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Crypto Miners Start Dumping GPUs, RTX 3080s Listed for $523

EVGA RTX 3080
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Cryptocurrency miners in China have started dismantling their operations and offloading the best graphics cards on the second-hand market. As Bitcoin and Ethereum came crashing down and graphics card pricing began to normalize, miners are looking to cut their losses and sell off their equipment.

Sellers have flooded Xianyu, a second-hand Chinese marketplace similar to eBay, with many used GeForce RTX 30-series (Ampere) graphics cards. We suspect that the miners aren't the only ones getting rid of their stock, but the Xianyu merchants also include scalpers and internet café owners. For example, Twitter user I_Leak_VN (opens in new tab) spotted multiple listings of custom GeForce RTX 3080 graphics cards reportedly selling for 3,500 yuan, or $523.21.

For reference, the GeForce RTX 3080 has a $699 MSRP, so these used graphics cards are selling way below MSRP. In addition, Twitter user MEGAsizeGPU (opens in new tab) discovered that some sellers deviously used fake pricing to attract buyers. In reality, some of the merchants are asking for between $600 to $750 for a GeForce RTX 3080.

Some miners have resorted to live stream auctions to get rid of their graphics cards. As per a Baidu post (opens in new tab), miners are selling tons of GeForce RTX 3060 Ti graphics cards between $300 and $350. Once upon a time, the GeForce RTX 3060 Ti was one of the most popular models for mining, given its performance and price tag. But unfortunately, the Ampere-powered graphics cards are just lying on the floor like cheap rugs waiting for the highest bidder.

It's not just the minor-league cryptocurrency miners feeling the crypto squeeze. Even big mining farms like Toronto-based outfit Bitfarms have started to take action. According to a CoinDesk report (opens in new tab), Bitfarms sold 3,000 BTC valued at $62 million to reduce the company's debt and boost liquidity. The company's now down to 3,349 BTC. In addition, Riot Blockchain, one of the big-name miners, has started selling its bitcoins since April to raise cash.

Ethereum's transition to Proof-of-Stake (PoS), commonly known as "the merge," has suffered multiple setbacks over the years. Ethereum developer Tim Beiko expects the merge to reach completion between August and November. Miners still have a few months to unload their assets. However, it wouldn't be very intelligent to pick up a graphics card with a history of operating 24/7 in the cryptocurrency mines, even if the price looks attractive. But who knows. Maybe used Ampere graphics cards will be dirt cheap by November and worth the gamble.

Zhiye Liu
Zhiye Liu

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • bigdragon
    A lot of the crypto GPUs were undervolted and housed in well-cooled environments. I don't think they're a huge gamble to try, especially if the OEM has a good warranty on the card. Definite possibility for deals here, especially if miners and scalpers start undercutting each other in a week or two.

    However, the next generation is weeks or a few months away -- very close. The RTX 30-series also has anemic amounts of VRAM. Intel is taking the low-end of the market away from Nvidia and AMD. Inflation is changing spending habits. Lots of downward pressure on GPU prices. We don't have a PC game pushing graphical fidelity and creating a need to upgrade either. The pendulum is swinging back against the GPU vendors after a couple years of crypto and shortage-fueled craziness.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    I wouldn't buy any of their cards regardless of the discounted price. These guys were the reason the market was messed up for over a year. Not going to reward them by buying their used mining gpu's just on principle alone.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    bigdragon said:
    A lot of the crypto GPUs were undervolted and housed in well-cooled environments. I don't think they're a huge gamble to try, especially if the OEM has a good warranty on the card. Definite possibility for deals here, especially if miners and scalpers start undercutting each other in a week or two.

    However, the next generation is weeks or a few months away -- very close. The RTX 30-series also has anemic amounts of VRAM. Intel is taking the low-end of the market away from Nvidia and AMD. Inflation is changing spending habits. Lots of downward pressure on GPU prices. We don't have a PC game pushing graphical fidelity and creating a need to upgrade either. The pendulum is swinging back against the GPU vendors after a couple years of crypto and shortage-fueled craziness.
    That is only for the GPU, but not the memory. The memory is tuned for max performance and it was abused for a long time and hard, 24/7 even, in those mining farms. This is well known.

    So, in short, no. Buying these cards is almost guaranteed to not last a long time if they don't just die immediately afterwards. That's not even taking into account hacked firmware and other "customization" done to it.

    Even low scale farmers, I'd say, are not free of these points/issues. I would advise people to stay away from confirmed mining cards if possible and, as Makaveli mentioned above, there's also a stance to take: do not help these rats recoup their money.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • KananX
    Only buy used cards with warranty, it doesn’t matter if crypto or not. What to look out for with crypto cards are also the fans, under constant use they aren’t in the best shape anymore.
    Also 530$ isn’t cheap by any means, we are talking about used cards here, it’s really nothing special. 350-400$ would be good.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    bigdragon said:
    The RTX 30-series also has anemic amounts of VRAM.
    8GB of VRAM is enough for the vast majority of games. Worst case, you may have to settle for high-resolution textures instead of ultra and that is about it. No major VRAM problem there.

    Also keep in mind that people who have been holding off from buying a new GPU for this long and may be eyeing heavily discounted retired crypto-mining GPUs are likely very much willing to compromise on some details to make their games run smoothly on 8GB if that means saving another good chunk of change.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    bigdragon said:
    The RTX 30-series also has anemic amounts of VRAM.
    I've yet to find a game where my RTX 2070 Super struggles because of VRAM issues, and that's assuming the game even chews up all of the VRAM to begin with. Plus things like DLSS makes VRAM pressure less of a problem.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    -Fran- said:
    That is only for the GPU, but not the memory. The memory is tuned for max performance and it was abused for a long time and hard, 24/7 even, in those mining farms. This is well known.

    So, in short, no. Buying these cards is almost guaranteed to not last a long time if they don't just die immediately afterwards. That's not even taking into account hacked firmware and other "customization" done to it.

    Even low scale farmers, I'd say, are not free of these points/issues. I would advise people to stay away from confirmed mining cards if possible and, as Makaveli mentioned above, there's also a stance to take: do not help these rats recoup their money.

    Regards.

    I don't think that there's any evidence that running memory at max performance 24/7 reduces it's lifespan. Semiconductors like CPUs and RAM (when run within spec) can essentially run forever - and these cards have thermal protections to essentially force them to throttle/shutdown rather than run at a too-high temperatures.
    Capacitors fail faster when run hot, flash memory has limited writes, and moving parts wear out... but the GPU and GDDR themselves are the least of your worries.

    "Commercial" mining farms want to waste cycles on fake math at maximum efficiency, and GPUs are less efficient as temperatures increase. I would really only be only worried about dust, normal thermal paste maintenance, and the fans, which are probably still fine and usually not even that hard to replace. Of course, all bets are off it it was run on brownout power in some hacked-together rig that an amateur hot boxed in his garage.
    You can still try to avoid mining cards but, realistically, 99% of the used current gen cards you'll find have been used for mining, regardless of what the seller says.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    Remember kids, you may be desperate for a new GPU. But, whatever you do, DO NOT buy a 2nd hand clapped out mining card. You will be sorry.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Giroro said:
    I don't think that there's any evidence that running memory at max performance 24/7 reduces it's lifespan. Semiconductors like CPUs and RAM (when run within spec) can essentially run forever - and these cards have thermal protections to essentially force them to throttle/shutdown rather than run at a too-high temperatures.
    Capacitors fail faster when run hot, flash memory has limited writes, and moving parts wear out... but the GPU and GDDR themselves are the least of your worries.

    "Commercial" mining farms want to waste cycles on fake math at maximum efficiency, and GPUs are less efficient as temperatures increase. I would really only be only worried about dust, normal thermal paste maintenance, and the fans, which are probably still fine and usually not even that hard to replace. Of course, all bets are off it it was run on brownout power in some hacked-together rig that an amateur hot boxed in his garage.
    You can still try to avoid mining cards but, realistically, 99% of the used current gen cards you'll find have been used for mining, regardless of what the seller says.
    kdzsBDenww4:497View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdzsBDenww4&t=497s

    Regards.
    Reply
  • hotaru.hino
    Giroro said:
    I don't think that there's any evidence that running memory at max performance 24/7 reduces it's lifespan. Semiconductors like CPUs and RAM (when run within spec) can essentially run forever - and these cards have thermal protections to essentially force them to throttle/shutdown rather than run at a too-high temperatures.
    Capacitors fail faster when run hot, flash memory has limited writes, and moving parts wear out... but the GPU and GDDR themselves are the least of your worries.

    "Commercial" mining farms want to waste cycles on fake math at maximum efficiency, and GPUs are less efficient as temperatures increase. I would really only be only worried about dust, normal thermal paste maintenance, and the fans, which are probably still fine and usually not even that hard to replace. Of course, all bets are off it it was run on brownout power in some hacked-together rig that an amateur hot boxed in his garage.
    You can still try to avoid mining cards but, realistically, 99% of the used current gen cards you'll find have been used for mining, regardless of what the seller says.
    You could also add that thermal stress is limited on a mining card if they've been working basically at 100% most of the time. This is unlike a consumer card that experiences swings of thermal stress at the very least. Also consumers tend to leave their cards at default settings, or at the very least, push the card hard for that 5% extra performance.

    Basically, I equate this to someone who drove a car for 300,000 miles but mostly on the freeway versus someone who drove only 20,000 miles and it was a track car.
    Reply