Cryptominers are selling used GPUs as new with repainted VRAM chips
The entire Ethereum network is transitioning to a proof-of-stake consensus, so GPU mining is probably going to become unprofitable soon, especially without any solid proof-of-work alternative on the horizon during the bear market. Chinese miners have been dumping their GPUs since spring of 2021, and we’ve seen a gradual return to MSRP for most of the RTX 3000 and RX 6000 models last year. A used card would usually sell for maybe 50% of MSRP or even lower in bulk, but some miners are not willing to go this low and try to sell used cards as new products. Buyers can usually spot this type of rip-off as they identify missing seals, stickers, and discolored chips, yet some miners are now employing a new trick that involves repainting the memory chips, as reported by YouTuber Iskandar Souza and GPU repair specialist Paulo Gomes. .
Before revealing how the reconditioned VRAM chips present themselves, Gomes first shows how used chips exhibit some color tinting (usually yellow), which can also be found around the edges of a GPU die. It looks like the miners can’t really remove the tint from the GPU dies, but they have found a way to apply a fresh coat of paint to the VRAM chips. Gomes peels away the paint on some chips, and we can see that some of the inscriptions underneath do not match the ones from the new layer of paint. Some codes are also repeated from one chip to another. Nevertheless, the fake inscriptions look genuine and it is unclear how the miners managed to reproduce them in such detail.
While not too many Westerners may be looking to buy new GPUs from China, we have seen similar problems in the EU, where a German GPU repair service discovered 48 of defective GPUs believed to come from an improperly stored batch of unused mining GPUs. These situations could be avoided by purchasing the latest generation of GPUs, but we are still seeing inflated prices due to scalpers and low initial stocks.
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