With the recent collapse of the cryptocurrency market due to instability and Ethereum’s move to proof-of-stake (in simple terms, this just means they no longer need to use GPUs to mine), cryptocurrency miners are once again selling their prized GPUs, some at really low prices.
No doubt the question will come to mind when there’s an irresistible pre-owned RTX 3080 deal you’ve been craving: “Is it safe to buy a mining GPU?”
To keep the answer short, yes.
Yes, it’s no different than buying a used GPU that has been used for gaming or a workstation.
Which means the things to look out for are the same things you would need to look out for when buying a used GPU anyway.
On the surface, the wear and tear of mining GPUs is no different than a GPU used for “normal” purposes like gaming.
Some might even argue that mining isn’t even as intense as heavy workloads like rendering 3D objects and intensive algorithmic coding.
In fact, GPUs used for mining are not running at full power all the time and are running at the lowest power consumption.
Miners will typically underclock and undervolt these cards so they don’t draw a lot of power.
Remember miners are trying to make money. The more energy the cards consume, the higher the miner spends.
Mining also uses the memory on the GPU much more than the GPU itself.
For the gamer or developer, the VRAM is only used to store textures and files needed for the application they are using. Even under the most stressful mining conditions, VRAM wear and tear will never affect basic functionality for gaming and everyday use.
You can be sure that there is no difference in functionality when comparing a used mining GPU to a GPU that was used exclusively for gaming.
But like I mentioned before, the things you would need to look out for are the things you would need to look out for when buying a used GPU anyway.
If you’re buying a used GPU, it’s up to you whether you want to get one that’s still under warranty. In general, of course, it’s safer to get one under warranty in case something goes wrong.
Most RTX 30-series and Radeon 60-series GPUs should have at least a year or two of warranty left at this point, unless purchased overseas.
When buying a used GPU, make sure the warranty sticker on the GPU is still intact if you live in Southeast Asia.
Most dealers will refuse a warranty replacement or repair if the sticker has been tampered with.
Don’t worry about external blemishes
With use, every product will show some wear and tear over time.
The main components of the GPU are mostly located under a thick heatsink. The only way to get to them is to disassemble the GPU.
As long as this isn’t tampered with, physical blemishes on GPU heatsinks can usually be ignored, especially parts that are slightly oxidized. It doesn’t affect the functionality of the GPU at all.
Unless the heatsink fins or fans are badly damaged, the GPU should be fine. However, if you find a dusty GPU, use a vacuum or blower to clean it before inserting it into your PC.
Dealing with hot thermals
If for some reason you are experiencing high temperatures on your used GPU, you may need to replace your graphics card’s thermal paste and thermal pads.
You need to remove the GPU heatsink and check if the thermal paste has dried out and if the thermal pads are still in contact with the GPU’s components.
To learn more about how to do this, you can watch this video:
All in all, there are absolutely no major downsides to buying a GPU that has been used for mining.
Just make sure you do your due diligence to research a few things when buying a used GPU – the warranty period, the useful life, and all sorts of quirks that are present in the used GPU.
Dominic loves technology and games. When he’s not busy headshotting himself in VALORANT or watering anything he sees, he’s doing some pro wrestling.
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