Nvidia has released a new GeForce video card driver, and it comes with an unexpected bonus feature. The new v522.25 update reportedly removes the cryptocurrency hash rate limits placed on many cards to make them less appealing to miners. This could help Nvidia clear stock of older models as it moves forward with launching the spendy GeForce RTX 40-series.
There were numerous factors driving the massive increase in GPU prices over the past years, like people in COVID lockdown finally making time to play games and the global semiconductor shortage, but cryptocurrency mining was possibly the biggest. Miners would scoop up every capable GPU and then never even connect a monitor to them. That pushed the price of GPUs (if you could even find one in stock) into the stratosphere. An RTX 3080 that was supposed to cost $700 could easily run you over $2,000.
Nvidia responded (eventually) to this problem by releasing cards marked as “low hash rate” or LHR. These GPUs rendered games fine, but they were limited at the driver level from mining crypto at full speed. With miners uninterested in these cards, there was some hope for gamers who just wanted to frag some noobs. As we head into the RTX 40-series era and supplies loosen, Nvidia appears to be backtracking on the whole LHR thing.
Several members of the /r/EtherMining subreddit have reported that their GPUs have started mining at full speed following the 522.25 driver update. One user with a 3080 Ti (which was only available with LHR) provided a screenshot showing full-speed mining after the update. Others have chimed in to say similarly limited cards like the RTX 3060 have also started mining at higher speeds.
There were workarounds for bypassing LHR, but now miners won’t even have to go to the trouble. Although, mining is not the big business it once was. Ethereum, formerly the most popular mined cryptocurrency, completed The Merge several weeks ago. That moved the network from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, making all those racks of GPUs much less valuable. Some people are still mining coins like Ergo and Ethereum Classic, though. Nvidia hasn’t confirmed the change to LHR, but it makes sense given today’s lower demand for mining GPUs. And if it helps Nvidia clear out some of those old cards, all the better for RTX 40 sales.