My last piece of entry-level gear to mention is the Gridseed Infinity (also called the Gridseed 5-chip), which I buy from ZoomHash for $134.99. This is a curious device—it not only looks funny (it reminds me of a funky oil filter), it lets you mine Bitcoins or Litecoins (or any Scrypt-based coin), and if you want to live life on the wild side, you can mine both AT THE SAME TIME!
The Gridseed Infinity - Top and Bottom
It has three modes:
- Scrypt mining: ~350 KH/s @ 7W
- SHA-256 mining: ~11.25 GH/s @ 60W
- Dual Scrypt and SHA-256 mining: ~200 KH/s Scrypt & ~8 GH/s SHA @ 60W
Scrypt mining is a different beast than Bitcoin mining, which is based on SHA-256 encryption. In fact, there is no comparison when it comes to hashing rates, and 350 KH/s is much more powerful than it seems when compared to all the numbers associated with Bitcoin mining.
What's cool is that you can get Bitcoins with Scrypt mining if you mine with a multi-pool like ScryptGuild (my favorite). The pool mines a variety of Scrypt coins, automatically choosing the most profitable coin as it goes, and then you can have your Scrypt coins automagically converted to Bitcoins. As of this writing, one Gridseed Infinity will earn about 0.0015BTC per day using this method. Your mileage will vary.
Tip: If you have a powerful videocard made by ATI (which is owned by AMD) in your iMac or Mac Pro, Scrypt mining with your GPU could be profitable. In fact, almost all Scrypt mining is still done with GPUs, and that's likely to be the case for the next several months or so. Just be aware that it puts wear and tear on your video card to run full tilt all the time.
The reason I like to Scrypt mine (single mode) with the Gridseed Infinity is power consumption. You can earn a little more if you dual mine with this thing, but it uses so much less power if you're just Scrypt mining—7 watts vs. 60 watts! Your GPU will use far, far more power than that doing any kind of mining.
Plus—and this will most likely void your warranty—you can desolder the fan and run it fanless in Scrypt-only mode. That makes it silent, and silent is SO MUCH QUIETER! There are also a bunch of super nerdy engineering things you can do to tweak performance and get as much as 500 KH/s of hashing power out of it (they all void your warrant, but it's so cool!).
There's one more thing: the Gridseed Infinity is less Mac friendly. The easiest way to run these with a Mac is to get the Controller that Gridseed makes that you configure with a browser, just like the Antminer S1.
The developer behind MacMiner has been working his butt off to support this thing, but many people have had to turn to Linux or Windows to run it. If you don't get the controller, you need to have your nerd chops up to date to play with this thing.
I have personally run it with Ubuntu in a Parallels installation on a Mac, but more recently I got a Raspberry Pi to run four of them. It requires some command line know-how, but it (again) uses very little power. There are many setup guides available, no matter which way you want to set it up.
The Gridseed Infinity is $134.99 at ZoomHash.com as of this writing, but using coupon code "MacObserver" will shave 7.5 percent off your order. [Price updated 4/30/2014] Add a preconfigured Raspberry Pi for $74.99, and the coupon applies to that, too.