Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

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Sarah Manter
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Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by Sarah Manter » Fri Apr 22, 2022 7:55 pm

Everyone needs to start somewhere, right? My journey into cryptocurrency mining has been a little backwards, I imagine. After teaching English Language Arts in a middle school for thirteen years, as with many people, I ended up with a COVID life crisis. The quarantines threw some pieces of my life into a blender, stirred them around, and forced some big changes. In my case, what came out was a delicious concoction that including a Coding Bootcamp certificate, the ability to create simple applications, and a ticket into the world of crypto but little to no knowledge of what parts are even in a computer much less how they fit together. This presented me with a huge learning curve and some big challenges as I dove feet first into the cryptouniverse. While my understanding of the concepts behind cryptomining has increased, knowledge of the hardware involved in the process is essential to really [being able to consider myself a miner], so this newbie rolled up her sleeves and got to work.

First off, I’m incredibly lucky to not be starting from scratch. My equipment was provided by PROHASHING with the sole purpose of teaching me how to build a computer and, eventually, a mining rig. I also had Chris talking me through the process of piecing my new PC together. Now that I’ve completed this experience, I would simply like to say All hail the people who figured this out on their own! You all are rockstars! Seriously!

I started out with the following hardware:

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https://cougargaming.com/us/products/cases/mx410-g-rgb/

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https://www.asus.com/Motherboards-Compo ... S-WIFI-D4/

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https://www.samsung.com/us/computing/me ... 8v1t0b-am/

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https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en ... 0-ghz.html

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https://www.teamgroupinc.com/en/product/vulcan-z-ddr4

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https://www.evga.com/products/product.a ... P5-3767-KL

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https://www.evga.com/products/product.a ... P5-3767-KL

For the case, I was allowed to pick something that looked attractive as long as it fit all the components. The original case we tried to order, although listed as available, ended up being out of stock, so we had to try again. By this point, I had ordered the furniture I was going to use to keep it off the floor, so I needed to make sure it fit in the space I had available also. The MX-410-G that we ended up ordering also has the added benefit of 4 built in fans, and let me tell you, they’re silent. I’m now used to laptops, which emit that tell-tale hum when they’ve been running for a while. I was expecting this computer to be loud, but thus far, I can barely tell when it’s turned on, which shocked me.

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The first step was to connect the mother board to the case. I asked Chris why he chose this motherboard, and he said, “The motherboard had to have support for the CPU and memory and also Wi-fi support. It needed lots of USB ports for peripherals but didn't need overclocking support.“ I’m not ashamed to admit that this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen a motherboard, and it was a little like opening presents on my birthday.

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First victory: having a screwdriver the right size for the screws that connect the motherboard in a drawer somewhere. I have plenty of tools around the house…for construction type jobs. I hadn’t thought about whether I’d have the correct tools for this job until I was in the middle of opening up the case and trying to connect the motherboard to it. All I can say is, “Thank you to my electrical engineer father who throws random tools at me from time to time.”

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The next step was adding the storage. When asked, “Why this SSD?” Chris responded, “We wanted a PCI Express Gen 4 (fast) SSD for a reasonable price, which the Samsung 980 SSD fulfilled.” Adding the storage required, first, taking off a plate on the motherboard.

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It was then important to be careful not to touch the front or back of the SSD when removing it from the container. As Chris explained it, getting the oils from your hands on the front or back of the card can cause it to run hotter. I had to pop in the gold side of the SSD, flip the gray switch at the top, remove a plastic strip from the adhesive on the plate, reconnect the plate, and Voila! Storage connected!

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Next up was the CPU (Central Processing Unit). When I asked Chris why he chose this specific CPU, he responded, “We had a budget of $1700 and needed a GPU that could do dual mining, plus all the PR stuff that [Sarah] normally does. I chose a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 because it offered good value with 16 cores for under $350. This is a work PC, so I decided that overclocking the CPU was not a necessity, and that saved money by not ordering a ‘K’ CPU.”

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When I went to open the spring that holds the cover down on the motherboard, I unfortunately let it go too soon, and it sprung up and smacked the side of the mother board. DON’T DO THAT. There’s a warning right on the instructions to be careful not to let the latch go to soon because you might damage something. Thankfully, I got lucky, and nothing broke.

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I got extra pictures of the inside of the cover and the bottom of the GPU because I love how cool it is what those tiny pins are able to do, and I wanted to show my son the inside of my computer later.

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Once I had the cover open, I found the arrow on the top of the CPU, lined it up with the arrow on the motherboard, and I was able to just drop the CPU into its space and then clamp the pin back down under it’s tiny bracket to close it. The black “Tuf gaming” cover pops right off, and I have it stored with the boxes to the hardware in case I ever need it again at some point. For example, it is necessary to reinstall it if we ever want to claim a warranty return on the motherboard. They won't honor the warranty without it.

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The next step wasn’t as complicated as I’ve heard it could be because the cooling fan that goes with the CPU has the thermal paste already on it, ready to unwrap and go. You can see the gray shape here in the photos.

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The challenging part of attaching the cooling fan was that the plastic pieces that are supposed to spring into place and lock the fan into position were not being cooperative. Two would latch, and the other two would refuse to pop. It took me 3 or 4 tries and repeatedly having to twist the plastic pieces back into their original positions to get the cooler in place. It took quite a bit of force to finally get the third and fourth pins to pop into place.

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I made sure to keep the power cord out of the way when I connected the cooler to the motherboard, and it connected up toward the top of the motherboard/case.

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Then, it was on to the memory. Chris explained, “I chose DDR4 memory rather than DDR5 memory because it DDR5 memory was way too expensive and would have added $250 to the cost for a minimal performance increase.” This step was pretty simple. I just had to remove the DIMMs (Dual In-line Memory Modules) from the packaging, locate the slot in the middle of each and line it up with the tabs on the motherboard, and push down until each clicked into place.

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They needed to go into the slots with the same color, and we used the gray ones.

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The only real pain with the case I chose is that the power supply goes into a small-ish compartment underneath that is accessible from the opposite side as the rest of the components are installed.

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It’s nearly impossible to plug or unplug any of the power cords from the power supply when it’s installed in the case, so I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to attach the cords to the power supply, finagle it into the compartment, and guide the cords through the open slots in the case and worried that I’d push too hard against the metal and slice a cable.

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In the end, my efforts were successful, I managed not to break anything, and when I push the power button, everything that is supposed to run, does. Victory!

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I did end up with the cords plugged into different positions than they were originally shown in these images after some trial and error, figuring what the best setup was to fit everything into that snug space.

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When plugging the cords from the power supply into the motherboard the motherboard’s instructions were helpful in making sure I was plugging everything into the right place, especially since Chris was helping me over video from about 8 hours away.

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The final step before putting the case back together was to install the graphics card. Chris explained to me that
the remaining budget, after purchasing the other components, left enough money for an RTX 3070. We realize, in hindsight, we might have wanted to get an RTX 3080 instead, since it has 10GB of memory and would be better for dual-mining (Ex: ETH + RVN). We’re using an LHR card because there’s been a lot of interest in dual mining with PROHASHING, but none of the PROHASHING staff had an LHR card to play around with it. It’s difficult to give instructions on hardware you don’t possess.

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The GPU was a snug fit in this case, but it worked. I had to pop some metal strips off of the back of the case, and then I screwed it in place. I ended up having to reposition some cables, yet again, so that the GPU would fit in place.

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Once the GPU was in place, and everything was plugged into the motherboard, I was able to put the sides of the case back on and plug it in. I can’t express the feeling of relief when I pushed the power button, the case lit up, and my house was still standing, not on fire, with no blown circuits! (That, and I was psyched because it’s so pretty. 😉)

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At this point, I was able to plug in a corded mouse and keyboard and a portable monitor, and Chris talked me through setting up the bios and installing Windows.

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Now, I am sitting here on this very computer, writing my story of how a newbie built her first PC. First my PC, then a mining rig, then…the WORLD! OK, maybe not the world. But mining rigs are a good start. Catch ya next time, miners!

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TechElucidation
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by TechElucidation » Fri Apr 22, 2022 9:35 pm

That looks really good!

I love the pleasure of putting together a system. You really know what is in there, how it goes together, and how to take care of things if they go wrong.

And the odd thing, I was just putting together the finishing touches on a post of building a mining rig. She is a pretty one!

But... you didn't mention your hash rate on your new 3070!
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-MaVerick-
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by -MaVerick- » Sat Apr 23, 2022 8:52 am

You can almost smell all those new parts. Nicely done and thanks for the documentation!
2 things I noticed though, you are missing a cat. As you can also see in TechElucidation's post, they are nessessary to keep evil away :D In addition to this I wouldn't trust that Intel stock cooling solution for the CPU. Those things were always bad as far as I can remember. They got prettier over time though, so at least theres that.
efrenkov
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by efrenkov » Sun Apr 24, 2022 12:21 pm

You have a computer-bomb, FS2020 is perfect for you there.
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Sarah Manter
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by Sarah Manter » Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:01 am

TechElucidation wrote: Fri Apr 22, 2022 9:35 pm That looks really good!

I love the pleasure of putting together a system. You really know what is in there, how it goes together, and how to take care of things if they go wrong.

And the odd thing, I was just putting together the finishing touches on a post of building a mining rig. She is a pretty one!

But... you didn't mention your hash rate on your new 3070!
Thanks! It definitely feels good to have put it together with my own hands, and when my son noticed one of the fans wasn't spinning, I was able to figure out on my own what was going on with it and get it going again.

Yeah, I have your post bookmarked to read through today! :)
I haven't started mining with it yet. It took a bit to get all the software I needed on it and clear laptop so I could send it to a new employee. I'll definitely make sure to post once it's up and mining.
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Sarah Manter
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by Sarah Manter » Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:04 am

-MaVerick- wrote: Sat Apr 23, 2022 8:52 am You can almost smell all those new parts. Nicely done and thanks for the documentation!
2 things I noticed though, you are missing a cat. As you can also see in TechElucidation's post, they are nessessary to keep evil away :D In addition to this I wouldn't trust that Intel stock cooling solution for the CPU. Those things were always bad as far as I can remember. They got prettier over time though, so at least theres that.
Haha! I have two cats. They prance through here every once in a while to announce their presence and torture the pup if she's in her crate, but they're pretty camera shy.

I read that the stock coolers are getting better. I don't know enough yet to comment. I guess we'll see.
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Sarah Manter
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Re: Newbie PC Building 101 - Sarah Style

Post by Sarah Manter » Mon Apr 25, 2022 8:07 am

efrenkov wrote: Sun Apr 24, 2022 12:21 pm You have a computer-bomb, FS2020 is perfect for you there.
Oh yeah! I'll have to try it!
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