Cunning salespeople began repainting the memory chips of graphics cards
Hardware

Cunning salespeople began repainting the memory chips of graphics cards, passing off accelerators as new after they were mined

Research by Brazilian YouTuber Iskandar Souza and computer technology expert Paulo Gomes found that graphics card sellers on Chinese online marketplaces are not always honest in claiming that their graphics accelerators are “completely new”.

    Image Credit: Iskandar Souza/Paulo Gomes

Image Credit: Iskandar Souza/Paulo Gomes

The collapse of mining on graphics cards forced miners to look for ways to efficiently and profitably sell their accumulated graphics accelerators. And if some graphics cards that were previously used in mining sell at significant discounts, indicating that the cards were really used, including in mining, then others began to pass them off as completely new graphics accelerators and try to get the maximum jackpot from their sale to crack.

Paulo Gomez explained how to identify a video card that could most likely have been in a mining system by the first signs. Most often this is indicated by missing stickers on graphics cards, which are stuck on the cooling system brackets by the manufacturer. If there are no stickers, this indicates that the card has already been disassembled for some reason. Sometimes, however, graphics cards look brand new (with all stickers, no dust and scratches) even when visually inspected. According to the expert, in most cases such graphics cards are specially prepared to make them look like new.

    The yellow cast on the memory chips (left) is intended to warn the buyer

The yellow cast on the memory chips (left) is intended to warn the buyer

Under heavy loads, the memory chips and graphics processor may discolor and darken. The labels on the same memory chips become less distinguishable and legible. And when there’s nothing to be done about the GPU, some miners even repaint the memory chips of used graphics cards while lightening the chip markings to make them look fresher than they really are.

    Removing fresh paint from a newly painted graphics card memory chip

Removing fresh paint from a newly painted graphics card memory chip

If the miner didn’t bother to repaint the memory chips, then pay attention to the color of the chips. If it has a yellowish tint, this indicates a resoldering of the chip (possibly from another graphics card) or prolonged exposure to heat during mining. In any case, even if the card looks new from the outside, the yellow tint of the chips will immediately indicate that this is not the case. Paolo showed many examples of what GPUs look like after mining.

    More examples of a new (left) and removed (right) GPU

Examples of a new (left) and removed (right) GPU

These memory chips show different degrees of degradation:

    An example of a yellow cast in memory chips

Examples of yellowing in memory chips

A similar research was conducted a year ago by TecLab’s YouTube channel. Then the case of the sale of video cards used by one of the Brazilian companies under the guise of new cards for mining was examined. The epoxy adhesive that holds the graphics card’s GPU to the substrate was a yellowish-dark tint for the accelerators that were mined. The GPU substrate itself gave off the same color. On truly new graphics cards implemented by other vendors, the graphics chip looked much lighter. Armed with this knowledge, Iskandar Souza and Paolo Gomez quickly identified which Chinese graphics cards may already have been mined and sold to unsuspecting buyers under the guise of new ones.

    An example of a yellow tint on a GPU after mining (right) and a new GPU (left).  Image source: TecLab

An example of a yellow tint on a GPU after mining (right) and a new GPU (left). Image source: TecLab

Of course, it would be wrong to infer a graphics card in mining just from a yellow tinge of its components. However, as mentioned above, these accelerators were offered to customers under the guise of newer ones. Therefore, buying graphics cards from such sellers might not be the best idea.

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About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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