If you tried to find a new graphics card any time in 2020 or 2021, you probably had a really rough (and expensive) experience. A boom in cryptocurrency and the mining thereof made already-low stock nearly nonexistent, and scalpers only exacerbated the problem. Nvidia’s solution was to make “Lite Hash Rate” (LHR) versions of its most popular RTX 30-series cards, which limited crypto mining on the firmware level, making them far less appealing to crypto miners. But now, according to a few users, the latest Nvidia drivers have removed this limitation on some cards.
The news comes from Reddit (spotted by Tom’s Hardware), where various users testing on the 522.25 driver using the LHR-limited cards are suddenly seeing that they can mine Ethereum-type cryptocoins at full speed and power. This effectively makes these cards (RTX 3050 through RTX 3080 Ti, made from early 2021 onward) just like the RTX 30-series cards that don’t feature the LHR limiter.
Why would Nvidia essentially erase something that it worked so hard on, even repairing the system after it was broken by mining-obsessed GPU buyers? Probably because it’s no longer relevant. The Ethereum cryptocurrency switched to a proof-of-stake system last month, moving away from the massive computing power and electricity needed for the typical cryptocurrency proof-of-work setup. It’s an enormously complicated issue, but the end result for consumers is that powerful GPUs essentially became worthless for mining Ethereum. As one Reddit user posted in the thread, “GPU mining is dead.”
There are still other types of cryptocurrency one can mine with GPU power, but between this change and a general trend downward in cryptocoin value, the pressure on the GPU market has effectively been negated. Though it isn’t mentioned in the driver release notes, Nvidia seems to have taken the opportunity to relieve itself of at least one nagging problem for its software development.