GPU or PCIe risers are one of the cheaper but necessary components for building an efficient mining rig. The problem that these adapters solve really comes into play when trying to install additional GPUs so that the rig has more hash power to mine with.
What are GPU risers? The area in and around a motherboards PCIe lanes are very restricted on space with usually enough room for only one or two graphics cards. GPU risers are the adapters that allow a GPU to connect to a motherboard via USB cable. Moreover, GPU risers convert the x1 PCIe slots of a motherboard into x16 PCIe lanes so that more GPUs can attach to the motherboard.
These adapters are mainly used in multi GPU rigs spanning from 6 – 16 GPUs in conjunction with mining motherboards capable of handling them. They also come in many shapes, sizes, and colors and not all are made to work well in the instance of mining cryptocurrencies.
So, this guide will cover all the important aspects of risers in the sense of mining along with some of the best risers I have found out of all the brands I’ve tried on my farm.
What’s The Purpose Of GPU Riser?
It’s pretty simple really but let’s examine it further so you can fully understand what it is that these adapters really do. Really this all relates to the motherboards PCIe lanes architecture as they can vary depending on the manufacturer.
Some motherboards only carry one or two full x16 slots which would allow the graphics card to be installed directly on the motherboard. This is fine if you’re a gamer/miner running one or two GPUs just to earn some extra coins during your downtime.
However, if you’re a miner like me then you’re looking to maximize mining profits by connecting as many cards that the motherboard will allow. However, it’s obvious from the example below that without any additional x16 slots there is no way to directly attach any more cards.
Now because we are mining and not gaming with these cards, we can still use the motherboards x1 slots but we need an adapter that goes from x1 to x16. This is where the need for GPU riser really comes into play for building any multi GPU mining rig.
How To Install And Power A PCIe Riser
The first thing you want to do is inspect the riser for any loose connections or flaws. The reason for this is almost all the parts get massed produced over in China and quality sometimes isn’t always the greatest especially if you’re using the knock-offs.
Installing them is pretty straightforward as the only thing you really need to do is connect the x16 end to the bottom of the GPU and make sure to push the lock forward.
Then just attach the x1 end of the GPU riser to the motherboard and connect them with the USB cable just like in the example below.
Now that you have the riser connected to the GPU you may have noticed another plug on the riser close to where the USB connects to the GPU. This is to power your riser from the power supply and usually is 15 pin SATA or a 4 pin Molex form factor.
However, when powering the riser cards from the SATA cables remember to never attach more than two risers on the same cable. Doing so can overload your power supply which causes all sorts of problems like wires getting hot and melting.
Which GPU Risers Work Best For Mining?
When it comes to getting the best riser for your cards I like to use Amazon and NewEgg for shopping and comparing. One of the main reasons I like to stick with them is they always have the best prices, shipping, and return policy which makes me feel more comfortable. Plus Amazon gives you cash back for using their card so to me it’s a no brainer.
I recently have been switching my mining rigs over to the latest Leboo risers as they are the smoothest riser I’ve ever used. I mean you can just feel the quality difference by just holding it in your hand. In comparison to a lot of the other riser out there, these have an extra diode and a LED that flashes to let you know its powered. However, the biggest thing for me is they’re priced fairly and the foam never falls off like most risers.
I’ve used these risers for the better part of two years and although I’m slowly breaking up with them they worth mentioning. The one thing that makes these so well rounded for mining is the price has always been fairly low in comparison to others. Despite them being well built for mining they can be a slight nuisance with their foam backing always peeling off which is why I just remove it when I install them. Other than that these do work well and I haven’t had all that many of them go bad.
These risers are on a few of my rigs and have worked well for the better part of two years. One of the things I really like about these is the fact they do have the ability to powered through a 4 pin Molex or a 15 pin SATA cable making them more diverse. Which really is nice when you’re working with one power supply and you wanting to build an 8 GPU rig. Most power supplies don’t come with enough 15 pin connections to support 8 GPUs so it is nice to have the ability to utilize the Molex cables if you have to.
If the ones I just mentioned are sold out here some more that will work for mining. However, I haven’t had the chance to try these next ones out yet but I’ve heard lots of great thing about them from some of my mining friends.
In the end, these are all great options just try to buy them in 6 or 12 packs at a time to save money and remember to always buy a few extras to keep on hand. Risers are notorious for going bad over time so it’s nice to have a few extras in case you ever have to replace one.
No Riser Mining Motherboards
In case you were wondering if you absolutely had to use risers to build your mining the technical answer is no. Now with the help of a few manufacturers, riser-less mining motherboards are making their way into the mining scene.
Although there appears to be a big bag of mixed reviews about them when it comes to better stability and performance over mining with risers. One of the main concerns is the the motherboards slots are to close together which can cause the cards to transfer heat between each other.
So if your gonna go this route your best bet would be to add in some aux fans between each card to keep the temps in check. However, I’m still a believer that risers might still be the better route as you can space them out more with the risers flexible USB cables and give them some room to breathe.
PCIe Expansion Card For Mining
If in the event you find that your motherboard is limited on PCIe slots for your cards there are some options you can pursue. One of them is just going out and buying a different motherboard that’s designed for handling this many cards as its not best practice anymore to go the route I’m about to mention.
PCIe expansion cards allow a motherboard to split a lane into to two or more lanes depending on the adapter. However, I do want to mention that not all expansions card will work for mining. I want to further add that some motherboards may not support this either. So its a hit or miss situation with it which is why I again advise just getting a different board and calling it day.
PCIe Expansion Card: Check For Availability
M.2 Adapter For Mining
You might have noticed this weird looking port on your motherboard that’s called an M.2 port. This allows you to connect a number of adapters to your motherboard for various reasons.
In mining there used in conjunction this PCIe M.2 adapter to create extra PCIe lane so you can hook up an additional GPU to mine with. Yes, they are much safer than the expansion card, so if you want to get one more card on your mining rig, I suggest you do it this way.
As far as installing them there’s really nothing to them. Most come in kits with a small screwdriver and sets screws to attach them to the motherboard M.2 port. Don’t forget to make sure you power this adapter with the 15 pin SATA adapter it comes with.
This concludes our guide for riser and PCIe adapters, and I hope you learned something. The critical thing to remember from all this is to make sure you always power your adapters but never power more than two risers off the same SATA cable.
If you feel that this information has helped you in some way or you have any questions then please drop a comment below. Additionally, I would love to hear what other miners have been using for risers as well so if you have something to share then don’t hesitate.