NVIDIA Coin Mining Performance Increases with Maxwell and GTX 750 Ti

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 20, 2014 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, mining, maxwell, litecoin, gtx 750 ti, geforce, dogecoin, coin, bitcoin, altcoin

As we have talked about on several different occasions, Altcoin mining (anything that is NOT Bitcoin specifically) is a force on the current GPU market whether we like it or not. Traditionally, Miners have only bought AMD-based GPUs, due to the performance advantage when compared to their NVIDIA competition. However, with continued development of the cudaMiner application over the past few months, NVIDIA cards have been gaining performance in Scrypt mining.

The biggest performance change we've seen yet has come with a new version of cudaMiner released yesterday. This new version (2014-02-18) brings initial support for the Maxwell architecture, which was just released yesterday in the GTX 750 and 750 Ti. With support for Maxwell, mining starts to become a more compelling option with this new NVIDIA GPU.

With the new version of cudaMiner on the reference version of the GTX 750 Ti, we were able to achieve a hashrate of 263 KH/s, impressive when you compare it to the performance of the previous generation, Kepler-based GTX 650 Ti, which tops out at about 150KH/s or so.

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As you may know from our full GTX 750 Ti Review,  the GM107 overclocks very well. We were able to push our sample to the highest offset configurable of +135 MHz, with an additional 500 MHz added to the memory frequency, and 31 mV bump to the voltage offset. All of this combined to a ~1200 MHz clockspeed while mining, and an additional 40 KH/s or so of performance, bringing us to just under 300KH/s with the 750 Ti.

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As we compare the performance of the 750 Ti to AMD GPUs and previous generation NVIDIA GPUs, we start to see how impressive the performance of this card stacks up considering the $150 MSRP. For less than half the price of the GTX 770, and roughly the same price as a R7 260X, you can achieve the same performance.

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When we look at power consumption based on the TDP of each card, this comparison only becomes more impressive. At 60W, there is no card that comes close to the performance of the 750 Ti when mining. This means you will spend less to run a 750 Ti than a R7 260X or GTX 770 for roughly the same hash rate.

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Taking a look at the performance per dollar ratings of these graphics cards, we see the two top performers are the AMD R7 260X and our overclocked GTX 750 Ti.

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However, when looking at the performance per watt differences of the field, the GTX 750 Ti looks more impressive. While most miners may think they don't care about power draw, it can help your bottom line. By being able to buy a smaller, less efficient power supply the payoff date for the hardware is moved up.  This also bodes well for future Maxwell based graphics cards that we will likely see released later in 2014.  

Continue reading our look at Coin Mining performance with the GTX 750 Ti and Maxwell!!

To illustrate this example, we put together two builds of mining computers that should be capable of similar hashrates:

  R9 270X Mining Rig GTX 750 Ti Mining Rig
Processor AMD Sempron 145 - $55 AMD Sempron 145 - $55
Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 - $135 GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 - $135
System Memory Kingston Value RAM 4GB 1333MHz - $40 Kingston Value RAM 4GB 1333MHz - $40
PCIE Riser Cards 1 x 16X to 1X Converter - $10 3 x 16X to 1X Converter - $30
Power Supply  Corsair CX750 Builder Series - $80 Corsair CX500 Builder Series - $50
Graphics Cards 4 x Radeon R9 270X - $1200 6 x MSI Graphics Cards N750Ti  - $990
Price $1520 - Full Cart on Amazon.com $1300 - Full Cart on Amazon.com

In these two builds, the core platform stays the same, with the AMD Sempron 145 Single Core processor. While this processor would be essentially useless for a lot of other tasks, Coin mining on a GPU is not a CPU intensive task, so we can get away with one of  the cheapest CPUs on the market.

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We chose the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3, as it was the cheapest motherboard we could find for this platform with 6 PCI-Express ports.

As you have probably noticed not all of the PCI-E ports on this motherboard allow for a x16 card to be plugged in, and even the ones that are capable don't have proper spacing for 2 slot cards. To remedy this we have included the appropriate adapters.

Due to the fact that we are using PCIE risers, there is no case included. You would most likely be best served by building an open-air test bed for the system out of milk crates, shelving systems, wood, or some other building material. Just remember, it doesn't have to look pretty to be effective!

There is also no storage option included. For something like this you could either use any spare hard drive you have laying around, or even install a Linux distribution to a thumb drive. Due to this, we found storage to be a negligible option.

First, we have a more traditional build, using 4 x R9 270Xs, which we found available on Amazon right now for just above $300 each. With 4 of these cards running at about 450KH/s each, we should have a 1.8MH/s machine. With a power draw of 150W from each card, we get a total of 600W just for the GPUs alone. Throwing in another 75W for the 45W TDP processor and any additional overhead, we come to approximately 675W power draw for our entire mining rig.

At a total cost of around $1520, this machine would have a payoff period of about 113 days at the current Dogecoin rates, at 1.8MH/s

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Our second build is based on the GTX 750 Ti. This time we instead opted for 6 x 750 Ti cards for a total of $900, which is still significantly lower than the $1200 for 4 270Xs. With 6 x 750 Ti cards, the estimated GPU power draw would only be 360W, just above half of the power draw of the 270X machine. Adding in the same 75W for additional system components the total estimated power draw works out to 435W, which allows us to purchase a cheaper power supply.

At a total cost of around $1300, this machine would have a payoff period of about 97 days at the current Dogecoin rates, at 1.8MH/s

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As you can see, by cramming more of the lower end but impressive GTX 750 Ti's into a single machine you can create a similar performing machine for less money than the AMD alternative, which is contrary to all the advice given about coin mining up to this initial release of Maxwell. In addition, performance of the Maxwell-based machine should only improve as the Maxwell kernel for cudaMiner is developed further, whereas OpenCL performance for AMD mining has likely been as optimized as we will ever see it.

An additional factor you have to keep in mind is the fluctuating cryptocurrency market. Just because the payoff estimates today say you could be making a profit in 80 days, doesn't mean that will remain the same in the future. While the estimate could get better, it also could get a lot worse, leaving you with a lot of hardware to sell off in the future.

While no one is sure where the mining market will be as far as profitability is concerned when the high end Maxwell GPUs hit the market, NVIDIA could have a similar stock issues and an inability to deliver GPUs to gamers as we see AMD having today.

February 20, 2014 | 06:10 PM - Posted by Angry

Oh yeah sure make all the GPU prices go up!!!

While I'm impressed, I don't like it. I'd like to upgrade my GtX 670 when the higher end maxwell chips hit, but the way things could and probably go....I won't be able to unless I plan on spending more than the MSRP....just like anyone who wants an AMD card at the moment. Its gonna be really bad if both nvidia and AMDs cards are way above MSRP.

Great review and I recommend the card to a friend instead of a 7790 (he's has an OEM system like the ones you tested with the 750 earlier).

February 20, 2014 | 06:38 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Better start reserving your 800 Series cards early. I'm talking pre-order and pad the delivery mans wallet early.

February 20, 2014 | 07:26 PM - Posted by pt3322

I'm obviously glad that Nvidia finally offers good mining cards.

But if I were you, I'd look how much power those rigs pull from the wall with a Kill-A-Watt or similar, before I present a bogus graphic with "Mining performance per Watt" based on TDP.

It's obviously nonsense to claim that stock or OC'ed 750Ti use the same power and give more Kh / W. But somehow you missed that.

Miners also tend to undervolt their cards to reduce noise, heat and power cost.

Edit: you are suggesting that the current prices are $150 for a 750Ti and $300 for a R9-270x? In Europe, a 750Ti and a Gigabyte or Sapphire R9-270 cost the same.

Edit2: Oh, I guess you picked the cheapest 750Ti and the most expensive, worst-rated R9-270x at Amazon by accident too.

February 20, 2014 | 07:37 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We aren't using European prices here.  And in reality, the focus of the story is much more on the power efficiency side of things than actual cost.  As we have seen in recent months with GPU prices they will scale WILDLY from day to day.

February 20, 2014 | 07:48 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Also just to point it out, our Performacne per Dollar graph is using a base price of $280 for hte R9 270X.  Only the link to Amazon uses a higher priced unit.

February 22, 2014 | 08:31 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

And to be honest, you failed miserably on that. TDP is not real power consumption. AMD and Nvidia use TDP in a different way. AMD TDP is more like a theoretical maximum value you can almost never measure in real applications. Nvidia TDP is more like a typical value you actually can measure in real applications. Sorry to say that but your charts are quite worthless.

February 20, 2014 | 07:39 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Your concern about power measurement versus power rating is valid, but our power testing gear is only to work "at the wall" and as such takes the entire system into account.  That can be interesting for some testing and some analysis, but for this story we decided to use TDP.  

Mining is among the GPU intense workloads for a GPU and in my experience the TDP if a very close level of expected power draw for ecah card.

February 22, 2014 | 04:29 AM - Posted by Martin Trautvetter

I have to agree you should have tested the power draw yourself, who knows what Nvidia and AMD classify their TDP as, and if scrypt mining is considered part of that evaluation.

I certainly don't mind the at the wall readings, as long as the PSU stays the same over the whole test, idle vs. load will still tell a close enough story about the real life power usage. I hope you'll add it for the next overview!

February 23, 2014 | 12:30 PM - Posted by arbiter

AMD has been known to under rate their draw, least on cpu side where their cpu with claimed 125watt TDP ends up being more like 150.

February 20, 2014 | 07:21 PM - Posted by Trevor McCourt (not verified)

Yay,
Now coin mining can ruin the price of all brands of graphic cards. Lol

February 22, 2014 | 08:26 AM - Posted by ZoranICS

It's the greedy resellers and dumbasses that are willing to pay the extra that raise prices. not minig ;) If noone bought for a higher price, noone would sell at a higher price.

February 26, 2014 | 01:09 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Then nobody would get a mid range graphics card.

February 20, 2014 | 07:26 PM - Posted by Christian Buchner (not verified)

@pt3322

Overclocking the 750Ti is handled via the GPU Boost 2.0 feature:

- nVidia GPU Boost 2.0 only overclocks within the limits of the TDP design of the card.

- most 750 Ti card designs draw their power exclusively from the PCI express bus (no 6 pin power connector provided), so this overclocking limit cannot currently be raised above 100% TDP (maybe possible later with a modded VBIOS).

Other nVidia GPU models will allow you to raise the TDP limit for overclocking significantly above 100%, but this one refuses to do so.

February 20, 2014 | 07:42 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Good article, only gripe is the comparison rigs. Should have used regular 270's for ~250 each and rated at 470+ kh/s since that's the standard most miners are building around. The x versions aren't any faster when overclocked.

Very happy to see more competition in this space. The 750 ti and r7 265 should help reduce the premiums on all the other r9 cards (I hope)

February 20, 2014 | 09:00 PM - Posted by muchhash (not verified)

I think your hashrates for the older Nvidia cards are off. They seem to be pulled from the litecoin wiki, which doesn't represent the newest version of cudaminer from 12/19 onward.

Here are some better numbers:
http://www.reddit.com/r/dogemining/comments/1wuvny/new_cudaminer_release...

February 20, 2014 | 09:09 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

We actually re-ran all the GeForce results just yesterday to make sure they were accurate with the same version of the CUDA miner.

February 21, 2014 | 01:56 PM - Posted by muchhash (not verified)

You are still quite off from what others are reporting. I am getting around 350kh/s stock with a 770 and over 390kh/s overclocked. You can't leave cudaminer settings on auto as it rarely finds the correct setting.

February 23, 2014 | 12:32 PM - Posted by arbiter

Could been the number at the time test's were done, like that cuda miner has been more optimized to get better numbers outta it since 770 was tested.

February 20, 2014 | 09:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For you to achieve the same desired hashing rate, it will cost more to build with GTX 750 TI OC; while consuming the same amount of electricity. (Comparing to undervolt r9 280x @750Kh/s @ 420 before tax and 475 after tax @ 13%)

February 20, 2014 | 09:43 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I like the fact that nvidia has made some effort to make their cards mine better. This new release looks good in a sense that it doesn't require big power supply cos' it uses less power. 6x 750 ti seems solid option now, I guess they are pretty quiet too, only problem is the room.

If you can achieve 294 mH/s with 640 cuda cores, we will probably way over 1000 mH/s with high end cards when they arrive. That is if hashrate scales well.

I have to point out that in this article you have unoptimized settings at least for 290/290x. My 290s(non-x) do 830(elpida) and 841(hynix) @ stock (using W7). I use settings from here http://tinyurl.com/pyu7elz except overclocks, these things squeal enough @ stock.

February 20, 2014 | 09:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Great write up!

February 20, 2014 | 09:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

That you would even validate that this is an issue by basing your article on the *coin world is ridiculous and destroys any respectability you might have had. Get back to real articles and leaves theses scams to others.

February 21, 2014 | 12:24 PM - Posted by El_Phantasmo (not verified)

Wow,

How could one writing about GPU hardware not acknowledge the influence of cryptocoin mining? Putting blinders on doesn't help you and it definitely wouldn't help PCPER. They're articles about mining performance just shows how progressive and open PCPER writers are about what's happening in computer hardware. Would you really want PCPER to suffer the consequences of not keeping up with changes in the market?

PCPER, do you think prices of AMD cards will drop now that nVidia offers something competitive for mining? Or will it really be inflated cards across all GPU hardware as people are predicting and commenting on here?

February 20, 2014 | 10:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yaaay! Now No one will offer good cards at a good price!
Fuck you all

February 20, 2014 | 10:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

lol Nvidia's already been milking the market since the day the 600 Series dropped. Only cards that were somewhat decent were the 660 and 680. Everything else got milked and has continued ever since.

I have that feeling we are in for some more rude pricing schemes with R-300 and 800 Series cards to follow.

March 5, 2014 | 06:24 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

YAY I don't need a new top of the line gaming gpu every 3 months fucktard!

February 21, 2014 | 02:29 AM - Posted by JohnGR (not verified)

I am waiting for your article about

"How selling more cards to miners it is bad for Nvidia".

February 21, 2014 | 01:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It made Ryan curse on the last podcast. It was a pleasant surprise to see the anger and frustration finally boil over. :D

February 21, 2014 | 04:43 AM - Posted by Mac (not verified)

So an OC'ed 750Ti has the same rated TDP as a stock one?
You might want to revisit those hash/watt numbers and maybe use actual values instead of stated ones

February 23, 2014 | 03:25 PM - Posted by arbiter

The value used was based on wall watts and if they say it was same tdp probably assumes that wall draw was same.

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