The dangers of buying graphics cards from crypto miners

The hype around cryptocurrency has abated as prices fell in 2018, and many of those who invested in mining rigs are shutting their operations down.

MyBroadband’s Ethereum mining rig has not been spared, going from very profitable to making a loss in a few months.

While this is not a good period for crypto miners, it is great news for gamers – who can now finally get their hands on a new graphics card.

Popular GPUs like the AMD Radeon RX 580 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 are becoming available from local retailers again, and their prices are slowly coming down.

Crypto miners who have disassembled their rigs are also selling their second-hand cards on classified websites.

These second-hand cards are cheaper than new GPUs, but gamers should be wary when buying them.

Voided warranties

Second-hand graphics cards are extremely cheap at the moment, thanks to the flood of miners trying to recoup their hardware investment.

However, gamers looking at a second-hand GPU should determine whether the card was used for cryptocurrency mining.

Graphics cards which have been used to mine cryptocurrency may have their warranty voided, due to the strain the activity puts on the GPU.

According to Raru’s Colin van Zyl, local suppliers started testing cards more rigorously to determine whether they have been used for mining.

You would not want to purchase a newish card, only to have its warranty voided due to mining.

Unstable performance

The reason graphics card manufacturers void the warranties of GPUs used for mining is because of the heavy toll it takes on the hardware.

Graphics cards are not designed to run at full, unvaried load for months at high temperatures.

Because of this, graphics cards are commonly known to fail when used for cryptocurrency mining – especially if the miner is overclocking their hardware for higher hash rates.

When purchasing a second-hand card, always test it first before buying it and ensure you put it under a heavy load using a demanding game or benchmark software.

This is important, as failing graphics cards function perfectly when idle, but are extremely unstable under heavy load.

The chances of a second-hand graphics card being a dud are much higher when buying from crypto miners, as the cards have been under more load than standard gaming.

Be sure to test the GPU thoroughly and look for signs of unstable performance or physical damage.

Pricing

Thanks to a reduction in demand from cryptocurrency miners, graphics cards are more affordable then they were at the beginning of the year.

Buyers should look at buying new graphics cards if possible, as these will be covered by a warranty and will be less likely to have any issues.

If you are looking for a second-hand card due to budget constraints, though, ensure you do not overpay for your purchase.

Graphics cards which have been used for crypto mining should theoretically be priced lower than those used in gaming PCs, although in practice it is difficult to determine what a GPU has been used for.

Additionally, purchase graphics cards from newer-generation line-ups, as their price-to-performance ratio tends to be higher.

Buying a second-hand graphics card has always been risky, but with the number of crypto miners dumping their hardware, you should take extra care when shopping.

Now read: How much it costs to build a 4K gaming PC in South Africa

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The dangers of buying graphics cards from crypto miners