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Experiences with Cryptocurrency Mining on Gaming Laptops

So I have started mining cryptocurrencies recently after hearing about the Bitcoin crash due to MtGox. It's not that I wanted to get rich off cryptocurrency--although that would be nice--or want to jump on the bandwagon. Afterall, I don't have the hardware resources to do it properly. But I want to understand cryptocurrency so that I can understand what everyone is talking about. Cryptocurrency mining requires super powerful graphics cards. I happen to have two gaming laptop with decent graphics cards (for gaming, not for mining). So I have given mining a try on them to see what mining on gaming laptops are like.

One of my gaming laptops is the Asus G74SX-BBK7. This laptop has a 2GHz i7-2630QM processor and a Nvidia 560M GPU with 128-bit memory bus. It runs Windows 7 Professional. The other is the Asus G46VW-BSI5N06. It has a 2.6GHz i5-3230M processor with a Nvidia 660M GPU. And it runs Windows 8.1. I have attempted to mine Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Zeitcoin with these two gaming laptops to see what it is like. I have used cudaminer to try mining with the GPU. I have also used cpuminer to try mining with the CPU.

On the G74SX, cudaminer runs at an average of 48 khash/s on a single GPU thread. On the other hand, cpuminer runs in eight threads, each processes at 3.75 khash/s for a total of 30 khash/s. In fact, it's possible to run both cudaminer and cpuminer at the same time on this computer without any apparent detriment to either miner. That would produce a total of 78 khash/2.

I had hoped that by offloading the mining activity to the GPU entirely would free up the CPU for regular use, like surfing the Internet, edit documents, etc. But when I ran cudaminer alone, I can do work, but the operating system is quite sluggish. You can watch the window fade in and fade out slowly while opening and closing windows. I wasn't anticipating such sluggishness when the work is offloaded to the GPU. I can hear the fan turn on full time, but the noise is quiet on this laptop. With both cudaminer and cpuminer running, the fans turn even louder. Strangely, with both cudaminer and cpuminer running at the same time, the computer seems a little more responsive to user interaction than with cudaminer running alone.

On the G46VW, cudaminer runs at an average of 78 khash/s on a single GPU thread, almost twice as fast as the G74SX. On the other hand, cpuminer runs in four threads, each processes at 3.6 khash/s for a total of 14.4 khash/s. It is possible to run both cudaminer and cpuminer at the same time. That produce 92.4 khash/s.

Surprisingly, when only the cudaminer is running, offloading the mining to the GPU, I can use this laptop as if it is not mining at all. All operations are very responsive. There is no lag or sluggishness. It makes me wonder if the Nvidia 660M is better designed than the Nvidia 560M. Or if it is Windows 8.1 vs. Windows 7 that makes the difference. Much like the G74SX, the GPU fan turns on when cudaminer runs on the G46VW. And the CPU fan turns on when cpuminer executes.

What's even more interesting is that if I use the laptop (browse the Internet, etc.) with both cudaminer and cpuminer running at the same time, the computer is not only responsive, cpuminer actually runs faster! That's right, cpuminer jumps up to 5 khash/s per thread. That's 20 khash/s total on the CPU. In turn, that produces 98 khash/s altogether with the GPU.

At this time, I am very interested to upgrade my Asus G74SX to Windows 8 to determine whether it is a OS limitation or a hardware limitation. If Windows 8 could make my G74SX that responsive, I would be in ecstasy.

Sun, 02 Mar 2014 23:59:07 +0300

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