Overclocking NVidia GPU 980 GTX to Increase Hash Rate While Mining ETH

After learning about crypto-currency mining, setting up my first Geth account, mining for Ether and joining a mining pool, I was using my MSI GeForce 980 GTX 4G and getting between 18-19 MH/s on Genoil (1.1.7) Ethminer (0.9.41). Which is alright considering it's an older card now compared to the 10 series from Nvidia, but what happens when we squeeze a little more juice from the GPU?

Overclocking 980 GTX MSI Gaming 4G
Update: March, 2018: After re-testing this GPU presently the methodology still works for overclocking, but you're absolutely going to see lower hash rates today out of these 980's then you did before the DAG increase, it's the reality of a 4GB card today. Even 1070's w/ 8GBs have seen a minor decrease relative to before, in the good old days of e-z mining rewards.
Ethminer at 19 MH/s hash rate
Ethminer at 19 MH/s hash rate
Overclocking the 980 GTX to increase the hash rate while mining.

The first step in Overclocking any hardware is to learn about the standard settings first. Let's go over a few of the basics and the stock parameters.
  • Software while overclocking: Some people use MSI Afterburner, I wasn't fond of it so I used GPUz to read data on the sensors and speeds, while using NVinspector to tweak the card (version # from Guru3d).
  • Stock speeds, temperatures and voltages: The GPU core runs stock around 1200 MHz at 1.05-1.125 Volts and hovers around 65 degrees C. The GPU memory runs around 7000 MHz (full, often reported at half speeds because it's "double data rate" memory, so the actual clock is 3500 MHz.
  • P-States: The P State (Power State) the card operates at while under heavy load while gaming will be P0, but while mining, it stays stuck in P2.
  • Power consumption: Around 90% TDP of 178 Watts.
  • Driver versions: The latest nVidia drivers had me stuck at 5 MH/s, while downgrading to driver version 347.52 allowed the card to push 18 MH/s while mining.
  • Stock performance hash rate: 18  - 19 MH/s.
At first I tried to overclock using MSI Afterburner, but I quickly realized that it wasn't really working. Afterburner would say it was overclocked, but as soon as I started up ethminer, the clocks would down clock to lower than stock values. For example: I'd set the GPU core to 1300 MHz and the Memory speed to 3800 MHz, (which is what I had seen some other people work with) fire up ethminer and almost as soon as it started building the DAG file it would downgrade the clock speed to 1190 MHz core and 3000 MHz on the memory.

While reading up on how others had success with their overclocks, I tried to do the NVsmi thing through command line where you force the clock speeds, but that didn't work either, it would return results of N/A, meaning it couldn't read the speed nor set the speed. Next I tried using NVInspector, which allowed me to change settings per P-State, this was the key, we need to be able to control the speeds and voltages for P2, rather than trying to force the card to mine in P0, it's much easier to modify the P2 state. Some people have reported that you can also go into NVidia control panel and per application choose the setting "force compute" to force it into P0 while mining, but this only works on Maxwell series cards, not the newer Pascal series.

In any case, after testing, watching voltages, and bench-marking the performance results, I settled my 980 GTX at the follow specs, which allowed me to achieve 21 MH/s consistently all day and all night long.
Overclocked GPU ETH Mining 20-21 MH/s Hash Rate
Overclocked GPU ETH Mining 20-21 MH/s Hash Rate
P0 Settings:
  • Base Clock Offset: + 250 MHz
  • Memory Clock Offset: + 350 MHz
  • Power and Temperature Target: 115%
  • Prioritize Temperature: 79 C
  • Over Voltage: +25.0 mV
GPU Overclocking settings P0
GPU Overclocking settings P0
P2 Settings:

  • GPU Clock: 540 MHz
  • Memory Clock: 3854 MHz
GPU Overclocking Settings for mining in P2
GPU Overclocking Settings for mining in P2
Performance Results while mining:
  • GPU Core Speed: 1617 MHz
  • Memory Speed: 7600 MHz (3802 MHz)
  • Voltage: 1.231 Volts
  • Temperature: 65 C
  • Power consumption: 90% TDP of 178 Watts.
The Next Steps: Take a Look at What Happens When You Finally Accumulate Enough ETH Balance in Your Mining Pool Account to Receive Your First Payout, and how to send the payout to your wallet.

When it comes to the 980 GTX, getting 21 MH/s out of this old card is pretty incredible, especially considering that you can crank the memory well above 7500MHz and remain cool and stable. The only weird thing I noticed while testing this, is that unlike the newer Pascal or other video cards, seemingly the GPU core clock speed does have an impact on performance. It's almost like you need push both the core and the memory in order to achieve the best results for the 980 GTX.

Ether Mining Hash Rate on Pool 21 MH/s
Ether Mining Hash Rate on Pool 20-21 MH/s


Anonymous said…
When you accumulate enough ETH in your ethermine pool account, it automatically sends it to your wallet address...
Art Gen said…
Yes, I've seen that now. :) Also, you can set the payout to as low as 0.05, but I think it might be better to keep it a little higher, saves on fees no?
RitaHase said…
Hello! Can the overlock suggestions also be adopted for mining by ETC?
99875Chad52545 said…