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Author Topic: my mining experiences so far  (Read 1964 times)
mdude77
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April 20, 2012, 01:30:30 AM
 #1

It started around June of last year.    Apparently I just missed the hype.  BTC has just crashed from $35, and mtgox (I think that's who it was) was hacked bringing the price down to fractions of a buck, and someone bought a massive amount of bitcoins at a ridiculously low price.  Then it was all rolled back.

But I decided to try it anyhow.

Got a 6870 from newegg, and within a week picked up a 6950.  That lasted a couple of months, but the heat was too much.  Those two, non ref cards, crammed into a standard PC, in the beginning of summer, just didn't work well.  I sold the 6950 for pretty close to what I bought it for new from newegg.

I started doing more research and found the 5000 series works a lot better than the 6000 series, although they use a bit more power and generate more heat.  So I found a used reference XFX 5870 (OCd to 900mhz) on ebay (I love XFX cards.. that double lifetime warranty rocks.)  What I read wasn't wrong - if I was lucky I got about 280/mh with my 6870, the 5870 got close to 400.  According to what I read, if you can get 400, that's the sweet point, love it and let it go.  So I did.

Shortly after I picked up another ATI 5870 ref, this one at standard 850mhz.  My MB only had room for 2 (w/o risers..) so I upgraded my 600watt ps to a 750 antec, and put the 6870 in my wife's computer.  It chugged away at 280, and I was getting close to 800 between the two 5870s.

This whole time I was saving my coins, waiting for the price to finally go back up.  I had saved up close to 50 coins.  The price finally hit $3, then $3.50, then it started to fluctuate.  I sold.  A week later it was $4.  A week later, $5, then peaked around $6.  My timing was awful, to say the least.  (I've had the same experience with my limited experience in the stock market.  I'm horrible at timing it.)

From that point forward I sold every coin I got as I got it, regardless of the price.  Then tradehill decided to leave.  I cashed out, got about 2/3's of my original investment back, minus the cost of electricity (which isn't much.. $0.0719).

The winter that wasn't started to come to an end, and the three weeks of 80 degree weather arrived.  In March.  (I'm on the east cost.  It regularly snows in March.)

The noise and heat got to be too much, and I'd saved enough coins to buy another bare minimum rig from newegg.  Put it together, and tried to get linux up and running.

And tried.

And tried some more.

Wasted a whole weekend trying to get that to work.  I finally got natty working, everything installed, it saw my cards, then rebooted.  All the sudden VNC went view only, regardless of what it said.  This was supposed to be a headless machine, VNC had to work.  At that point, I gave up on linux.  I know everyone says windows requires a dummy plug or a monitor for the 2nd card (and 3rd, and 4th, and...), but I'd found a way to get windows to recognize the 2nd card w/o a dummy plug or a monitor.  via tightvnc (since remote desktop causes the VC to disappear).  The trick was to extend the desktop to the second card, AND make it the primary monitor.  voila, 2nd desktop was there, msi afterburner saw the card, I could lower the memory clock, and best of all, with the right parms to phoenix, I get a minimum of 850 m/h between the two!  Sweet!

I then moved the whole thing, headless and all, to the basement, using power line networking.  I put a box fan right beside, and turned it on.  Everything went as planned, I could get to it through the network, I tricked windows to showing the second card, and it was mining away.  Both cards running in the lower 70s.  (Right now one is at 77 because it's warming up.)

Hopefully before I run out of old windows xp licenses, I'll figure out how to get the linux on a USB key miner working.

Then I started checking out 5970s.

Ended up getting one for $364 including shipping from ebay.  Hooked it up, and try as I might, I could not get more than 300 m/h total out of it.  I was also having pegged CPU problems (tightvnc isn't the greatest for a single core it seems).  I thought there might be too much power under the hood for that lowly semptron, so I ordered the cheapest athlon II (3 core - $75) from newegg.  It arrived 3 days later.  Plugged it in.  No more pegged CPU problems, but still couldn't get more than 300 m/h total out of it.

So I started looking around, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  It was more than mildly frustrating.  afterburner couldn't adjust the temp of the 2nd core.  my windows trick no longer worked, I'd get an error about having crossfire on.  

Then I found cgminer.  That's a nice miner.  I told it set this memory to 300, this memory to 300, and tried out each core one at a time.

One worked fine, getting somewhere around 300m/h without much effort.  The other core, however, was wildly swinging all over the place.  I also noticed the HW value on cgminer was through the roof for that core, but zero on the other.  Uh oh, I thought.  I have a bad feeling about this.  I dug into the docs for cgminer, and saw HW means hardware errors.  This can't be good.

So I switched back to guiminer, using phoenix.  One the first core, same experience.  Somewhere around 300.  On the second core, it ran good for a few seconds, then it started saying "unexpected response from API, hardware error?"  Sigh.  Seems I got a bad 5970.  

I contact the seller and say I want to return it, one core is bad, he sold me a defective item.  He told me it worked fine on his side (he used it for mining too), and was getting about 750 between the two cores.  So it must have been damaged in shipment.  That's funny, I thought.  No signs of damage to the box, no signs of damage on the card.  But whatever.  He said he'll check out what it takes to initiate a claim.  Long story short, he gets the money back immediately from paypal.  I ship it to him, in the same box with same packing, and he refunds my money.  Paypal sits on it for close to a week (argh).  Yesterday I finally get the money back.  Total time wasted on the 5970: 3 weeks.  

Oh, and I try cgminer for a while with my dual 5870s.  I average around 810 between the two, and they run hotter than I remembered.  So I switched back to phoenix, and I'm getting, at minimum, 850 between them, and they run cooler.  So cgminer is neat, but phoenix (through guiminer) likes my 5870s more.  

My switches: -k phatk VECTORS BFI_INT WORKSIZE=384 AGGRESSION=7 FASTLOOP=false

I know everyone says higher aggression is better, but my CPU usage starts to spike at 8 with no improvement.  384 seems to be the magic worksize too.  Also, I've seen some references to the last parm being FASTLOOPS, but I think it's singular.

Anyhow...

I kept checking out other 5970s, but I can't help but think in my head:

two 5870s, if played right, about $350-$375, and I get > 850m/h, and I can trick windows.  One 5970, if I'm lucky, I get 750 m/h for the same price.  Uses more power, and runs hotter too than either one individually.  And it needs a 8 pin power connector, so my older PS's won't cut it.

I end up deciding a 5970 isn't worth it for what I'm doing.  I just bought another XFX 5870, it should arrive tomorrow.  I plan on running it along side my 6870, case open, horizontal, with a box fan blowing AWAY from it, to suck the heat out and force the open slots beside the cards to suck in plenty of cool air.

I've also checked out getting riser cables and building a custom open rig.  Cablesaurus wants $15/pop for cables.  That's $60+ shipping.  For that I could get another MB, I already have memory, a CPU, and a power supply to put in it.  And if bitcoin goes flop, they are not resellable.  But computer hardware is, or worse case, I can donate it to needy family members who are using ancient computers.

I've learned how to make dummy plugs.  I found a few DVI -> VGA connectors, and dug out my ancient electronics kit from school and got some resistors, and they work great.  Yes, the windows trick works, but this is easier, and I suspect when if/when I go to more than 2 cards my windows trick won't work anymore.  I've seen pictures of people using resistors straight in the DVI port, but I haven't been able to find the specs for that.  That's be a lot easier than a dummy plug.

That's where I am now.  I have enough coins saved up for another $100 in hardware.  I'm also watching for used riser cables, with my long term idea of running 4/5870 on my machine downstairs with a second 750w PS.

Also can't wait to get out of newbie status on this board.  Been reading following for almost a year, but this is only my third post.  I think I know enough finally to be useful on other boards. Smiley


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mokahless
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April 21, 2012, 09:32:29 AM
 #2

That was a cool read. I'm too afraid to invest actual cash in this, just mine on my existing hardware (6950, 6450, 6770m). Even the best $/MH cards out now would take 5+ months to pay off at current exchange rates and assuming the difficulty or exchange rate doesn't change. I can get ~0.25BTC/day at current difficulty... but only if I don't turn my machines off or stop the hashing to use them normally.
I've recently been looking into litecoin as an in-between for my CPUs since CPU mining is useless for BTC but LTC is the opposite. The exchange rates seem to favour CPU mining LTC and trading immediately for BTC over CPU mining BTC directly. 40LTC=0.03BTC after exchange fees. i7QM@1.8 + phenom II 5 threads + athlon II 3 threads = ~40LTC/day. vs 10MH/day=~0.01BTC/day.

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April 21, 2012, 12:16:21 PM
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Thanks for sharing these details. It’s nice to see that people are still GPU mining and trying to grow. As a newb it’s been hard for me to gage whether or not it’s already pointless or if there is still money to be made.
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April 21, 2012, 04:45:47 PM
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Thanks for sharing these details. It’s nice to see that people are still GPU mining and trying to grow. As a newb it’s been hard for me to gage whether or not it’s already pointless or if there is still money to be made.
same story here, can't wait to invest but I'll have to wait 2 more months until holidays, but I'll start reading all mining stories like this.
I saw the bitcoin crash happening, live, and it sucked balls that I could buy, as I didn't have a bank account. I guess BTC is never going to crash again Sad

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April 21, 2012, 05:08:02 PM
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I remember that I stopped mining for a few months when the price dropped below 5. Luckily I did not sell my coins at the bottom though. Now I am thinking about getting another 5870 or two (I am at 1.35 Ghs now). Before the ppl in the waiting list for BFLs get their fpgas, I should get close to 100% ROI. Then I will have subsidized heating the next winter.

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April 21, 2012, 05:19:32 PM
 #6

Welcome!
mdude77
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April 22, 2012, 02:23:15 AM
 #7

A few more random thoughts:

- I just got my 3rd 5870.  I still get > 400mh, but not as much as out of my XP box.  I'm guessing the video overhead microsoft added to Vista, which is in Windows 7, causes 7 to get a lower rate than XP.

- 600 watt ps is not enough to run a 5870 and a 6870.  Don't ask how I know.

- I've seen in lots of places that the 2.1 API doesn't work with the 6000 series.  It seems to work just fine for me.  I speculated that a newer version was there once (true) and not properly uninstalled (not sure) but if that was the case, the 100% cpu bug would still show itself.

- I found some risers on ebay for < $5 a piece.  Two sellers I've looked at so far ship from hong kong.  One has over 100,000 ratings, but has a few negatives that make it look like it's dangerous.  But it's still like 99% positive, and free shipping.  I'm going to search some more to see if I can find some domestic US ones and compare before I bite the bullet.  Anyone else tried these?

Also, thanks for the positive thoughts guys on my write up.  Maybe next time I'll break it in 3 or 4 pieces to make it shorter and get closer to getting white listed. Smiley  (hint hint!!)



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April 22, 2012, 03:28:23 AM
 #8

good read :-)  my experience is a bit similar

http://www.heatware.com/eval.php?id=77255
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mokahless
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April 22, 2012, 04:50:20 AM
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A few more random thoughts:
- 600 watt ps is not enough to run a 5870 and a 6870.  Don't ask how I know.

Then you are doing it wrong Wink.

In all seriousness though, a good quality 600W power supply should be sufficient. What brand and model were you using, if I might ask? Seasonic PSUs are typically your highest quality power supply (and the companies they manufacture for, such as Corsair, except for their builder series). Lower quality power supplies, as well as using cheaper parts, can be unstable and often have a lot less than 600W available on the 12V rails (used for the GPU and CPU), not to mention being only barely able to handle their advertised load.

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April 22, 2012, 05:31:52 AM
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Nice read, thank you. I'm also a small-time miner; started about a month after you did (end of July). Started off with a couple of dual 6870 PCs (overclocked to 300mhps), then over the following months added some 6950's (350mphs), eventually replacing some of the weaker GPUs with 5870's (400mhps). Learned quickly which cards/fans were loud and which were quiet. You can't do much about the heat, but at least you can do something about the noise. At least to a degree.

I consider my PC/GPU investment to be paid off (in the sense that if I were to sell all of my mining hardware now, and add to it my mining profits to date, I'd end up with more than my initial investment). I'm not getting rich off of mining, but it has been (and continues to be) a great learning experience. Not to mention fun. At my peak I had 3300mhps. Currently sitting at 3000mhps in GPU's plus a few FPGA's. Good for 2 or 3 bitcoins a day. Even though the block reward will be cut in half come December, I still plan to add capacity.

Good luck with your mining, and welcome to the forums!


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April 22, 2012, 06:52:34 AM
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I want go for 5970 too
mdude77
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April 22, 2012, 11:01:44 AM
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A few more random thoughts:
- 600 watt ps is not enough to run a 5870 and a 6870.  Don't ask how I know.

Then you are doing it wrong Wink.

In all seriousness though, a good quality 600W power supply should be sufficient. What brand and model were you using, if I might ask? Seasonic PSUs are typically your highest quality power supply (and the companies they manufacture for, such as Corsair, except for their builder series). Lower quality power supplies, as well as using cheaper parts, can be unstable and often have a lot less than 600W available on the 12V rails (used for the GPU and CPU), not to mention being only barely able to handle their advertised load.

It's a no name brand that only has two 6-pin pcix connectors.  I used two dongles to convert 4 standard PS connectors to pcix.  I was on the same train of thought as you, this one just doesn't cut it.  My replacement is going to be thermaltake 750 bronze 80.  Forget which one at the moment, but an Antec 750 is running my other two 5870s, figured it'd be good for my 6870 and 5870.


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max in montreal
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April 23, 2012, 03:14:27 AM
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Quote
I've also checked out getting riser cables and building a custom open rig.  Cablesaurus wants $15/pop for cables.  That's $60+ shipping.  For that I could get another MB, I already have memory, a CPU, and a power supply to put in it.  And if bitcoin goes flop, they are not resellable.  But computer hardware is, or worse case, I can donate it to needy family members who are using ancient computers.

I got mine off ebay from hong kong i think...shipping took about 20 days but the total price for 5 of them was about 30 bucks!
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April 23, 2012, 03:50:13 AM
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eBay for PCIe cables. I just bought a box full at $4/cable and I got them 3 days after I ordered.

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April 23, 2012, 04:14:56 AM
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Thanks for sharing your experiences in mining... I read everything ._.

Hopefully you'll have better luck/insight in the future--I have a feeling that you will!  Grin

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April 23, 2012, 07:13:17 PM
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Cool story, good luck with rest of your mining life Smiley
mdude77
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April 24, 2012, 12:25:30 AM
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eBay for PCIe cables. I just bought a box full at $4/cable and I got them 3 days after I ordered.

Quote

I got mine off ebay from hong kong i think...shipping took about 20 days but the total price for 5 of them was about 30 bucks!

Thanks!  I feel better now, I'll order 4 and see if I can get my rig boxless.

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April 24, 2012, 12:33:17 AM
 #18

Also can't wait to get out of newbie status on this board.  Been reading following for almost a year, but this is only my third post.  I think I know enough finally to be useful on other boards. Smiley

Shameless plug: don't forget to be useful on the Bitcoin Stackexchange too ;-)

max in montreal
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April 24, 2012, 12:35:25 AM
 #19

order a few extra...they are fragile and rip easy.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/270879087303?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

thats what I got. waiting to install them.
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April 24, 2012, 02:21:44 AM
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Quote
order a few extra...they are fragile and rip easy.

I'll keep that in mind.

Do the 1x->16x work as advertised?  Simply plug and play, nothing special to worry about?  I know of read things about needing extra power for the card, but I've never seen details on it.  I've always seen it significantly decreases your bandwidth, but for mining you get the same result.

A board with 2x16 and 2x1 is a lot cheaper than 4x16. 

Thanks.

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