Regular readers of this site will no doubt be aware of the frenzy surrounding Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, including the cottage industry that's popped up to "mine" the "coins." Much of that industry relies on mining hardware -- not the picks and axes of the original 49ers, but computers with high-powered graphics cards that can perform the necessary calculations faster to earn more coins.
At the apex, there are full-fledged mining operations, but ordinary folks can get in on the action as well. For instance, my ZDNet colleague Jason O'Grady has recently detailed how you can mine virtual coins on a Mac. While mainstream PC makers have largely resisted marketing their systems for coin-mining purposes, boutique company iBuyPower is testing the waters with a new lineup that it's expressing promoting for the task.
Not surprisingly dubbed the CoinMine series, the new desktops don't seem much different from the company's gaming rigs, though crucially they start with a pair of AMD Radeon R9 280X graphics cards as part of the base configuration. There are a pair of CoinMine desktops, one using AMD processors and the other Intel CPUs. As expected, the AMD-based model starts at a lower price ($999), and the base configuration features an FX-4300 processor, 4GB of RAM, 500GB and DVD burner.
It relies on conventional air cooling, but the Intel version, which starts at a much higher $1,559 price, includes liquid cooling. That's crucial because the heat generated from the GPU operations is a known issue for Bitcoin mining. The Intel system also comes with a Core i3-4130 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, terabyte hard drive, and DVD burner. You can customize each model to your heart's content, adding a third graphics card (or downgrading to a single one) or upgrading processor, RAM, storage, cooling, etc.
We'll see if this is the start of a trend from PC vendors, though it's highly doubtful we'll see a Dell or HP "mining" lineup in the future. Are you planning on joining the Bitcoin mining community? If so, could you envision yourself purchasing one of these desktops to assist your mining operations? Let us know in the Talkback section below.