How to Tell if a GPU you Want to Buy was Used in Mining

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While new GPUs are being sold at outrageous prices, people all over the world are looking for a graphics card that won’t blow the bank. For some, a used GPU may be the solution, but you should be careful when considering this option.

The biggest risk in buying a used GPU is that you will get one that has been used for mining. Mining cards often run at full power for days, weeks, or even months. The constant high power flowing through the card, combined with the high workload and heat, can damage the card’s circuitry and cause the card to fail much sooner than expected. This situation only gets worse if the card has not been properly ventilated, as miners often try to run as many GPUs as possible in a confined space.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell if a GPU has been used for mining – let alone trying to buy a card from someone online – and there is no real way to know how long a card will last before it fails. If the seller sticks to the fact that a particular card has been used for mining, it’s best to walk away.

GPU Mining: What does this have to do with you?

We’ve seen the rise and fall of crypto-cash mining with GPUs several times – first in 2011 with the Radeon HD 5870/5850 and Bitcoin (SHA256) cards, then in 2013 with the Radeon R9 290X/290 and Litecoin (Scrypt) and other legacy pieces (X11, X13 etc.). ), and now it seems that we are approaching the end of the Ethereum madness (Dagger Hashimoto / Ethash) – maybe. Historically, the mining boom and bankruptcy led many once ambitious miners to decide it was time to pack up their camp and sell their equipment. This may be good news for players who want to buy a relatively cheap used graphics card, but it raises an important question: Do you really want to take the risk of buying a used GPU that’s been taken apart 24/7 for many months?

When you combine the above, buying used graphics cards starts to look like a game of chance. You may be able to get warranty service, but I have personally seen some leading companies turn down requests for burnt-out capacitors. “You’ve done something to destroy the card and caused physical damage, so you’re on your own”. But the age of the graphics card is also a factor: a relatively new card like the RX 570 or RX 580 can’t have been used for more than a few months, and if it’s still working for the moment, you’ll probably be able to play.

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Many miners do not overclock their GPUs to the maximum, and many underclock their GPUs to reduce performance and improve longevity. Others may under/underclock the GPU core, but overclock VRAM because Ethereum is more sensitive to memory bandwidth. Unfortunately, it is quite possible to damage GDDR5 chips while the GPU itself remains intact. However, a card used for mining could actually be in good condition… but there is no way to effectively know what a card has been through. Cards that are “100% tested and working” may work just fine, or they may collapse at the first sign of a higher workload. So, once again, it’s quite a gamble.

Some users feel differently

Mining is actually safer for a card than gambling. Why is that? The constant load does not cause temperature fluctuations in the board, so that over time the welds are less subject to contraction and expansion and are therefore less prone to breakage. In addition, a miner should try to keep the board as cool as possible to achieve a longer overall lifetime, higher clock frequencies and a higher rate of degradation. They should also try to undervoltage the GPU as much as physically possible to further increase the life of the card.

How to tell if a GPU you want to buy has been used in mining

We recommend checking whether a GPU has ever been used in the mining industry. First, you should dispel the misconception that only more powerful GPUs are used in mining. While this is generally the case, it is not a hard and fast rule, and you should not let less powerful used GPUs get away with the assumption that a miner would not have used them. You’d be surprised how miners configure their platforms and integrate various GPUs to do the best possible job so that all GPUs in use are treated equally and thoroughly investigated.

  • Price Difference – There are two common price ranges in which mining GPUs are resold: Either sellers keep the price much higher than the average resale GPU price, or they keep the price much lower.
  • Hardware: Take a look at the device – The first thing you’ll notice right away, and the most obvious, is the discoloration of the GPU card.
  • BIOS – GPUs used in the mining industry often have different BIOS settings than normal GPUs because their settings have been adjusted to some extent.
  • Stress Testing – As with adjusting or overclocking GPU settings, stress testing can help determine what the GPU can handle and how well it performs under various stress conditions.


Falling into a trap and buying a GPU that was previously used in the mining industry is quite simple. It’s very unfortunate for users who find that their GPU doesn’t work as they had hoped or fails after a few months or even weeks of use. The notes discussed will help you identify a GPU that has been used in mining, or a GPU that should be discarded due to heavy and stressful use that may have permanently damaged part of the device. If the GPU you are considering purchasing passes all of the above tests, the investment may be worth it. Or if you’re worried about being scammed online, consider buying a new graphics card like this AMD RX 5700XT GPU or an equivalent graphics card.

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