I have been mining now for a few years and over this time period have built many types of mining rigs. I now have in my possession an assortment of these many disparate rigs of various builds and sizes.
Some of these builds resulted from experimentation with new cards that didn’t pan out and some are the result of PCIe slots no longer working over-time, so what was once a 4 or 5 GPU rig now may have become a 2-3 GPU rig due to the remaining workable slots. In case you are wondering why the assortment, I have more than a few rigs with 4 to 5 year old components in them and like to nurse as much life out of them for as long as economical feasible.
In an attempt to clean up some of the more odd-ball sizes (i.e. 2, 3, and 4 GPU rigs), I have finally decided to consolidate the worst of my collection (mainly the 2 and 3 GPU rigs) into larger builds with a goal of having a minimum of at least 5 GPUs per rig, and more ideally 6 or 7 GPUs when possible. This will not only free up some precious real estate, but also reduce the administrative burden somewhat as the cards are consolidated to fewer overall rigs that will need to be managed.
While I am a big fan of open air rigs, I thought I would go a different route this time and look into case type systems. Case or chassis based rigs will allow setting up hot/cold aisle arrangement and give me the ability to stack rigs in a greater density than is otherwise possible with the open air concept. The other avenue this opens up is the potential to remote host some of my rigs at a co-location facility where I pay a set monthly fee for space, electricity, Internet connection and general administration of my rigs. Since most hosting facilities are setup the same way as a typical data-center, building rigs that fit into a 19″ wide rack space with an hot/cold aisle configuration is pretty common.
With all of the above factors taken into consideration, today I am going to be looking at the Rosewill Server Chassis (RSV-L4000B), which is currently available from NewEgg for around $110.
I chose this particular model not only for its lower cost, but also the complete customization aspect. Since it is basically a bare metal case with no fans and the ability to remove, and in some case re-arrange, components it seemed like a good choice to start with.
Some of the features highlighted by Rosewill include:
- Perfect Solution for Building a Bitcoin Mining Machine
- Suitable with 6 x 13 inches graphic cards
- Supports 7 expansion slots
- Supports one 3.5″ or 2.5″ HDD / SSD
- Metal & Steel; 1.0mm Thickness SGCC
Other key features are:
- Overall outside dimensions: 7.00″ x 16.80″ x 25.00″ (4U form factor)
- Weight: 22.7 lbs
- Supports a typical 12″ x 9.6″ ATX motherboard
- Supports up to six 6″ x 13″ Graphic Cards
On this last point, I think it may be possible to actually support 7 GPUs by utilizing the on-board 16x PCIe slot, but will need to look into that aspect further.
- Reset Switch
- USB Port 2
- NIC 2 LED
- NIC 1 LED
- HDD Activity LED
- Power LED
- USB Port 1
- Power Switch
Here you can see the HDD bay and Fan tray removed from the chassis. Myself, I will not use the HDD bay so I will leave it out completely as I have now use M2 SDDs that mount directly on the motherboard. The bay will support a traditional 3.5″ HDD though if you do need that functionality.
The fan tray will support five 80 mm fans and you can see in this image the fan power header that I mentioned earlier. The single 4-pin Molex power connector feeds all six of the 3-pin fan headers, which is curious as there is only 5 fan cutouts. I suppose one could use the extra to feed a one of the two fans that can be mounted on the back of the chassis.
While the case is designed for the GPUs to be mounted on the two rails, there is a little bit of flexibility in this regard. I marked up the mounting hole options in the image above for the various support bars and the fan tray. So it appears it will accommodate a wide variety of GPUs that may have different dimensions. For my test fitting, the two default mounting locations for the GPU support bars worked ok.
The fan tray, while it works perfectly fine for the 6 GPU on the rail configuration, my hope was that it could support 7 GPUs by using the motherboards 16x PCIe slot for one of the cards. I test fitted this scenario. and while it would work fine without the fan tray, by installing the fan tray one would need to give up one 0f the fans. This might still be workable as there are two extra spaces for 80 mm fans to be mounted at the very back of the case to help facilitate air flow. This would be in addition to any air the PSU would pull out of the case as well.
In the image above you can see the closeness of such a setup. However, I think using a low profile fan (15mm depth) in that one location would be able to squeeze the 7th card in. From the test fitting I would need to drill new mounting holes for the fan tray as well, but that would be easily enough to accomplish. The cards I am using are 10-5/8″ long measured from the face plate to the back of the card. Shorter cards would probably present no issues and longer cards would probably not be doable.
I also took this opportunity to test fit the riser cabling. It looks like the best option is to feed the riser connections by going under the bar with the cabling. While this does not require any sharp bends or put too much stress on the connections, it does make for a tight fit. A better option may be to try and move the lower GPU support bar so that it rests underneath the the riser boards themselves. The riser I use have an insulated padding, so this would pose no problems with an electrical short, and one could always run a couple of strips of electrical tape down the length of the bar too for extra precaution.
While at $108, plus roughly $25 shipping, the Rosewill Server Chassis will probably not appeal to most home miners who have a few rigs and simply mine as a hobby or to provide a bit of extra income. Open air racks are pretty much the staple for such setups.
Where the functionality of this case lies in its ability to channel air through in a front to back manner and is ideal for mounting in a data rack, such as those found in data-centers and co-hosting locations. Utilizing an hot aisle/cold aisle setup, a lot of heat can be better managed and directed for large installations.
Another use is for miners who may be in-between such extremes and are also looking to maximize density as well as control heat. These cases can be pretty much stacked one on top another and with some ducting applied heat could in theory be directed directly out of the back of the case and out of the building housing them. This would be a great aide to the many garage, sheds, and warehouses many miners can find themselves setup in. I find myself falling in this camp and that is one of the reasons I am looking to change my mining housings over from open air to chassis.
Other benefits include putting your expensive hardware inside a steel box which by nature offers extra protection than many open air designs. It is one thing to have a bunch of sub $200 GPUs in an open air case, but as in the case of using Nvidia GTX1080TI’s, putting six or seven $700 GPUs in a milk-crate and risking close to $5,000 total in hardware investment to such a setup becomes a little unsettling. Myself, I feel more comfortable putting this into a proper chassis for not only better electrical, but also physical security.
Since the motherboard, PSU, and GPUs are now all electrically grounded and inside basically a Faraday cage (which is the purpose of a computer case) this should help to cut down on the extraneous RF energy produce by having several open-air computers operating in vicinity of one another. I have experience problems with my garage door opener, TV reception, among other issues due to this. It should also help negate any static or spurious electricity issues and perhaps offer better stability and improve run-times.
Out of the box it will easily handle 6 GPUs as advertised, but think with a bit of creativity it can support up to 7 GPUs with minimal modifications. Note that this would require a motherboard capable of supporting 7 PCIe slots as well as the slot closest to the 16x slot not being blocked by a card installed directly on the motherboard.
I plan to feature a complete build in a soon to be released guide on the process of building a mining rig and will feature this case in a 6 (possibly 7) GTX1080 build. For now I will leave you with a few more pictures of the case and my initial test fitting of components.