Things have stirred lately with Chinas ban on crypto mining and many used GPUs will flow the market probably. But should you buy a used GPU?
Short answer: NO, long answer: keep on reading to find out why.
GPU shortage and its cause
As you all know by now, we live sadly in a world struck by a global Pandemic. Due to this awful disease and measures taken against it, many people are either working from home or are at home making the manufacturing of new chips problematic while demand on the market has raised.
Throw into that mix crypto mining which has raised in popularity and you have, well today's market where we have GPU shortage.
Now with the latest news that China has banned the mining of cryptocurrency, there is to be expected that at some point in time mining cards used there will fit the market in the whole world.
Sadly even with a large quantity of GPUs that will become available, the overall price of cards will not be much lowered I am afraid since demand is still very high and many people would not want to purchase used mining cards and neither should you.
Be prepared for the worst scenario
Although this sounds very pessimistic and in most cases, it will not turn out to be true, you should always prepare yourself mentally that you might be in that lower percentage that will end up with a really bad GPU.
What has come up to be absolutely true when considering GPU that were mining is that if anything at all can be done to GPU in order to increase performance, it has been done. Miners want to optimize and almost every GPU if could be overclocked, it was overclocked.
Extensive mining also means that thermal paste has been dried and it is pretty useless at this point and there is a very high chance that fans and heat sinks will need much cleaning or even replacement raising the price of the card itself for mentioned paste, fans, and heat sinks.
There's no way to tell what the previous owner might have done with a graphics card when you're shopping online, so our advice is to assume the worst. Don't trust the seller to give truthful information. Any listing that says it was "never used for mining" at this point is probably a lie.
Age of the GPU matters
Date when GPU itself has manufactured really matters. Newer cards even if used extensively have been used for a much shorter period of time and are not so damaged were ones produced a few years ago have seen a lot of action.
Let’s say that you get RTX 3060, In the worst-case scenario it has been mining since late February of 2021 and basically, it is still under warranty so it should behave OK and put some good work in gaming even in that state.
On another hand, if we take for example GTX 1080Ti which is 4 years old GPU things start to change drastically. 4 years GPU could be worn out even if it was used just for extensive gaming sessions let alone for mining.
No return policy and seller rating
Most of the time you will run into a product that cannot be returned or no refunds policy. This should bring a red flag right away and deter you from purchase.
Sellers with the highest ratings are more trustworthy since many of them will not want to destroy their reputation but these will probably not even have these kinds of merchandise in their store.
Buying with a poor rating seller and no return policy on a product is just asking for trouble. And although some stores do have arbitration and will stand on the customer side there is no guarantee for that and it will take too much time to process.
If you really must buy a second-hand GPU
Of course in these troubled times sometimes due to malfunction or any other reason, there would not be another choice than to buy a second-hand GPU.
In this case, if there is no other option consider sellers with many positive ratings. If you can buy locally that would even be better or the best-case scenario would be if you could visually see and inspect GPU itself in order to see in what state it is.
Look for warranty stickers to see if they are thorn and the card has been tampered with. Also take a good look at screws, if they have scratches card has been opened, probably to replace fan or heating sinks which means that it has worked a lot.
It is very difficult to give the best possible advice on this situation since of GPU shortage, but I would much prefer a new GPU with lower performance than a hi-performance one which was mining.