I found a used sapphire radeon r9 290x used (claimed to still have box and warranty) for 350$CAN. That sounds like a steal, even for a reference card. I was originally planning to get a msi r9 280x new for 300$. So, is it safe to buy the graphics card used? Is the reference card good? And if I was to buy it, what are things to look for when testing it?
That depends how trusted this person/source is. If this person is ok and its still under warranty then its relatively safe to buy and really nice deal.
Only difference on reference and non reference card, is depending on specific card, better cooling, slightly higher clocks and maybe some little tweaking.
As tor testing, try some performance demanding benchmark with max settings for hour or so, to see if its stable and not overheat.
That will stress card more then normal gaming and most likely reveal potential problems.
The only real reason I can see someone selling such a new card so soon is they probably used it for mining, so it ran for 24/7 since they bought it. That's the problem nowadays, I wouldn't buy any used AMD card as 80% chance they were abused and used for coin mining and probably have a dramatically shorter lifespan.
But even with the reduced lifespan, would it still be worth it since its like half the price? Also, does the warranty carry over? If so, then it would cover me for two years. The thing is, there is no way to know for sure if the person is telling the truth, whether the card was used for mining or not.
Found another reference card (r9 290 no x) and selling for 300$ claiming it was only used for gaming.
These are all amazing prices but I just don't trust people. lol
PErsonally I would agree with getochkn. If this were a friend selling you this card that is one thing, but that is a really good price, and as far as I'm concerned there are a few bumps against it:
1.) Reference card (probably inferior cooling/clocks to other cards, not always true, but usually a safe bet)
2.) Unknown seller
3.) AMD card
Number three is not a knock at AMD cards, it is a knock at mining. Right now coin mining is HUGE and AMD cards tend to be used for it more then GTX (personally I don't mine, so I don't know why AMD cards are preferred, i'd assume price but I'm sure someone here can tell you).
Just know that mining is incredibly hard on a card, especially with someone that does it exclusively. If it was used for mining, this card could have been running for 30 straight days on max load, in less then fantastic cooling (as far as I know a lot of miners like to keep there rigs cool enough to run, not as cold temps for longevity.)
TLTR: I am strongly in favor of new components, especially with graphics cards. The 280x is a great card, and msi is a great company. It will be able to max a lot of games out (probably most) and will last a long time. Having the new card would be worth it in my opinion.
If you choose the reference cards. Run it under full load for a bit to stress test it, and try cranking your fans, make sure they are spinning correctly, no funny sounds or wobbling. Those would be my concerns.