Great Mining Rush on HTPC

In my area The Great Mining Rush has started in spring 2017.

All of a sudden, not only geeks, freaks and hackerz, but also the government officials and pop stars have begun talking about bitcoins, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. GPU’s retail price literally doubled since “balcony miners” rushed to build mining rigs and put them on balconies in their living apartments.

And what it has to do with HTPC?

Nothing, actually, except that an HTPC sometimes has the mining’s the most important piece of hardware — a discrete GPU. That is, hardware-wise such an HTPC is the same mining rig of one GPU and therefore can earn its owner some crypto (or even real) money during today’s “Cryptogold Rush”.

My reasoning was simple: since I have an HTPC with a discrete GPU and I use it only for several hours a week — why shouldn’t it work off its price and my electricity bill in its free time? I started to research the topic.

Mining Card

Gigabyte 1060 3Gb for mining

I happened to have a Gigabyte 1060 3Gb ITX that I’d bought for about US$230 well before the Mining Mania started.

It’s not the most powerful card but is modern, quite cool, silent and power efficient. Together with my Suppressor F1 case, the card formed a nice one-GPU mining rig.

Later it turned out that I got lucky with this particular card: it showed itself very good at overclocking. The same piece from the same Gigabyte that I bought about half a year later was by far not so good in this regard.

Miner

Next, I needed a miner, a piece of software that actually digs the coins out.

Since my HTPC runs on Linux, I looked for a Nvidia CUDA Linux miner and found four of them worth considering:

Ethminer, an open-source miner for Ethereum (ETH). I especially like it because I can download the code and compile it myself, with my own settings.

CCMiner supports a whole lot of altcoins, most of which I’ve never even heard of. I tried mining Monacoin (MONA) with it, but the coin didn’t look very profitable or widely traded at the exchanges, and I gave it up.

EWFB miner for Zcash (ZEC) and Zen (ZEN). However, according to various mining calculators, ZEC with my particular GPU is less attractive, than Ethereum.

DSTM’s miner the same as EWBF, but works a bit better on my system.

After several tests, I finally ended up mining Ethereum with Ethminer. The coin is popular, accepted on many exchanges and traded with reasonable bids at good volumes. The miner runs smoothly at high hash rates utilizing all the capacity the card can give.

Overclocking and Operation

I had to slightly overclock my card to get better results: GPU clock offset at -200, memory clock offset at 1200, and power limit set to 70W.

With such settings, the card outputs stable 23Mh/s of ETH at 65C/150F and 40-50% fan speed.

Under Linux, my HTPC-rig doesn’t require monitor or keyboard. I simply log in from my working desktop via SSH, start the miner, and then log off leaving the miner working all by itself.

Result

At the moment I have a cute quiet mining box sitting under my TV set and earning me some money while I’m away.

With 23 Mh/s and the current Ethereum price, mining calculators promise me around US$30 monthly profit if the rig works 24/7.

Although I don’t expect to become a mining millionaire any time soon, my HTPC rig will at least pay off my electricity bill and even buy me a beer to make watching movies more fun.