The AMD RX 6800 and 6900 graphics cards have been in the spotlight recently after several of them broke due to a physical GPU break, and now we have an obvious answer as to why.
This comes from YouTube’s KrisFix (who runs a German hardware repair shop) who noticed that many such AMD GPUs that were popping up on his doorstep died of cracking.
At the time, it was speculated that the AMD driver might be the cause – since all owners of these graphics cards were using the latest version – but as KrisFix explains in new video on youtube (opens in a new tab) (underlined by Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab)), it wasn’t.
In fact, KrisFix theorizes that the problem was caused by a combination of two factors: the GPUs were the cryptocurrency mining models and how they were stored prior to sale.
KrisFix notes that all of the problematic cards were sold in late November or early December 2022, and likely came from the same second-hand source – namely, a cryptocurrency mining farm that sold out tons of AMD Radeon models.
The idea is that these graphics cards were driven very hard 24/7 during their mining duties and then possibly stored in a poor environment, perhaps in a warehouse with high levels of humidity.
This means that when buyers moved their GPUs, they worked fine at first, but then during gaming (or other intense loads) the chip temperature was high due to excessive moisture damage (combined with all previous miles per clock from mining), the GPU it just broke. The owners might have had a day or two without the cards—maybe three—before they went bad.
All broken graphics cards showed the same type of damage and were generally in a similar condition – with cleaned coolers. (A normally used graphics card would have some dust, but in this case all the cards were clean, suggesting that the mining farm owner had them all dressed up before being put up for sale.)
Analysis: the dangers of the used GPU market
This is not really a surprise as when we originally reported this issue, we noticed that the affected models may be former GPUs. What KrisFix is saying here makes sense to us, and also explains why we don’t see this issue elsewhere – the local mine has shut down and sold all of its graphics cards (stored the same way) to buyers in the area, many of them turned to to this workshop to solve your woes when your GPU stopped working.
The good news, then, is that this won’t be a common problem with the RX 6900 and RX 6800 models, and AMD’s graphics driver is not to blame (as KrisFix highlights in the latest video).
Instead, this episode serves as a fairly clear warning of the dangers of buying GPUs that have previously been run in a large mining farm, and that it’s not just about the stresses they’ve been subjected to, but the environmental havoc (and even storage after farming is complete) before the cards actually sell out).
In short, buy a miner graphics card at your own risk as there are definite and clear risks associated with these GPUs. The problem is that retailers often don’t disclose that the card they are using is mined because they know this puts many people off. So you are left in a situation where you have to trust the seller’s reputation and honesty to be truthful about the past life of the graphics card.
All of these dangers are greatly exacerbated at a time when cryptocurrencies are falling off a cliff like they did last year and mining operations are giving up and of course looking to sell their shares as the ultimate cash grab. In times like these, the market for used graphics cards can become a minefield, so tread especially carefully when purchasing used graphics cards.