Some Chinese crypto miners are doing everything they can to offload their heavily used mining GPUs now that they’ve nothing left to mine. They are going to interesting lengths to sell their inventory, like repainting them and misleading buyers by listing them as new on some retail sites.
Thanks to the Merge, which shifted crypto mining from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, the need for warehouses full of video cards has gone down dramatically nearly overnight (opens in new tab).
An investigation by Youtuber Iskandar Souza (opens in new tab) and Paulo Gomes (via Videocards (opens in new tab)) claims that some third-party retailers in China are selling GPUs that appear new but have been touched up to hide the fact that they were used for crypto mining.
The Brazilian duo shared some tell-tale signs that reveal whether a GPU has been used or altered in some way. The easiest method was always to look for a yellow tint on the memory on the GPU, which is caused by one of two ways; prolonged use or they’ve been resoldered onto newer boards.
The video shows the memory of a mining GPU at different stages of use, and you can see that the memory is black on the brand-new cards. The more they are used, the more yellow it gets. To hide this, sellers are repainting the memory chips on the GPUs, so they look new at a glance. In this part of the video (opens in new tab), you can see the paint being peeled off the chip.
There are more obvious ways to tell if a card has been tampered with—missing or discolored warranty stickers as well as missing or loosened screws. This issue isn’t reserved to just Chinese retailers either; TecLab pointed out a year ago that repainted GPUs have made their way onto some Brazilian tech retailers.
Resoldering memory onto a new board is a common industry practice for repairing and refurbishing graphics cards. Still, in that case, the product would often be listed as ‘refurbished’ or ‘renewed’ at retail and not ‘new.’
So if you’re in the market for a new GPU, stick with first-party vendors with generous return policies.