Broken and GPU-less RTX 4090s are being sold secondhand by scammers

If you’re considering buying a used high-end graphics card then you’ll need to be extra diligent as scammers are now selling stripped-out Nvidia RTX 4090s without their AD102 die. 

A new video by Northwestrepair via YouTube highlights the extent of the issue as some less-than-savory individuals have taken to secondary reseller outlets such as Facebook Marketplace with too good to be true prices on RTX 4090 hardware. The teardown reveals that under the MSI Ventus heatsink was a board with no GPU. 

It’s part of a new scam emerging where some people will buy up used RTX 4090s for parts for around $200 (around £160 / AU$300) and then sell them on as fully working cards to catch out those who can’t see the warning signs. Even the best graphics card can die for all manner of reasons, and selling dead cards for parts makes repairs possible through salvaged memory modules, heatsinks, PCBs, etc. 

However, graphics cards without their silicon are completely useless. And in this case, all the buyer bought was an MSI heatsink attached to a completely blank PCB. All the memory modules were removed along with the GPU die itself, making it an incredibly expensive plastic paperweight.

For context, the MSI Venus RTX 4090 currently retails for around $1,899 through retailers such as Newegg and Amazon. While we don’t know the exact amount this buyer paid for their version, we’re willing to bet it was well under $1,000. If an offer appears to good to be true then it is, and you can keep yourself safe by remembering some crucial buying advice.

Keep yourself safe when buying a new GPU

The best way to ensure that you can avoid being scammed is by buying through trusted retailers. Outlets such as Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter, and Best Buy provide brand-new and professionally refurbished models, meaning there’s no chance of being caught in the crosshairs here. 

However, should you consider buying used then you’ll need to approach the transaction with caution. It’s unlikely a seller will open up the graphics card for you there and then to expose the silicon, but you can ask for recent benchmarks (or videos of the card in action) to prove its working status, and there’s nothing wrong with opening up the box and inspecting the card to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.

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And, as always, it’s always better to buy a graphics card from someone you know, if possible. 

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