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Video Allegedly Shows Crypto Miners Jet Washing Nvidia RTX GPUs

GPU miners in Vietnam clean up
(Image credit: I_Leak_VN)

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.

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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.

(Image credit: I_Leak_VN)

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.

(Image credit: I_Leak_VN)

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.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • peachpuff
    LNIB rtx for sale, took out of box to make sure they work...
    Reply
  • pug_s
    I think it is ymmv of how do the previous owners of these gpu owners do to them. I got a used Bitcoined ATI 7850 a few years back but it crapped out sooner before I can put out of pasture. My next bitcoined gpu is an RX 580 and it worked great even today.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    i would never buy a used gpu even before mining was a thing.

    to buy one now is beyond simply not advisable. it is downright stupid. there are plenty of other ways to bet your money that actually have a potential upside.

    even if it did work for a while, helping the miners who created this terrible gpu market in the first place, is just too much to ask. screw them and i hope they have to eat all those used cards they hopefully will never be able to sell.

    but sigh i know folks will be lining up to buy these "lightly used and refurbished" wink wink cards and then come here and ask how to make it run again once it dies on them.
    Reply
  • digitalgriffin
    Wow just....wow. That is just asking for trouble. There's a reason I refuse to buy a used card. You don't know what you are getting.

    The preferred method is canned air, with pipe cleaner. Then you repaste and 1 drop of light oil for the fans. If you use ultra purified water and do NOT use a pressurized washer, you might be okay. A lot of these cards use a partial conformal coating to help protect them. Provided you re-paste. and keep the fans out of the mix.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Seriously? I mean, come on, everyone knows that the right way to do this is to load all the GPUs in the back of a pickup truck, go through the car wash.

    And, if you wanna do it right, spring the extra money for the hot wax treatment!


    Ok, absurdity aside, I have, long ago, bought a used GPU. Granted, it was a low-profile ATI 7250 AGP . . so that's how long ago we're talking about. And, back then ebay was I suppose considered far less populated with scammers than they are today.

    I would still consider it. BUT, I'd most likely do it for an ultra-budget level sort of thing. High-end/expensive? I doubt it - I want the assurance of a full warranty if I'm spending that kind of money.
    Reply
  • velocityg4
    While I sometimes use water for cleaning. My steps are to remove any shrounds or heatsinks. Rinse with alcohol and gently clean with a tootbrush. Rinse with water. Apply more alcohol to speed drying. Then set my reflow station at 90C and quickly dry and blast under the various chips. Finally hang dry in front of a fan for four days to be certain. Before reassembly and new paste.
    Reply
  • punkncat
    I have seen videos of people cleaning disassembled GPU with water, one YT'er even puts them into a sonic bath thingy. It is quite concerning here that they opted to use not only a pressure washer, but didn't bother to pull them from the socket, power cable, etc. Those connectors and such aren't going to dry while plugged in, among other possible issues...those cards are toast.

    I rather wonder if this machine didn't take a surge or otherwise "blow up" and user is simply trolling?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    I could imagine this being a four-steps cleaning process:
    1- use the pressure washer to remove caked-on dirt since mechanical cleaning would take a long time and there are lots of spots that can be tough to get to
    2- ultrasound cleaning in distilled water to remove the stuff pressure-washing missed and whatever residues (ex.: detergent and tap water residues) it may have left behind
    3- rinse in isopropyl alcohol to flush most of the water out
    4- sun/oven-dry for a while before boxing them

    While using a pressure washer may sound extreme, the water doesn't have that much power when using a fan-pattern sprayer at its widest setting from ~2' away.

    velocityg4 said:
    While I sometimes use water for cleaning. My steps are to remove any shrounds or heatsinks. Rinse with alcohol and gently clean with a tootbrush. Rinse with water. Apply more alcohol to speed drying. Then set my reflow station at 90C and quickly dry and blast under the various chips. Finally hang dry in front of a fan for four days to be certain. Before reassembly and new paste.
    This may work fine for your one prized personal GPU.

    Not so well for mining farm operators with thousands of cards. A few years ago, one single mining farm operator had ~500k RX470 or similar cards seized by the Chinese government and got them returned two years ago. At that sort of scale, I'd likely bring out the pressure washers too, at least for the older cards that have already paid themselves off multiple times over.

    punkncat said:
    I have seen videos of people cleaning disassembled GPU with water, one YT'er even puts them into a sonic bath thingy. It is quite concerning here that they opted to use not only a pressure washer, but didn't bother to pull them from the socket, power cable, etc. Those connectors and such aren't going to dry while plugged in, among other possible issues...those cards are toast.
    If you had to pressure-wash GPUs, how would you hold the GPUs? A wide fan water jet displaces a pretty good amount of air on top of the water's force, the GPUs will fly away if you don't have a fixture of some sort to keep them in place. When you have thousands of GPUs to wash, it actually makes sense. Potentially ruining the mining motherboards and stands does not matter much since most of those will have little to no resale value.
    Reply
  • escksu
    Math Geek said:
    i would never buy a used gpu even before mining was a thing.

    to buy one now is beyond simply not advisable. it is downright stupid. there are plenty of other ways to bet your money that actually have a potential upside.

    even if it did work for a while, helping the miners who created this terrible gpu market in the first place, is just too much to ask. screw them and i hope they have to eat all those used cards they hopefully will never be able to sell.

    but sigh i know folks will be lining up to buy these "lightly used and refurbished" wink wink cards and then come here and ask how to make it run again once it dies on them.

    The main reason why people buy used computer parts (not just GPUs) is simply because brand new ones are too costly for them.

    Else nobody would want to touch any used sutff. They belong to landfills and incinerators.

    It goes beyond computers too. Eg. Cars, would you prefer a brand new cars or a used one (assuming money is no issue). Most used cars belong to scrap yard.
    Reply
  • Eximo
    What I have done in the past is look for people that kept the original box. Those are the type of people that just sell their old card to get a new one. Hasn't burned me yet.
    Reply