Graphics cards are still a scarce commodity and quite expensive. In order to get more GPUs into the hands of gamers, Nvidia has introduced so-called LHR models, which limit the Ethereum hashrate. We explain everything you need to know about it.
These are tough times for PC gamers. Graphics cards have been a scarce commodity for almost a year, and retailers are charging an exorbitantly high price premium for the few models that are available. One of the reasons for this is the big boom around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Countless miners are buying up every GPU they can get their hands on in order to mine these cryptocurrencies. So-called mining farms with hundreds or even thousands of graphics cards are not uncommon.
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In order to get more graphics cards into the hands of gamers, Nvidia has launched the lite hash rate graphics cards. This technology limits the mining performance of selected graphics chips in order to make the GPUs less interesting for miners. We’ll tell you what LHR actually does, how you can recognize an LHR graphics card and whether there are any effects on gaming performance.
What does lite hash rate technology do anyway?
Let us first clarify the most important question: What is LHR anyway? Nvidia graphics cards with the LHR function automatically recognize when they are used for mining the crypto currency Ethereum (ETH) and then limit the hash rate to half. Without going into the details, the result is that the GPUs are much less interesting for miners. Because either they can only mine half as much cryptocurrency with the same power consumption or a significantly higher power consumption is necessary for the same mining rate. The basic idea behind this is that any GPU that is not bought from Miner can end up in the hands of a gamer.
LHR technology was first introduced with the GeForce RTX 3060, but quickly retired to try again later.
With the release of the RTX 3060 (to our test report) Nvidia introduced the first graphics card with a Lite Hash Rate Limiter. However, the manufacturer managed to trip itself up by providing an official beta driver that unlocked the graphics card’s full mining power in the same week that the RXT 3060 was released. However, this did not prevent Nvidia from delivering later products such as the RTX 3070 Ti (to our test report) or the RTX 3080 Ti (to our test report) with a revised version of LHR. In the second wave of LHR GPUs, the integration of the function in the firmware and the software should be significantly better linked.
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How effective Nvidia’s mining protection actually is and whether it cannot be bypassed completely remains questionable. In the meantime, indications have emerged that with NBMiner the mining performance can be increased from 50 percent with the Lite-Hash-Rate-Limiter to at least 70 percent. We are sure that many miners are working to completely bypass Nvidia’s protective mechanisms in order to achieve higher profits. Whether or when they will be successful is written in the stars.
Which GPUs use LHR?
List of graphics cards with LHR:
Nvidia switched the production of most RTX 3000 GPUs to LHR in mid-May 2021. If you have previously purchased an Nvidia Ampere generation graphics card, it will not be affected and will provide full mining performance. That is also the reason why the Founders Edition of the RTX 3060 Ti, RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 are not delivered with LHR. Nvidia stopped production here before May of this year. All GPUs that were produced after the changeover, including all custom designs and the FE of the RTX 3070 Ti and the RTX 3080 Ti, come with the lite hash rate limiter. The only exception is Nvidia’s BFGPU, the GeForce RTX 3090, Nvidia has not made any restrictions here.
The RTX 3090 is the only ampere graphics card that has been spared the LHR limiter.
There may still be products on the market whose graphics chips were produced before May and are therefore not yet equipped with LHR limiters. New models have the addition “LHR” in the product name. In addition, the packaging of the GPU must be marked with “LHR” or “Lite Hash Rate” so that the exact product can be seen from the outside. There are currently no comparable restrictions on the part of AMD.
Does LHR have an impact on gaming performance?
If you want to gamble with your new GeForce graphics card, you don’t have to worry about LHR. For all we know, the feature only limits Ethereum’s hash rate and therefore has no impact on gaming performance.
What does LHR mean for the resale value of a GPU?
The answer to this question ultimately depends on the buyer. Gamers will prefer an LHR graphics card because they can be relatively certain that the corresponding GPU has not been used for weeks or months of mining, which can have a negative impact on the lifespan. Miners, on the other hand, will not appreciate such GPUs so much because of the restrictions. So if you’re a miner you’d better steer clear of the LHR graphics cards unless you know how to break the limit, or the Ethereum price rises so much that it halves the hash rate itself still pays.
Note: This article first appeared in our US sister publication PC-WORLD.