Sep 14, 2017

Mining Ethereum on Windows 10

Now it's time to go through the Windows 10 setup and configuration to mine Ethereum!

Step 1: Configure BIOS to start computer after power loss

The first step is very important. When first powering on your rig, as soon as it comes on, hit DELETE to enter the BIOS setup. Look for a setting that determines what your computer will do after a power loss. What this means is that if your rig is up and running and the power goes out, what will your rig do after the power is restored. You want your rig to automatically turn back on, so change the "Restore AC Power Loss" setting to "Power On".

While you're installing Windows 10 and then updating Windows 10 on your rig, I suggest going to your motherboards manufacturers website and download the Windows 10 drivers that you will need to install once Windows 10 is up and running. The primary ones being the chipset and network card drivers (in case Windows doesn't recognize the network card). You can install the audio and other drivers if you like, but they are not needed.

Step 2: Install Windows updates

So now you installed Windows 10 and you're at the desktop for the first time. The very first thing that you're going to want to do is install all of the latest Windows updates. Come October there will be a new Windows build that will allow for more than 8 graphics cards to run effortlessly. It's a revision we are all eagerly awaiting. In the search bar at the bottom, type in "Check for updates". You will see the option at the top, launch Windows update and check for and install updates. After the first round is installed, reboot your system and check for updates again and repeat until it says that your computer is up to date.

 Step 3:  Disable sleep mode

The next step to do is to tell Windows to not go to sleep due to inactivity.

In the search bar in the lower left type in "power settings". Then click on the "power & sleep settings" bar. In the "Screen" and "Sleep" drop downs, choose never. You can change the screen setting to your own preference, though I recommend "never".

Step 4: Configure Windows to automatically log in

Set your Windows profile to automatically log in. We've already set up the BIOS to power on in the event of a power outage. So now we want it to automatically log into Windows, so it's not sitting there waiting for a password to be entered before loading your desktop.

To do so, in the search bar, type "netplwiz" and click on the bar at the top that says netplwiz run command. Uncheck the box that says "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer". Then click apply and enter your password.  Now your rig will reboot and log into Windows automatically.

Step 5: Disable automatic updates

Next, we will turn off automatic updates so you don't have updates installed and have your rig reboot in the middle of the night. Rather than detail the steps, I'm going to reference a well -documented web page with various methods. Use the How to prevent automatic updates using the Local Group Policy Editor guide if you're using professional or enterprise edition. 

Step 6: Install graphics card driver(s)

We're getting closer. The next step will be to download and install the Windows 10 drivers for your graphics cards. You can can download the NVidia drivers here: NVidia video card driver download.

Once the drivers are downloaded, install and reboot your computer.

Step 7: Download Ethminer and MSI Afterburner

Okay, so now we have the basics in Windows configured and we can get to the meat and potatoes.

You will download two pieces of software.

  1. Ethminer - Cuda optimized for Windows 10 - It's a package on the reputable CryptoMining blog that has the necessary additional files included in the folder.
  2. MSI Afterburner - this is the utility that you will use to overclock your graphics cards. 

Step 8: Configure MSI Afterburner

Launch MSI Afterburner and the first thing we are going to do is set Afterburner to launch with Windows. So click the square under "Startup" (bottom left), so that it launches with Windows. Any settings you make or use will be discarded if Afterburner is closed. You want to keep Afterburner open/minimized while mining. This will start up Afterburner with the last used settings in the event the rig loses power or you reboot.

Now there are two primary settings that you will use in Afterburner to overclock your graphics cards. The first is Power Limit and the second is Memory Clock.

Power limit is the power supplied to the video cards. You use this to reduce the power being used, which also reduces the overall power usage by your rig.

Memory clock increased your video cards memory clock, thus increasing your hash rate.

Try these settings: run the Power Limit at 70% and the Memory Clock at +650. You can test and tweak these setting to find the best setting for you. Any lower on the power and one or more of my graphics cards would crash, requiring a reboot. Any higher on the memory clock and the same results. The combination of 70/+650 results in a miner's dream - stability.

Once you find your ideal settings, save the profile so you won't have to manually adjust the settings. To do so, click the save icon to the right of the number 5 under "Profile". Numbers 1-5 should begin to flash red. Click the number where you would like to save it and you're done. This allows you to save 5 profiles, so you can switch between if you're testing or find better settings with a different miner when you switch coins.

Step 9: Configure ethminer

The first thing we need to do here is enable hidden file extensions. This will allow you to create a batch file easily.

In the search bar, type "file extensions" and then click on the "Show or hide file extensions" bar.

Choose the "Show hidden files, folders or drives" button. Uncheck the 3 hide boxes as shown above. Then apply. Using Windows Explorer, go to the folder where you have the ethminer files. It should look identical to the image below. Right click on a blank space and choose "New text document". When it creates the document, name it "miner.bat". Make sure you remove the ".txt" part. The .bat defines it as a batch file.

In the screenshot, you can see my miner.bat and the "new text document" I created to give you an example, that you will use to create your batch file. Once you created the miner.bat file, right click on it and choose edit. Once it's open in Notepad, create the following entry:

You will change the "" to the address of the pool you have chosen to mine. Most pools have their server listings on the main page or a "Connect" page.  Next, change the "0xXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX" to your ethermine wallet address. Once that is done, click file, save and then close the window.

Step 10: Add ethminer batch file to the startup folder 

Two final things. Create a shortcut on the desktop and also in the startup folder. Right click on the miner.bat file you just created and choose "Create Shortcut". Cut that shortcut and paste it onto your desktop. This will place a shortcut on your desktop to easily launch ethminer.

Now, navigate to the following folder in Windows Explorer: C:\Users\Yourprofilename\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. Right click on the blank area and choose "Create shortcut" again. This will place a shortcut to your ethminer in the startup folder so when Windows starts, it will automatically launch ethminer for you. Convenient, right? With the changes we've made, if your rig loses power, when the power is restored, your computer will power on, Windows will automatically log in and then launch ethminer for you. Done.