Windows Litecoin GPU miner setup
After learning how to build your own mining rig, the next step is to decide which operating system to set it up with. If you would like to do it with Linux, proceed to the tutorial on Headless Linux Litecoin miner setup. But if you feel more comfortable with Windows, there won’t be a problem as the actual mining performance on both platform would be the same.
I will briefly explain why so many would prefer the Linux setup over Windows. As Linux have the option to be installed as USB bootable, there is no need for a hard drive, not to mention the savings on Windows license, which will lower the startup cost. Also, if you plan to have more than one mining rig, the whole operating system which is on the USB drive is easily duplicated, assuming that you will be using the same hardware of course.
However, if you are not comfortable with the Terminal commands, Windows would be a better choice. Read on for the setup tutorial.
How to setup Windows for Litecoin mining
I won’t go into every detail as i did with the Linux tutorial as you are probably already quite familiar with the Windows interface. This tutorial should be easy enough to follow by an average user.
Step 1 : BIOS settings
Before we proceed, make sure your mining computer’s BIOS settings are in order. Power on your computer, and press the delete key a few times immediately after power on. That should get you into the BIOS configuration area. Do the following settings, then save and exit:
- Change power options so that the computer automatically turns itself on whenever power is restored. The reason for this is to make sure that your miner automatically starts up after a power outage. Also it makes powering the computer on much easier if you don’t happen to have a power switch connected to the motherboard.
- Make sure that your USB drive is first in the boot-up order – you may need to have a thumb drive plugged in.
- Disable all components that you don’t plan to use to save a little bit of power. Since your miner will likely be running all the time, it will add up. For instance, disable the onboard audio, the SATA controller, the USB 3.0 ports if you only use a 2.0 thumb drive, the Firewire port, and the serial port.
Step 2 : Install Windows 7
Windows 7 (64-bit) should work just fine. While 32-bit will work as well, but will require some tweaking on the settings provided. Although i have not tested it on Windows 8, it should work too. For the hard drive, you can go for the cheapest SATA hard disk obtainable.
I’m not going into the details of Windows installation. Complete the installation of Windows, and if necessary, install the drivers for LAN and ethernet that came with the motherboard so that it will be able to online.
Step 3 : Windows Startup
Boot into Windows and proceed to install all the security updates:
- Click Start Menu > Control Panel > System & Security > Windows Update > Check for Updates.
- Install all the updates.
- You may need to repeat the above steps few times until there are no more updates.
Step 4 : Configure Windows for automatic login and prevent sleep
You will need to enable auto-login so that when the mining rig boots up, it will start mining without any user intervention.
- Click Start Menu then at the search box, type netplwiz and click on it when it appears on the program list.
- Uncheck the box that says Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer.
- Click on Apply and enter password to confirm the change.
Next, we will turn off the auto sleep function from power settings as we do not want the mining rig to sleep when there is no user interaction.
- Click Start Menu > Control Panel > System & Security > Power Options.
- Select Balanced. Then click on Change Plan Settings.
- Set Put the computer to sleep to Never. Then click on Save changes.
Step 5 : Install Catalyst GPU drivers and SDK
The latest AMD Catalyst Beta drivers support Radeon R9 2xx series GPUs.
- Download the latest AMD Catalyst Beta display driver.
- Install the display drivers once download has completed.
Important: Your OS may idle the GPU if it is not connected to a monitor. You may plug a monitor to each of your GPU, but it is not very practical. The easiest solution is to create a dummy plug for each of your GPU and attach it to the GPU. This will trick the OS into believing that a monitor is attached, and prevent the hardware from being idled. If you are having this problem, check out this post on How to create dummy plugs for your Graphics Cards.
Step 6 : Install CGMiner
We will be using CGMiner as the mining software. CGMiner 3.7.2 is the last version to support Scrypt mining, so do not use any version after that.
- Download CGMiner ver 2.11.4 (or check the CGMiner website for the latest version).
- Once download has completed, extract it into a folder on your mining rig (you may need to use 7-zip to extract).
- Open the folder that you have extracted CGMiner and create a text file called litecoin_miner.bat (you can use notepad to edit later).
- Enter the following text into litecoin_miner.bat file (replace with your own pool user name and password. See the notes below on creating an account in mining pool):
timeout /t 30
setx GPU_MAX_ALLOC_PERCENT 100
setx GPU_USE_SYNC_OBJECTS 1
cgminer --scrypt -I 13 --thread-concurrency 8192 -o stratum+tcp://coinotron.com:3334 -u [USER] -p [PASS]
Note that the cgminer settings we’re using in the litecoin_miner.bat script is a good starting point for Radeon R9 280X series GPUs. If you have been following our tutorial on How to Build a Litecoin Mining Rig, these settings will give you good hashrates. If you are using other type of GPU, you can learn how to fine tune Radeon cards on CGMiner.
You need to create an account at one of the Litecoin mining pools, and key-in your username and password into the script (-u [USER] -p [PASS]). I have used Coinotron as an example there are quite a few other pools to choose from.
Step 7 : Configure CGMiner for auto restart
Since we have set the Windows to start automatically, we will set the CGMiner to start mining whenever the rig is powered on, in order to minimize mining losses whenever a power failure occurs. We don’t even need to manually restart the mining rig for other situations.
- In the CGMiner folder, right-click on your new litecoin_miner.bat file, and click Copy.
- Then click on the Start Menu and select All Programs. Hover your mouse over to startup, then right click to select Open All Users.
- Right click anywhere on the Startup folder and select Paste shortcut.
With the litecoin_miner.bat file in the startup folder, Windows will automatically execute it upon Windows startup.
Congratulations, you have successfully setup your mining rig and it should automatically start mining when you boot up Windows. The final parts will include a guide to undervolt your GPU and remote administration. Read on if you feel the need to use these. The tutorial on how to fine tune Radeon cards on CGMiner should be able to give you some insight on getting a higher hashrate.
Step 8 : GPU undervolting with MSI Afterburner (optional step)
If your GPU aren’t voltage locked, like the Radeon R9 280X then there is an easy way to undervolt the cards with Windows. Previously, Linux users have to edit with a hex editor in order to tweak the GPU voltage, but With the introduction of VBE7, the process became must simpler. In Windows, it is possible to lower the voltage of certain GPUs, which will lower the GPU temperature and brings significant savings from lower power consumption.
Warning: There are always risks involved when changing the factory voltage settings of the GPU, and can potentially damage your hardware and void the warranty. So this tutorial is for advanced users who know what they are doing. I am taking no responsibility for any damage you might have by following these instructions.
- Download MSI Afterburner.
- Extract the downloaded file and install Afterburner.
- Launch Afterburner (you may need to reboot if prompted to do so). Click on Settings on the lower right, and enable all the options on General tab, except auto update which is the last one.
- If your card supports it, you should be able to change the GPU voltage settings now. If you are using the Gigabyte Radeon R9 280X from our tutorial on building a mining rig, 1075 mV is a good place to start.
- Click the auto apply overclock settings on startup button, and minimize Afterburner.
MSI Afterburner will auto-start at bootup, and the voltage settings will be applied automatically. On my setup with 3 x Radeon R9 280X, the undervolting resulted in reduction in power usage of around 150W, which is pretty huge considering the mining rig runs from day till night 24/7.
Step 9 : Remote administration (optional step)
With remote administration, you can monitor the mining rig from another computer or even from the internet if you wish to do so. Then the monitor, keyboard and mouse could be disconnected from the mining rig. There are a lot of options available with software for these purposes. I will show you how to do it with TightVNC, as it is simple to use, lightweight and free.
- Download TightVNC.
- Install TightVNC on to your mining rig, and choose custom installation with only the server portion of the application available.
- Then install TightVNC on to the other computer that you wish to control your mining rig with. Again choose custom installation and only make the client portion of the application available.
- If you want to connect across the internet, forward port 5900 on the router to your mining rig. Remember to choose a strong password for this.
That’s it, you have your own headless Windows Litecoin miner now. You can test your system by power down the mining rig, then turn it back on. After booted into Windows, it will start mining automatically and if at any time you need to restart your CGMiner manually, simply double click on the litecoin_miner.bat file which is located in your CGMiner folder.