GPU miners trickery: Watch out for painted memory on used graphics cards

Daniel Sims

Posts: 756   +29
Staff
PSA: Discolored memory chips are a common sign indicating heavily used graphics cards, possibly former mining cards. Recent evidence suggests some resellers are trying to deceive customers by painting over the memory. The paint comes off relatively easily for those inspecting the used GPUs.

Two Brazilian YouTube channels have uncovered signs that crypto miners are trying to sell used graphics cards by passing them off as more lightly used than they are. A surprising new tactic is to disguise signs of wear on the GDDR memory.

When a GPU has been under heavy load for extended periods, such as for mining cryptocurrency, the heat can give the memory chips a yellow tint. Iskandar Souza (below) and TecLab recently posted videos analyzing cards appearing to have paint on those chips. Scraping off the paint revealed discoloration. Souza's report compares a fresh GPU with one featuring disguised wear and tear.

The last few years have set the stage for such schemes in the graphics card market. Miners are trying to offload the GPUs from their rigs that lost profitability after the crypto winter and Ethereum Merge last year. Although the mining drop-off has improved prices in recent months, many cards still struggle to reach their MSRP.

In this environment, deals on used GPUs are likely still attractive to many prospective customers. Those buyers likely want to avoid cards from crypto mines which are more worn than most.

Heavy use and repair efforts also leave marks on other parts of GPUs, as Souza's video shows. Discoloration around and scratches on the card's central processor may indicate the seller tried to resolder it, for instance. Missing screws could suggest someone opened a graphics card to cover up traces of mining use.

Last year, we reported on a video showing a miner trying to prepare GPUs for resale by blasting a rack of them with a pressure washer -- a highly unadvisable method. Not only can untreated water damage graphics card components, but so can the force of the pressure washer.

All refurbished GPUs aren't bad, however. Buyers just need to be careful when buying from third-party sellers on major sites like Newegg and Amazon. The safest way to get refurbs is probably directly from the stores of board partners like PNY and EVGA (pictured above).

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Kashim

Posts: 206   +261
I would not trust any of those so called "market place sellers" at all. Definitely not for used graphics cards.

A few years back I tried to buy a new monitor from one of those sellers on Best Buy. Not only was the monitor used instead of new, there were also multiple scratches on it and dust indicating someone used it for quite a while and then returned it. The box itself also had stickers on it from three different shipping companies (Canada Post, UPS, and Purolator). They obviously tried to sell it as new multiple times and failed. After confronting the seller about it they offered $20 off the price if I kept the monitor. I laughed and told them I would not take that piece of junk even if it was free.

Anyway, point of the story is that I would never trust these 3rd party sellers that are all over every hardware retail site now. I'm sure there are some honest ones, but most seem to be shady AF.
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,827   +983
People are different. Some miners drive those cards into the grave.
But there are also those who undervolted/underclocked and kept them in amazing shape in a well ventilated room.
You always take the risk when you buy used. Luckily, with used GPUs, you have fairly good chances of getting a card that will work for years and might even help you recover some cash with resell.
 

emmzo

Posts: 813   +1,251
These guys though they'll make big money and if anything happens, they'll just sell the GPUs. Sure, a few did, but I bet the vast majority lost or barely made it even, as it always plays out in pyramids like this and now there are tons of used cards nobody wants. Ofc they're gonna come out with every trick in the book to get rid of them. Safe advice, don't buy used cards at all, you never know. I still hope both AMD and Nvidia will cut their pricing ambitions short pretty soon once demand dives into abyss.
 

takaozo

Posts: 514   +812
GPU sellers will try anything to sell you the "mining tools" they don't need now.
I would never buy a used GPU without testing first it and without original invoice and warranty papers. This is how I got my current card and for sure the next one.
 

NintPlayBox

Posts: 120   +144
And use PayPal as well. If ebay stuffs you around the PayPal dispute is very buyer biased. A lot of these scammy sellers don't bother to follow up either so it just auto closes in your favour...
The question is not if it works "immediately" the question is WOULD IT STILL WORK IN A FEW MONTHS ONCE NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO BE RETURNED??

Nobody is going to sell you a card that doesn't work immediately no matter how abused the item was prior to the purchase.
 
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ZackL04

Posts: 884   +686
The question is not if it works "immediately" the question is WOULD IT STILL WORK IN A FEW MONTHS ONCE NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO BE RETURNED??

Nobody is going to sell you a card that doesn't work immediately no matter how abused the item was prior to the purchase.

But that could happen with anything from a gpu, to playstation to a vehicle.

If the price isn’t low enough, dont take the risk.
 

NintPlayBox

Posts: 120   +144
But that could happen with anything from a gpu, to playstation to a vehicle.

If the price isn’t low enough, dont take the risk.
After the crypto madness chances are a video graphics card would be more likely to malfunction in a few months than anything else that you mentioned...

In short, don't buy used graphics cards, because if the price sounds to good to be true, it's because it most likely true.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 775   +590
So the buyer is supposed to remove the cooler from the GPU and check memory chips. Riiiight.... Fairy tales.

PS. What if owner was a young streamer wannabe that overclocked the card and used it for games 24/7* ? Are they a miner too?
 

ZackL04

Posts: 884   +686
After the crypto madness chances are a video graphics card would be more likely to malfunction in a few months than anything else that you mentioned...

In short, don't buy used graphics cards, because if the price sounds to good to be true, it's because it most likely true.
Nah

Aways worth a purchase if the price is right. Ive bought a S* load of used cards over the years. 980ti’s, 1070’s, 1080’s, 5700’s never had an issue. I bought an rx480 on ebay for chump change ($60?) that I repasted and it last over a year no problem before I sold it to someone else. If I sold u my 3060ti thats been undervolted and was mining for over a year I bet you’d have zero issues as well. Because its still gaming 100% fine.

All depends on where your getting them and the price offered. I would AWAYS tell someone its worth the risk at the right price.
 

bviktor

Posts: 1,158   +1,688
After the crypto rush of 2018 I sold all my rigs, but I was very upfront about it. Testem each GPU first, and reduced the price a little. No one complained. There was one RMA some months later, but that went smoothly as well.
 

alexnode

Posts: 110   +39
If it works it works. Test it for 10 hours and keep it. Cards that stayed in cold environments without being used are much more dangerous to start forming corrosion etc.
 

Mariabliss

Posts: 21   +13
The question is not if it works "immediately" the question is WOULD IT STILL WORK IN A FEW MONTHS ONCE NOTHING CAN BE DONE TO BE RETURNED??

Nobody is going to sell you a card that doesn't work immediately no matter how abused the item was prior to the purchase.
It doesn't have to immediately fail, if there is obvious signs of damage you can dispute it based on the listing being misleading. Leading to even a partial refund.

And if it has been painted to hide the damage that's all but a guarantee you'll get a full refund.