fail less and are no prone to leaking.

The other thing you'll need to think about is what manufacturer of CPU your going to choose. AMD or Intel? This will dictate your motherboard choice also.

As such I'm featuring both Intel and AMD based motherboard with solid caps.

The last motherboard on our list is the wildcard which is a motherboard specifically designed for mining.



Motherboard 1 (Intel CPU based)



ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E



Why have I chosen this motherboard? Well, it's the same board as I've got in my mining rig. The reason I like it is the fact it has 7 PCIe slots so you can quite easily have 6 GPUs hooked up to this bad boy for mining.

Whilst the 7th slot can be used for a normal GPU usage so I can use my rig for daily desktop activities.

The other reason I've chosen this motherboard is the onboard wifi adaptor. This means that you can have the rig located anywhere in your home. Which is a great in the winter months as mining rigs do generate quite a bit of heat and you can put them to good use in a room in the house that otherwise might be a bit on the cold side.


Here are the specs:


CPU Socket
1151
Chipset
Intel Z370
RAM Memory Support
Memory Type
DDR4
Memory Channel
Dual (2)
Memory Type (ECC)
Non-ECC
Memory Type (R/U)
UDIMM (Unbuffered)
Memory Speed (Mhz)
  • DDR4 - 2133
  • DDR4 - 2400
  • DDR4 - 2666
  • DDR4 - 2800(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3000(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3200(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3300(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3333(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3400(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3466(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3600(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3733(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3866(OC)
  • DDR4 - 4000(OC)
Max. Memory Capacity
64GB (4x16GB)
Audio
Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Ch. HD Audio S1220A
Graphics Support
Primary GPU Interface
PCIe 3.0 (x16)
NVIDIA SLI Support
2-Way SLi
AMD CrossFire Support
3-Way CrossFire
On-Board Graphics Connectors
  • DisplayPort 1.2
  • DVI-D
  • HDMI 1.4
Internal Connectivity
Expansion Slots
  • 1 x M.2, 2242/2260/2280, PCIe
  • 1 x M.2, 2242/2260/2280, PCIe/SATA
  • 4 x PCIe 3.0 x1
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x4 Bandwidth)
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x8 Bandwidth)
SATA Support
SATA3 / M.2
RAID Support via
SATA
Storage Mode Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • NVMe Boot (via M.2 PCIe Slot)
  • NVMe Boot (via PCIe 3.0 Slot)
  • RAID 0 (SATA 0~5 ONLY)
  • RAID 1 (SATA 0~5 ONLY)
  • RAID 10 (SATA 0~5 ONLY)
  • RAID 5 (SATA 0~5 ONLY)
Internal I/O
  • 1 x 24-pin (Power)
  • 3 x 3D Mount screw port
  • 1 x 4-pin AIO_PUMP Connector
  • 1 x 4-pin CPU Fan Connector
  • 1 x 4-pin CPU OPT Fan Connector
  • 2 x 4-pin System Fan Connector
  • 1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
  • 1 x 8-pin (Power)
  • 1 x Aura Addressable Strip Headers
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x CPU_OV
  • 1 x Front Panel Audio Header
  • 1 x M.2_FAN Connector
  • 2 x RGB Header
  • 6 x SATA III - 6Gb/s
  • 1 x Serial (COM) Header
  • 1 x System Panel Connector with Chassis Intrusion
  • 1 x Thermal sensor connector
  • 1 x TPM Header (14-1 pin)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Header
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Header
External Connectivity
Network Interface Type
  • 802.11ac WiFi LAN
  • Wired Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000)
Network Chip/Modules
  • 1 x ASUS Dual Band ac WiFi + BT 4.2 with MU-MIMO
  • 1 x Intel® I219V (Gigabit LAN)
Rear I/O Connectors
  • 2 x Audio I/O
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x DVI-D
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4
  • 1 x Line In
  • 1 x Line Out
  • 1 x Mic-In
  • 1 x RJ-45
  • 1 x SPDIF Out (Optical)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
  • 2 x WiFi Antenna connectors
Other Motherboard Specifications
Water Cooled
No
QPI Speed
N/A
Board Dimensions
 




Motherboard 2 (AMD CPU Based)



Asus ROG STRIX B350-F



This is a very similar based board to the one above however comes in cheaper & supports AMD.

It's what I would call the beginner motherboard as you can pick up a cheap AMD CPU and put it on this board with very little initial outlay. Only things to note about this board is that it has 6 physical PCIe slots which means you can have up to 6 GPU's mining on this board.

Also worth noting that there is no onboard wifi - which is not a big loss but you'll either have to have a hardwired network connection or run a wifi USB dongle of some description for network connectivity.

Form Factor
ATX
CPU Socket
AM4
Chipset
AMD B350
RAM Memory Support
Memory Type
DDR4
Memory Channel
Dual (2)
Memory Type (ECC)
ECC/Non-ECC
Memory Type (R/U)
UDIMM (Unbuffered)
Memory Speed (Mhz)
  • DDR4 - 2133
  • DDR4 - 2400
  • DDR4 - 2666
  • DDR4 - 2933(OC)
  • DDR4 - 3200(OC)
Max. Memory Capacity
64GB (4x16GB)
Audio
Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Ch. HD Audio S1220A
Graphics Support
Primary GPU Interface
PCIe 3.0 (x16)
NVIDIA SLI Support
Not Supported
AMD CrossFire Support
3-Way CrossFire
On-Board Graphics Connectors
  • DisplayPort 1.2
  • HDMI
Internal Connectivity
Expansion Slots
  • 1 x M.2, 2242/2260/2280/22110, PCIe 3.0/SATA
  • 3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
  • 1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 Bandwidth)
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x4 Bandwidth)
SATA Support
SATA3 / M.2
RAID Support via
SATA
Storage Mode Support
  • NVMe Boot (via M.2 PCIe Slot)
  • NVMe Boot (via PCIe 3.0 Slot)
  • RAID 0 (SATA 0~3 ONLY)
  • RAID 1 (SATA 0~3 ONLY)
  • RAID 10 (SATA 0~3 ONLY)
Internal I/O
  • 1 x 24-pin (Power)
  • 1 x 4-pin AIO_PUMP Connector
  • 1 x 4-pin CPU Fan Connector
  • 1 x 4-pin CPU OPT Fan Connector
  • 3 x 4-pin System Fan Connector
  • 1 x 8-pin (Power)
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x Front Panel Audio Header
  • 2 x RGB Header
  • 6 x SATA III - 6Gb/s
  • 1 x Serial (COM) Header
  • 1 x System panel connector
  • 1 x Thermal sensor connector
  • 1 x TPM Header
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Header
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header
External Connectivity
Network Interface Type
Wired Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000)
Network Chip/Modules
1 x Intel® I211AT (Gigabit LAN)
Rear I/O Connectors
  • 1 x Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Line In
  • 1 x Line Out
  • 1 x Mic-In
  • 1 x Rear Speaker Out
  • 1 x RJ-45
  • 1 x SPDIF Out (Optical)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A




Motherboard 3 (the wildcard)


ASUS Intel B250 19 PCIe MINING EXPERT

motherboard with 19 PCIe slots (miner)



Now the reason I'm calling this the wildcard motherboard is the fact that it's a mining specific motherboard. The only real benefit I can see to purchasing this motherboard over the other two above it the added PCIe slots. In total it has 19 slots which are just nuts.

Why would you buy this board? Well, I guess if you are mining at scale and have multiple mining rigs then you can cut some costs here. With a similar 6 GPU setup, you'd need 3 motherboards, RAM & CPU which comes in at around $200 for each build. That at scale is a cost you can cut out with this board.

Financially I can see why you might get on this board but physically I am not entirely sure how you are supposed to mount 19 graphics cards next to this board. How is that possible?

Form Factor
ATX
CPU Socket
1151
Chipset
Intel B250
RAM Memory Support
Memory Type
DDR4
Memory Channel
Dual (2)
Memory Type (ECC)
Non-ECC
Memory Type (R/U)
UDIMM (Unbuffered)
Memory Speed (Mhz)
  • DDR4 - 2133
  • DDR4 - 2400
Max. Memory Capacity
32GB (2x16GB)
Audio
Audio
Realtek ALC887 7.1 HD Audio
Graphics Support
Primary GPU Interface
PCIe (x16)
NVIDIA SLI Support
Not Supported
AMD CrossFire Support
Not Supported
On-Board Graphics Connectors
HDMI
Internal Connectivity
Expansion Slots
  • 18 x PCIe 3.0 x1
  • 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
SATA Support
SATA3
RAID Support via
Not Supported
Storage Mode Support
 
Internal I/O
  • 3 x 24-pin (Power)
  • 3 x 4-pin (Power)
  • 1 x 8-pin (Power)
  • 1 x CPU Fan Connector
  • 1 x Front Panel Audio Header
  • 4 x SATA III - 6Gb/s
  • 1 x SPDIF-Out Header
  • 1 x System panel connector
  • 1 x USB 2.0 Header
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header
External Connectivity
Network Interface Type
Wired Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000)
Network Chip/Modules
 
Rear I/O Connectors
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x Line In
  • 1 x Line Out
  • 1 x Mic-In
  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse
  • 1 x RJ-45
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
Other Motherboard Specifications
Water Cooled
No
QPI Speed
N/A
Board Dimensions
 




How much RAM to use for mining?



Crypto mining does not take up a lot of system memory - currently, as I type this I am utilizing 7GB of RAM. Only around 200MB is actually used for the mining app (nicehash and associated command line exe - excavator) The rest is system resources and background apps/services.

If you're using your mining rig just to mine then you'll quite easily get away with only 4GB of RAM to run everything, however, I would definitely follow this guide on optimizing Windows 10 for crypto mining. There's some good knowledge in there which will be very useful if only using 4GB of RAM - for example, the virtual memory size with definitely be a tweak I'd do if using only 4GB.

In my opinion, 4GB is a little short sighted and you really want to go to 8GB as a minimum. As such I've included two 8GB RAM sticks below. One is the best value whilst the other is a good looker.


RAM Choice 1


Crucial 8GB DDR4 2400 CT8G4DFD824A

When it comes to RAM - crucial is probably the name most trust. As such I'm including this stick as the best value. Yes, you could get cheaper going somewhere like eBay but to tell you the truth paying $5 more for branded RAM is worth it in the long run.

The worst thing that could happen is going for a cheap make of RAM and getting a faulty stick. The problem with faulty RAM is that it's hard to spot. If you've ever had a faulty stick of RAM then you know it's a case of swapping out each component in your system before you find out what the cause of a system crash is. Only after hours of elimination will you figure out that it could be the RAM. When it comes to crypto mining - having 6 GPUs running at 100% operational is a feat within itself and a faulty stick of RAM will just cause misery.

As such go with branded - good value - at a good price.

RAM Choice 2



G.Skill Trident RGB 3200MHz 16GB

The only reason I'm including this is the fact that I use the same memory in my system and it really makes the mining rig look rather cool with the lights turned off. It's probably one of the best physical aspects of my mining rig. You can also change the RGB lighting on this RAM and give different color effects. This, of course, has nothing to do with optimizing your mining activities but makes the whole rig look awesome.

There is, of course, a price to pay - it's not cheap! (worth it though)

Choose a basic CPU



Unless you're going to be doing something like CPU mining there's no need to plump for a Ryzen 7 CPU or i7 Intel. Just makes no sense. You pretty much want to go with the best value CPU that works on your motherboard.

Don't forget about the cooler - the stock cooler will do the job perfectly but if your looking for something that runs a little quieter then replace the stock cooler with something else.


CPU Choice 1

Intel Core i3 8100

This is Intel's 8th generation CPU - the i3 is the lower spec CPU in the lineup and as mentioned you don't need a powerful i7 CPU for mining. The benefit of this CPU is that it runs at only;y 65 watts. As your rig will be on constantly having a CPU with low wattage like the i3 coffee lake (not sure why they call it the coffee lake) is just common sense.



CPU Choice 2



AMD 7th Gen A8-9600

AMD APU

This is one of the lowest priced CPUs on the market. It's actually called an APU which means there's also an onboard graphics chip. This is great if you plan to use your mining rig for some light work as well as you can use the GPU on this chip for the daily tasks and all the higher powered GPUs in the rig can be used solely for crypto mining activities. Just make sure you go with the compatible motherboard mentioned above (the AMD motherboard).


Other bits


That about rounds up or CPU+RAM+Mobo guide for crypto mining. this list is likely to change the course of the next few months. Items like the GSkill RAM are crazy priced compared to when I first purchased my sticks.

I do hope to maintain this page and update with hardware. Of course, it does not stop with the components mentioned about. There's also what PSU to use and our guide on the top 5 graphics cards for mining which I have covered in other areas of this website.

Thanks for reading! 

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SCOTT MILLAR  //  IT Rockstar