"Refurbishing" process for these crypto miners is to blast GPUs with a pressure washer

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,578   +1,075
Staff member
Please don't do this: As much as everybody loves a quick cleaning shortcut, we do not recommend the following method for cleaning your graphics cards or any other electronics for that matter. At best, you'll just end up with a soggy mess. At worst, you'll ruin your components.

A video posted to Twitter allegedly shows Vietnamese cryptocurrency miners preparing used graphics cards for resale by washing them with a high-powered jet nozzle. Mining crypto with the power of multiple GPUs has become less profitable since "The Merge," so cryptopreneurs are preparing to offload much of their equipment.

Of course, some crypto-mining rigs have been running 24/7 for years, leaving little time for cleaning. Most casual users just clean their PC with a can of compressed air — maybe a soft brush and alcohol for heavy build up — and call it a day, but that could become impractical when dealing with racks and racks of GPUs. The video shows at least eight Zotac GeForce RTX cards getting blasted by a pressure washer, and that was just one rig.

While most would recommend against washing graphics cards with water, it can be done. Some even use their dishwasher for the task. There are also immersion methods where a component is placed in a solution and hit with ultrasound. These techniques are arguably quicker when dealing with multiple parts but require special handling and water treatment.

As satisfying as using a pressure washer can be, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone recommending one to clean your circuitry. A water jet could easily dislodge surface-mounted components or damage the GPU in a way that a second-hand buyer might not notice even under close inspection.

Graphics cards are generally sturdy, well-built components that can withstand some light abuse. However, a pressure washer can take chunks out of a cracked concrete driveway. It's not likely any GPU manufacturer has built a card that can stand up to that kind of force.

And all of this is on top of the fact that these cards have been run practically to death. The lesson here is to be cautious if you buy used or refurbished GPUs. They may seem like a good deal, but if they were mishandled like this, you could end up with a worthless paperweight.

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yRaz

Posts: 4,627   +5,593
So I work in heavy construction and there are many pressure washers for different applications. You aren't going to wash your windows with a pressure washer meant for taking tar off of concrete. Those industrial pressure washers are also very expensive. These guys are probably going to go pick up whatever cheap electric pressure washer is close to them, I'm very familiar with the electric Ryobi. The electric Ryobi is about as powerful as as sticking your thumb on the end of a hose.

THAT SAID, this can force dust and other particulate matter into the card, some of which may be conductive and cause shorts. However, they likely don't have enough power to actually cause damage to the card. Knowing all that, if you are going to buy a mining card I recommend taking it apart, cleaning it with alcohol and a soft brush and then reapply thermal paste.

I would say you'd likely be fine, but I've bought plenty of used videocards for various reasons and I always taken them apart, do a deep cleaning and re-paste them before I use or sell them
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,627   +5,593
To me the stream doesn't look narrow enough to even call that pressure washing.
there are a million different tips for pressure washers, but I can tell from the audio that it's an electric pressure washer, they don't have the different tips. They come with one tip you usually can't change. They go for high flow rather than high pressure so they don't burn out the electric motor in the pump.

Just remember, pumps don't create pressure, they create flow. Pressure comes from resistance to flow.

But there are wide fan tips all the way to needle tips. Needle tips will cut through bricks while wide fan tips are better for just washing some dirt off the sidewalk.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 708   +670
there are a million different tips for pressure washers, but I can tell from the audio that it's an electric pressure washer, they don't have the different tips. They come with one tip you usually can't change. They go for high flow rather than high pressure so they don't burn out the electric motor in the pump.

Just remember, pumps don't create pressure, they create flow. Pressure comes from resistance to flow.

But there are wide fan tips all the way to needle tips. Needle tips will cut through bricks while wide fan tips are better for just washing some dirt off the sidewalk.
I have four tips for my electric pressure washer
 

takaozo

Posts: 232   +340
Some water always remain under BGA chips and balls. Minerals in water will dry out leaving a thin white residue. Use isopropyl alcohol to soak the chips and compresed air to dry. Repeat 2-3 times.
Use a hairdrier to get the card and chips at 50-60 celsius, to dry any alcohol leftovers.
On my first job, many years ago, we refurbished 2 way Motorola radios used in petrol industry.
 

StrikerRocket

Posts: 139   +105
When I buy a used card, I also do this. I take it apart, change whatever thermal pads are there with new quality ones and repaste the GPU, all this after good cleaning. I did this with a 1080, and the temps were much better than stock after this treatment.

This method is highly questionable in my book. You have to at least make sure that the card can thoroughly dry before applying any voltage to it. And what about rusting/oxidation? PCBs are normally covered with varnish, but there could always be a flaw somewhere.

Best is not to buy any of those, or really dirt cheap so as not to be too disappointed if anything goes wrong!
 

TheRealSCDC

Posts: 310   +433
That flat stream wouldn't dislodge anything, it's just a very DUMB thing to do. He's not actually cleaning them, he's moving the dirt around to dry in all of the knooks and crannies. These cards will need properly cleaned.

I wash my keyboards every month, let them sit and dry for a week. Rotate all 3 of our expensive Corsair programmable keyboards. It's great.
 

Irata

Posts: 2,195   +3,787
These videos bought to you coutesy of NVidea, Zotac, AMD, Asus ...

Remember kids, don't buy second hand. Go to the store and buy NEW CARDS!

That was my first thought when I read this - part of the ‚used = bad, better to take our overstock off our hands so we can profit twice from mining‘ campaign.

Anyone who really wants to stick it to AIB / manufacturers should buy used - there should be plenty of Ampere cards available soon.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,627   +5,593
That was my first thought when I read this - part of the ‚used = bad, better to take our overstock off our hands so we can profit twice from mining‘ campaign.

Anyone who really wants to stick it to AIB / manufacturers should buy used - there should be plenty of Ampere cards available soon.
I would happily buy a used card. If I have to spend an hour or so cleaning it to save a few hundred bucks, it's worth it. There is so much money to be saved on the used market that I'd happily take the chance

actually, now that I think about it, why would someone trying to sell these cards videotape something like this and post it publicly?
 
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