Buried on the 17th page of Tom’s Hardware’s GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card review is a simple benchmark that could dramatically disrupt the landscape of cryptocurrency mining. In fact, it’s the kind of data that should send AMD back to the drawing board — at least if they want to maintain their choke-hold on the mining hardware market.
Historically AMD has been the undisputed crowd favorite of miners looking to stock up on new forms of digital currency like Dogecoin and Litecoin. AMD’s Radeon graphics cards possess a secret sauce that allows significantly more powerful compute capabilities, at least the kind required for Scrypt-based mining.
That is, until Nvidia released their new Maxwell architecture this week.
As we learned from my introduction to the GTX 750 Ti, first-generation Maxwell cards exhibit a 35% peak performance boost per core and twice the performance per watt. They also blow Kepler hashrates out of the water. Based on what I’m seeing with the 750 Ti, Nvidia is poised to embarrass AMD in the performance-per-watt race — and that’s a substantial factor when you’re paying the inflated energy bills caused by mining.
Nvidia didn’t breathe a word of Maxwell’s seriously improved hashing ability in their marketing copy or press briefings, but Tom’s Hardware discovered it, and I’ve been able to replicate their findings with multiple 750 Ti cards from both Nvidia and PNY.
What you’re looking at in the image above is a hashrate of about 242kh/s using Nvidia’s reference 750 Ti 1GB graphics card ($139). This is significant for several reasons. First, the 750 Ti is a 60Watt card and doesn’t even require a PCI-E power connector. You could plug this card into a cheap box from HP or Dell with a 300W power supply and have power to spare. Second, the temperature never seems to breach 65 degrees Celsius, and it runs considerably quieter and cooler than the AMD 260x ($119), which achieves a peak hashrate of 206kh/s and consumes nearly 130Watts of power.
“Hold on a minute!” I can hear you saying. “AMD’s 260x is $20 cheaper than Nvidia’s entry-level 750 Ti!” That’s true, but the nominal price difference quickly evaporates when you consider how the 750 Ti sips power, which matters in the long run. Additionally, Tom’s Hardware ran the same mining environment test with AMD’s upcoming Radeon 265 ($149) and achieved a peak hashrate of 252kh/s — and remember that the Radeon 265 is a 150Watt card.
For that same price of $149, here’s what I pulled off with PNY’s 750 Ti 2GB with a moderate (and stable) overclock:
That’s right, 284kh/s, and an even better temperature ceiling of about 56 degrees Celsius. This is consuming less than half the power of AMD’s Radeon 265.
This all leads to a conclusion that’s far from crazy: When Nvidia’s high-end Maxwell cards drop later this year (possibly by late March), they’re going to surpass the hashrates currently possible from AMD, consume less power, and do so while staying cooler and quieter.
One very valid concern for miners and gamers alike is the fear that pricing for Nvidia GPUs will become just as inflated as AMD ones have become. A representative assures me this won’t happen, and it’s a claim backed up by the fact that Nvidia has much tighter control over their production.
If you’re a current miner, will this data change your hardware allegiance? If you’re thinking about getting into digital currency mining, would you choose AMD or Nvidia? Let me know by continuing the conversation with me on Twitter and Facebook.