RTX 3080 12GB and RTX 3050 crypto-mining limiters unlocked to 90% efficiency

Nvidia RTX 3050 Gigabyte Eagle version
(Image credit: Future)

Cryptocurrencies aren't having a great time of it at the moment, but you can't keep a world-destroying idea down. Sure enough, NiceHash has announced that its mining software, NiceHash QuickMiner (Excavator) now runs the latest LHRv3 cards at 90% efficiency. Not quite totally unlocked then, but probably close enough.

NiceHash had already announced that it had unlocked the first two versions of the Light Hash Rate limiter recently, but the RTX 3050 and the 12GB version of the RTX 3080 use the new version of the technology that was proving trickier. It didn't take long to crack it though.

Nvidia introduced LHR as a way of limiting the performance of its GPUs when used for mining to try and dissuade miners from using the cards. It also introduced mining-focused cards, although, as those cards lacked any obvious resale value, it wasn't always clear how well this whole thing would have played out. There were a few hiccups along the way as well, with Nvidia releasing a driver update that broke LHR anyway.

A few months back we reported on the fact that the LHR mechanism had been broken to a degree, offering 70% effectiveness, making the cards that little bit more attractive to miners. Then NiceHash confirmed it had an RTX 3080 Ti working to 100% effectiveness with another QuickMiner (Excavator) update.

It's worth noting that this workaround only works on Windows and only using the DaggerHashimoto (Ethash) algorithm. Still, the hack represents a significant increase to the hash rate of cards from the RTX 3050 all the way up to the RTX 3080 Ti. 

The one bit of hope on this front is that cryptocurrencies are not in a great place right now, and it's not a great time to be sinking cash and electricity into GPU mining. Bitcoin (BTC) recently took a nosedive, losing $18,000 from its peak in Match of $47,000 to just $28,000 last week. Wiping out over $800 billion in market value in a month. 

While it's been a long time since mining BTC on graphics cards was a sensible venture, plenty of other cryptocurrencies track BTC, so we saw the likes of Ethereum also drop significantly—down to $2,000, roughly half of what it was worth last November. 


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Alan Dexter

Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.