Recently, it has been quite difficult to access or even buy video cards (GPUs). Video cards, especially those used for cryptocurrency mining, even at unreasonably high prices, this is not always easy. But we finally managed to get a graphics processor based on Nvidia P104-100 from ASUS and play a little with this video card.
The new P104-100 is certainly slightly different from Nvidia for the mining GPU compared to the previous version of the P106-100, which was not much different from the consumer GTX 1060. The new P106-100 is essentially a GPU that is located inside the GTX 1070, but with another memory configuration, so in fact it’s not a rebranding of the GTX 1070 with a limited warranty and no video outputs.
You get 4 GB of GDDR5X video memory, which is obviously optimized for mining with a 256-bit memory bus, and finally, something was done correctly on mining GPUs, so you can get better performance in memory-dependent algorithms. Of course, Nvidia partners, such as ASUS, can play a little with the boards, and sometimes they do the rest right, sometimes not.
We still have the impression that when it comes to GPU mining, manufacturers still want to cut costs and often do it wrong, confusing things that they shouldn’t. As a rule, for ASUS we see a warranty sticker on one of the main screws securing the cooler for the GPU, but be calm, the board has only 3 months of warranty, so after that you can freely remove it and clean the cooling solution, change the heat system. grease or do whatever you want with it.
The ASUS Mining P104 4G uses one 8-pin PCI-E power connector, which should be more than enough for the standard 180 W TDP for the P104-100. At first glance, the cooler looks pretty good, but with two fans that are similar to those that ASUS uses in its STRIX series, the operating temperatures should be good for mining. However, if you look closely, everything starts to disappoint, because it seems that ASUS decided not to cool the memory chips properly (there is no direct contact with the cooler). Inadequate cooling of the video memory is, of course, a minus, because the chips heat up pretty much at the standard frequencies, and they can be pretty well dispersed, but then they get even hotter. As a result of this, you may not be able to get the maximum performance you could get from a specific version of P104-100.
Looking at the backplane of the GPU, we see that there are no video outputs available, but a closer inspection of the printed circuit board actually shows the presence of two connectors. Surprise, surprise … when you remove the back panel, you see that the board actually has one HDMI and one DP video output on the board, they are simply covered by the backplane. Well done by ASUS, you could just open the two holes on the backplane and use them anyway, but probably since the idea of GPU mining is that they are used only for mining, they decided to close them.
Remember that we already mentioned that the cooling fans of the ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU are very similar to those found in the ASUS STRIX GPUs for gamers, and they are the same inside. This means that fans use bushings instead of ball bearings, and this, in our opinion, is useless for a specialized mining GPU! Metal bushings are cheaper, but they do not cope with dust and heat as well as ball bearings, and in most production scenarios their useful life is much shorter than a good ball bearing fan can provide. I think manufacturers just do not care what happens to the fans after the 3-month warranty that you will receive, and most likely the fans will not fail after only 3, but we saw problems starting to appear with these ASUS fans in 4-6 months of use for mining.
Features ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU
The last GPU-Z, unfortunately, does not recognize all the characteristics of the P104-100 GPU, it mixes the specifications with the GTX 1080 Ti. The ASUS Mining P104 4G comes with a GPU that has 1920 CUDA cores with a clock frequency of 1607 MHz, uses 4 GB of GDDR5X video memory with a clock frequency of 10010 MHz and a default TDP of 180 watts. It is important to note here that the P104 -100 runs on x4 PCI-E 1.1, so usability for purposes other than mining may be limited in terms of performance. The key point here is video memory, which is apparently optimized for mining and gives surprisingly good results when it comes to memory intensive algorithms such as Etash, for example, Ethash, but more on that later.
Hashrate ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU
Below we will briefly review what performance in terms of hashing speed can be expected from the ASUS Mining P104 4G graphics processor at standard frequencies, test results with the latest NiceHash Legacy miner, covering most of the most popular algorithms at the moment. For algorithms that use GPUs intensively, you can expect that you will get performance similar to that of the GTX 1070, the main advantage of the P104-100 is the Ethash algorithm. The default performance that you can expect from Ethereum mining or other Ethash-based coins is around 33 MH in stock settings, but if you start playing with the clock, you can get up to 40 MH.
If you select +800 for video memory and voila – you will get a little over 40 MHS on Ethereum using the Claymore ETH dual miner, but here there is a problem with overheating video memory. As already mentioned, memory chips do not have direct contact with the cooler, so they rely on cooling only due to the air coming from the fans, and they get very hot. Therefore, working at +800 MHz is a problem for a longer time (they can become even more stable with good cooling), so you need to dial back around +650 MHz to have stability, and you will get a little more than 39 MHz, which is still very well. Especially for mining Ethereum or anything else that uses Ethash, you can reduce the power limit and even the GPU clock speed so that you can reduce power consumption to 135 watts without losing performance.
As a result, we get mixed feelings from the ASUS Mining P104 4G GPU, it works well, but with some minor improvements it can become a much more interesting product. We would like to see two ball-bearing fans and a cooler that also cools the memory chips to make the card more durable and reliable in the long term, since mining does not last only 3 months. In terms of performance, the P104-100 only works well in Ethereum or other Ethash coins, especially when you overclock video memory. The results of other more intensive algorithms on the GPU are not so interesting, in particular, since the GPU itself is the same as on the GTX 1070, and the performance is almost the same. Another not-so-good thing nowadays is limited availability even for P104-100 mining GPUs, and if you manage to find them somewhere, their prices are also higher than usual, as is the case with regular GeForce Nvidia gaming GPUs for now.