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Buy a used GPU? This is what to look for

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The new GPU market leaves you no GPU to buy or with incredibly high prices for the available GPUs. Understandably, many people are turning to the used GPU market, but there are many pitfalls along this path!

Equivalence of research performance between generations

GPU comparison
A comparison example from the hardware comparison site

It is unlikely that you will buy a current generation GPU on the used market. Most of the GPUs that are available for sale belong to the older or older generation of products. This makes it more difficult to judge which cards are right for you or how much you should pay for them.

This is why it is important to find out how the used card you are looking at compares to the current generation of cards. The high-end GPU from two or three generations ago can be just as good as today’s entry-level or mid-range card.

This means that you should pay less for that 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.

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In the context of card shortages and inflated retail prices, the general rule still applies. It should also save you money compared to the inflated price of a new equivalent performance card when buying a used model.

Investigate the history of the letter

Knowing where a used GPU comes from can be important, though perhaps not as much as you might think. The most common advice given here is that you should avoid buying GPUs that have been used for cryptocurrency mining. However, those concerns are overblown and ex-mining GPUs can be a good deal if you know what you are doing.

The history of the card is not as important as its current status, but some facts may be important. Especially if the card was an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) board that was never retailed. These cards were created to be sold as part of a pre-built computer and are generally unbranded. In principle, there is nothing wrong with an OEM card, but you will have to pay special attention to whether an OEM card has the same specs, clock speeds, and build quality as a retail card.

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Insist on testing and inspecting the card

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. That means bringing 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 test program like FurMark to check for visual glitches or if the GPU is overheating. You may also want to run a benchmark using a program like 3DMark so you can see if the card is working as it should. Make sure to also run GPUZ And make sure the information you display aligns with what the seller claims the card is.

In addition to software-based testing, listen to the card as it runs under load. Does the fan make noises or squeaks? This is likely 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 is overheating or displaying graphics glitches, the fan may not be working as expected either. Alternatively, especially on older cards, the thermal paste between the GPU and the heatsink may no longer be good. This could also be fine if you’re willing to take the card apart, clean the heat sink and fan, and then reapply a new thermal paste. However, unless the seller is willing to let you return the card if it still does not work immediately after such repairs, it is probably best to hand it over.

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Finally, remove the card from the testing machine and visually inspect it. A little dust is not a problem, but if the heatsink or fan is loose, any of the mounting components are bent, or there are electronics like capacitors that don’t look right, it’s best to let the card go.

Use payment protection when shopping online

If you are buying a used card online, you obviously cannot take any tests until you have paid for and received the item. This makes it very important to stick to online platforms that offer you some form of protection so that if you buy a lemon, you can get your money back.

Please pay attention to the terms and conditions of sale and make sure you are comfortable with them before making a payment.

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