With the cryptocurrency market crashing, many miners are running for the hills and selling their used GPUs and other mining equipment. But is it safe buying a GPU card that has hashed away twenty-four-seven mining cryptocurrencies?
Although crypto miners’ GPUs have been used more than a typical gamers card (in most cases), it doesn’t mean the hardware is any riskier than any other used GPU. Of course miners are using their cards equipment more than the average gamer, but “overuse” doesn’t necessarily have a negative effect on a GPU card.
What is Cryptocurrency Mining?
Cryptocurrency mining uses GPU to help solve the cryptographic puzzle that allows the winning miner (computer) to earn the block reward for Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency they might be mining. The block reward is the newly minted cryptocurrency paid out every time a new block is added to the blockchain.
In the early days of Bitcoin and other cryptos, CPU was sufficient, but as the cryptocurrency space grew, miners started looking for more efficient ways to mine, and of course GPUs enhanced their processing power.
But as the Bitcoin space became even more competitive, GPUs were slowly phased out by mining specific hardware. Now anyone seriously wanting to compete for Bitcoin has to use application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) equipment.
Of course, this led to an exodus of GPU Bitcoin miners, but it is still possible to mine many other cryptocurrencies with GPUs. However, with the market being punished by the coronavirus pandemic, many are selling up their equipment.
Does Mining Damage GPU?
The short answer is no, as long as it was looked after correctly.
Many people believe hashing away twenty-four-seven is damaging to a GPU card, but the truth is that it isn’t any more damaging than somebody gaming, as long as the miner has treated the GPU in the correct way, that is.
The most damaging thing for GPU is temperature fluctuations, as this can cause the solder joints to bloat and contract. So, as long as a miner has ventilated their GPU mining rig correctly and kept it running at a constant recommended temperature, their GPUs are probably in better shape than a gamer’s, who switches on and off daily, thus allowing the temperature to seesaw.
What’s more, most miners will probably take more care of their video cards than gamers because a well-ventilated mining system will mine much better, meaning more profits for the miner. This encourages miners to take extra care with their equipment.
Things To Look Out For When Buying a Used GPU
How can we tell if a miner has looked after their GPU? The sad truth is that there’s no way of knowing the lifespan of any graphics card, so caution is always recommended when buying used GPUs.
Amazon and eBay are the safest places to buy second-hand cards as they protect buyers from potential scams. There are may miners wanting to get rid of burned out graphics cards and if you do get duped, at least you can get a refund and then write a negative review.
But writing a negative review is only worthwhile if the seller has a legitimate account, so before you buy check them out. Read their reviews and check how many ratings they have. If they’re a new account with only a few ratings, stay clear, no matter how cheap their cards are.
If the cost is really cheap, ask yourself why it’s so cheap. Likewise, if it’s expensive for a second-hand card (over 70% of a brand new GPU), question why. Sure, it might be ok, but the more expensive it is, you may as well but a brand new video card. The newer the series card is, the more expensive it’s likely to be, so make sure you know the series and weigh everything up before purchasing.
Also, make sure you don’t buy a mining specific GPU card. GPUs original use was gaming, but as the cryptocurrency mining industry grew some manufacturers started to make mining-specific cards. These haven’t been engineered with gaming monitor outputs, and although the cards can be reconfigured for gaming, it takes a bit of technical work and isn’t recommended.
Used GPU cards can give years more gaming and mining at a fraction of the cost of a brand new card. Even if a cryptocurrency miner has used their GPU rigs around the clock it doesn’t mean it’ll be in worse condition than any other used card.
As long as the miner has looked after their GPU, which most do, they card will be fine. But always throw caution to the wind: Protect yourself and buy from Amazon or eBay, research the seller, and only buy from someone who has sold a lot of equipment and has a lot of reviews.
Author: Tommy Limpitlaw