It is possible to repurpose one of Nvidia’s dedicated crypto mining GPUs into a gaming graphics card, but you really shouldn’t, as the adventures of an intrepid modder clearly illustrate.
That MSI mining graphics card is powered by a TU102 chip. This is the same engine found in the RTX 2080 Ti, so it’s a repurposed gaming chip, albeit a different variant of TU102 (with somewhat fewer CUDA cores). But in theory, this CMP 50HX can be turned into a gaming GPU with some clever chicanery.
The hope being it’s not too far off the highly-rated RTX 2080 Ti, but the reality, as we’ll see, is very different…
So, let’s list the problems here. Firstly, the crypto mining card does not have an output for a monitor (mining doesn’t need one, and dispensing with it cuts costs). Given that, it needs to be hooked up to a system with integrated graphics (that can pipe out to a display) and used as a secondary GPU.
On top of this hardware consideration, the CMP 50HX is equipped with a blower-style cooler (which is less than ideal).
The other big problem is with the graphics drivers, as the repurposed GPU is not recognized by Nvidia’s GeForce driver (seeing as the product doesn’t exist, officially). The YouTuber needed to tinker with modified driver binaries in order to get the GPU to work, not something that’s easy to do (Sfdx Show observes it was a real ‘pain’ going by Google’s translation of the Spanish clip).
Eventually, Sfdx Show got the mining GPU working as a converted GeForce model, but the results were disappointing – it was not, as hoped, an RTX 2080 equivalent.
This was down to the CMP 50HX being restricted to 4 PCIe lanes, and the modder couldn’t get around this, even checking (by soldering in missing bits) that the GPU chip doesn’t have these lanes enabled (even though they are present on the card itself).
Analysis: Highly impractical but nonetheless interesting
In the end, given the outlay to buy a second-hand mining GPU, and complexity of tinkering with drivers (though another third-party has made the process easier, we’re told) plus the other mentioned caveats, this is not a sensible route to get a cheap graphics card.
You might as well just fork out for a second-hand GeForce GPU, especially considering that used mining graphics cards may be on their last legs with many, many miles on the clock.
The YouTuber paid about €160 to get the CMP 50HX from AliExpress which translates to around $170 / £140 / AU$270. For that money in the US, for example, on eBay you can pick up an RTX 2070 (if we’re looking at the Nvidia side of the equation) for not that much more than $200, without any of the hassles, multiple caveats, and doubtless far fewer miles on the clock as mentioned.
Still, even though it’s an impractical experiment in this case, the repurposing of a mining graphics card is certainly interesting to watch.
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