Nvidia began releasing LHR (or “Lite Hash Rate”) graphics cards last year to slow down their cryptocurrency mining performance and make them less appealing to non-gamers. Late last week, crypto-mining platform NiceHash announced that it had finally found a way around those limitations and released an update for its QuickMiner software that promises full Ethereum mining performance on nearly all of the LHR-enabled GeForce RTX 3000-series GPUs.
Unlike past attempts to disable the LHR protections, NiceHash’s workaround appears to be the real deal—Tom’s Hardware was able to confirm the performance boosts using QuickMiner and a GeForce RTX 3080 Ti.
For now, NiceHash says that the LHR workaround will only work in Windows, with “no Linux support yet.” The more flexible NiceHash Miner software doesn’t include the workarounds yet, though it will soon. NiceHash also says that the software won’t accelerate mining performance on newer GeForce cards that use version 3 of the LHR algorithm, a list that (for now) includes the RTX 3050 and the 12GB version of the RTX 3080 but which will presumably grow as Nvidia releases new GPUs and updated revisions for older GPUs.
Miners have been trying to find ways to circumvent the LHR limitations since they were introduced. The first card to use LHR, the GeForce RTX 3060, was defeated by a botched driver release from Nvidia. Other workarounds have included flashing alternate BIOSes and mining multiple cryptocurrencies on the same card.
But LHR workarounds can also be too good to be true. Another group promised LHR-defeating drivers in February, but they didn’t do what they said they’d do and ended up being full of malware.
Whether this LHR unlock has an impact on the pricing or availability of GPUs remains to be seen. Bitcoin and Ethereum prices have been falling recently as interest rate increases and stock market turmoil have pushed investors toward safer bets. Ethereum’s “merge,” which will switch the currency from a mining-driven “proof-of-work” system to an ownership-driven “proof-of-stake” system, is also allegedly a few months away, though that has been the case for several years now. At this point, buying up a bunch of new GPUs for cryptocurrency mining, even with the performance improvements and price increases, could still be a risky investment.