Buying Second-hand Used Graphics Card: Guide and Tips

In full lack of stock of the different AMD and NVIDIA GPUs is when many of us come to mind the idea of buying a used graphics. But finding one is quite an odyssey and there are places where they literally sell junk. To avoid problems when buying, follow our guide to avoid problems and mistakes when buying.

Buying a used or second-hand graphics card for many may be a bad idea, but for others it can be a salvation. Many times it is better to buy a second-hand graphics card to obtain better performance than a new one, but a used graphics card is not always a good purchase, since there is a lot of scam.

used graphics card

Things to look at before buying a used GPU

First of all, you are in a second-hand store, in it you see a graphics card that seems like a bargain if we take into account its price and its performance and they allow you to see it. You haven’t been able to test it, but you should already be able to take a quick forensic look at it to indicate the status of the graphics card.

They do not let you test the card, but the problems that you will be able to see from the beginning just by looking at the board can already give you a clue of the status of the graphics card you have been interested in. From the outset you may find that there are parts where screws are missing and therefore have been lost, it is also important that the graphics card is clean in terms of accumulated dust and dirt, especially in the places where thermal paste and thermal pads are usually placed. In any case, if it is a dirt problem, it can be repaired by cleaning the card and the missing screws can be found.

What is more problematic is that elements of the electrical circuit such as MOSFETS, inductors and capacitors are not in good condition. As long as the PCB is bent. If you see one of these problems, run away. Also do not forget that the BGA where the GPU is as well as the VRAM is well placed and in place, If you see any of these problems when you see the graphics card in a second-hand store, just run away from it.

Use GPU-Z to diagnose performance

GPU-Z Logo

Okay, the card has passed the visual test and externally it seems completely new, it is time to put it to the test to see how it works and you find that things are not quite as they should go from the outset, this is where we get into problems that they have to do with the state of the GPU itself and of the VRAM, which we are going to diagnose using benchmarking tools, but especially with GPU-Z.

GPU-Z is a tool that gives us the information about the graphics card that we have completely installed, this will allow us to know from the outset if there is an internal problem in the GPU or VRAM that has cut its capabilities. In addition, in the event that our graphics card brings series fans to cool it, it will allow us to know what their status is at all times. As well as the temperature of the different components.

We recommend running GPU-Z in the background while running an application that is graphically intensive on your PC, since most of the time the graphics cards are placed at very low clock speeds, it is not worth measuring them by rendering the Windows desktop, for what we recommend you give them cane. In passing we take the opportunity to give you some advice, most stores test the second-hand graphics cards they sell on the Windows desktop, so keep your fingers crossed.

Graphic artifacts or display errors

Artefactos Visuales

A graphic artifact occurs when the image on the screen is not displayed properly, the origin of this can be many parts in the software, but in common we can locate it in the following two points:

  • Bad condition of the video outputs: it is one of the things that you should look at, sometimes it is possible to repair a video output with some skill and knowledge by re-soldering the affected parts. But we don’t recommend doing them if you don’t have the skill and knowledge to do it.
  • VRAM has problems: once rendered images are stored in video memory or VRAM, which when it malfunctions generates visual errors. Sometimes there are people who speed up their graphics cards above what is recommended and this creates problems. With a tuning or overclocking tool we recommend lowering the clock speed to eliminate the problem. If the problem persists then slow down a little more, you will not get the expected performance initially, but the card will work well for you.

Clean the used graphics card well once purchased

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One thing we recommend is that you clean the graphics card, by which we mean removing the old thermal paste and cleaning the connectors with the appropriate products for this. If necessary, replace thermal paste and in case you find a graphics card that is missing one or more screws, but that is in perfect condition, do not worry about it, since it is possible that the previous owner has been very careful with it and has been forced to sell it or has replaced it with a better one.

This may seem silly to you, but good maintenance of the graphics card is key to a longer useful life and if you buy a second-hand one then it will be important that given being a used card you pay more attention in that regard.

It is advisable to buy a used graph to mine

The graphics cards for professional mining are designed to work stably 24 hours a day and 7 days a week in a stable way. These cards are usually placed in systems with complex cooling systems that by weight can bend the graphics PCB. In any case, mining farms tend to keep their graphics cards in better condition.

The other thing that can result in problems is the fact that they will have raised the speed of the VRAM and they will have lowered the speed of the graph, as well as its voltage. Something that you can manipulate again with software overclocking tools. In the case that they have installed a BIOS for mining, you will have it as easy as updating it by searching the network, since most manufacturers allow it to be done by software without further complication.

In the event that the BIOS has been modified, we recommend looking for the one for your graphics card in the VGA BIOS database at Techpowerup, where you can find them ordered by brand and model.