Should You Buy a Second-Hand GPU Used For Crypto Mining?
No matter the price, you should never buy a second-hand GPU that was used for mining it could be as much as ten percent slower for each year it spent mining cryptocurrencies like Ethereum or Dogecoin.
At least that’s the rumor that has been spreading ever since Palit Microsystems, a large manufacturer of GPUs allegedly warned benchmark.pl about the supposed dangers of buying used GPUs.
But wait for a minute, a GPU manufacturer only makes money when you buy a new GPU, of course, they would want to warn you off buying a cheaper second-hand one.
But let’s get to the point, should you buy a used GPU or not, so two GPUs that have been mining 24/7 for 10 months and 4 years respectively when compared to their performance to the closest available equivalent GPUs that have done pretty much nothing but sit on the shelves.
This is an important blog post because when the inevitable GPU price crash does happen it’ll determine whether it’s worth it to pull the trigger on a used GPU to finally turn the tables on those filthy miners.
Performance degradation depends mostly on the clock speeds, the lower the clock speed the higher the performance degradation.
If a GPU still runs at the same clock speed, its performance will be identical to the day it was new, however, if the silicon has degraded to the point where it can’t run at those clock speeds, it’s going to artifact or black screen rather then somehow lose performance.
But modern graphics cards ever since the GTX 6080 no longer run at a fixed clock speed and it’s common practice for manufacturers to advertise both a base clock speed as well as a boost clock speed for what they would expect the GPU to reach under typical conditions and this is where things get really interesting.
All other things being equal the performance of a processor like a GPU is directly determined by how many cycles it performs per second and with nearly a 20% difference between the base and boost clocks of saying Nvidia’s RTX 3080 it’s conceivable to imagine a card that still works but with dramatically worse performance.
So let’s meet the cards, starting with the Asus Tuf RTX 3080 10G gaming
GeForce RTX 3080 10G (10 Months Crypto Mining)
GeForce RTX 3080 10G (New Shelf Card)
Nvidia FE GTX 1060 6GB
GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (4 Years Crypto Mining)
GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (New Shelf Card)
So okay then using a GPU still doesn’t appreciably affect the day-to-day performance of said GPU that is unless Palit Microsystems is admitting that their cards die really quickly which is probably not true.
So it’s purely binary then it still works or it doesn’t work anymore go ahead and buy mining cards end of the story.
Well not quite, because mining GPUs are heavily used but they are also been very regularly cleaned and kept in a basically dust-free environment.
And because modern GPUs boost higher in some cases, much higher when they’re run at lower temperatures, the condition of the cooler is critical to the performance of the graphics card so a broken or clogged up or otherwise hobbled heatsink could easily cause a 10% performance hit or more.
That’s why it is so important to carefully inspect the condition of the cooler of a graphics card before you make a purchase.
They can be a real nightmare to track down second-hand if you need to replace them and depending on how much you’re spending the remaining lifespan of the GPU before it stops working could be a major concern as well.
I mean if you’re paying half the price for the same performance brand new I say you should buy it and buy another one if it dies but if you’re only saving a few bucks well then you should inspect the card carefully and make the right decision.
With that said a quality GPU would have been built to last much longer than its warranty period and in my opinion, the flood of used GPUs that is undoubtedly coming could be the tide change the PC gaming community has been waiting for.
So the bottom line is to know the risks but don’t let anyone scare you off of a good deal with baseless fud.