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Utility Supposedly Restores Full Mining Performance on Nvidia GPUs

Nvidia LHR Unlocker
(Image credit: Github/SergeyDev)

Update 2/23: The file "LHRUnlocker Install.msi" appears to infect powershell.exe, a Windows service. We recommend you do not install or search for this utility and have removed the links. We have more details in a separate story. The original reporting follows below, minus the aforementioned links.

When Nvidia introduced light hash rate (LHR) graphics cards with reduced Ethereum hash rate, it wanted to ensure that its GeForce offerings would not be used for mining. But shortly after LHR boards became available, various tools to increase their mining performance emerged. None of them could restore the full mining performance of Nvidia’s GPUs, but a new tool called Nvidia LHR Unlocker purports to do just that.

The Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker by Sergey (hat tip to MyDrivers and Videocardz) is a tool that supposedly modifies the BIOS of Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards based on the Ampere architecture, as well as workstation-grade RTX A-series boards, to remove mining performance limiters added by Nvidia. We say "supposedly" because the tool is not yet available, and perhaps even worse, firmware modification alone is not enough to bring back full mining performance of GPUs: Miners also have to use drivers modified by Sergey. 

RTX 3080 Tiup to 115 MH/s
RTX 3080 LHRup to 100 MH/s
RTX 3070 Ti up to 69 MH/s
RTX 3070 LHR up to 57 MH/s
RTX 3060 Ti LHRup to 61 MH/s
RTX 3060 LHR V2up to 49 MH/s
RTX A5000up to 110 MH/s
RTX A4500not measured
RTX A4000up to 67 MH/s
RTX A2000up to 46 MH/s

"Modifying the BIOS is not enough to fully hashrate your graphics card," the developer explained. "You also need graphics drivers modified by me. They are downloaded and installed automatically in Windows when the program is installed. If you are using another OS such as HiveOs etc. then you need to install the drivers manually according to the instructions found in the DRIVER_INSTALATION.txt file in the application installation folder."

If that seems a bit much, you're not alone in that thinking. Nvidia supposedly implemented the LHR locks via firmware and drivers, both of which are theoretically protected via encryption. It goes without saying that downloading and installing unknown files from the Internet can lead to Very Bad Things™ for your PC and data. That old saying of "If it's too good to me true..." definitely comes into play.

Sergey plans to release his Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker on February 26, which will be the first public beta version of the tool. Again, it's a bit odd to pre-announce a tool like this rather than just putting it up on GitHub. To date, the utility has supposedly been tested on various GeForce RTX 30-series and RTX A-series graphics cards and the developer claims that his tool restores the full mining performance of these boards.

Assuming it does end up being a legit way to remove the LHR locks, people running the latest Nvidia drivers could see up to a 50% boost in hashrates. We've noticed that despite the earlier "fix" in NBminer that brought performance up to ~70% of normal, more recent driver releases appear to address that and cards like the 3080 Ti are back to around 60MH/s in Ethereum.

Nvidia LHR Unlocker

(Image credit: Github/SergeyDev)

Assuming that the Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker tool works on all LHR graphics cards, it could have a major impact on the market of graphics cards. All of Nvidia's Ampere boards will again be capable of full speed mining, which would increase demand for such boards by miners. Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30-series graphics cards are already priced higher than their AMD counterparts, however, possibly because large mining groups have already created workarounds.

But improved Ethereum mining performance may not matter much in the long run. In the coming months, Ethereum will move to Proof of Stake instead of Proof of Work, which means all the GPU miners will need a different coin (coins) to accrue cryptocurrency. Other cryptocurrencies remain friendly to GPUs, but since their value is correlated with ETH, it remains to be seen whether their mining will make financial sense.

It's also worth noting that cryptocurrency mining profitability has been trending downward for a while now, and even a full speed RTX 3080 Ti will only net around $3.50 per day at current rates. With current GPU prices on such cards still sitting at $1,700, it would take nearly 500 days to break even.

Regardless of mining performance improvements and increased profitability, we'd let this one sit for a few weeks before giving it a try. Or at least, don't put it on a PC with any important data — including cryptocurrency wallets, email access, etc.

Anton Shilov
Anton Shilov

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • peachpuff
    Can't wait for the "this stole all my eth!" comments 🤣
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    NVIDIA claimed they used a 3 way check. vBIOS, UEFI, and Drivers. If they did this, then NVIDIA has a much bigger problem because it means their security keys to the UEFI have been hacked. Plus they failed to implement a boot level vBIOS loader which makes it NEAR impossible to hack without a verified unique key that's generated for each installation script (challenge response checksum)

    In other words: NVIDIA really didn't give a F*, or their programmers suck at BASIC security routines.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    peachpuff said:
    Can't wait for the "this stole all my eth!" comments 🤣

    I was wondering the same thing. The drivers better be open source so they can be compiled.

    It's like all those people who download "cracked" games to discover later they installed a trojan or miner.
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    "You also need graphics drivers modified by me."

    Yeah, no, my dude. That's a red flag of the largest size and the brightest shade. Anyone desperate enough to even consider this is just asking to have their crypto swiped.
    Reply
  • Sublate
    SkyBill40 said:
    "You also need graphics drivers modified by me."

    Yeah, no, my dude. That's a red flag of the largest size and the brightest shade. Anyone desperate enough to even consider this is just asking to have their crypto swiped.

    Yeah. This whole thing smells fishy. Even the github info looks jacked up.
    Reply
  • Sublate
    There's no point to unlocking anyway. Even at the fastest speed you're still only making 3 or 4 dollars a day. That's less than the power those cards will consume at that rate. The only way this works is if you have free power.
    Reply
  • drivinfast247
    Sublate said:
    There's no point to unlocking anyway. Even at the fastest speed you're still only making 3 or 4 dollars a day. That's less than the power those cards will consume at that rate. The only way this works is if you have free power.
    "Mom pays the energy bill".
    Reply
  • AtrociKitty
    Sublate said:
    There's no point to unlocking anyway. Even at the fastest speed you're still only making 3 or 4 dollars a day. That's less than the power those cards will consume at that rate. The only way this works is if you have free power.
    Not true at all. A 3080 costs about 60 cents a day to run, assuming (US-average) $0.11 per kWH. Even at current prices, a 3080 still profits about $3 a day.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Sublate said:
    There's no point to unlocking anyway. Even at the fastest speed you're still only making 3 or 4 dollars a day. That's less than the power those cards will consume at that rate. The only way this works is if you have free power.
    In the US, even a 3090 running full bore mining Ethereum will use well under $1 a day in electricity. The lower end Ampere cards use about $.30 a day. For anyone already mining, this limit remover would increase mining performance by 20-30% over cards with the limiter already partially removed for almost nothing.
    Reply
  • King_V
    drivinfast247 said:
    "Mom pays the energy bill".
    I've legit sold a PC to a guy a few years ago who did mining, and the reason he worked for him is because electricity was included with his rent.

    That had to be kinda rough on his landlord. Electricity here in New Jersey was something between 18-21 cents/kWH, if I recall correctly.
    Reply