Nvidia's Latest Driver Update Tackles Cryptomining Crack

Nvidia LHR
(Image credit: Asus)

Nvidia's latest GeForce graphics driver release dealt a blow to casual cryptominers with RTX 30 series GPUs Tuesday. The new Nvidia GeForce Game Ready 512.95 driver enabled DLSS and Ray tracing in Hitman 3 (opens in new tab) and did a hit on Ethereum mining hash rates. VideoCardz spotted a video with proof of what will be disappointing news for some (Portuguese video, embedded at bottom of article), showing graphics cards reduced, again, to approximately half of their potential Ethereum (ETH) mining performance.

Tom's Hardware has been watching the latest developments by NiceHash with interest in recent weeks. NiceHash is the the maker of the QuickMiner software and the Excavator miner. Near the start of the month NiceHash managed to break through Nvidia's LHR algorithm to restore most Ampere GeForce graphics cards to 100% of their potential ETH mining performance. Nvidia LHR was implemented to cut ETH mining performance in half and discourage cryptominers from buying up all of the cards aimed at gamers and enthusiasts.

A week ago, NiceHash announced a further breakthrough. The so called LHRv3 graphics cards, the GeForce RTX 3050 8GB and RTX 3080 12GB for desktops, had their hash rates unlocked (to 90% capability) in a QuickMiner update. These cards are the newest additions to the GeForce 30 series of graphics cards, introduced earlier this year, and have a newer LHR algorithm baked-in.

GeForce driver 512.95 has now arrived with attractive features for gamers, but also with reduced ETH mining performance. Ardent cryptominers will probably just stick with the previous driver, which worked with all of NiceHash's Ampere unlocks. 

The newest GeForce Game Ready driver isn't all about Hitman 3; My Time at Sandrock and Sniper Elite 4 also get optimizations in the update, and Nvidia's regular driver updates also usually contain a host of bug fixes. Over successive releases these features and optimizations will rack up, which means pausing driver updates to benefit your ETH mining rate will become more and more difficult. In short, casual miners are likely to be most affected by Nvidia reasserting its LHR program. 

Recently we reported on what might at last be some light at the end of the tunnel regarding ETH mining on PC GPUs. A few days ago Ethereum developers confirmed that "the merge" is ready to go. When this occurs ETH mining will become a thing of the past, as the cryptocurrency's blockchain moves to the less hardware and energy-demanding Proof of Stake (PoS) design. "The merge" is expected to complete in August this year (but has been pushed back numerous times, so temper your expectations).

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • Im__A__Blimp
    Maybe NVidia doesn't know that its possible to reinstall the older driver /s ..... Lol. Stupid people..... Lol. I can't believe they thought that their "unhackable" LHR would stop us... lol. All my cards are full hash rate anyway, so I dont care, but still, its hysterical
    Reply
  • Mark_UK
    Please define "casual miner", as used a couple of times within the article.
    Reply
  • Predictable
    Mark_UK said:
    Please define "casual miner", as used a couple of times within the article.
    I'm sure the author is referring to people who mine during their computer downtime. ie. When not gaming. I know because this is what I do. I don't dedicate the PC to mining.
    Reply
  • Mark_UK
    Predictable said:
    I'm sure the author is referring to people who mine during their computer downtime. ie. When not gaming. I know because this is what I do. I don't dedicate the PC to mining.

    Ok many thanks for clearing that up. I had wondered if that was the case, but it seemed (wrongly) absurd to me that there might still be people mining on regular computers today.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    Im__A__Blimp said:
    Maybe NVidia doesn't know that its possible to reinstall the older driver /s ..... Lol. Stupid people..... Lol. I can't believe they thought that their "unhackable" LHR would stop us... lol. All my cards are full hash rate anyway, so I dont care, but still, its hysterical
    "Us"? I'm sure you had a part in the hack of the cards. 🤡
    Reply
  • Mandark
    At least it didn’t down tackle it. As the rules clearly state only up tackling is allowed
    Reply
  • mavroxur
    Nvidia should've made a driver package that included firmware updates for most common LHR cards. 99% of people don't read the release notes. Boom, fix it in firmware (again?) and stick it to the asshat cryptominers that buy LHR cards and unlock them for mining.

    Install a driver, get a nice new shiny firmware with more eth mitigations. Would it be the end-all fix? No, but it'd set them back a little ways.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    mavroxur said:
    Nvidia should've made a driver package that included firmware updates for most common LHR cards. 99% of people don't read the release notes. Boom, fix it in firmware (again?) and stick it to the asshat cryptominers that buy LHR cards and unlock them for mining.

    Install a driver, get a nice new shiny firmware with more eth mitigations. Would it be the end-all fix? No, but it'd set them back a little ways.
    You generally don't want to force a firmware upgrade unnecessarily because even with the most care, these firmware/BIOS flash can go wrong and render a good card unusable. In any case, I am not convinced that the LHR cards make any meaningful impact to supply of cards to "gamers".
    Reply
  • Krotow
    mavroxur said:
    Nvidia should've made a driver package that included firmware updates for most common LHR cards. 99% of people don't read the release notes. Boom, fix it in firmware (again?) and stick it to the asshat cryptominers that buy LHR cards and unlock them for mining.

    Install a driver, get a nice new shiny firmware with more eth mitigations. Would it be the end-all fix? No, but it'd set them back a little ways.

    Easier is to assign crypto craze to pyramid schemes in international law. Then cryptonuts instantly become criminals.
    Reply
  • coldblackice
    Krotow said:
    Easier is to assign crypto craze to pyramid schemes in international law. Then cryptonuts instantly become criminals.
    Then you wake up.
    Reply