Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple caused a major wave in the economic world for investors. In an effort to get in on some of that action, many people have begun to build their own cryptocurrency mining rigs in lieu of investing. However, all mining computers ultimately rely on a precise balance of numerous components.
While graphics processing units and power supply units might get most of the fanfare, you simply cannot build a truly capable mining rig without PCIe risers. This component is used to connect more than 2 or 3 GPUs to your motherboard. Still, what defines the best PCIe risers for mining cryptocurrency can be confusing.
That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best PCIe risers for mining cryptocurrency, highlighting what each one does best. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the best PCIe risers for mining cryptocurrency to suit your needs.
Ubit Latest PCI-E Riser - Best Universal PCIe Riser for Mining Cryptocurrency
Ubit is actually one of the only brands on our list that specializes primarily in various types of PC peripheral components. For instance, not only do they make this PCIe riser, but they also make adapter boards that can manage multiple PCIe risers at the same time. One this ultimately means is that Ubit is well acquainted with the PCIe riser industry and best manufacturing processes.
This shows up most notably in the Ubit making a clear point to stress the importance of clean signals. This makes a fair bit of sense as the issues with voltage often do not start with the PSU assuming you have one that is rated and designed for mining cryptocurrency. Instead, voltage issues usually occur somewhere along the way. One of those methods comes from interference.
Some Rocket Science
The other feature that this PCIe riser implements which is actually fairly novel is a special coil designed explicitly to reduce EMI. Taking the place of one of the capacitors, this coil uses high-quality copper to help reduce the EMI that would otherwise be generated. While this can potentially limit some of its power management ability, the Ubit does still come with 3 solid capacitors which are at least the industry standard.
Another benefit of the Ubit PCIe riser is that it features a universal connector arrangement. This means that you can use any of the major powering methods SATA, Molex, or 6 PIN to power this component. Aside from the versatility that provides, it also means that you do not need multiple brands to run a larger rig with 8 or more GPUs. Considering the various EMI reducing measures, that is likely the best scenario for this PCIe riser.
FebSmart PCI-E 6 PIN Riser - Best 6 PIN PCIe Riser for Mining Cryptocurrency
FebSmart is a company that specializes exclusively in electronics but places a far sharper focus on peripheral components and connectors. This allows the company to have a better insight into how to manage PCIe risers which draw and use more power than most. As such, it should come as little surprise that the Mailiya is rated the best 6 PIN PCIe riser on our list.
Of course, all of that power can potentially cause problems for some PCIe boards, but the Mailiya has accounted for this fact as well. This is one of the few PCIe risers we saw that feature a board with 4 capacitors. This means that the Mailiya can better handle different electrical currents as well as any jumps or plunges in voltage better than a PCIe riser with only 3 capacitors.
Because the 12V line of a computer often fluctuates more than lower voltages, Mailiya has taken steps to ensure that it can regulate this as well. In fact, the Mailiya PCIe riser has put in place three separate component measures on the board for just such an issue. First, the board comes with an overcurrent fuse to help absorb the initial consequences that might arise from a short circuit.
On top of that, the Mailiya also comes with a voltage regulating diode. This will help prevent voltages that are too high or too low from impacting the performance and long-term viability of your GPU. Finally, a linear regulator will take those over or under-voltages and bring them back in line with the necessary requirements of your GPU.
MintCell 4-Pin MOLEX - Best MOLEX PCIe Riser for Mining Cryptocurrency
As a brand, MintCell actually focuses far more on cables, connectors, and adapters than it does PCIe risers. In fact, this is the only PCIe riser or even peripheral component that Lineso offers. While this does carry with it some potential issues, it also means that it is fairly easy to purchase cables that are explicitly designed to work best with this PCIe riser. Unfortunately, the cables provided are not necessarily the best. In fact, the Lineso cables that come with their PCIe riser are all-around disappointing.
Solid Made Product
In terms of the PCIe riser itself, it is a solid, if unspectacular, product. It comes with the mandatory 3 capacitors which means that it can handle the expected electrical currents. Thankfully, you should not have many issues with that as this PCIe riser uses a Molex connector. What that means is that you can conceivably vary the power delivered depending on the gauge of connector you use, but you will not be able to deliver more than 5.5V or 8.5A at the max.
One thing to keep an eye on though are the various components. They are not bad, but they are not great either. Like much of the Lineso, they are generally okay without really standing out. That said, the inclusion of gold-plated connectors is nice. This means that you will not have to worry about the electrical current fluctuating or losing connection due to the input ports.
Things to Consider
One of the big concerns with the MintCell is that there is a much higher number of consumers who report PCIe risers that are DOA or worse actually short circuit immediately. In fact, there are multiple reports of the wires catching fire, though this is likely due to the fact that the Molex connector was put in the wrong PSU input. Still, this brand above all others should be carefully tested before installation.
CFIKTE Latest PCI-E Express - Best Performing PCIe Riser for Mining Cryptocurrency
While the EXPLOMOS brand focuses almost exclusively on cables, adapters, and additional components, they do offer the errant non-electronic product. However, that has not prevented them from placing their primary focus on their electronic and component lineup which has lead to an exceptionally stable PCIe riser board.
Best Performing PCIe Riser
This PCIe riser is also one of the few on our list to provide a fuse and LED indicator light. This means that the PCIe fuse will blow before the rest of your components if there is a power distribution issue though it will not prevent future shorts once it is blown. Also, the insulation used for the CFIKTE is notably denser without being thicker, providing better protection from raw metal short circuits.
Quality and Stability
Arguably one of the better qualities about this PCIe riser is that the cables are of a superior quality than most of the other products reviewed on this list. While this is not the only PCIe riser to come with shielded cables, they are still noted for being more stable and providing been transfer rates than most of the other cables that come with PCIe risers.
Another benefit of the CFIKTE is that it features a universal arrangement of power options. This means that this PCIe can use 6 pin, Molex, or SATA connectors to pull its power from. Aside from the fact that this versatility is inherently valuable on its own, this also means that you could conceivably power all of your PCIe risers using a single brand, rather than having to purchase different types for different connectors.
Kalolary VER 007S Extender - Best 15 PIN SATA PCIe Riser for Mining Cryptocurrency
Kalolary is a bit unique on our list in that it is one of the companies that does not actually specialize in electronic equipment and components. While some of the other brands might offer an odd product here and there, Kalolary actually sells more products that are not even related to the electronics industry than the other way around.
Best 15 PIN for a Price
This is likely why they opted to go with the 15 pin SATA connector as opposed to one that will handle a higher voltage and more amps. Still, if you find that your mining rig has exhausted all of its other power connectors, then this might be the best PCIe riser to add that next GPU to your mining computer. Moreover, the use of the 15 pin SATA connector means that you can technically connect more of these PCIe risers to your motherboard than the models that feature a 6 pin or a Molex connector.
Look for Original
One thing to watch out for with the Kalolary is the seller. Yeahwork is the only authorized seller of the Kalolary brand, and buying one of these PCIe risers from an unauthorized seller can result in getting a non-standard board. Specifically, Yeahwork sells Kalolary PCIe risers that feature the 7s version type. However, non-authorized sellers have been noted to sell a version 088 which does not actually have any standard designation in the PCIe market.
In terms of connectivity, the Kalolary includes shielded cables, so you do not have to worry about EMI messing up your data streams. On top of that, the various power and data connectors are gold plated to provide a solid connection. Though, the ports themselves are noted for being a bit tight, so make sure you are careful when connecting them. Also, the back of the Kalolary boards is not insulated which means they will either need to be taped or not touching raw metal when in use.
Best PCIe Risers for Mining Rigs
When choosing a PCIe riser, one of the most important considerations will be whether you go with powered or unpowered models. While powered are generally considered a better quality, they may not be ideal for all setups. This will depend far more on how extensive your rig is, the power supply you use, and the various component qualities of your motherboard.
This is by far the more reliable and durable of the two types of PCIe risers, but it also technically carries with it the most risk. This is because the nature of powered PCIe risers means that it is technically managing two different flows of electricity at the same time. If the board or connectors are not soldered properly, this can cause an electrical short which can ultimately ruin the motherboard, power supply unit, or graphics processing unit.
Of course, there are some motherboards out there which are designed specifically for mining cryptocurrency. Many of these motherboards will actually include additional capacitors specifically to handle the additional power draw by the GPUs. Though, this will also necessitate similarly specialized PSU, so that the GPUs can draw the power without shorting any of the circuitry.
The only real benefit to unpowered PCIe risers is that they are far less expensive than the powered type and technically a bit easier to connect. Also, because the ribbon PCIe risers simply transfer power and data through a single cable, they are far easier to make without the risk of the board’s circuitry causing any kind of short in either the motherboard, PSU, or GPU.
That said, this type of PCIe riser should definitely be limited to only 2 GPUs unless your board is specifically designed with additional capacitors that can handle the power draw the GPUs will require. Otherwise, you risk shorting out the components as mentioned before with a special concern for the motherboard.
The connectors will serve two primary functions for the PCIe riser. The first, regardless the type of the riser, is the data transfer for the GPU. This is handled primarily through a USB connection, though the different types of USB may make this a bit trickier. The second applies explicitly to powered PCIe riser and determines exactly how the riser is powered.
- 6 Pin - 6 Pin connectors are generally seen as the best way to power a PCIe riser. This is specifically because it can handle more amps and voltage than the other types of power connectors. There have been numerous instances where either the SATA or Molex connectors overheated. In extreme instances, this can even lead to the various components shorting out or even catching fire. This is one of the few PCIe riser connectors that can handle 12V without issue.
- Molex - Molex connectors are often seen as a good middle ground between 6 pin connectors and SATA connectors for powered PCIe risers. One of the big reasons for this is that they can generally handle more amps and voltage than SATA connectors and are more common than 6 pin connectors which are quickly falling out of favor and not as easily found on general PSUs. Where SATA can only handle a maximum of 5A, the largest Molex can support up to 8.5A.
- SATA - Powering a PCIe riser through SATA connectors is riskier than the other methods due to its inability to handle as large of electrical current loads in both amps and voltages. That said, the primary reason that people choose to power their PCIe risers through SATA connectors is that SATA connectors can technically power more PCIe risers at the same time. Of course, you have to be especially careful when determining the total amps and voltage being run through the SATA connector as well as the quality of the cables.
- USB - PCIe risers use USB ports to transfer the data from the GPU to the motherboard, but the different type of USB port will play an important role in both compatibility as well as hashrates. USB 2.x are often found on less expensive PCIe risers and are inherently a bit slower. That said, the difference is usually not enough to affect the hashrates, but they are not compatible with the quicker, more efficient USB 3.0 ports.
This quality matters most for powered PCIe risers which will need to be able to manage multiple streams of electricity both incoming and outgoing. Remember, data is technically an electrical signal, and if the PCIe riser board cannot properly manage these various electrical streams, the result can be a short circuit or damaged components.
If you are using a powered PCIe riser, make sure that it has multiple capacitors. The only instance when this would not be a factor is if you are making a beginner rig with lower quality GPUs that will not demand the kind of power that modern ones will. While 3 capacitors are decent, it is better to get a PCIe riser with 4 capacitors. Though, some 3 capacitor PCIe riser boards actually have a spot on the board for you to add another capacitor something you should only attempt if you are experienced at soldering on electronic circuitry.
Many of the better, powered PCIe risers come with a layer of foam insulation on the back of the board. This insulation will help prevent shortages and can even allow some PCIe risers to be connected to bare metal. If the PCIe riser does not have insulation, you will want to make sure that you place a piece of electrical tape where it may come in contact with bare metal to prevent shorting any components out.
This is a fairly simple consideration compared to the previous entries in our buyer’s guide. Basically, you want to make sure that all of the different connectors are arranged at different points on the PCIe riser board. Having a stacked arrangement can cause heating problems which can damage the board, cables, or even your components.
This consideration is mostly a heads up to let you know that many of the cables which come included with PCIe risers especially power ones are not the best quality. This does not mean that they are poor quality, but it is often a good idea to purchase cables separately from the PCIe riser though most PCIe risers do come with the necessary cables.
When selecting cables for PCIe risers, there are two qualities to look out for: shielding and length. The length will matter more depending on the type of component arrangement whether open or closed but are generally about 60mm. Shielded cables have an insulated exterior which prevents the electromagnetic field generated by the various electrical currents from interfering with one another.
In the end, the best PCIe riser for mining cryptocurrency will depend as much on your PSU and motherboard as it will anything else. Makes sure that your PSU or motherboard can support the type and number of connectors required to power any PCIe risers and makes sure to get powered PCIe risers for any rig with more than 2 or 3 GPUs.
If you are looking for a PCIe riser that can do it all, we recommend the Ubit. While it only has 3 capacitors, it can be powered by any of the common connectors and comes with shielded wires. On top of that, it has a special coil to further reduce any electromagnetic interference as well as an LED indicator.
Similar to the Ubit but just a little bit better, our best performing PCIe riser is the EXPLOMOS. This PCIe riser features the LED indicator light and shielded cables, but it also includes an additional capacitor. Though, it does not have a specialized coil for reducing EMI.