With the recent surge in second-hand Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPUs, anyone waiting for the ongoing graphics card stock shortage to end might be tempted to check out the used market instead. However, Palit — a leading partner card manufacturer — reckons this could lead to bigger problems than sold-out signs and artificially inflated prices.
Speaking to Benchmark.pl (as spotted by our sister site PC Gamer), Palit reps noted that the source of most second-hand, current-gen GPUs tend to come from cryptocurrency mining rigs. As such, the wear and tear they’ve suffered could harm their core gaming performance.
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Palit, of course, has its own reasons for wanting prospective buyers to stay away from the used market: it gets nothing out of second-hand sales. But such concerns about the long-term health of erstwhile mining cards are justified; whereas the average gaming PC might only run a GPU ragged for a couple of hours a day, mining rigs are designed to run entire racks of graphics cards 24/7. That’s a lot more wear and tear, even taking into account that some minder may undervolt and optimize their graphics cards so they aren't running at full power all the time.
Palit pointed towards independent studies that suggest mining with a graphics card could see it lose 10% of its original performance every year. That may vary from model to model. But it makes logical and technological sense that an ex-mining card will have been put through the ringer more than second-hand cards that have simply been used for gaming.
The ability to grab an Nvidia GeForce RTX 30-series or AMD Radeon RX 6000 series GPU at its MSRP, or even lower, will be undoubtedly tempting to many. But even besides the added risk of ending up with a graphics card that’s already endured several lifetimes’ expected usage, there’s no guarantee that sellers will be forthcoming about an individual GPU’s past. Online listings may give the impression of an everyday PC owner merely selling on his old card, when in fact it’s an overworked ex-miner.
Our advice? Since most non-mining cards on sites like eBay are still selling at vastly inflated prices, if you do spot one that’s reasonably priced, approach it with caution. It’s more likely to be a crypto miner trying to recoup their losses than a genuine private seller (or a repentant scalper).
Yes, that’s more of an instruction to accept ridiculous prices as the norm than help on finding a good deal. But given the circumstances of the wider GPU market, at least you might avoid a different kind of rip-off.