The new GPU market leaves you with either no GPUs to buy or with insanely high prices for the GPUs available. Naturally, many people are turning to the used GPU market, but there are many pitfalls in this path!
Equivalence of search performance across generations
You are unlikely to buy a current generation GPU in the second-hand market. Most of the GPUs available for sale are from the previous generation or the older generation of products. This makes it harder to judge which cards are right for you or how much you should pay for them.
This is why it is important to know how the used card you are looking at compares to the current generation of cards. The high-end GPU of two or three generations ago may only be as good as today’s entry-level or mid-range card.
This means that you would have to pay less for this used card than the modern equivalent. Otherwise, it makes more sense to just buy the new low-end card, assuming it meets your performance needs.
In the face of card shortages and inflated retail prices, the general rule still applies. You should also save money over the inflated price of a new card with equivalent performance when buying a used model.
Investigate the history of the map
Knowing where a used GPU is coming from can be important, but maybe not as important as you might think. The most common advice given here is to avoid purchasing GPUs that have been used for mining cryptocurrency. However, those concerns are overblown and old mining GPUs can be a steal if you know what you’re doing.
The history of the map is not as important as its current condition, but some facts may be important. Especially if the card was an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) card that was never retailed. These cards were designed to be sold as part of a prebuilt computer and are generally unbranded. In principle, there is nothing wrong with an OEM card, but you will need to pay special attention to whether an OEM card has the same specs, clock speeds, and build quality as a retail card.
Insist on card testing and inspection
This is perhaps the most important part of buying a used GPU. If you buy it directly from a private seller in person, it is best to inspect and test the card before the money changes hands. This means either taking your desktop system or asking the vendor to install the card in a computer when you arrive.
It is a good idea to use a stress testing program such as Fur mark to check if there are any visual issues or if the GPU is overheating. You may also want to run a performance test using a program such as 3DMark to see if the card is performing as it should. Also make sure to run GPUZ and make sure the information displayed matches what the seller claims to be the card.
In addition to software testing, listen to the card as it operates under load. Does the fan make clicking or squealing noises? This is probably a sign that the fan needs to be replaced, which can be a simple or complicated job depending on the specific card.
If the card has overheated or has shown graphics issues, the fan may also not perform as expected. Alternatively, especially on older boards, the thermal paste between the GPU and the heatsink may no longer be good. It may also be suitable if you want to disassemble the board, clean the heat sink and fan, and then reapply new thermal paste. However, unless the seller is willing to let you return the card if it is still not working right after such repairs, it is probably best to pass it on.
Finally, take the card out of the testing machine and visually inspect it. A little dust is not a problem, but if the heatsink or fan is loose one of the mounting components is crooked, or there are electronic components such as capacitors that don’t look right, you would. better to let the card go.
Use payment protection when shopping online
If you buy a used card online, you obviously cannot test it until you have paid for and taken delivery of the item. So it is extremely important to stick to online platforms that offer you some kind of protection so that if you buy a lemon you can get your money back.
Pay attention to the terms and conditions of sale and make sure you are comfortable with them before making a payment.