Heat Sink Refit on S17, S17 Pro, S17+, T17, T17+, T17e ?

In this article we address hash board restoration and replacement, as well as heat sink refit for Antminer S17, S17 Pro, S17+, T17, T17+, and T17e models.

Antminer 17-Series

The Antminer 17-series, manufactured in 2019, have amazing efficiency profiles between 39-50 W/TH. And, based on TSMC purchase data, we estimate that a huge number of S17/T17 were manufactured… up to a million. This means that potentially 50 EH/s, or nearly a third of the network, is made up of S17s and T17s.

In 2019 the 17-series were the most efficient bitcoin miners on the market. They came with a price tag between $2,000-$3,000 USD. Yet, their price dropped to as low as $500 in the end of 2020 due to the bear run. Now they are available under market value at between ~$4,000-$6,000 per unit. Whereas rigs with similar specs can sell for nearly double this price. Why are they so cheap?

Because these rigs are not very popular with bitcoin miners. The S17, S17 Pro, S17+, T17, T17+, and T17e machines are unstable due to bad soldering and adhesive glue. As a result heat sinks loosen, machines short circuit, chips burn, and hash boards fail. S17/T17 models are also difficult to ship. They can arrive broken after purchase. They can also re-break upon return from a repair. Thus, it is likely that many are decommissioned.

See below. The miner just touches the heat sinks and they fall off.

Expectations Versus Reality

In early-2019 Bitmain were excited about the release of the 17-series. The BM1397 chip’s efficiency had improved 29% from the previous BM1391. Bitmain remarked:

"Bitmain’s innovations enable anyone, anywhere to mine and benefit from cryptocurrencies. The BM1397 ... is designed to bring a better mining experience and aims to set a new benchmark in ASIC chip technology."

At the time Bitmain believed that the they could get this chip down to an efficiency of 30 W/TH. In 2020 they succeeded with the S19 Pro. However, it turns out that having the most efficient ASIC does not necessarily equate to a “better mining experience“.

Whilst the S19s seem to be running OK so far, Bitmain’s poor quality control and workmanship on the S17/T17 lead many to swear that they will never purchase an Antminer again. We have seen this sentiment on both Western and Asian miner forums and social outlets.

Furthermore, some farms refuse to host 17-series rigs because they require too frequent attention. Many ASIC brokers will also not sell S17/T17 because they break in transit, resulting in a loss for both the seller and customer.

So, is there a solution to the 17-series issues?

A New Lease on Life

Next we briefly discuss hash board restoration, hash board replacement, and heat sink refit for Antminer’s S17, S17 Pro, S17+, T17, T17+, and T17e models. Then we share a miner’s experience with S17s.

S17 and T17 Restoration

Hash board specialists found that temperature differentials cause crumbling of the tin soldering on S17/T17 models. As a result, small balls of tin can become lodged in the legs of the chips, leading to shorts and permanent chip damage. Adhesive glue can also dry out so that heat is not properly conducted away from the chips, causing burning. See an example of burnt chips on a T17 hash board below. Also, in the tweet a bit further down you can see a T17 chip which became stuck to the heat sink.

Burnt ASICs on an Antminer T17. Original image @company_sadr on Instagram.

Hash board specialists can restore 17-series hash boards by replacing chips. They can also rework the soldering and adhesive glue. However, these type of repairs can be ongoing, and become costly for the miner both in down time and repair fees.

Replace a S17 or T17 Hash Board

When a number of chips fail, a hash board will stop working. Thus a miner may opt to replace a S17 or T17 hash board.

However, in most cases the 17-series hash boards are only compatible between machines with the same specs and batch number. Although, flashing the machine with alternative firmware can sometimes help to work around this issue.

Heat Sink Refit on S17, S17 Pro, S17+, T17, T17+, T17e

Excitingly, in the past few months new heat sink designs became available for the 17-series. This new design promises to restore stability in the S17 and T17 models.

Hash board restoration and heat sink updating costs approximately $250-500 per unit. Repair companies in China are known to perform this procedure.

According to one repair center, the steps to restoring a 17-series are:

  • remove the heat sinks
  • remove the chips
  • clean the hash board
  • fix screw fittings into the board
  • solder the hash board by hand, or with a machine
  • add on thermal paste, and screw the solid heat sinks in place
NBTC heat sink replacement process.

The heat sink shapes vary for each of the models. They look like this:

NBTC heat sink replacement types.

Thus far feedback from miners is that restored S17/T17 machines are much more stable, and can better tolerate shipment. Could we see more 17-series rigs back online in the near future?

A Miner’s Story

Lastly, we tell a miner’s experience with the 17-series over the past year.

"Before the China shutdowns I picked up cheap S17s. They had issues running but repairs were easily facilitated in China. Hash boards were for sale around, and could usually be replaced. 

Then the mining bans came. I shipped units to Russia. After waiting months for rack space the S17 Pro and S17+ machines were nearly all broken when connected up. The ones that booted up broke over the next few months. It was a disaster.
Example of hash board loss on an S17 Pro 53 TH/s Antminer from a mining pool watcher link.
I had some S17s and S17+ repaired in the fall of 2021, but some machines broke on the way back to the farm. Hash boards fail so easily, and the roads in Siberia can be tough on machines already. 

Now repair centers in Moscow do not want to take them [S17/T17]. I think I will try to send the machines to a hash board specialist to refit the heat sinks on my S17s and repair damaged chips. But these seem to only be in China. I understand why mining farms and repair places don't like to deal with these machines."

That’s all for this time. Be sure to check out our popular article about Antminer S17s and operating climates: Antminer S17 is Temper-mental, as are S19, S9, T17, T9, L3+: Why do Bitmain’s hashboards shutdown in cold and hot climates? How should you fix this?

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