We’ve recently explored the disassembly and reassembly of RTX 4090 GPUs in China, repurposing them as AI accelerators for the growing AI market. This practice has been ongoing, but it gained attention lately due to limited GPU availability caused by U.S. sanctions. It’s unfortunate that companies persist in this operation, repurposing functional gaming GPUs into new blower-style cards for a distinct market, and occasionally, these cards have an alternate origin.
The majority of blower-style cards in the Chinese market consist of outdated cryptomining GPUs deemed unprofitable. Entities like Jieshuo purchase them in bulk, offering a second lease on life. If gamers are aware of their previous use, and they come at a lower cost compared to similar GPUs in the second-hand market, there should be no cause for concern. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the situation.
A recently surfaced GPU is the GeForce RTX 3080 20GB, which NVIDIA never officially released despite numerous rumors about its planned SKU. While the model appeared in internal board partner roadmaps, it never reached the market. Chinese companies opt for the RTX 3080 over the 3090 with 24GB memory simply because the RTX 3080 is more cost-effective to acquire.
Moreover, it can be readily modified to have 20GB of memory through known physical and software modifications. Modders demonstrated how to accomplish this several months ago, and such modified cards were available on the Chinese market for approximately $600 a year ago. Initially targeted specifically for cryptomining, their pricing was not surprising at the time. However, due to recent U.S. sanctions leading to constrained access to high-memory RTX GPUs, this particular model is currently being sold for around $900.
The focus isn’t solely on the RTX 3080; the Radeon RX 580, initially equipped with 8GB memory, can also be encountered with double the capacity. These cards aren’t brand new but rather refurbished used models with enhanced memory. The company openly acknowledges this on the official page where these cards are offered for sale.
The abrupt surge in the availability of both these cards can be traced back to a common origin—former cryptomining farms. These cards undergo cleaning, occasional disassembly, and subsequent reassembly. Despite their refurbished appearance, they may contain aging GPUs and memory chips prone to potential malfunctions. Nevertheless, these companies currently offer a two-year warranty in case of issues, though the claims process can be challenging.
Some "3080 20G AI Blower" warehouse I found on Xianyu app 😂 pic.twitter.com/u1FRTe5Spc
— I_Leak_VN (@I_Leak_VN) November 28, 2023