Graphics cards are quite expensive and unobtainable nowadays, so it’s only natural that someone would look for a used alternative for a discounted price.
The thing with used graphics cards is that they come with additional wear and tear which will diminish the lifespan, you should always consider this fact.
To answer your question, used graphics cards aren’t bad if you know what to look for, and you buy from a reputable seller, otherwise you might get scammed in many different ways.
The Main Reason To Buy A Used GPU
The main reason for buying a used graphics card is because they are affordable and this usually applies to most used equipment and hardware.
But the question is whether it’s worth it or not, because used equipment a lot of time has a diminished lifespan due to wear and tear.
In most cases, buying a used graphics card is safe, and you shouldn’t run into issues if you follow best practices when buying used equipment.
The Main Reason Not To Buy A Used GPU
Well buying used equipment always has risks, you can be sold a broken graphics card, or a graphics card that’s failing/dying.
But the main risk factor when buying used is the risk of getting scammed, there’s less trust involved when you’re buying from a random seller.
Also, you run the risk of receiving nothing, or a completely different GPU, there are scammers that spoof older graphics cards by altering their PCI-E ID.
In general, when buying used you need to be significantly more careful, some places do not offer buyer’s protection if you get scammed.
The GPU Age & Generation Is Important
The general rule of thumb for buying used graphics cards is to always pick used GPUs from the previous generation so you encounter usable GPUs.
Previous generation used GPUs are significantly cheaper than their present generation counterparts, so you can capture a really good deal if you look good enough.
For example, buying a used RTX 2080 TI may be a better deal than buying an RTX 3060 TI because the hype around the RTX 2080 TI is dying whereas the RTX 3060 TI retains its popularity.
Current generation GPUs will always maintain their popularity until the next generation of graphics cards come
And the age of the product and how extensively it was used also matters, if the seller rarely used the graphics card, then the chances are it’s in decent/good condition.
The more the GPU has been used, the less you should be willing to pay for it, for example, if a GPU has been used 24/7 at 100% usage, you shouldn’t pay too much for it.
The reason being, the more the GPU is used, the more likely it will have VRAM/Graphics memory issues which can result in visual glitches, crashes, and system instability.
This is a common problem with crypto mining graphics cards, so if you’re buying from a crypto miner, ensure that he/she is reputable.
Investigate The History Of The GPU
Inspect the GPU you want to buy, this will save you a ton of money and hassle as you will know exactly what you’re buying into.
If the graphics card has an extensive history of mining crypto currencies, then you can make an educated guess that the GPU is likely not in a good state.
If the graphics card was used by a previous gamer, then the GPU will most likely have a ton of life left in it, and will be a worthwhile investment.
Also, inspect if the graphics card was part of a prebuilt system, these graphics cards are OEM GPU and can be a good investment.
However, OEM GPUs may have slightly lower clock speeds but in general, there’s no difference between an OEM GPU and a non-OEM GPU as the chips are the same.
Ask To Test The Graphics Card First
The easiest way to prevent yourself from getting scammed is to ask to test and inspect the GPU for physical and performance issues.
This is the best form of protecting yourself from getting scammed, if you don’t like the product being offered, then you can ultimately reject the graphics card.
Firstly inspect the graphics card for any physical damage, look for burnt out capacitors, and other physical deformities such as bent PCI-E interfaces.
If the graphics card has passed the physical inspection, then you can move on to the performance inspection to see if it functions as intended.
Load up a benchmarking software to apply considerable stress to the GPU so you can simulate how it performs under load.
Look at the temperatures to ensure it doesn’t have temperature issues, this can often be caused by a broken fan, so ensure the fans are working when stressing the GPU.
Also listen out for any weird noises coming from the GPU, these noises often occur under load, and the noises usually come from the fans.
If the GPU matches other identical graphics cards with its results, and there’s no visual glitches such as artifacting, then the graphics card should be deemed safe for purchase.
Consider Return Policies & Payment Protection
When purchasing a GPU, the general rule of thumb is to purchase from a seller that has a 30 day return policy in case something goes wrong.
Also, it’s better to purchase a used graphics card from the country you reside in, this is returning items to a foreign country tends to be a bit trickier.
Also, be wary of buying from a new seller, it’s probably better to ignore them especially if their offer seems too good to be true.
Also, when buying a used graphics card, the best thing you can do is stick to a platform that offers some sort of payment protection.
This means you have some sort of protection if you were to get scammed or misled, eBay and other similar platforms have some sort of “buyers protection” to keep you safe.
Where To Buy Used GPUs?
With all that being said, there are a few places you can purchase a used GPU, and the most popular place of them all is eBay.
When it comes to customer safety, eBay is top-tier, they have buyer’s protection which should protect you if you were to get scammed.
Also, eBay is at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to buying or selling used electrical equipment and hardware.
The second place you can buy used graphics cards is from the Facebook marketplace, the reason it’s so great is because it’s the largest social media, and you can connect to the seller.
The problem with Facebook marketplace is that there’s no sort of buyer’s protection, so if you somehow managed to get scammed, you’re most likely out of luck.
However, with Facebook marketplace, it’s easier to test the GPU as you can meet up with the seller, inspect the GPU, and maybe run some benchmarks on it.
In conclusion, buying used GPUs is not a bad idea, and can be a really good investment if you know what you’re looking for.
When buying a used GPU, always use common sense such as avoiding GPUs used for mining, avoiding deals that look too good to be true, and avoiding sketchy sellers in general.
If you’re able to meet up with the seller to assess the condition of the GPU, always look for physical damage first, then run benchmarks if possible so you can match the performance to similar GPUs.