Crypto crunch moves GPU sales: Beware the "used" card

This week in China you'll find a wide variety of graphics cards in auctions and direct "fire sale" type listings. It's due in a big way to recent legal crackdowns in the country by Chinese government officials on the mining and use of cryptocurrency. If you happen to be in a place where you can purchase graphics cards from newly-shuttered mining operations, you might find sales of GPU hardware for prices that seem too good to be true – because they are.

If you're looking for a graphics card from the most recent round of NVIDIA and AMD releases, and find yourself looking in the secondhand market, be cautious. While the cards may still work when they arrive on your doorstep – MAY still work – they'll have significantly reduced life expectancy. Cards sold by mining operations are much more likely than most sources to be substantially utilized by the time they get to you.

As noted by The Guru of 3D and The Block Crypto this week, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 can be found for a few hundred dollars – assuming you want to buy a hundred or more cards all at once, and assuming you're OK with said cards having some very borderline performance and remaining operational life. These cards can be found in bulk at Taobao (Xianyu market), from all sorts of sellers.

If you happen to find bundles of graphics cards sold for impossibly low prices in the near future, regardless of their apparent source, beware their source. Make sure you understand their entire provenance, from original sale to use to secondary sale. If the seller cannot provide any sort of proof that a graphics card wasn't used in a mining operation, it's probably best to pass.

Meanwhile, this selling off of units is likely a good sign for those users looking to buy a new NVIDIA or AMD graphics card in the near future. Supply will, eventually, catch up with demand and users will be able to find the card they seek – cross your fingers the crunch won't crunch us all before then.