The last year has been rough for PC gamers, as graphics card prices ballooned to an absolutely obscene level, driven by cryptocurrency avarice. So many people were buying up GPUs to mine virtual currency that prices nearly doubled for high-end cards. The prices have started coming back down, but Asus thinks the crypto boom just needs better mining hardware. It has announced a motherboard specifically for crypto miners called the H370 Mining Master that supports up to 20 GPUs.
This is a full-sized ATX board with an LGA 1151 socket for Intel’s 8th generation Core, Pentium, and Celeron CPUs. The board supports a lot of GPUs, but the other features are scaled back. It has just two RAM slots for DDR4 DIMMs (maximum of 32GB), and there’s a single 16x PCIe slot. You get a pair of SATA ports for storage devices. The processor, RAM, and other hardware you slot in won’t matter much, since this is a mining rig — all you need are GPUs. Mining cryptocurrency is all about GPU power, and that’s what the board delivers.
For anyone who really wants to build a mining rig, the H370 Mining Master seems like a much simpler option. Half of the board is taken up with upward-facing USB 3.1 ports. Most mining rigs use a GPU riser design with each GPU connected to a 16x slot. The riser connects to a PCIe 1x connector via a USB 3.1 cable, and the 1x connector slots into the motherboard. That’s a lot of added complication and more points of failure.
The H370 cuts down on the required hardware by replacing PCIe 1x slots with PCIe-over-USB ports. So, you’d slot the GPUs into your riser, and then plug the USB cable directly into the motherboard. Thus, you get more GPUs with fewer connector changes. Importantly, these USB ports are not compatible with ASIC hardware that requires a true USB connection.
Asus has even built a control center pre-boot UI to check the status of GPUs plugged into your board. It’ll tell you which USB-connected cards are working, showing errors, or not connected. The board also has a special mining mode that runs the PCIe lanes at gen 1 speeds to improve stability and compatibility with riser cards.
Asus has not announced a price for the H370 Mining Master yet, but it will begin shipping in Q3 of this year. It is unclear if you’ll be able to buy it with Bitcoin.
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