|Litecoin Mining Rig, 4x R9 290 Edition|
|GPUs||4x Radeon R9 290 4GB||$1808|
|Storage||60GB 2.5” SSD||$57|
|WiFi||USB 802.11n N600||$20|
|PSU||1300W 80 Plus Gold||$303|
|PCIe Extension||2x x16 to x16 Riser Cable||$13|
|PCIe Extension||2x x1 to x16 Riser Cable||$10|
|Case Parts||6x 12” Aluminum Tubing||$29|
|Case Parts||2x 24” Aluminum Tubing||$24|
|Case Parts||12” x 24” Aluminum Sheet||$12|
|Case Parts||8x 3-way Corner Connector||$35|
|Alternative Case Parts||4 x 48” Series 13 Tubing (You'll need to cut this to the appropriate lengths)||$64|
|Alternative Case Parts||8x 3-way Series 13 Corner Connector||$35|
Now, obviously that's a lot of money, but let me run through the basic idea. First, we're going to go relatively low-cost on the CPU and motherboard, with enough RAM to keep the system happy. I'm using a 60GB SSD just so it boots quickly and because you need some form of storage, but any HDD would work. Add in a WiFi adapter and we've got the core of the system.
The real meat of the build is in the GPUs of course, and I've used four R9 290 cards from Amazon.com. Unfortunately, Amazon is currently price gouging (thanks to all the Litecoin miners I'd wager), so feel free to shop around. Stock is limited right now but I hope it picks up in the coming weeks. You'll need four riser cables, two x16 to x16 and two x1 to x16 (powered preferably). I couldn't find any of the latter in stock on Amazon, so you might need to resort to eBay or try unpowered connectors. I also went with a single large 1300W 80 Plus Gold PSU to power the whole shebang.
For the case, after using plastic crates, I found that the build just didn't feel very stable and I'm a bit concerned about how well it's cooling. Switching to a metal frame should be relatively easy, as long as you have a drill to work with and some stands for your mobo from a previous build. Assemble the whole thing and you end up with a metal frame with the four GPUs screwed into the frame. I'd suggest orienting the cards so that the exhaust points up to improve cooling.
The total cost for this build as listed above is around $2500, but if you find R9 290 GPUs for the $400 MSRP it would be $2300. Properly configured, we should get around 3400-3600 KHash/sec with a power draw from the wall of around 1100W. With the current difficulty having jumped up quite a bit in just the past week, estimated income is $2100 for the next month, meaning you'll pay off the hardware at current prices in just over a month, maybe two.
Of course, the price could crash and that would leave you with an expensive system that may not be paying itself off very fast. Worst-case, I would guess Litecoin could crash down to single digits again, but I suspect it will stay above $5. At the current difficulty, paying $0.10 per KWh, the break even point for mining is around $1.50 per LTC. My past experience is that even if the price drops into the single digits, difficulty will likewise scale back and so I suspect until (if?) we get Litecoin ASICs this system should remain profitable.
Here's the real trick: if you can stay in this for the long haul, LTC has hit nearly $50 once and stayed above $20 for more than a week. Right now, it doesn't look like we'll drop below $20 any time soon, though it could still happen. I bet that far more likely is LTC will eventually hit prices 10x and even 100x what we've seen right now, so if you can stash away your coins for the future, they could one day be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The power cost for running this setup is going to be $80 per month, and my advice is to never sell more than half of the coins you mine, unless you reach the point where you're ready to cash out and call it quits. (Or in other words, when you've gotten enough value and you don't want to be greedy.) Within the next two years, we should see prices reach the point where you could sell off all your LTC at more than $200 per coin. Stay the course and you could be the next cryptocoin millionaire.
Some of you are probably shaking your heads saying, "This guy is crazy. There's no way this LTC fad is ever going to be worth $100 again, let along $1000 coins!" I thought the exact same thing about Bitcoin/BTC back in 2011. I was mining and making money, but I sold off most of what I mined on the way down to $2. Then I played around and sold over 200 coins at less than $4. Now, I'm looking at $1000 BTC and realizing that some of the dreamers were right, and we're probably not done yet. Will we see $10,000 BTC in the future? Probably. It might take five years to get there, and you might need to weather some <$100 prices, but we've seen these bubbles three times now and the latest has surpassed my wildest speculation. I'm being far more bullish now and betting LTC will do the same -- maybe only 1/10 what BTC is worth, but even then that's going to be enough to pay off all my debts and then some.
Dare to dream.
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Update: Need help? See my Toubeshooting Guide.