PSA: Discolored memory chips are a common sign indicating frequently used video cards, possibly former mining cards. Recent data suggests that some resellers are trying to trick customers by painting over the memory. The paint is removed relatively easily for those who inspect used GPUs.
Two Brazilian YouTube channels have found signs that crypto miners are trying to sell used video cards, passing them off as less used than they actually are. An amazing new tactic is masking signs of GDDR memory wear.
When the GPU is under heavy load for a long time, for example, when mining cryptocurrencies, heat can give the memory chips a yellow hue. Iskandar Souza (below) and TecLab recently posted a video analyzing cards that seem to have paint on these chips. Scraping off the paint, I found discoloration. Souza’s report compares a fresh GPU with hidden wear.
The last few years have paved the way for such schemes in the video card market. Miners are trying to get rid of GPUs on their farms, which lost profitability after the crypto winter and the Ethereum merger last year. Despite the fact that the decline in mining has led to higher prices in recent months, many cards are still trying to reach their recommended retail price.
Under these conditions, deals on used GPUs are probably still attractive to many potential customers. These buyers probably want to avoid cards from cryptomine, which are worn out more than most.
Heavy use and repairs also leave traces on other parts of GPUs, as Souza’s video shows. The color change around and scratches on the card’s CPU may indicate, for example, that the seller tried to solder it. Missing screws may indicate that someone opened the video card to hide the traces of mining.
Last year, we reported on a video in which a miner is trying to prepare GPUs for resale by blowing up their rack with a high-pressure washer, which is extremely undesirable. Not only untreated water can damage the components of the graphics card, but also a high-pressure washing machine.
However, all the restored GPUs are not bad. Buyers just need to be careful when buying from third-party sellers on major sites like Newegg and Amazon. The safest way to get repairs is probably directly at the stores of the payment partners, such as PNY and EVGA (pictured above).