Can’t find graphics card stock? Avoid buying second-hand, warns GPU maker

Palit GeForce RTX 3090
(Image credit: Palit)

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 (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.

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.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.

  • Nightseer
    Yeah, because clearly they have absolutely no financial interest in telling you to buy new cards and are totally doing that out of goodness of their hearths...

    Jokes aside, screw them. They hiked prices, sold to miners,... now that that market is going away, they are trying to manipulate gamers. If you find good deal on used, just buy it, risks are no greater than before. And considering what they did during crisis, they deserve to reap what they sow. They made more than enough during worst of crisis.
  • scarlettm59
    But is there any timeline for the end of the crisis. People are moving towards console now due the shortage.