For this review, I have the ZenController from ZenMiner and the GAWMiners 27 mh/s Falcon Scrypt ASIC miner.
– Hash Rate: 27MH+
– Case: Aluminum Custom Case
– Chip: 55nm GAW Miners dedicated ASIC Scrypt (QFN Design)
– Power Consumption: 1040W
– Raspberry Pi
– Custom zenMiner image on SD card
– Power supply
– Cat-6 cable
[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap] must be on a roll as the Falcon arrived via DHL and was not beaten up. The miner is packed in the rubberized cushioned case just like the Gridseed Blade. The Falcon comes in a custom built aluminum case that has 3x 120mm fans. It came with a cat-6 Ethernet cable, USB A to B cable and a Molex to mini-USB cable to connect your ZenController to your PSU if you want.
Inside the Falcon miner are two separate dual blades. The wiring passes securely through the case and clips hold them in place to keep them from floating around in the case. You connect the 4 PCIe cables to your PSU. Note you need a 1200 watt PSU or larger, also connect one PCIe cable per connection in the miner. Do not connect pins 7 and 8 from your PCIe cable as those two can cause problems.
The next step is plugging in the ZenController first make sure the SD card is securely in the Pi, and then plug in the Ethernet cable to your router or switch, then the USB cable to the Falcon. Power on the Falcon first then connect the power cord to your ZenController.
Setup was extremely simple. Got to ZenMiner.com and login if you previously registered. If you have not just hit the registration button. It will ask you for the key that is on a sticker on the side of your ZenController. Enter the key in and setup your information. You are taken to your pool screen. Here you enter in your pool address, username and PW if applicable. The miners tab is where you will find your miner and status. In this case, I selected the Falcon miner. From there it connected to my pool and began mining. I used Scrypt Guild initially, and the Falcon connected smoothly and quickly got up to speed on the pool.
It has been running stable at 28 mh/s at both the pool and on the ZenController dashboard. The speed may vary at different pools as some multi-pools can negatively impact Scrypt ASIC miner performance.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Falcon ASIC miner is not as loud as I was worried about despite sporting 3 120mm fans. The fans pull the air through the case and heatsinks creating a negative pressure tunnel to keep the air flow over the heatsinks much more even. The miner runs at about 50 dB at 4 feet. The Falcon does not run very hot so far. The air coming out of the exhaust ports is barely warm despite being in an 85f room that my miners reside. ZenMiner will have temps on their dashboard in the future so I can get an accurate internal temp when they do.
ZenMiner has been constantly updating their dashboard as well. Each time they have added more information and made more GUI improvements.
The Miner Tab reports the following:
– IP Address
– Last Update, which shows when the OS was last updated
– MAC Address of the ZenController
– USB Info
– Pool Activity showing pool information and which is currently active and if you had more than one when they were last active.
– Miner Activity showing the pertinent info
The Pools Tab
– Here you can add and remove pools
There is also now a change password and Map Tab. The Map shows roughly where your ZenController is in the world. It shows your connection to the server as well. In my case, it is a Canadian server. A neat feature for sure.
[dropcap size=small]I[/dropcap] left power consumption for last as there has been some controversy and misunderstandings about it. I am going to address it from my experience and the information I was able to gather. My findings may be different than others based on their experience.
The Falcon runs for me at 28+ mh/s and pulls on Scrypt Guild a low of 812 watts. On LiteCoinPool.org, it runs at 945 watts.
I know that the power consumption was initially estimated lower across the board when ZeusMiner had the units in planning and initial testing phases. Just, prior to shipping Terry Li, of ZeusMiner had also stated that they were working to optimize the firmware to boost performance and address other issues. I am hoping that this means better power consumption as well. Some customers were wondering why the higher power consumption was not caught before the release if there were test miners in hand ahead of time. The estimation was due to them being test miners not the finished product.
There were also issues with the actual connections to the miners where the PSU cables would overheat. The problem was found to be due to the 7-8 pin child connection from the PSU being connected into the miner plug. Many PSU 7-8 pins are using much thinner cable that can overheat and melt when pulling this kind of power. They may damage the cables in your miner as well.
GAWMiners emailed all of their customers as soon as they verified this issue as well as posted a warning about it and also updated PSU guide. This information they posted to the forums like BitcoinTalk and their new GAWMiners Community Forum.
ZeusMiner have stated that they sent the miners out before finishing optimizing the firmware. Future firmware should bring down the power consumption to be more closely in line with initial estimates, as well as increased hash rate.
Arthur From ZeusMiner also sent this to me when I asked about the power consumption. I respect how open they are being and the efforts they are making for their customers.
We understand the difference in power consumption, that’s why we gave all customers 22+% more hashrate (at $0.2 per KWHr for electricity, at current difficulty that’s more than a year worth of electricity bill in the first month already using the extra hashrate) and other free stuff, let alone the ZeusHash giveaway that will go live in less than two months, which customers pay no electricity cost at all. Also the machines themselves were made in such a way that overclocking is possible without hardware mods.
For customers with higher electricity cost, we are providing hosting solution by partnering with GAWMiner as well as our own offering. This will greatly help with mining ROI as well.
We have also sent out source code for our controller so more talented people are able to play around with it so people gets most hashrate at this stage.
We believe that we are really listening to the community and to maintain integrity.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Falcon ASIC miner and the ZenController work great together. Setup is easy and fast. Pool and miner stats are detailed. More features are being added daily. I hope to see temps and fan speeds added soon as well for miners that can report it.
The Falcon ASIC miner is a solid unit that performs a bit above spec reliably at 28 mh/s. The cooling system works very well in keeping the temps down and allowing the miner to run stable. The ZeusMiner chips are powerful, and I can see once they get back to working on optimizing the firmware there should be more performance that the will be squeezing out of them. I recommend the Falcon and the new GAWMiners line.
The ZenController is a robust and powerful addition to the mining ecosystem. I can see this as I stated before changing the game in crypto currency mining. It makes the setup and use of mining hardware easy and intuitive much like with MultiMiner only it is self-contained in one unit. The cloud control access allows people to check on their miner directly from anywhere. They can easily switch pools and update settings. As the ZenController from Zenminer begins to support more hardware, you are going to see the shift start in earnest. So far it supports the Gen A miners from GAWMiners and Gridseed miners as the Blade. They are hard at work on adding support for new miners as well. The ZenController will eventually be selling through other outlets as well bringing it to even more people. I am looking forward to what is in store for the future.
There is room for improvement for both the Falcon and ZenController. Both the companies are aware of it and are actively improving them which is an excellent thing. If you are already an active miner, these units are a good addition to your existing setup. If you are new to mining, they are a great combo to start out using. Simple to use and powerful.
Last modified: June 2, 2014 15:54 UTC