First Impressions from the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G GPU Built for Crypto Mining
Gigabyte NP106D5-6G is a variation of the Nvidia GP106-100 GPU targeted at miners and based off the consumer GeForce GTX 1060. Originally Nvidia had plans to sell these only to large miners, but apparently big partners such as Asus and now Gigabyte among others also want to sell these to small miners as well, so we actually managed to buy one Gigabyte NP106D5-6G from the retail channel at a price that is slightly lower than that of the regular Gigabyte N1060WF2OC-6GD that it is probably based on.
The Gigabyte NP106D5-6G comes in an anti static plastic bag, no box or any accessories. It has a GPU core running at 1506 MHz Base Clock and 1708 MHz Boost Clock and comes equipped with 6 GB GDDR5 video memory running at 8008 MHz. Just like a regular GTX 1060 GPU, though there are some important differences to note. The mining card from Gigabyte does not come with any mounting plate and that can be a bit of an issue for mounting, even though there are no video output connectors available… ASUS for example has it on their version.
The PCB of the mining card is pretty small and there is no backplate like on the consumer variation of the GTX 1060 from Gigabyte. It is normal, the idea of these cards is to make them cheaper and that needs some cost cutting, though you should still be careful where you cut from and not compromise on important things for miners. There are not warranty stickers on the screws at the back, but who would worry about that when you get the mining card with just three months of warranty instead of the regular 2 or 3 years (depending on the region).
The mining card NP106D5-6G is equipped with a single 6-pin PCI-E power connector for external power, the default TDP is 120W. This means that you shoud not be having much trouble with finding a suitable power supply for connecting 6, 8 or even more of these in a single GPU mining rig.
A quick look at the cooling solution of the NP106D5-6G. There is a small separate aluminium radiator on top of the voltage regulators that are locate on the left side of the PCB. The big aluminium cooling radiator uses a single copper heatpipe that goes through the GPU and memory chips as well – they are both in contact with the cooler. The heatpipe is in direct contact with the GPU and the big surface of the cooler does a pretty good job in keeping things cool.
Here is how the PCB looks like, the GPU is labeled GP106-100-A1 and the video memory is GDDR5 from Samsung. The video memory is really important here as this is a mining oriented video card and you need good chips that can handle overclocking for improved performance and the Samsung ones manage to do quite well in that department.
The final thing we need to note about the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G, a really important thing is about the cooling fans of the card. Gigabyte is popular with their pretty good in terms of cooling capacity and silently operating Windforce fans and it is no surprise that we also find them on this board as well. These fans however are not good for crypto mining and we do not like how they handle 24/7 operation under high temperatures, so we are not big fans of these fans.
The fans are 92mm ones made by Power Logic and are model PLD09210S12HH (12V, 0.40A) and they use bushings instead of bearings (single or dual). These are cheap fans that may start failing withing a few weeks of mining, we have seen that with other Gigabyte cards using the same cooling fans. We don’t mind as much that you get these with just 3 months warranty, but at least when you are making a GPU for mining use more reliable fans that will last longer (like ASUS does on their version of the P106).
All in all we can say that we are not too happy with how Gigabyte approached the situation with their NP106D5-6G mining GPU. They just removed stuff from their consumer GeForce GTX 1060 model and did not address the specific needs and requirements of miners at all. The lack of mounting bracket and the cheap crappy fans in terms of reliability and durability are not Ok. That fact, coupled with the just 3 months warranty, no resell value apart from mining use and just 10% lower price compared to the regular consumer GTX 1060 model does not really help in making this an attractive alternative to smaller home miners.
In the next post we are going to be sharing more details about the actual use of the Gigabyte NP106D5-6G for mining as well as what kind of performance results you can expect from it, so stay tuned…