Does Crypto Mining Damage a GPU?
Before we can answer does crypto mining damage a GPU (graphics processing units or graphics cards), we’ll need to first answer what cryptocurrency mining is anyway. For a deeper dive, check out our guide to building your own DIY crypto mining rigs. However, we’ll just give a quick overview here.
Brief Overview of Crypto Mining
The mining process in crypto is the proof of work consensus mechanism’s way of ensuring people are on honest on the related network. Proof of work mean just that – literally solving difficult mathematical equations that only a powerful computer could calculate, to prove that the miner is financially invested in the quality of the network. Many times, crypto miners will join a mining pool for a better chance at solving the hash rate and reaping the financial rewards.
A few of the larger cryptocurrencies that use proof of work as the consensus mechanism are:
- Ethereum (in it’s current state)
Many times, the most powerful and most efficient piece of hardware for strenuous computational activity in a computer is the GPU, which is why it is chosen over the central processing unit (CPU) and CPU mining.
How Can Crypto Mining Damage a GPU?
As with most things, there is a short answer and a longer answer.
Short: The short list of possible reasons where crypto mining damage a GPU is due to excessive heat at maximum capacity, along with the sheer uptime and constant load at full power.
Longer: It’s not quite that simple. While it is true that graphic cards running at higher temperatures for a long time can be saddled with permanent damage, the good news is there is an effective method to mitigate much (if not all) these side effects – cooling! Also, a mining setup needs to be almost constantly running, which turns out to also be an overblown issue, even after long-term use.
Causes of Crypto Mining Damage to a GPU
Heat and Cooling
As you likely know, electronic components do not thrive in high temperatures. Due to this, cryptocurrency miners get a bad rap for ruining brand new graphics cards, jacking up the price for PC gamers and causing the ‘Great GPU Shortage‘ in the new and used GPU market. While there is definitely many truths to that statement (which we’ll talk about later), there are significant ways for GPU miners to prevent much heat problems and even get better performance by doing the following:
- Using smaller gauge wire to power limit the GPU
- Using a quality thermal paste with the new GPUs
- Having proper airflow over all components of the GPU
- Installing mining fans and auxiliary fans in their mining system
- Cranking up the fan speed to keep the underlying mechanical hardware cool
- Keeping a close eye on your GPU temperature
As you can tell, it is a good idea to abide by these safety features, keep a close eye on the temperature of your GPU, and have a very good cooling fan, as these tips can actually increase the life span of your GPU, proving that a used mining card can be a wise investment for not as much money.
Crypto Mining Uptime Compared to Gaming Power Swings
The other main concern with GPU crypto mining is that the constant uptime is seen as incredibly hard on all GPUs that are being asked to do the work. Then, once the cards are put out to pasture (out in the used GPU market), they are essentially worthless because of the difficult life they have had.
In reality, the hard evidence proves basically the opposite. Under regular use playing a AAA game, with particle effects and all the other bells and whistles turned up to 10, a gaming PC with modern GPUs with cutting-edge GDDR6x memory, can do a full swing from limited output to a full load many times over the course of a gaming session. If you think about it, GPU usage going from zero to a full GPU load and then back again is just a stress test for even the best graphics card.
With a proper power supply, having too much power sent to the the high-end components is really a non-factor. The real cause of physical damage is the power swings caused by long periods of gaming, greatly decreasing the average lifespan of GPUs over the long run. A used mining GPU has less strain on it’s mechanical parts, as the power fluctuations are almost nonexistent. And, card mining can be a profitable, safe endeavor for bitcoin miners and their similar counterparts.
Negatives of Crypto Mining with a GPU
A clear sign that at least something was off between the cryptocurrency market and PC gamers is the exorbitant prices that GPU mining caused for GPUs in the new and used market, as well as the stigma of the used cards being seen as junk. While used cards were being tossed aside after an extremely difficult life, new cards were being purchased by large mining pools that didn’t really care about the cost, as these companies would make their money back (and then some) with their new cards. This priced many gamers out of the GPU market for several years. As we have discussed, ‘does crypto mining damage a GPU’ is likely the wrong question, but maybe ‘does crypto mining damage gamers chance at reasonably priced graphics cards’ is far more accurate.
Gamers breathed a collective sigh of relief when the crypto bull market ended, as this brought new and used graphics card prices back down to a (relatively) sane level, also signaling the (possibly temporary) end of the pursuit of profit during the crypto gold rush.
Final Thoughts on Does Crypto Mining Damage A GPU
I am both a proponent of GPU crypto mining, as well as a PC gamer, so I was able to be quite unbiased in this research. From what I can tell, bitcoin mining damage and other cryptocurrency mining damage is minimal when compared to high-performance gaming on AAA games of today and tomorrow.
This is because GPU miners take precautions to protect their investment, as the investment is their livelihood. It turns out the normal life of a graphics card in a high-performance gaming PC is likely the hardest life it could have.