With 1.7 now supporting comprehensive GPU acceleration, I've been testing and evaluating many different discrete and integrated GPUs in the process.
Many of you already have a capable discrete GPU in your system. However if you rely on your CPU's iGPU, or your GPU is quite old (e.g. released before ~2013, particularly from NVidia), or your GPU is a budget model (e.g. just a basic display adapter.), then you may wish to read on.
The crypto-mining boom saw the release of a number of cut-down GPUs, lacking display outputs. These were designed for maximum compute power at minimum power draw, in order to maximize crypto currency returns vs power bills.
With the mining craze having subsided, as well as with more capable (profitable) GPUs being released over time, these older GPUs are now effectively e-waste; they don't work as display adapters and, today, consume too much power vs crypto currency returns. However, these cards still provide very good compute performance at very low power draws.
This means that these cards are;
- Abdundant on sites like eBay and AliExpress (typically buying multiple will yield discounts too)
- Relatively powerful
- Fit in most systems without the need for a power supply upgrade
The card in question is a P106-090; (appearance may vary)
You will need an empty, full-size, PCie slot on your motherboard (e.g. this empty slot should look the same as the one your current display adapater - if any - resides in);
The card will require a 6-pin PCIe power connector. Most power supplies provide one, but if not (or you current display adapter has them all in use), then cheap 12V molex or SATA adapter cables exist to take power from that. My P106-090 came with a molex adapter already provided.
Pricing as of the time of this writing is ~$50 USD (e.g. roughly the price of a StarTools license ). I would probably not pay significantly more than that, unless other options in your area/country are limited. There are other models than the P106-090 that have better specs, however their price/performance is IMHO too high to be worth it. In most cases you are better off buying a "regular" used GPU, which can do display duties as well.
These cards have been used before. If you decide on procuring such an ex-mining card, you will be doing so at your own "risk" (I would estimate it reasonably a low risk, however, and my experience buying one through AliExpress has been good).
This card is essentially a cut-down Nvidia GTX 1060 3GB, though seeing compute performance more in the range of a GTX 1050 Ti. For a rough idea of where your current GPU solution ranks, you can have a look here. Please note that this a *very* rough estimate.
I hope this tip helps anyone. Any questions, feel free to ask!