The release of NVIDIA’s LHR technology has many speculating how it compares to its FHR predecessor.
Does it only affect mining performance as stated by NVIDIA, or will we see changes in gaming performance and productivity?
In the following article, we will compare the LHR vs FHR GPU debate and determine their key differences.
Cryptocurrencies are produced by a process called mining. In essence, mining involves your computer's graphics card (GPU) solving a math problem on the blockchain system.
Whoever verifies a transaction first by deciphering the math problem will be rewarded with a mined coin, such as Ethereum or Dogecoin.
Graphics cards are ideal for mining because they need to calculate math equations in video games, and therefore, high demand for these cards has developed over time.
How does this correlate to NVIDIA LHR graphics cards? Well, in late May 2021, NVIDIA released an update to their future cards called “Lite Hash Rate” (LHR) technology.
“Hash rate” impacts the speed at which a GPU can mine cryptocurrencies and how much power is consumed during the process.
Therefore, the new firmware would allow NVIDIA LHR graphics cards to detect when they were being used for mining and would then halve the "hash rate."
The result would then be graphics cards that were less desirable for miners but would not affect gamers, who are the intended market.
With the mining demand dropping for LHR graphics cards, gamers would now have the opportunity to buy their GPUs without a waiting period and at a fair retail value.
Related: What Is The Lifespan Of A GPU?
Pros & Cons
What Exactly Is an FHR GPU?
An FHR GPU is defined as a “Full Hash Rate” graphics card. For most gamers, the GPU will be identical to the LHR version, but for miners, not so much.
FHR GPUs allow coins to be mined at their full potential and are therefore highly sought after.
The original NVIDIA RTX 3060 Ti Founders Edition had a hash rate of 60 MH/s while mining, whereas the updated LHR version now drops to 30 MH/s.
How do I know if I have an FHR GPU? Well, if you bought your graphics card before the May 2021 update, you won’t have to worry.
With that said, the LHR technology has been implemented with the following GPUs going forward:
As mentioned above, the Founders Edition of the RTX 3060 Ti will remain FHR, in addition to the Founders Edition 3070; 3080; and 3090 cards.
If you're still unsure whether your GPU is an FHR model, you can always check the original packaging, which should display "LHR" or "Lite Hash Rate."
Finally, AMD's Radeon graphics cards have not yet been updated with a limiting software, so current Radeon owners can regard any GPU as having a full hash rate.
The LHR vs FHR debate, therefore, strictly applies to NVIDIA.
Pros & Cons
LHR Vs FHR GPU: How Do They Differ?
NVIDIA has made it clear that the LHR technology should not affect gaming performance.
Both CPU and RAM affect the FPS and gaming performance but not as much as the GPU does.
As long as you’re not mining crypto while playing your favorite game, your FPS (frames per second) should be on par with an FHR GPU variation.
In fact, you could probably expect better performance if you’ve been prone to hackers in the past.
Those of us who install indie games from unofficial platforms know the bane of undetected mining software attached to the download file.
With the LHR technology, these malicious files will think twice before hiding inside your PC.
Below we have accumulated a few benchmarks to directly compare the gaming performance of an LHR GPU vs FHR GPU.
The games were played on an RTX 3060 (LHR and FHR), an Intel i7 10700K @4.7GHz, and 16GB of RAM @3600Mhz.
The results show the average FPS of the videogame at high or ultra settings.
RTX 3060 LHR (Average FPS)
RTX 3060 FHR (Average FPS)
Red Dead Redemption 2
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Mafia Definite Edition
Horizon Zero Dawn
Forza Horizon 4
Energy Consumption and Electricity
If you're thinking about mining crypto, then the long-term cost of electricity should be a vital consideration.
Your computer components, and more specifically, your GPU, will add to your electricity bill, in addition to your carbon footprint.
Therefore, having a GPU with a fast hash rate speed is essential to decrease the time it takes to mine cryptocurrencies.
An FHR GPU will save you money, as the hash rate operates at full capacity.
The LHR GPU, on the other hand, will take twice as long to mine the same amount of crypto and will also consume double the power.
This factor alone will make an LHR GPU less appealing to miners; however, it shouldn't affect gamers or regular users.
If you plan to edit videos, play games, or render projects, the electricity bill and power consumption will remain the same, whether you're using LHR or FHR.
Additionally, these kinds of tasks will not stress your GPU to its fullest potential 24/7, so the long-term cost of electricity won't be as bad.
In other words, unless you're mining, you should be fine with either graphics card.
Price and Resale Value
One of the main driving forces behind the LHR technology was to get NVIDIA GPUs back in the hands of regular gamers.
As the crypto mining industry grew, we saw GPU prices skyrocket as there was a shortfall of cards for the average consumer.
Crypto miners would use bot accounts to buy GPUs in large quantities and therefore left online stores ‘out of stock’ before you could hit the refresh button.
Now that NVIDIA has tried to manage the market a bit better, there has been a change in how we can view resale value and retail price.
If you're an average Joe looking for a secondhand GPU, then an LHR GPU will be much more appealing.
Chances are, the card hasn't been used for mining and may give you some good years at a great price.
Alternatively, the seller may want to charge more because they can guarantee the GPU hasn't been misused.
FHR cards, especially NVIDIA Founders Edition models, have also seen a rise in price. Scanning through eBay, you might see a few at nearly double their retail price.
This is because their hash rate has not been limited, and they're extremely valuable for miners, as mentioned above.
If you're a secondhand buyer, you should therefore proceed with caution.
Most stores are not willing to honor a GPU warranty if the card has been used for mining; however, that is the risk you take when buying a secondhand GPU.
As we see an increase in LHR GPU production, we can only hope that the mining demand for graphics cards decreases.
A higher supply and a lower demand should balance the market and keep GPUs at their recommended retail price.
Software updates and Bypassing LHR
NVIDIA GPUs require the official GeForce drivers to function at their best possible performance.
Every few weeks, NVIDIA will release a new driver (software update) for their cards that promises fixes and optimization for new games and current issues.
So whether you're using an LHR or FHR GPU, both components will use the same software version and yield the same updated results.
For gamers, NVIDIA GeForce drivers are the only software they need to worry about, but for miners, there's a workaround concerning the new LHR technology.
Recently, a new software called MBMiner unlocked an additional 20% off LHR cards for mining, pushing the hash rate to 70% for coins like Ethereum.
We saw this go even further with NiceHash QuickMiner, which unlocked the full 100% hash rate specifically for Ethereum.
Again, this software won't unlock the full mining hash rate for all coins, but they are causing havoc with NVIDIA's efforts.
We wouldn't say that NVIDIA's LHR technology is now irrelevant because it still means miners will have to go the extra mile to unlock LHR cards.
However, sooner or later, LHR cards will be no different from FHR cards if mining software updates keep improving.
This should raise the question for everyone is thinking, how long will it take before LHR is bypassed entirely?
For Laptops and Desktops
Desktops are not the only computers that can house GPUs, as we have seen the laptop industry increase in popularity.
For that reason, manufacturers are trying to get the most powerful components inside laptops to compete directly with desktops.
Today you can probably find a gaming laptop with an NVIDIA RTX 3080 GPU and workhorse CPU to match.
However, with NVIDIA’s announcement of LHR, does the same update apply to laptops?
Currently, most performance laptops do not include the LHR technology and instead operate as FHR GPUs.
That said, this does not mean laptops are necessarily as powerful as desktops or alternatives for miners.
Laptops don’t need LHR in the first place because the GPU is already limited on its TDP (Thermal Design Power) from the start.
Since laptops are all-in-one computers, their cooling systems will not be as advanced as their desktop cousins, so performance will be reduced to a certain extent.
You may have the same GPU and CPU components by name, but it doesn't mean you have the same performance.
Laptops, therefore, operate with an FHR GPU, but miners, and potentially gamers and content creators, will not receive the most optimal results.
On that account, we could go as far as to say that LHR GPUs are actually better than laptop FHR GPUs.
Frequently Asked LHR Versus FHR GPU Questions
Can you mine Bitcoin on an FHR GPU?
No, an FHR GPU is not a good option to mine Bitcoin. This is because the difficulty is too high, and the hash rate is too low.
Even at 100% efficiency, a single NVIDIA RTX 3080 would take years to mine a coin. The cost of electricity and running your PC 24/7 would far outweigh any profit or income.
How much is an LHR GPU compared to an FHR GPU?
LHR and FHR GPUs retail at the same price. However, hash rate and supply and demand will fluctuate the cost of secondhand cards.
Additionally, while NVIDIA may suggest pricing, resellers tend to increase prices anywhere between 10% to 50%.
With that said, whether you’re looking at LHR or FHR, day-one release GPUs will come at an inflated price.
Does LHR apply to all future NVIDIA GPU releases?
With the creation of MBMiner and QuickMiner, the future of LHR remains unclear. NVIDIA will have to figure out how they can properly implement the software.
Although hackers can now bypass LHR entirely for certain coins, NVIDIA stands firm in its goal of getting gamers’ GPUs at better prices.
Time will tell if the next generations of GPUs show improvement.
Does the NVIDIA RTX 3090 have LHR?
No, unlike the rest of the newer cards, NVIDIA has kept the hash rate on its premium GPU unlocked.
The RTX 3090 isn't necessarily geared towards gamers anyway, as the 24GB of VRAM is a favorite for creators.
At a retail price of just over $2,000, NVIDIA expects the GPU to not be as sought after by the general public.
LHR GPUs reduce their performance when it detects you’re mining Ethereum or similar coins.
Therefore, if you’re a gamer, working professional, or general user, you will likely see no difference between LHR and FHR GPUs.
As the crypto mining demand drops for NVIDIA cards, we can hope that prices stabilize and gamers get access to more GPUs on release day.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.