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A Quick Look at the SAPPHIRE Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition

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Manufacturer: Sapphire

Overview

There has been a lot of news lately about the release of Cryptocurrency-specific graphics cards from both NVIDIA and AMD add-in board partners. While we covered the currently cryptomining phenomenon in an earlier article, today we are taking a look at one of these cards geared towards miners.

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It's worth noting that I purchased this card myself from Newegg, and neither AMD or Sapphire are involved in this article. I saw this card pop up on Newegg a few days ago, and my curiosity got the best of me.

There has been a lot of speculation, and little official information from vendors about what these mining cards will actually entail.

From the outward appearance, it is virtually impossible to distinguish this "new" RX 470 from the previous Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470, besides the lack of additional display outputs beyond the DVI connection. Even the branding and labels on the card identify it as a Nitro+ RX 470.

In order to test the hashing rates of this GPU, we are using Claymore's Dual Miner Version 9.6 (mining Ethereum only) against a reference design RX 470, also from Sapphire.

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On the reference RX 470 out of the box, we hit rates of about 21.8 MH/s while mining Ethereum. 

Once we moved to the Sapphire mining card, we move up to at least 24 MH/s from the start.

Continue reading about the Sapphire Radeon RX 470 Mining Edition!

There's a lot of tuning of these cards that can be done to increase the mining rates and profitability ranging from undervolting to reduce power consumption, all the way to custom VBIOS options to increase the hash rate for a given algorithm. 

This is part of the reason why Sapphire is selling these GPUs in two different SKUs, calling out the use of Samsung memory versus other vendors. Memory vendor can make a huge difference when overclocking these cards for mining purposes, and when developing custom VBIOS. It's worth nothing that our reference RX 470 has Hynix memory, while the mining SKU we ordered has Samsung memory.

Given all of the variability in tuning these cards to increase the mining rate, I won't be getting much more into a performance comparison. From everything we've seen, it behaves as expected for an RX 470 GPU in terms of overclocking and VBIOS.

It's worth noting that the "new" RX 470 seemed to be more power efficient while achieving a higher hash rate. Average power consumption in the stock configurations showed the mining card using 8W less. Not exactly mind blowing power consumption reduction, but when the card is running 24/7, it can make a difference.

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Both cards could be undervolted by 20% without losing significant hash rate (less than 1 MH/s). When undervolted, these cards performed at roughly the same power levels.

Instead, I wanted to take a look at what other limitations might be found on this card as opposed to normal graphics cards. There has been a lot of speculation about things like display outputs (which we obviously can see this card has), and things like crossfire support with another RX 470.

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Using this mining card as the only GPU in an X299 system, it functioned exactly as expected. We ran into no additional limitations placed on this card. Additionally, with our reference RX 470 installed, we were able to enable Crossfire with no problems (in fact, the driver did it automatically when we booted with both cards installed.) A quick run of 3DMark verified that Crossfire was indeed working as expected.

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So that leaves us in an interesting position. When rumors of these "mining specific graphics cards" were first being discussed, people were talking about potential tweaks to make them appeal to miners, but not general gamers. It appears this really isn't the case. The only detriments with this Sapphire RX 470 are the fact that it only has one physical display connection (likely to cut costs in manufacturing for Sapphire), and the very limited 180-day warranty.

However, if you are looking for an RX 470 and you manage to come across one of these cards if you are only looking to use DVI (or HDMI with an adapter), then this card will function fine to you.

In fact, I would imagine these cards will be available in the near future as Ethereum mining gets more difficult and people become less interested in cryptomining again.


July 10, 2017 | 11:49 AM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

Shorter warranty, tiny power reduction, and tiny hash increase,
Reduced connections and most likely reduced resale...

Hrm, Yeah I'm not feeling ready to purchase a rig of these anytime soon.
Unless they 40% cheaper than a standard equivalent that is...

Glad you bought one Ken, and look forward to any other insights and reviews you have on this or mining in general, your articles are just so much better that your dad Ryans.

;)

July 10, 2017 | 12:14 PM - Posted by Clmentoz (not verified)

After the current mining craze dies down that one video output can still make this card useful for gaming compared to any Nvidia mining cards that have no video outputs. And this RX 470 and can be used as a secondary card in CF with a full gaming featured(full video outputs) RX 400/500 series SKU, in addition to being useable by itself for gaming/video uses.

The Miners that purchase these GPUs are also thinking about any used resale value for their mining cards after they are no longre needed for mining. So any mining card with at least some video output can have a larger resale potential compared to any of the Nvidia mining only SKUs without any video outputs that also may have no SLI ability.

July 10, 2017 | 12:59 PM - Posted by galaga

Please start a new category in the HW Leader Board.

I would like to piece together the optimized mining build.

thanks

July 10, 2017 | 01:12 PM - Posted by Adam Wood (not verified)

All I hear anymore is resale value. If you are considering resale then you're not a miner, you're just in it for the quick buck. Ether will become PoS long before it's unprofitable. I, however, will move gpus to other coins... when either profit tanks or PoS is implemented. Quick buck people will just give me a huge supply of cheap cards.

July 10, 2017 | 06:26 PM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

Resale is a metric that should be taken into consideration, as you pointed out, coins change, alogs change profit goes up and down.

It's beneficial to be able to recoup initial fiscal outlay and reinvest in different, faster, more memory, better at particular alog cards.

When we are talking about several hundred cards, brand A has 2% lower hash but can be sold after 6 months for an improved later card.
While brand b has better hash but after 6 months, you're left with a card sans warranty that has lost 80% of its purchase cost...well you do the math.

Don't know why "quick buck" seems to be trigger word for you, or length of time invested has relevance.

There are different reasons people mine - yes some want to support the network and be "miners" as you seem to indicate
Others want to earn some money. They are both valid.

July 10, 2017 | 07:12 PM - Posted by Whejas (not verified)

How was the moving performance when running both cards in Crossfire?

July 10, 2017 | 08:37 PM - Posted by Bubble buster (not verified)

Good luck with reselling, currently over 2.6 million cards mining ETH, and for altcoinz, good luck, network hash rating will be so high on them after ETH goes POS with a lower coin value means your paying to mine. Time to sell was month ago.

July 10, 2017 | 09:27 PM - Posted by Mark Adams (not verified)

I dont get it.... Build a rig with a $500 video card (plus everything else) to make $700 a year? What am i missing?

July 11, 2017 | 12:10 AM - Posted by Hakuren

Ken you're nuts. Buying mining card which will be useless in a month?

From (now) a purely hobbyist point of view (yeah I 'mine' on my main rig, but not ETH and nothing wholesale; will return to F@H soon), profitability went down by 50% (or more altcoin vary) in a space of 3 weeks. In a month "mining" cards will be just distant memory... hopefully taking "mining" motherboards with them.

Gone are the days of early BTC when it was only small group of people. Now everybody wants a piece of crypto-market.

July 11, 2017 | 01:24 AM - Posted by Annonnymoose (not verified)

They won't be useless, although they'll probably (hopefully) drop in price.
I'm pretty sure photo and video editing software can use a card for rendering acceleration even if it's not used as a display output source.
Also, there are plenty of other GPGPU uses for cards without display outputs, like F@H, machine learning and hash cracking.

July 11, 2017 | 02:10 PM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

That would serve the Coiners right, that we retaliate by buying 'their' Cards for Compute/SLIorCrossfire/F@H, etc.

But the Warranty is junk and the resale value reduced.

--

Remainder of this reply is applicable to other Comments and not a Flame to you.

Being one person making less than U$2K/yr is foolish unless you live in a country where that's a LOT of money (and even more so if you've devised a means to get free or cheap electricity).

If you could easily Mine 'something' (Cryptocurrency or real Minerals) and after buying equipment for a low cost the value of what you were mining went through the roof then it truly would be "easy money" - if there were really easy money the value of it would drop.

The only way the money comes "easy" is IF you can easily do something that is difficult for others to do and many others see a value in that AND are willing to give you lots of money.

If everyone got a months pay for walking around the block once a month then no one would do other work (like deliver food to the Supermarket and sell you the food) - so you'd have lots of valueless money and nothing to spend it on.

F@H, Machine Learning or Hash Cracking might be a better use, possibly more profitable but a beat on old Card with no Warranty needs to be sold at a low price - so yes not useless, as useful as the old Card that is unwanted.

Gotta move to Country X with a suitcase full of Cards and use Coat Hangers to connect to the Grid - now you'll be the rich (king) of the beggars.

I'd rather buy a two year old 'Gaming Card' from someone who tired of Gaming (surely said person went to School/Work for part of the day, and slept for some part of the day) as opposed to buying a limited Card that had been beaten for every penny it was worth.

July 11, 2017 | 10:02 AM - Posted by Particle (not verified)

I'm not sure what the hubub about being into mining for a quick buck is about. There isn't some sort of moral high position here by being into mining for the duration. The entire thing appears to be nothing but a race to waste power in the hopes of being early enough into the pyramid scheme to cash out at a profit.

July 11, 2017 | 10:54 AM - Posted by Anonymously Anonymous (not verified)

The hubub is very simple: easy money.

July 11, 2017 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Particle (not verified)

You missed the point I was making. It isn't "why are people mining" but rather "why is it being implied that being into mining only for a quick moment is somehow a morally inferior position to mining for the long term". It was a comment about some of the previous comments.

July 11, 2017 | 01:24 PM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

I gave up trying to explain any kind of nuance in comment sections.
But I applaud your attempt.

Hear's mine only for monkeys to read though as it's dumbed down.

It's like someone going to the casino and putting it all on black, then walking out with double.
Then everyone else complaining and saying, "you're not a real "gambler" you didn't spend years in the casino charting the odds, and eating the bad food. You are obviously inferior to us that build this place and frequent it every day - how dare you pop in and make money, begone you scallywag.

As for mining in general, meh it's all fine. There will be other coins, and some will take off - all you have to do is mine them directly and cold store x amount of each as they show up.

Then in your off times when you're not playing 4K Games at full settings or BlenderRendering with you amazing machine, you can mine with nicehhash for bitcoin payments - even if it's only pays for the electricity and nothing else - it's still practically anonymous easy buying of btc and usually works out cheaper than directly buying.

July 13, 2017 | 06:27 PM - Posted by Your Name (not verified)

Lower price for GPU for compute. I like it, even if I don't mine.

September 7, 2017 | 01:49 AM - Posted by Bryon (not verified)

Thanks for the article.

I ended up buying a number of the hynix version - I do see 21.8 stock as well.

Were you able to mod the bios on these? It seems the 'typical' steps don't work, a lot of confusion on the net.

Also, what did you use to undervolt?

Bryon

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