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Is Buying a Used Graphics Card Worth It?

Tips On Buying Used GPUs, RTX 2000 / RX 5000 Price Guide, & Where to Look




Last Updated: July 21, 2021

Since the graphics card is almost always going to be the most expensive part of a gaming computer, hunting for a used GPU (Graphics Processing Unit; just another word for graphics card) is a good way to save money on your PC build.

But as a wise old dude in the desert once famously said,"You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy". Doesn't take a Jedi to know Obi Wan was of course referring to the used PC market; a hazy maze filled with occasional deals, a whole lot of duds, and savage sellers who'll take full advantage at the first signs of noobery.

See Also: Should You Buy a Used Mining GPU?

Alright, alright, I'm being a little hyperbolic, and most people are good and won't rip you off, but you must be on your toes when buying any used stuff, and especially so when it comes to expensive tech like graphics cards where there could be any number of potential issues with the product. Then there's the reality that some sellers try to sell overpriced tech to those less aware of market prices and conditions, something that's possible due to the often oscillating nature of tech (goes up and down all the time).

A little understanding of the market goes a long way to finding a fair deal and to not get ripped off, as well as some know-how in regards to navigating used markets. So, if you're hunting a second-hand graphics card this year, in this guide I'll cover some key things to know when buying a used GPU (in my opinion based on my first-hand experience buying and selling hardware over the years). We'll also finish off with the most popular places to buy used graphics cards in North America, the UK, and Australia. Let's get to it.



Should You Buy a Used Graphics Card? (The Risks)

The main risk of buying a used graphics card is that it dies on you a few months, weeks, or even days after buying. The main causes of premature failure are:

  • A GPU that's been through a lot of use for many years
  • A GPU that's been overclocked too much (or incorrectly/dangerously)
  • A GPU that's been poorly looked after, such as choked by inadequate case ventilation
  • A GPU that's been used for crypto mining without proper settings (see should you buy a used mining GPU?)
  • A GPU that is damaged when shipped with insufficiently safe packaging
  • Or, in the worst of worst cases - all of the above (quite unlikely)

When assembling a new gaming PC, the graphics card will almost always be the most expensive component of your parts list, so if you buy a dud that turns out to have issues, and you don't buy with protection (explained next) so you can get your money back - it's going to sting. But the potential savings is worth it to many, and if you keep your wits about you it's not that hard to do safely. PC builders buy used GPUs all the time.

But whether it's worth the risk or not; only you can answer that question, and depends on how comfortable you are with whatever method/platform you use to buy your card. If you're buying in-person and are comfortable dealing with people, with the confidence to ask all the necessary questions and decent sense of awareness to sus out a suspicious seller who may try lying to your face - I'd say go for it.




Good Prices for Used NVIDIA RTX 2000 GPUs

Since they're a popular buy on the used market, if you're wondering what a fair used price is to pay for the last-gen NVIDIA RTX 20 series, here are my ballpark recommendations based on their performance relative to the latest (but expensive) RTX 3000 cards. When buying a used GPU, there's nothing wrong going further back in time and picking up an old GTX 1000 series card if the price is juicy, but ideally you want to stick to the current or previous generation so that you get your hands on modern tech. The more recent the card, the more power efficient, the higher the likelihood of it still being under warranty, and the higher resale value it'll have should you decide to sell it later.

  • Buying a Used RTX 2080 Ti? Don't pay more than $550 USD
  • Buying a Used RTX 2080 Super? Don't pay more than $450 USD
  • Buying a Used RTX 2080? Don't pay more than $425 USD
  • Buying a Used RTX 2070 Super? Don't pay more than $400 USD
  • Buying a Used RTX 2070? Don't pay more than $350 USD
  • Buying a Used RTX 2060 Super? Don't pay more than $350 USD

Nothing wrong paying a bit more than these prices if you can't be bothered waiting too long to snag a solid deal, but these are the maximum prices I'd personally pay if I were buying these models.



Good Prices for Used AMD RX 5000 GPUs

AMD's most recent RX 5700 and 5700 XT cards are good overall value for money buys, so here's a general guideline on what a fair used price would be right now considering the new RTX 30 series launch and the fact that new AMD GPUs will release later this later (RDNA2, AKA Big Navi). As for the RX 570 or 580, those cards are getting quite old now and I would personally avoid buying them used, besides also being a higher chance of being a mined card (they're still fine to buy new at the right price though for budget builds).

  • Buying a Used RX 5700? Don't pay more than $325
  • Buying a Used RX 5700 XT? Don't pay more than $350


Tips to Buying a Used GPU (What to Look for & Ask)

Here's some basic things to keep in mind when hunting for used graphics cards if you perhaps don't have much (or any) experience with buying used tech. Just keep in mind that this, like the whole article, is simply my own opinion from experience (so take it or leave it, but I think it may be helpful if you're new to this). Also check out the used mining GPU buyer's guide as well for extra tips related to that.

  • Remember the majority of listings will be overpriced and probably not worth your time, unless the price isn't too bad and you're good at negotiating. I've hunted used GPUs for other people before, and only 20-30% of ads are worth looking further into, as most are way overpriced.
  • If you want to be as safe as possible, only buy if the seller has proof of purchase (ie physical receipt) and proof of warranty (if there's some warranty left which would be ideal).

  • Don't buy if the card is too old, say more than 2-3 years old depending on what you're comfortable with.
  • Ask about the card's usage, including whether it was overclocked (and how much plus how long). The more details you can gather the better, so don't be afraid to ask multiple questions (especially if their ad is thin on a description). If they get annoyed by your questions, or straight-up ignore some of them, that's a red flag.
  • If buying online, immediately test the card in games and/or GPU stress tests as soon as you receive it so you can return it if there's an issue (for places like Ebay where you are protected in a sense and can return if the card wasn't as advertised).
  • If buying in-person, inspect the GPU up close and look for obvious signs of heavy wear or damage. Look for discoloration of the PCB (Printed Board Circuit) - the actual circuity bit of the card (usually green, black, or grey). This means the GPU could be damaged by overuse and/or overheating.

  • Avoid just doing a shady straight-swap at Starbucks or something- ideally you want to see the card working at their place before buying (or ask them to come to yours if you have a PC). If you want to be extra safe, ask nicely if they can quickly load up a game to see the card in action. While the gaming starts, listen for any extreme/strange noise from the card, and look that all the GPU fans are spinning (keep in mind GPU fans may not spin when the card is idle, ie when no game is running). If they're not willing to have you test the card before buying, I would be a little suspicious.
  • Another thing you could do is ask them if they would be okay if you had a friend bring their PC to their house to quickly test the card - even if you can't or don't intend to do this. Their response will be telling IMO - if they decline, that's a red flag for me.
  • If not paying cash in-person, favor using PayPal over a straight bank transfer as you'll get some level of buyer protection if something goes wrong. PayPal's system isn't perfect, but it's better than nothing.
  • If scouring Gumtree, don't be that guy or gal who wastes time with the semi-pointless ice-breaking "is this still available?" (hilarious video intro by TechYesCity). If an ad is still live, assume it's available and get straight to the point with your question/s about the card. No point wasting time with that initial inquiry and waiting for a "yes" reply to then ask what you really wanted to say; in the mean time the card could have been sold to someone else who was quicker on the ball.
  • I would not ask someone "are you negotiable on price". Instead, when going to check out a card in person, if you get to the point where you want to make an offer, just make your offer confidently such as "will you take X?". When you ask if they're negotiable, they can just say no, and then you're at a dead end in terms of being able to negotiate.
  • Always offer less than the asking price; you don't want to be annoying, and you don't want to give a silly lowball offer to waste your and his/her time, but not asking is a mistake as many people will list a price that's slightly higher than what they're willing to let it go for. So if a card is listed for $300, start by offering $250 or thereabouts, and then negotiate up from there if they say no. Or if a card is $700, start with offering $550.
  • If you're buying a card that's 3-5 or more years old, consider replacing the GPU thermal paste which can sometimes improve temperatures (and even performance).

See Also: How to Choose a GPU (Specs 101)



Best Places to Buy Used Graphics Cards

North America (USA or Canada)

  • Ebay - Has some level of buyer protection against scams if you don't get what you payed for so is relatively safe, but still be cautious and judge listings carefully.
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • PCSwaps - Relatively new site but may be worth having a look, and may potentially grow in future.

UK

  • Ebay UK
  • Gumtree
  • Facebook Marketplace

Australia

  • Ebay AU
  • Gumtree
  • Facebook Marketplace


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Trusted Stores

The online retailers I recommend for tech.

USA: Amazon US / BestBuy / B&H

Canada: Amazon CA

UK: Amazon UK / Overclockers

Australia: Amazon AU / PLE / Scorptec

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That simply means if you purchase product/s within a certain period of time after clicking the store links above (or any product links on this site), if that store offers an affiliate program I receive a small commission of the total sale amount (at no extra cost to you - it comes out on the retailer's end). This is how I'm able to earn an income writing and updating these articles for you guys. Also note this is unrelated to manufacturers: I don't accept monetary incentives to recommend a certain product over another.


Trusted VPN

Cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly important issue in the digital age, and installing a VPN is one easy way to improve the security and privacy of your PC. VPNs can also help for gaming. NordVPN is the one I use and can recommend. For more on VPNs see my gaming PC software guide.


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About Me

Indie game dev currently working on an atmospheric VR FPS adventure with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone interested in VR FPS's). Also likes writing about gaming and hardware.

Favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, WC3, HL1, HL2, and KOTOR, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Half Life Alyx. - Julz