NCase M1 Mining Project

QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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Guys, I am not proud of this... Let me preface this by saying I think cryptomining is a colossal waste of humanity's resources, mainly electricity and compute power. That being said, I recently thought I'd try it since I have a system with a 1070 FE that I hardly use for gaming, so I thought let's see what all the fuss is about. And voila, I was making 0.001 BTC/day at 70% power/60 C/60% fan speed and not paying much for electricity. Greed > morals.

I have an X99 system in an NCase M1 (naturally using the X99E-ITX/ac). So I thought... An M.2 to PCIe adapter is $10. And a PCIe x1 to PCIe x16 USB riser is also around $10 (mining uses very little bandwidth, so USB wiring is enough). So I can turn the M.2 slot on the X99E-ITX/ac into a second x16 slot for $20. And then I can get a 1080 Ti, which isn't good value for mining, but I want one ;) And continue to mine with it + the 1070 until both cards hopefully pay for themselves or at least I cover a good fraction of the 1070 to 1080 Ti upgrade cost. Then, when the cryptocurrency bubble bursts, I'll sell the 1070 and live happily ever after with my 1080 Ti*. I thought I'd run the 1080 Ti outside the M1 with extension wiring out one of the watercooling holes, so the case wouldn't get too hot. And I can use it to warm my hands in the winter.

So... long story short, it doesn't work. I connected power to the M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter, also ran a molex extension to the PCIe x16 riser, and was planning to get PCIe 8-pin power extensions, so I could move the card around the case more easily. The card powers on, LEDs and fans come on, but it doesn't get recognized. I am fairly certain that it is a BIOS issue as I don't think the board supports PCIe graphics from the M.2 slot. I am running the latest BIOS and I sent a message to ASRock, still waiting to hear back. In the meantime I thought I'd share my experience here as I know some of you have done M.2 to PCIe mods (most notably @Aibohphobia in his ATX PSU build). Do you guys have any advice?

Worst case scenario, I will bifurcate the slot (I know the board supports it), or I'll do the easiest thing which is to get one of those PCIe x1 cards with multiple USB connections for mining and run both cards out of the PCIe x16 slot at very limited bandwidth.

*I will be expanding the setup with 2 more 1070s using a PCIe x4 card with 4 USB ports for additional risers. :D Stay tuned for the 4 GPU NCase M1 build!

Attaching some pictures.





 
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QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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So after a bit of research that I should have done before posting this, I've realized it's more likely my M.2 to PCIe adapter that is the issue. It is a cheap/generic unit off of EBay. Apparently, the one that's worked for everyone is the Bplus P4SM2. The problem is that it's $60. It's also sold out everywhere (I'm guessing for the same reason as why I need it). Anyone have a suggestion for another adapter that works?
 
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QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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Thanks! The Delock was sold out in most places, but I managed to find one. Will be here in a few days. I'll report back. Sadly, it only supports Gen2, but that clearly doesn't matter for mining. Will impact performance if I ever decide to use it for some other project, however.

I thought the same about the power, I only ran power to the x16 riser first, but then thought I'd try powering both when the card wasn't detected. I'll revert to only powering the x16. Fingers crossed the new adapter works.
 
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Aibohphobia

aka James
Feb 22, 2015
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I'd be curious if it actually can work at PCIe 3.0 since it doesn't look that different than the BPlus adapter.
 

QuantumBraced

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Mar 9, 2017
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I'd be happy to test it, unfortunately that puny USB connection has less than PCIe x1 bandwidth. I could buy a proper x4 to x16 riser with a ribbon cable, but it has to be powered with a molex at the x16 end for the 1080 Ti to power, otherwise the x4 slot only provides 25W. And the riser has to be at least 30-40cm, so I can freely move the card around my case, and the whole thing has to be affordable. ;) Can you recommend something like this? Doing research on risers gives me a headache as there are infinity of them, most of them no-name brands of questionable quality.

Unless there's a way to check PCIe bandwidth without running a test.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Feb 22, 2015
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Hmm, I guess even if the Delock could do 3.0 the USB cable probably can't sustain it and will drop the connection to 2.0 anyway.

That length of riser is tricky for a quality one for gaming, probably a good question for the riser thread.
 
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QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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I would test it directly with a graphics card in it, but the end of the slot is closed off. I don't know why they do this... Even on motherboards. Well if I figure out some way to test it, I will let you know.

The USB cable is just used for the wiring, it's not a USB connection. I don't know if it can do PCIe x1, I doubt it. But it couldn't exceed that, because that's what the riser card is. I don't know how that relates to generation of PCIe.

Thanks, I'll look thru the thread.
 

Aibohphobia

aka James
Feb 22, 2015
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Basically PCIe lane is bandwidth and gen is speed.

It looks to be USB 3.0 wiring which should ideally be capable of about 2.0 x1 transfer rates, so 3.0 is probably out of the question since PCIe is very sensitive to EMI.
 

QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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Oh I see. Yes, I bet the riser card is limited to PCIe 2.0 then. I bet the adapter can do 3.0, if I get an opportunity to test it in the future I'll report back. I wish a mainstream company would release a good adapter that works everywhere for a reasonable price, and with a black PCB.

Meanwhile, ASRock got back to me -- they said the M.2 slot only works for SSD storage. I knew they were gonna send some super generic/short reply to my highly technical and convoluted question. I don't think they have engineers answering these inquiries, it's probably just customer service reps. I suspect it's b/c they can't officially support anything but SSDs, but I bet the Delock will work (and other risers/adapters).
 
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QuantumBraced

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Mar 9, 2017
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Moravid

Cable Smoosher
Jun 4, 2017
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Very cool, thank you very much!

I can't order directly from bplus. Are you sure the units from the other 2 sites are genuine bplus units?
My unit from era-adapter arrived today, I think they are genuine as it's ADT branded which is the same as on the Taobao listing, I imagine ADT are the OEM.
If going for custom length, I'd opt to buy from Taobao as I had to fork over 70USD from era adapter for my 60cm length R1R.

 

QuantumBraced

Master of Cramming
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Mar 9, 2017
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My unit from era-adapter arrived today, I think they are genuine as it's ADT branded which is the same as on the Taobao listing, I imagine ADT are the OEM.
If going for custom length, I'd opt to buy from Taobao as I had to fork over 70USD from era adapter for my 60cm length R1R.
Thanks. This is an excellent option for people with M.2 slots on the back of the motherboard.

I like that the ribbon cable is encased in solid insulation, it almost looks like a regular cable for the x1. The x4 cable may be tricky to bend though if it's shielded in the same way. Does the 4-pin power connector provide the full 75W of power for an x16 card?
 

Tilltech

Caliper Novice
Jun 30, 2017
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MOD EDIT: This post has been removed as it was entirely a personal attack. The user has been warned, as this is not acceptable.
 
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QuantumBraced

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Mar 9, 2017
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Success! I am happy to report that the DeLock adapter worked. The 1080 Ti is connected and chugging along. A few interesting things:

There was no way to configure any settings regarding the adapter or the PCIe link anywhere in the BIOS or Windows settings. It just worked. So I currently have my 1070 FE plugged into the x16 PCIe slot and an EVGA 1080 Ti SC2 plugged into the M.2 adapter with the USB cable riser. It's important to note that on my X99E-ITX/ac, the M.2 slot is connected directly to the CPU, not to the PCH. It may be because of this that the 1080 Ti is considered the primary card at boot, and having my monitor plugged into the 1070, I actually see nothing on the screen when I turn on the machine until it gets to Windows 10, and then Windows recognizes the 1070 as the card that has the monitor connection and I get picture. From there on, the 1070 is considered the main card, and whatever application I run it uses it exclusively. The 1080 Ti is completely idle unless I mine with it (or use another application that can direct a specific GPU to do something). If I plug my monitor to the 1080 Ti, then I see the boot screen, can get into BIOS, etc.; and in Windows the situation is reversed, i.e. the 1080 Ti is the main card that's used for everything with the 1070 being completely idle. The 2 cards are otherwise recognized in device manager, and in EVGA Precision XOC I can see both and adjust the settings for both, HWInfo also sees both and I can see hardware stats. But in nVidia Control Panel or in games, I can't select which one to use and there is no way to make them work together.

That being said, I couldn't resist but run a benchmark on the 1080 Ti. I got some pretty shocking results. I only have Unigine Heaven 4.0, so I ran it at 1080p (my screen resolution) at maximum settings and got a whopping score of 3166 with 125.7 average FPS. Again, I can confirm that the 1070 was completely idle during the test. In comparison, my 1070 plugged into the x16 slot scored 2209 and 87.7 FPS average FPS. I found results for the same test/settings online for the 1080 Ti and it scores ~ 4043 points and 160.5 average FPS when plugged into an x16 slot. This means the crappy USB cable connection only reduced 1080p performance by ~20%. That's incredible, considering it's plugged into an x1 adapter that has a USB connection on it and it still demolished my 1070. The connection is not USB of course, just the form factor and the wiring. I don't know how to measure the actual bandwidth, but for 1080p gaming this joke riser is actually adequate, tho I still don't recommend it for anything but mining.

I also ran Superposition at 1080p Extreme and got a 5602 score for the 1080 Ti on the riser, and 3325 for my main 1070. I'm sure at higher resolutions the bottleneck will be felt more, but sadly neither bench let me increase the resolution for the benchmark past what my monitor can do, and I don't have any other games/paid benchmarks. 3DMark TimeSpy crashed on the 1080 Ti...

Anyway, this project is ongoing... I found a couple of cheap 1070 FEs, and I am going to get 2 more USB risers/PCIe cable extensions, and one of those PCIe x1 cards that has four USB slots on it (yes, four), and connect all of them to a single x1 adapter haha. I run the cards at 70%, so my SF600 should be able to handle the load with over 100W to spare. If you'd never seen a Mini ITX system in an NCase M1 with 4 GPUs connected to it, you'll see it here. That will be the extent of this project though. ;) Winter will be comfy with a few space heaters on my desk.







 

QuantumBraced

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Mar 9, 2017
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The additional cards are here. Still waiting on all the various adapters/risers to make it all work.



This riser card is going into the M.2-to-PCIe x4 adapter and will be providing bandwidth to 3 of the 4 cards. The bracket will be taken off and the card velcroed to the top of my internal 1070 and connected to the adapter with a riser.
 

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Nov 1, 2015
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Someone on [H] mentioned turning giving mITX motherboards a similar functionality to a DTX board by splitting the traces of the x16 slot into two of x8's and then attaching a flex riser to the underside so it runs parallel to the board's PCIe slot. Here is the link to the post. This is some mad scientist stuff but I hope he manages to pull it off.