Want to build your own rig to run your mixnode, gateway, or blockchain node? Well, I’ve made all the mistakes so that you don’t have to =)
Let's start with debunking some myths:
- Never buy used computer hardware: It’s true that computer components have a finite lifespan, however, that’s also the reason you’re getting it a very good premium and with the right care and setup most parts can have several years left in them
- Mining ruins GPUs: everyone trying to sell a used GPU always puts ”never used for mining” in their ads. In reality, GPU mining might have damaged GPUs back in the day but today most software and sites used for GPU mining actually does less damage to your GPU than gaming does. Using a GPU mining OC software and comparing it to gaming OC software will show quite clearly that the temps, clock boost, and frequency are actually way lower when OC: ing your GPU for mining - what matters is how long you have been mining on that particular GPU and your rig setup
Guide to part compatibility and budget allocation:
When deciding to build a rig you have some choices to make, mainly: do you future-proof your rig so that you can upgrade whit better/newer components as you go, or do you go for what gives you the best options today.
Motherboard: often overlooked in most guides, but it’s actually one of, if not the most important component in your new rig - thus also the one that you don’t want to neglect and go for a cheap option. Your motherboard specs are very important and a quality motherboard could give you options for future upgrades and additional components. You want a motherboard that supports the type of CPU that you want(always check the socket and which CPUs fits that specific socket), that can support the Ram, both type(DDR3, DDR4, DDR5) and frequency and you also want enough PCIe x16 slots to fit your needs.
CPU: Also very important! However, this one is something you can usually upgrade as you go if you are on a fixed budget! For example, AMD3 motherboards also support AMD4 CPUs with just a BIOS flash. With a quality motherboard, you can go from a Ryzen 5 to a Ryzen 9 without any problem, your motherboard and RAM are gonna be the bottleneck for your CPU in this case. If you plan on using your CPU for processing like running nodes you also want a CPU without any iGPU that limits your processing power.
Ram: Common mistake is that frequency's the most important thing. Ram can be overclocked as well and getting a good frequency with low latency is a much better option than getting a high frequency with high latency! You also need a motherboard that supports the high frequency of your RAM. Getting a 4000mhz Ram and installing it on a motherboard that doesn’t support that frequency will at best cause instability(even if it supports it in OC). You also need to know that DDR2, DDR3, DDR4, DDR5 can not be used together, your RAM sticks need to have the same DDR number. Using different RAM sticks can also make your system unstable, if your RAM sticks have different frequencies and different CL(latency) your system will automatically set the settings to use the numbers from the ”worst” one and even then the best case scenario is that your system is wasting the high-performance RAM sticks potential because they are paired with lower performance ones. Dual-Channel RAM also gives better performance than single stick so make sure that your RAM and motherboard are both dual-channel(the manual for your motherboard will tell you which lanes to use for dual-channel and for example a pack with 16 Gb(2x8 Gb) 3200 14cl DDR4 ram will say dual-channel somewhere).
GPU: you don’t really need a super good GPU to run a node. They can help with taking some of the workloads of your CPU when you apply settings to use your GPU for certain tasks, but any mid-tier GPU will probably be more than enough.
Fans: Very important! High airflow numbers for fans that suck air in to your case and high numbers for static pressure for fans on CPU coolers or radiators is important to note. You also want balance in airflow through your case(meaning don’t just use fans to suck air in, you also want fans to blow air OUT - preferably you don’t want a big difference in the quality of your fans). Aim for a slightly positive pressure in your case(having a bit more airflow going in than air being pushed out) - having a high negative pressure will make airflow into your case through other openings such as mesh holes PCIe slots, etc. and you don’t have dust filters there so this will have a bad impact on your system.
Case: There are a lot of options, but it all comes down to your preference really. Be Quiet makes noise isolated cases if you want to limit the noise level. These cases tend to have a bad impact on the temperature inside the case though so often a case that offers a lot of space for fans to create good airflow can be better for your system and also keep the noise levels down. Whatever you do though please DO NOT buy a noise-isolated case with A GLAS WINDOW! You take away a big part of the noise isolation with the window and you will still have a negative impact on the temperature inside your case. Focus on space and fan support after that it’s all personal preference.
PSU: not done yet!