Crypto miners are resourceful people and everyone should already know that. But maybe not many people expected to be THIS cunning.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Some miners in China have started splitting RTX 3060 chips from laptops into discrete graphics card cases and then selling them to other miners as a legitimate way to get around NVIDIA’s hash rate restrictions on the RTX 3000 series.
PCGamer reports that some of these Franken cards have been spotted for sale on Gofish, which is a bit like a Chinese version of Craiglist that often sells second-hand items. Photos of the cards came from a user on the Chinese social media site Weibo.
On the website CnBeta, the seller of the cards reportedly demonstrated their mining feats. For some reason, the cards have been shown to pump 50 MH/s, which is much higher than what a typical desktop RTX 3060 with the NVIDIA LHR feature on it has. As such, this makes the makeshift 3060s a much more profitable option for crypto miners, who are unlikely to be able to get standard desktop non-LHR 3060s anymore.
The website also shows how much the cards cost: between 1100 and 3599 Chinese Yuan ($174.22 to $570.02 USD) at the time of writing. Considering how an NVIDIA LHR RTX 3060 costs these days (now a whopping $800 USD on eBay), these cards seem like quite a bargain for the mining performance they claim to offer.
rtx 3060 franc card
Tom’s Hardware was one of the first to see the cards sold on GoFish. According to their report, the origin of the makeshift desktop 3060s using the mobile chips is unknown. But what actually happened here is that an organization got their hands on GA106 stamps that should be installed in gaming laptops, reused them as crypto mining cards and sold them as normal.
Apparently this kind of practice is not a strange thing to do. A prime example, according to the original TechRadar report, is AMD’s not-so-beloved RX 6500 XT. It was equipped with the Navi 24 dice, which was originally designed for laptops, not desktops.
Also read: NVIDIA hackers ask an unusual question that could point to their end goal
Why do crypto miners do this?
Say what you will about how NVIDIA’s LHR cards aren’t effective enough to deter miners from buying them up: the hash rate limiter cripples mining performance on the RTX 3000 series. As a result, miners have become increasingly desperate to balance their gains and losses.
Making the makeshift RTX 3060 mining cards was mainly possible because mobile versions of NVIDIA’s Ampere line have no LHR limitations. Of course, miners saw this as an opportunity, because even if hacks can already circumvent LHR to some degree, they can be dubious at best.
(Photo: Image by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash)
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Now, some may think that using mobile versions of discrete GPUs still doesn’t make sense, as laptop GPUs tend to be weaker than desktop GPUs. And that would be true, but not in this case. Even if the hardware around the chip is weaker in a laptop GPU (ie less VRAM, fewer CUDA cores, etc.), the silicon remains the same in both versions.
In this situation, mobile RTX 3060s have the same GA106 chip as their desktop counterparts – generally comparable performance, all without NVIDIA’s LHR limiter.
Related article: How to build a crypto mining rig: the basics
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Written by RJ Pierce
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