- Vic Laranja started mining crypto after being in lockdowns for over a year.
- He began by using his work PC and would run it overnight when he wasn’t using it.
- He eventually built a separate GPU mining rig that would mine ethereum and reward him in BTC.
About a year into lockdowns, Vic Laranja found himself struggling with “Covid boredom”. He was working on social media content for marketing campaigns and wanted an additional hobby. So in October of 2021, he decided to try his luck with crypto mining out of his home in Sarnia, a town in Ontario, Canada. Since he loves building things, he thought it might be a fun project to pass time.
Crypto wasn’t new to him. He had been consistently investing in bitcoin, ethereum, and XRP since April 2020. A year later, the crypto bull run of 2021 happened, prompting Laranja to sell all his ether, XRP, and the majority of his bitcoin at all-time highs.
“I’ve just been reinvesting back into it ever since because I had a pretty profitable move,” Laranja said. “I really wanted with my mining rig to create a dollar-cost-averaging machine where, every day, I was able to pay for my electricity and the hardware and convert that into crypto. So it’s less to me like an income source and it’s more of an investment automation vehicle.”
By mining crypto, Laranja was offering up his computers’ power to help maintain a blockchain or protocol’s network. He and other miners do this to be rewarded in crypto, although it might take them a while to recoup equipment costs, and their electricity consumption has been a source of controversy.
How he started
Laranja started out with equipment he already owned and a good technical knowledge base. As the founder of a digital marketing agency called Social Gravity, one of his main tasks was editing videos. This meant he kept a high-powered gaming PC at hand. Gaming PCs have higher-quality graphics cards that can often be used for mining different types of crypto.
Additionally, Laranja said he took a computer hardware class in high school where his teacher would take apart PCs so that students could put them back together. Those who finished early were able to play a computer game against one another. From that class, Laranja learned about the rudimentary functions of a PC, and how to build and diagnose issues in one semester.
Those skills would eventually help him build his mining rig. However, his first approach was to test out the water by mining a crypto called ravencoin (RVN) because it only required a software download. This meant he could use his work computer and run the software overnight when he didn’t need his desktop.
Ravencoin is a peer-to-peer blockchain based on a fork of the bitcoin code. As of Monday, RVN was trading at around $0.05.
Around the time he started, in October of 2021, RVN was one of the more profitable coins to mine after ethereum, depending on its trading price. He felt his single
wouldn’t be able to handle ether mining. He told Insider he followed an online tutorial and shortly after, it was up and running.
He downloaded an open-source software called NB miner through Github but recalled the gains were pretty low, about $1 a day. The desktop he used only had an AMD RX 570 8GB graphics card. So he only ran that for a couple of weeks.
Scaling a mining rig
Laranja later learned that his friend had also been mining RVN, but by using three different mining rigs. So he decided he wanted to try and scale. He began by using recycled parts from an old PC, taking the motherboard, RAM, and
. They would become the bare bones of his rig.
“It’s just a computer with a bunch of different graphics cards,” Laranja said.
Other parts he added included a power supply, as well as PCIe Power Extension Cables to power the graphics cards and PCIe Splitters to connect more cards, both of which retail for under $25. He also purchased risers for GPUs which add more card space on the motherboard and can retail for about $40.
“I knew that I could probably spend a lot pretty easily, especially with the way the market is and how expensive GPUs are,” Laranja said. “So I wanted to get away with spending as little as I possibly could while still having something that was profitable and good.”
The biggest challenge when building a GPU mining rig is the graphics cards themselves. Since they are in high demand, they can be expensive and scarce. Laranja’s friend advised him to try and get Nvidia’s RTX 3060s at a price close to retail value. This was because they provided a good bang for the buck. They’re cheaper than the newer 3090 models, but have good performance.
One thing Laranja noted was that scalpers, middle people who arbitrage graphics cards by purchasing them from the retailer and reselling them at large markups, were flooding the market. To remain profitable, he had to find cards that weren’t overpriced.
He spent two weeks online messaging sellers and recalled seeing about 10 new cards posted a day. But about 90% of the people he messaged wouldn’t reply because they would sell out fast. The whole process, including finding and building the rig took him about a month.
“That’s why all my cards are different because at the time, it was so hard to get,” Laranja said.
Below are the prices he paid for his cards in Canadian dollars. He resorted to both eBay and Facebook marketplace for his purchases.
$360 for GeForce GTX 1060 6GB ($281 USD)
$350 for GeForce GTX 1060 6GB ($273 USD) used
$400 for GeForce GTX 1660 6GB ($312 USD) used
$840 for GeForce RTX 3060 12GB ($656 USD)
$850 for GeForce RTX 3060 12GB ($664 USD)
One obstacle he came across was that both his RTX 3060s have a Lite Hash Rate (LHR). This is the rate that measures the speed at which calculations are solved for a block. Nvidia added the feature to make the cards less attractive to miners in an effort to combat the chip shortage caused by mining.
In response, Laranja downloaded an open-source software from GitHub called T-Rex miner. The new version of this code has an LHR unlock version. Although he doesn’t think it fully removed the card’s limit, he recalled it increased the hash rate per second (MH/s) by about 10 MH/s per card, going from about 22 MH/s to over 30 MH/s.
By the time he was all in, Laranja estimates he spent about 3,000 Canadian dollars, or about $2,343.
One of the biggest challenges with building up a rig is not frying the hardware, he noted. This can easily happen as the rig is being pushed to maximum capacity, running numerous graphics cards 24/7.
One way to avoid hardware burnout is to ensure good airflow. Laranja hangs his cards on a rack and spaces them apart. He also keeps the rig far from walls, while adding simple PC fans he got from old computers.
A second obstacle was learning how to overclock the cards to maximize their performance beyond what the manufacturer intended. This is done by changing certain variables in the mining software, which for him was T-REX. He reverted to YouTube and guidance from his friend to figure it out. The downside of doing this is that it could void the manufacturer’s warranty.
As for the mining pool, Laranja used 2miners which can pay out in ethereum, bitcoin, or nano. He chose bitcoin because he didn’t want to pay ethereum fees and he’s never bought or used nano. Based on his last four-month moving average, beginning from December 2021, he has received 0.01487789 BTC which amounts to about $562 or $140.50 a month.
In terms of electricity charges, his monthly costs fluctuate because price rates shift throughout the day based on usage. It can go from about $.08 kW to about $.17 KW in Canadian dollars. He recalls it comes to anywhere between $30 to $50 Canadian dollars or $23 to $39 a month.