If you’re cruising eBay, Craigslist or Offerup looking for a “lightly used mining GPU” for your gaming PC, I’m here to tell you not to.
My position isn’t new, but it is different. While experts will say buying a used mining graphics card can be very low risk—so long as the miner knew what he or she was doing—my argument against buying that mining GPU goes beyond technical reasons: General principle.
GPU crypto miners, you see, are the ones who have been buying every single graphics card they could over the last two plus years forcing you, the PC gamer, to run ancient moldy hardware well beyond its age or pay insanely high prices for a GPU. Yes, supply chain issues also contributed to shortages, but most believe miners should get the lion’s share of blame for the GPU shortage. I largely agree.
New card from AMD or Nvidia is released? Forget it, it’s immediately snapped up out of existence by crypto miners before it ever sees the inside of your gaming rig. Nvidia releases a card specifically designed to prevent crypto miners from using them? Just a momentary speed bump before those GPUs are enslaved in the crypto mines of Kessel.
With the wheels finally coming off the crypto wagon in the last few months, those same miners are now looking to unload those GPUs they’ve been making bank off of at overly inflated prices.
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No one really knows what the “average crypto miner” has made, but let’s take the example of this miner profiled on CNBC earlier this year. He operated 261 GPU mining machines and has made, by his own estimates, about $110,000 a month. In that miner’s case, I don’t know if he decided to throw in the towel or not nor how much he sold those used GPUs for if he did, but my guess is like most miners, part of the calculation when closing up shop is to “recoup” the investment in those cards by selling them at the highest price the used market will bear.
That’s the part that really sticks in my craw: If you’ve made thousands of dollars a month from mining, you’ve already recovered the price of those GPUs ten fold. It’s like an oil company buying an oil rig for $10 million, making $200 million pumping oil with it, and then selling that beat-to-hell used rig for $8 million (hardly used).
I won’t tear down any miner for making the killing he or she has—more power to them in fact for being such successful go-getters. But do you have to be so damned greedy you can’t sell that card at a reasonable price to give those PC gamers the break they so deserve?
But no, from perusing mining GPUs on Ebay, it doesn’t look like it. One ad I saw was pushing a mining rig (basically some crappy PC in an open frame case with riser cards) with a single GeForce RTX 3060 Ti for $840. There don’t appear to be great deals on used mining cards that I’m seeing. If you’re a miner liquidating at super low prices, well, thank you. But most used mining GPUs aren’t that great a deal. Well, at least, not the great deals I’d expect from people who likely have have Gulfstream G6 sales associates beating down their door.
Of course they aren’t. Business is business. And I get that. If I was sitting on a bazillion dollars in cryptocurrency mined with GPUs (full disclosure: I’ve never mined a buck in all this time) I probably wouldn’t care either. I’d be looking to use money sold from selling those GPUs to invest in a confiscated super yacht now rather than worry about other people’s problems.
What I can control, however, is my own money—and I ain’t buying a used mining card on general principle. Some have criticized my take and believe the bile should be aimed at the graphics card vendors who also profited handsomely from GPU mining these last few years. Could more have been done by them? Possibly, maybe even probably. But what I do know is AMD and Nvidia have both at least tried to get GPUs into gamer’s hands only to see most of them diverted to miners. And maybe both are seeing their own karmic payback these days watching GPU sales crumbling.
In the end, there’s just something just galactically wrong with buying a used graphics card that someone has made a huge profit from for 80 percent of its MSRP. It’s enough that rather than buy that card, I’d rather tell them to take that card and put it where the RGB won’t shine instead—especially with prices for new graphics cards plummeting.