So you’ve decided that you want to get into mining Litecoins, but don’t want to spend $1,000 to make an “entry” level one? That’s great! Contrary to what a lot of people say, you don’t have to invest a ton of money just to get started. This build costs just about $500, although that price can fluctuate depending on the supply and demand of parts (particularly graphics cards).
Part 1: CPU
This build assumes that the only thing that you are going to be using the computer for is mining Litecoins by utilizing the GPU (the most efficient and fastest way). Therefore, the only thing the CPU is going to be used for is booting up the operating system. Most of the time, the only thing the CPU is going to be doing is idling. For this build we are going to be using an AMD Sempron 145 processor. Sure, it’s a few years old and obsolete by todays standards, but it works, plus it’s very cheap at $30 (at the time of this writing). Another option is the AMD Athlon II. It costs about twice as much ($60) but if for whatever reason you want a bit more speed or the 145 is not available, it is a fine option as well. In case you were wondering, both CPUs come with a fan and heat-sink.
Part 2: Motherboard
The next item our build needs is a motherboard. We have a couple options here. The Gigabyte GA-78LMT-S2 Micro ATX Board ($50) is an affordable option, and it gets the job done. It is compatible with both of the processors above, and pretty much all modern GPUs. “Micro ATX” is the size of the board. In this case, it is very compact. The only possible issue here is that if you plan to upgrade (add another graphics card) in the future, you are limited to one more, and you would have to buy a powered riser. If you think you may upgrade in the future, consider a board like this one ($100).
Part 3: RAM
When Litecoin mining, the computer memory (RAM) isn’t being used very much. For this build we are going to use a cheap 2GB stick by Crucial ($20). Even this is a bit excess. Linux can run just fine on 512MB and Windows requires just 1GB. If you decided to choose your own RAM, just make sure it is DDR3. Speed doesn’t really matter, but keep in mind that our motherboard only supports up to 1333MHz, meaning that buying anything faster than that will be a waste of money.
Part 4: GPU
The GPU is the most important part of your mining rig. At the same time, it is also the most expensive. These days, since the recent gain in popularity in mining, these cards have become in very short supply. For this build, we are going to be using a AMD R9 280x. Although AMD 7950s are pretty much universally recognized as the best card for Litecoin mining because of the relatively low amount of power it uses for its performance, they have pretty much become out of stock everywhere. The 280x is slightly more powerful but uses more energy. The true value of these cards are about $300, but are now nearly impossible to find at that price in stock. Newegg sells them for $419, which is outrageous. My advice is to search around for about a month, and check eBay (buy at your own risk) and other retailers for a more reasonable price. Also keep in mind to only buy the cards manufactured by ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, and Sapphire, as they are by far the most reliable and have the best cooling.
Part 5: Power Supply
A power supply is definitely the second most important part of your mining rig. Since you are probably going to be leaving it on for extended periods of time, if not 24/7, you want to make sure it is safe and reliable. It is not worth it to buy a cheap power supply and then later have it catch fire or even explode. My results indicate that the entire rig as a whole hardly ever sucks down more than 400 Watts. For this build, we are going to use the Corsair CX 500M ($70). This gives us plenty of overhead room. My advice on power supplies is to go at least 100W above what you think you need, and to only buy from Corsair or Seasonic, as their products are known to be very reliable.
You may have noticed that in this build, there is no case or even a hard drive! Cases generally aren’t very good for mining rigs because they can tend to trap heat in. I used one of these plastic crates ($6). This way, the ventilation is better, and you save twenty bucks. I generally advise against using Windows, but if you decide to take that route, you will need to buy a hard drive. It doesn’t need to be fancy or anything, and this one will do just fine ($20). You will also need a USB stick that has at least 2GB of storage. If you don’t have on lying around, these will do fine ($15). To mount the system, I used a wooden dowel ($4) and some zip ties ($8). You could probably get creative and figure out how to get buy without these, but I highly recommend them.
And that’s all the parts we need! The next part in this tutorial is assembling your rig, which can be found here.