The Ethereum blockchain changeover from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake, commonly referred to as the Merge, effectively meant crypto coin mining with consumer graphics cards was no longer profitable. While gamers looked forward to cheaper new and used GPUs becoming the norm, according to a series of videos posted to Twitter by I_Leak_VN, GPU crypto miners in Vietnam appear to be jet washing gear their old mining kit before putting the components up for sale on eBay or local equivalents.
Some Vietnamese miners have cleaned up their old graphics cards after ETH merge by bathing them with extremely high risk. It's really their cleaning season while waiting for the next GPU-minable 3rd coin. (1/3) pic.twitter.com/qnUMWxpyctSeptember 23, 2022
In the video above it is somewhat startling to see what is purportedly a Vietnamese GPU miner casually jet washing several racks packed with powerful GPUs. Twitter’s I_Leak_VN shared a collection of these intriguing videos today. Alongside the videos came repeated warnings about buying used graphics cards.
The powerful jets from this kind of cleaning system can easily cause potential physical damage (who'd miss a random surface mount resistor?) or water ingress into places it might not easily evaporate from. Also, thermal paste or lubricating grease may possibly be removed too, so watch those fans.
The water allegedly being used in the jet washing / bathing wasn’t particularly "clean". It could easily leave deposits behind on the PCB, potentially causing damage that could lead to short circuits or other electrical damage once these products are powered up.
In a third video from the same source, we can see immersion washing being used on some graphics card PCBs and I/O brackets in a bath of ‘ozone water’ that is being agitated using an ultrasonic cleaner. Whether this is a second stage of ‘refurbishment’ or cleaning for the jet washed cards, or is reserved for older, dustier or grimier cards isn’t discussed. We must mention that there are professionals and enthusiasts that occasionally wash component PCBs via immersion methods, or even in a household dishwasher. Those well versed in this cleaning methodology are again very careful about their water and cleaning additives; any impurities or deposits left behind after the wash (and lengthy drying) could be detrimental to electronic integrity.
Summing up the above, it looks like a portion of the expected flood of used, ‘like new’ or even some ‘refurbished’ graphics cards could be prone to failure. If the silicon and supporting components haven’t been stressed to within an inch of death during their time mining, they are then subjected to extreme cleaning to try and make them look box fresh. Be careful out there on eBay or your local equivalent when you are GPU bargain hunting. It looks like ensuring you will be able to get refunds and/or replacements particularly important, and a guarantee from a seller with a good reputation would probably be worthwhile too.