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  1. #1
    Member Kohta's Avatar
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    Bitcoin mining, Bad for your GPU?

    Let's set up a theoretical Bitcoin mining rig, which will also be used as a semi-primary gaming computer, Said theoretical machine does have a small bit of relativity to myself, but mostly i am curious too, so onto said build. (For those who don't know what bitcoin mining is, think: Folding@Home type stress on your GPU), We all know and are aware that heat is what creates the perfect environment for chip degradation, is this the same influence despite it being it's design?

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    [Crossfire]
    Radeon HD 5970 @ 735/1010 Stock voltage/stock cooler

    Now we have our system above, we do not overclock the GPU's, this load, without user defined or manual fan speeds puts you close to 85c in a 25c environment, these cypress chips are known for there amount of heat output so this is perfectly normal unless you're on water, but in this example we are sticking with the stock cooler and bumping the fan up to 60% to get around 66-70C max tamps under this stressful load.

    With temps considered and our set up displayed in full detail here, the question that i wonder about, Does the stress over a long period of time (say 1-2 years 24/7 on-time) degrade these chips, or rather, is there any proof or speculation about this anywhere?

    My Thoughts are: 1.It's hard to find a very good GPU that last's several years and can last even more. 2. It would be a shame to have invested $1000+ in video cards to basically be waring them out. 3. They are OEM with no warranty. 4. I do not have the money to replace these cards anytime soon.

    I'm interested to see what everyone thinks on this, feel free to leave any of your thoughts, speculations and facts. One of the reasons i am asking is because alot of threads on the bitcoin subject talk about there systems dying with-in several months of 24/7 bitcoin mining, apparently heat was never the issues, the cards just ended up dying from being used 24/7 with 50-70% fan speeds, general safe temperatures, mild to no overclocking.
    Last edited by Kohta; 08-27-11 at 07:20 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Mining won't damage your cards as long as your temperatures are OK. Keep a close eye on those VRM temperatures as well as they are known to overheat on the 5970s.

    If you're going to mine then you should overclock the GPUs and underclock the memory.
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  3. #3
    Member Kohta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMOKEU View Post
    Mining won't damage your cards as long as your temperatures are OK. Keep a close eye on those VRM temperatures as well as they are known to overheat on the 5970s.

    If you're going to mine then you should overclock the GPUs and underclock the memory.
    I really don't know how to underclock the memory on the 5970, i have no voltage control for the memory, i have strickly BIOS overclocked this card since utility's are few and far between, but at the moment, it is at stock because the stock cooler really can't handle anything above the stock voltage, 60% fan speed keeps me around 70C which is where i feel safe at, this is with IC Diamond on both cards they run within 1-2c of each other, GPU1 ~70c for both, GPU2 ~67c on both, the VRMS are at 82c on the one's that don't touch the vapor chamber, i go by those since they are the hottest, the rest are 50-65c.

    But yeah, i could turn the memory down on MSI Afterburner, but i cannot lower any voltages that way, and i use it as a gaming machine sometimes too, i'm open to any thoughts you have on under clocking if it actually won't draw as much power, but my understanding is it will draw the voltage for the memory anyway and pass it off as more heat if it's unused.
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  4. #4
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    Use Afterburner to increase the GPU voltage to 1.2V and see how far you can overclock the GPUs with that. Setup a custom fan profile as well and underclock the memory as far as it can go.
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  5. #5
    Member Kohta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMOKEU View Post
    Use Afterburner to increase the GPU voltage to 1.2V and see how far you can overclock the GPUs with that. Setup a custom fan profile as well and underclock the memory as far as it can go.
    Increase the voltage? i'm just trying to get the memory down at this point, with the VRM's are already close to 100C i don't think increasing anything is a solid idea.
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  6. #6
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    Keep the VRMs under 100c, as well as the cores, and you'll be fine.
    Don't forget to clean the dust out often, the more airflow the faster dust builds up.
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  7. #7
    Member Kohta's Avatar
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    Just from what i can tell, i dropped the memory to 505mhz (most MSI will allow me) and the only change i saw was VDDCI Current went from 14.6A to 9.2A
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  8. #8
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    I've had several cards, with good temps, mining for close to a year nearly 24/7 with no ill effects. Temps are the biggest thing.


    Unless you get very cheap power and already own the cards, you might want to re-evaluate the initial cost and the cost per month of electricity before diving in with an expensive setup.

    Who knows how high they'll go, but the recent times of topping out at ~$12 then having big auto-sales at MTGox/Tradehill and dropping to $7 and back up might be a sign that they will steady out around $10-12 over the near future, I don't think there will be another $30 burst since I would guess some people with 1,000's of coins probably have a big portion of them auto-sale at $20 or something close.

    Who knows though, when I started mining, not many of us thought that our coins worth $0.03 would be worth more than $1 someday
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  9. #9
    Member Kohta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tool_462 View Post
    I've had several cards, with good temps, mining for close to a year nearly 24/7 with no ill effects. Temps are the biggest thing.


    Unless you get very cheap power and already own the cards, you might want to re-evaluate the initial cost and the cost per month of electricity before diving in with an expensive setup.

    Who knows how high they'll go, but the recent times of topping out at ~$12 then having big auto-sales at MTGox/Tradehill and dropping to $7 and back up might be a sign that they will steady out around $10-12 over the near future, I don't think there will be another $30 burst since I would guess some people with 1,000's of coins probably have a big portion of them auto-sale at $20 or something close.

    Who knows though, when I started mining, not many of us thought that our coins worth $0.03 would be worth more than $1 someday
    Currently i am in a real good situation, my rig's were built and assembled with "old" funds with expecting 0$ returns mainly for gaming, my light bill is covered by a state program for low income families, or atleast up-to a certain amount, and so far it has covered it all (it's for people who were laid off and had to work for MUCH less money than before, [Like going from $75,000/year to $8000/year] also you must have dependents such as children) the cost of power in NC is 0.10 cent/Kwh, and because our daughter is 10 months old, she is a handful and our PC's are hardly touched GPU-wise.

    I'm not really looking to do it to "make" money per-say, it's not in my mind as a get-rich quick scheme, it's just something to do with what i have, i had hoped it would atleast pay for my daughter to have a computer of her own when she turns 5, or a laptop for my wife to do college on, maybe go out to a sit down restaurant once a month, just things we don't or wouldn't normally get to do, very simple things, i'm only turning about 0.9BTC/day on a good day, and i haven't even started signing up for places like tradehill or mt.gox, i know about all of the stuff, i'm just really busy [read: impatient] right now and i might trade them in some winter snowy day when i have time to sit down and figure out what is going on with it, for now i will just hang on to what i have earned.

    My largest worry is i haven't made enough yet to replace my GPU's, albiet i have only been doing it about 2 weeks, in the case that this mining kills them for one reason or another, i would like to be able to replace them, when i think of a GPU crunching number's i think of sand paper going over a silver polished surface, it eventually get's worn out to a point that it wouldn't be very valuable, or it's gone. I have one other 5970 (that makes 3 total) sitting in a box, but i don't have a motherboard, PSU, another rig or the money to get parts right now.

    but on a related note, some digging has suggested that leaving the voltage at 1.1v and dropping the memory to largely below what it is using causes the capacitors on the PCB to become overloaded and wear out since the energy they are drawing isn't being distributed in a decent amount of time to relieve the energy's "stress" on the capacitor they start to ware out and the regulators begin to show fluctuation in voltages, or as it's technically called "ripples". The ripples then start to degrade the hardware on a much larger scale with inconsistent voltages and errors occur, or artifacts in most cases which leads to a dying card, this type of thing happend's naturally but slowly (over the course of ~70,000 hours running 24/7 on most Manufacturing Stock Votlages), Overclocking and Underclocking tend to speed the process up, there are to many factors to pin-point times from any of resources i got this information from, but thats the jist of what i was able to find.
    Last edited by Kohta; 08-28-11 at 12:08 AM.
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  10. #10
    Member tool_462's Avatar
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    Cool, I just didn't want you to invest more than you could afford thinking it is a quick return on money like mining used to be. Seems that lots of the big PC hardware communities just took off on Bitcoin over the last couple months, but missed the "get rich quick" wave and I sadly see people dumping thousands into rigs on the Bitcoin forums not thinking how long it will take to "surely" pay off their credit cards, etc.

    I'm where you are at now though, I sold off nearly all my coins at $26 (I had just installed the MTGox app on my Android phone and I thought it was a bug when it went from $9 to $25 during a couple days of phone-service free fishing trip) and now I continue mining but I just use the coins to buy things (with coins, not converting to cash first) that I wouldn't normally be able to justify buying.

    This way I can indulge in my new-found audiophile addiction without the wife getting mad because nothing comes out of the checking account or goes on a credit card but I get cool packages in the mail!

    It is a cool concept for sure, and you should be able to buy your wife/daughter some hardware with straight coins, there are lots of places that will sell you stuff for coins or Newegg giftcards at better than the going rate (sometimes) for coins

    Good luck! Sorry I can't help with the electrical engineer side of the discussion.
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