How not to embarrass yourself when writing about mining (or anything else)

Disclosure: I work with Flexpool.io but I am not writing in any official capacity or with any proprietary knowledge. You should mine with Flexpool, but it’s not mandatory.

Disclaimer: Hashrate rental can be expensive and unprofitable if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you do know what you’re doing and can manage your risk, check out Nicehash and MiningRigRentals and maybe you too can embarrass the tech media. (Referral links may earn me a little bit.)

This morning, some “news” pieces came out in some of the tech press. Not the big names most people have heard of, but venues with some reach and some expectation of basic knowledge.

The headline from notebookcheck dot net

The “story” was that some unreleased and possibly even non-existent GPUs were mining to Flexpool, the number 5 Ethereum mining pool in the world This sounds pretty amazing, even unbelievable, although after the April 1, 2021 Captains Workspace reveal video on the “RTX 4090” you realize some people will believe anything.

The evidence? High hashrate and workers named “4090TI-Overclock-Test,” “RX7000-Control-Test,” and “RX7000-Overclock-Test.”

The “story” got a lot of coverage, starting at wccftech, spreading to Notebook Check and Digital Trends, and later with a bit more justifiable incredulity from Windows Central and TechRadar. Also seen at TweakTown after this was originally posted.

A couple of these mention later in the article, after breathless references to the scale and/or specs of the cards named and the vast amounts of Ethereum that could be mined by these farms, that it’s unlikely.

How could this happen?

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Quick Take: Is It Too Late To Get Into Crypto?

Short answer: Maybe. But read on.

In January 2021, I refreshed my involvement with cryptocurrency mining, after two years of Ronco-mode Ethereum mining. Set it and forget it worked pretty well, except when a power supply died.

I started a post then, and had told some friends about my calculations for Ethereum mining with the new 30-series from NVIDIA or even my old RX580 cards. A $1500 rig that could pay for itself in six months? Amazing.

But in the week or two after I said that, as James Burke might say, the universe changed. Or at least the crypto and GPU world started to transmute in strange ways.

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Wrestling with an ONDA B250-D8P-D4 mining motherboard

Most casual crypto miners use a conventional motherboard, especially if they have a PC/case/power supply with sufficient PCIe slots for their GPUs. But when you get beyond 2-4 GPUs, you either need a rat’s nest of riser extenders, or maybe (just maybe) a dedicated mining motherboard.

I recently got a new-to-me mining motherboard, and found it painful to find some information and resources I needed. I’m aggregating this information in this post, and it will get updated as I get more relevant experience with the ONDA motherboard in question. If you have any info to share, feel free to comment below and I’ll update. (Last update 2021-03-14)

I’ve mined with an Octominer 8-slot motherboard for 3 years now. In addition to an onboard Celeron 3855U and a single DDR3 SODIMM RAM slot (max of 8GB), it has eight PCIe x16 slots, so you don’t need to use the common x1-to-x16 risers. It’s complicated in that you have to power the motherboard with a number of additional power connectors (in this case, 6-pin PCIe power leads from the power supply). But it sits flat on a custom frame I ordered in 2018, and it doesn’t have much that I don’t need (like lots of drive controllers, extra memory slots, audio, etc). And if you get a custom mining power supply (or breakout board) with only 6-pin connectors, you’re in good shape. 

Octominer has discontinued their 8-slot boards, and the boards may not support the latest GPUs on the market (much like the Ethos mining distro I used on it until this past week). I couldn’t get the board to boot with an AMD 5500XT GPU (Amazon, eBay) in the first slot, for example. So it’s chugging along with eight Sapphire Nitro+ RX580 8GB cards (Amazon, eBay), seven of which have been chugging for almost three years now.

While they still make custom boards, the only ways to get their products are either to find the rare used item on a marketplace, or to buy the one integrated rig they currently sell in quantities less than 10 (their x12 rig with everything but the GPUs, which runs almost $1,000 shipped to the US). 

Another company making custom boards is ONDA. You can usually find them on eBay or other marketplaces for a couple hundred dollars, with a range of slot support. I found a good deal on the B250 D8P-D4 recently, and since I wanted to aggregate a mess of old GPUs, it was an easy way to go. Continue reading