If you’re on the hunt for an RTX 3080 Ti (opens in new tab), your search is likely to become a bit harder. EVGA has released a firmware update that appears to drastically increase the mining hash rate of its RTX 3080 Ti’s. Sadly, you can probably infer what that means. EVGA 3080 Ti’s are suddenly more appealing to miners, and more cards in the hands of miners means less in the hands of gamers.
The graphics card market has become its own meme. Shortages in key components leading to manufacturing bottlenecks is one thing, but when you add extreme mining demand, we get the one-two punch that’s led to where we are today. The release of several light hash rate (LHR) GPUs including the RTX 3080 Ti was designed to reduce mining performance without impacting gaming performance. This was welcomed by gamers, but miners have been hunting for ways to unlock the hash rate of LHR cards (opens in new tab) in order to deliver better mining performance.
Originally, a Reddit user @bravo_char (opens in new tab) via Tom's Hardware (opens in new tab) discovered a hidden power limit in the vBIOS of the EVGA RTX 3080 Ti XC3 which causes the GPU to downclock when it is under a strenuous memory load (which is exactly the kind of load you get while mining).
The problem is, mining isn’t the only memory intensive task. EVGA felt the need to release an update to fix this issue which will help you if you use your GPU for rendering or encoding, but it also means that EVGA cards received a mining efficiency boost, from 66 MH/s up to 80 MH/s or higher. As if gamers didn’t have enough troubles finding a reasonably priced card for some holiday gaming.
How to buy a graphics card (opens in new tab): tips on buying a graphics card in the barren silicon landscape that is 2021
Other miners are experimenting with the new firmware on other cards and finding some success despite the risk of cross flashing to another vendor’s card. Red Panda Mining (opens in new tab) took the EVGA XC3 BIOS and flashed it to an Inno3D 3080 Ti iChill X3 and got as much as 91 MH/s from their card. That isn’t far away from what a full hash rate RTX 3080 can achieve. Miners are attracted to the high performance of cards like the 3080 (and now 3080 Ti) because it means they can get more performance out of a single system, even if power efficiency is inferior to other models such as the RTX 3060 Ti FHR.
It remains to be seen if other manufacturers will follow suit and release BIOS upgrades. There’s also the possibility that Nvidia will step in and put a stop to it, though if the power limit ‘bug’ is harming legitimate users who are not involved in mining, we find it hard to think it will. If you've had your eye on an RTX 3080 Ti for some holiday gaming, you might want to have a plan B (opens in new tab) in case 3080 Ti’s suddenly get a bit (more) scarce.