Driver that promised faster Ethereum mining for Nvidia GPUs is full of viruses | GeekComparison

The EVGA RTX 3060, posed in front of a kind of high-tech honeycomb array.
enlarge The EVGA RTX 3060, posed in front of a kind of high-tech honeycomb array.

EVGA / Nvidia

Both Nvidia and AMD have made changes to their gaming GPU lineups in an effort to make them less attractive to cryptocurrency miners, including releasing mining-specific GPU models and making entry-level GPUs with specs that aren’t good enough for mining. One of the most significant changes came in mid-2021, when Nvidia released “Lite Hash Rate” (LHR) versions of its RTX 3000 series GPUs that halved their performance when mining Ethereum or similar coins, but had no impact on their gaming performance.

Cryptocurrency miners have since tried various ways to get around the LHR restrictions, including by using non-LHR drivers that Nvidia has leaked (oops!) rate cap. And earlier this week, a hacker named Sergey released an “Nvidia RTX LHR v2 Unlocker” that promised to remove the hash rate limits on most Nvidia cards using a combination of BIOS updates and specially modified drivers.

Surprised no one, the sketchy drivers with the performance promises that seemed too good to be true turned out to be full of viruses. An extensive report shows that the software package, among other things, modifies Windows Powershell policies, deletes and creates new files in system directories, and causes abnormally high CPU usage.

I won’t say there’s never a reason to install a custom driver on your computer — sometimes these drivers are the best way to get older hardware to work in newer versions of Windows. Other times, like with this well-known AMD driver package for Macs with Boot Camp, it’s the best way to get consistent driver updates with the latest fixes and performance improvements.

But you should use common sense when downloading and installing this type of software. If mysterious drivers from a previously unknown third party promise a solution to a problem that the entire cryptocurrency mining community has been unable to figure out, you probably shouldn’t install them.

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