This is what attracted me to them. I've got a 3-big slot logic board coming tomorrow - it has 3 x16 slots and hence should eat all of the 'extreme' 5850s and prove a useful box (if all three can run in a case). However using dual-width cards like this wastes the x1 slots between the x16 slots. I think the board has 5 PCIe slots in total.
So... I'm deciding to go the whole hog and build a Messhead box. I'm dusting off my carpentry skillz and will be building a frame out of wood - the logic board will sit on the base, two butchered desk fans will move air from one side to the other, and none of the cards will be in the slots.
Due to power concerns, running 5 of the power cards like 5850s or 5870s will require extreme PSUs (i.e. very expensive ones) - or I could try bridging a bunch of 300-500W salvaged-from-PCs PSUs (all bronze-stickered). Also, the cost of such a rig is going to be monstrously expensive - I've got four 5850s right now but buying a load more is out of the question. Buying 5870s? Forget it.
What I *do* have is my 'old' ultra-overclockable Sapphire 5850, an extra 'extreme', an original Sapphire 5770 (dual slot with a cooler like the 5850 'extreme'), and three of these single-slot 5770s arriving along with the logic board.It's an addiction, I tell you! An addiction!!! (though it's a damn sight less harmful than my usual habits, I guess. Ahem)
So keeping the power to a safe level with the decent but mid-power PSUs I've acquired, and with the possibility that the logic board *itself* isn't actually rated to supply 75W to *each and every PCIe slot at the SAME TIME*, I'm going to run three dual-slot cards (the 'old' dual-slot 5770 showed itself as an adept overclocker) and two single-slot 5770s. If power is too close to my PSU's limit, then I'll run all three of the single-slot 5770s and two of the 5850s.
Two mildly overclocked 5850 'extreme' cards pull 440W from the wall with my Miner Box 1 - that's the entire system, loads of big fans and all (though my rigs are *seriously* stripped - there's no hard drive, no CD - just a card reader connected to the internal USB2 bus, which runs my customised Ubuntu setup off a SDHC or compact-flash card.
I've got a CoolerMaster 600W PSU that got a great review... and the Corsair 800W intended for the frame rig. Both should thus handle the cards I happen to own. I've not seen any problems with x1 to x16 extender cables either - without Molex power seems fine for lower-power cards like the 5850 and 5770. So I will have all five cards on extenders in the wood frame.
Then it's just a case of decent mesh that permits full airflow - my cats are very inquisitive, but they're not small enough to get into tiny spaces like your average cat... Ozzy is still an 18 month old kitten and is over 6 kg already... and he's only started gaining weight since last Christmas (he was 5.5 kg last December) due to an illness. The Americans here will know *exactly* what I'm talking about... they're my favourite breed, from the USA, and get rather large
Four to five years is usual time till full adulthood so Ozzy has some time to get to his dad's size of 15 kg... The weird thing is that they're called 'Maine Coons'... you'd have thought with the biggest domestic cats out there, they'd be 'Texas Coons' surely - everything's bigger in Texas, right? Or would 'Coon' cause complications in the south (please say I'm behind the times!)
(yeah, lame joke, I know the origin of the name Maine Coon... people from Maine must be odd if they think cats could cross-breed with raccoons... is Maine one of those states where teaching evolution is banned??? OOoooooh.... controversial!!!! Please forgive my English piss-take sense of humour, no flamebait intended)...
The flip side of the coin is that both cats are strong enough to pull network cables / power leads out of the computers, and even push a standing tower case over. My 'mesh protective screen' will have to be rigid metal, as chicken-wire or plastic mesh isn't going to cut it (well the cats certainly will).
Basically it's all getting out of hand, and I want to consolidate my early failed or inadequate attempts at mining machines to 3 machines maximum. Each machine should have two 5850s (or equivalent ~400 Mh/s cards) and the rest of the cards should be very cheap but capable of over 250 Mh/s. This should do me just fine. Above that, the hardware cost starts taking a LONG time to pay back... and who knows what a bitcoin will be worth, or how hard it will be to mine them, looking too far forward into the future?
The problem is that I love collecting silver coins. And there's a merchant who takes bitcoins, confirms the transaction and sends you a silver Maple the next day (it's a Canadian one ounce bullion silver coin - very popular, very attractive coins, and very pure silver - most countries' bullion silver is 99.9% but Maples are 99.99%). Once my bitcoin rigs are mining enough to 'earn' me one silver one-ounce bullion coin every week... I will find it hard to avoid wanting to upgrade or add to my mining rigs. It's free money - *real* money with similar anti-inflationary properties, but without any of the risks of bitcoin (infrastructure attack, social breakdown, successful black-hat exploits destroying trust in the system, etc.). Hold a silver ounce coin in your hand and it is satisfying.
Hold 6 Maples that you've bought with bitcoins (effectively received for free... once hardware is paid for)... now *that* is satisfying. The chap also supplies Krugers but I'm not waiting until my bitcoin wallet accrues that sort of money, the time taken between transactions is too long, hence higher risk. The silver plan is nice, regular, feels like I'm actually making real money for a change from my messing about with computers... and is frequent enough to give ample warning of market doom.
One has to want to invest in physical silver, of course. I work with investment managers for my day job, and *my* views are considered fairly off-piste... so it's not for everyone. For those in the UK who like silver... remember buying with Bitcoins isn't *yet* a financial transaction. So the dreaded 20% VAT, which ruins silver investment for non-corporates in the UK, doesn't apply
However the vendor is well aware of this, and charges the bitcoin equivalent of more than my best online supplier, and that's *with* paying the 20% tax. This chap is literally coining it in (sorry). He's got the market to himself, so I would too.
I could, too... but I don't want to sell my silver for bitcoins! Even if the BTC value of his silver is overpriced, and he only has Maples and no other interesting coins (check out the Mexican Liberdads - utterly, utterly beautiful for a bullion coin, and the Chinese Panda is always a stunning proof coin. My current favourite is Perth Mint's 'High Relief' Aussie Kangaroo - twice the thickness, smaller diameter, big concave surfaces. Exquisite), if I'm earning the bitcoins for free (or a damn sight less than the real exchanged value - electricity isn't extortionate, and the PCs can be repurposed and expensed for other purposes) then it doesn't really matter if he's profiteering...
Current goal is to get a coin a week. This, with 4 constantly running *mildly* overclocked 5850s, is looking very possible (I use Slush's pool). However, with all the extra 5770s and maybe more 5850s if OcUK comes up with another offer... we could be looking at more than one coin a week. This is a very good way to protect the earnings from this interesting enterprise... and silver gained 100% last year (it was actually 99%, but what the hell). It's a volatile instrument to invest in, because it's half precious metal and half industrial commodity - hence twice the number of stories can move the market, plus it's well known that the Comex silver futures exchange is a criminally rigged casino... the investigation has been going on for years, but the prime witnesses have odd car accidents and often switch personalities from 'let's clean this place up' to 'oh well, the status quo isn't so bad after all' - complete turnarounds that make no psychological sense unless coercion is involved...
I'm not a practising financial adviser but I believe that my qualifications permit me to deal on the behalf of clients... not retail 'unsophisticated' clients though, so don't listen to me unless you *already* like silver. Using a well-set-up mining rig (or three) to acquire bitcoins at a reasonable rate, and then buying silver bullion coins with the proceeds, is basically tax-free, untraceable, unrecorded on a regulatory basis, and the only records potentially kept would be by the dealer who sells the coins... the fact that he asks for my postal address and bitcoin sending address *every time* I buy a coin (even though it's a regular occurrence) suggests that he doesn't actually keep any records. The package is printed with my address, a coin is popped in, the package is posted, and then the transaction is deleted from his database. Perfectly legal since no *financial* transaction has taken place - protects him completely, but also protects me. A criminal breaking into the dealer's premises wouldn't get a list of customers and hence a nice easy route from house to house with his Transit van to collect coins.
The only risk is that the emails are intercepted by a sniffer on the network (this would have to be a cracker working at an ISP, basically) where a buyer is using some ancient or cluelessly-configured email client that doesn't support TLS. I'm confident that my emails to the dealer are secure, as I own the email server and have watched the handshake with his mail provider... looks good to me.
I definitely recommend him. Midas Bitcoin is the chap. Not cheap - definitely not cheap. But if your BTC are *mined* and not bought at current FX rates... it doesn't matter until he has much cheaper competition. And a decent mining rig can accumulate enough per day to buy a silver coin every 5 days or so...
(actually this isn't 'Hardware' at all, but some 'finance' or 'investment' forum... mods please move this post if required...)