Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

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Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby mjallemand » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:26 am

I have a few old PCs here at my workplace, one with a Intel Core 2 Quad a few even older models with Pentium D processors. Those CPUs are positively ancient by today's standards but they're more than functional for what we use them for.

I'd love to drop in a GPU to run Folding@Home on them, since they're on all day anyway, but I don't really want to throw a whole lot of cash at it. Two old GPUs I have sitting about are unfortunately a bit too old to function for F@H purposes (AMD R5 220 & Nvidia Geforce 9500GT) so I can't use them.

I'd love to do a bit of eBay trawling and pick up something for $50 or less that'll do the job. Can anyone suggest something to keep my eyes out for? All the PCs in question are equipped with PCI Express x16 slots, so it shouldn't be difficult finding something compatible.

Heck, I even have an old Acer desktop my parents are about to throw out I can repurpose as a F&H box as well if this works out.

Thanks.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby jonault » Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:07 am

The problem with those old cards is that in the long run you wind up spending more on higher electric bills than you save on the up front cost of the card compared to a more modern GPU.

For example, you can pick up a GTX 970 on eBay for about $100, but it uses 275W. OTOH, a new GTX 1660 Super costs about $240 but only uses 125W. The 1660 uses 150W less power which for me, with an electricity rate of 7.5 cents per KW-hour, means a savings of about $100 a year in electricity costs. So that 1660 Super will earn back its higher purchase price in about 1.5 years, and it does approximately twice as much work per day as a 970.

Whichever cards you're thinking about buying, you should do a similar comparison of the costs of running them based on your electric rates.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby JimboPalmer » Thu Mar 05, 2020 3:18 am

Only Nvidia and AMD GPUs will work.

Nvidia cards that use Kepler or newer will work. For mobile, an issue is double precision, some AMD mobile GPUs lack it and can't fold, so far as I know, this is not an Nvidia Issue)

Nvidia GPUs use a code like GLnnn where the G is always a G, the L is a letter showing what 'family' the GPUs belongs to Tesla and Fermi are too old, Kepler, Maxwell, Pascal, Volta, and Turing are supported. nnn are numbers where the first n is a generation, (the latest are 10 and 20 which break the scheme) and the second nn is how powerful the card is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_N ... 400_series

Is a list of Nvidia cards, so you can see examples. If Double Precision says unknown, it is an unsupported card.

AMD is similar, the familys are Terascale 2, Terascale 3, GCN, and Navi. And again, if there is no Double Precision, it is unsupported.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_A ... 000_series

Both links take you to the oldest cards that might be supported.
Last edited by JimboPalmer on Thu Mar 05, 2020 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby antropofob » Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:01 am

1060s are great value for that purpose. You can get them for slightly more than 50$.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... Ek/pubhtml
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby mjallemand » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:20 pm

antropofob wrote:1060s are great value for that purpose. You can get them for slightly more than 50$.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... Ek/pubhtml


Would one of these mining cards work as long as I have a second video card in the system to get a signal out to a monitor?

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ZOTAC-P106-90- ... Sw99Rds7YP

Heck, I actually have been running the computer without a monitor anyway and just operating it via TeamViewer anyway.

Similarly, would a card like that work in a system that has onboard video? I have a few old Dell PCs that I could drop these into that already have onboard video for normal computer functions.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby toTOW » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:38 pm

Yes, they will work as long as we have them in the list of supported hardware ... if you get one and it isn't recognized, you can post a request in the "New GPUs (whitelist)" subforum.

For your second question, I think I will answer "maybe". Most onboard iGPUs are disabled when an external GPU (on PCIe) is used. But since those mining cards are not able to display anything, I don't know ow it would react.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby jonault » Sat Mar 07, 2020 11:40 pm

On one of my PCs, I have the monitor hooked up to the iGPU so the graphics cards can focus on folding & it works fine. I can't recall now if I had to go into the BIOS settings to get that to work, or if it just saw where the monitor was connected & enabled it automatically. Either way, it wasn't a problem to get it working.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby mjallemand » Sun Mar 08, 2020 1:19 am

Interesting. All of the PCs I'm folding on are running on integrated graphics with the exception of one, but all of these have open PCI Express slots. If I ever get enough PayPal money to throw around I might pick up a few of those mining cards to toss into those PCs just for folding.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby bruce » Sun Mar 08, 2020 9:37 pm

Looking at the cars liste on your link (above) any of the NVidia GTX xxxx cards listed would fold while also driving a display. The NVidia GT xxxx are probably too slow to provide comfortable screen displays without uncomfortable pauses -- as well as rather poor FAH performance. Like toTOW above, I have no experience with the pure mining cards. FAH's original design goal was to use equipment that is typically found in a computer @home. If you also intend to be a gamer, then running FAH while playing a high-performance game probably won't work very well.

AMD GPUs of the same general performance levels as the NVidia GPUs mentioned will also work. iGPUs (including Intel and AMD) generally won't fold.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby zexmaxwell » Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:22 pm

Mining cards are a great value for F@H since the crypto market crashed and every miner is trying to get their money back. I have a p106 Zodiac card and it runs just fine in my gaming system. I would look for them if you want to save a buck. $50 is a steal, $75 is average.

Gaming while folding depends on the game you are running. Guild wars 2 (is a CPU heavy game) will run fine while folding. low powered games like dead cells, dusk, world of tanks or any game that isn't GPU heavy will run with minimal FPS drops. you just might run into a monitor flicker which is cured by a PC reboot. any game that is GPU heavy will require you to turn off the folding on the dedicated gaming card to play. but you can run your mining card/ secondary card while gaming since its not even touched by games (Unless you use SLI (HA!)). This assumes you have more then 2 CPU cores. most games only use one core. the rest are just sitting there.

one day, I had Black desert online running in the background in 'tray' mode, Folding at home on both GPUs and GTA 5 with average FPS all at once. because I could.
This is running an:
Kaby lake i5 3.70Ghz
32 GB ram
EVGA 1080 TI SC2 hybrid
Zodiac p106
on an EVGA z390 FTW motherboard powered with 850W.

My room was hot that day.

edit: correct name of card. (both GPUs were second hand from a miner.)
My room is always Hot.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby mjallemand » Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:26 pm

No games on these PCs, strictly business work (and folding)
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby ZePompom » Tue Apr 21, 2020 2:26 pm

Hello all, I'm new here.

I use to be a WCG contributor but with LTT video about FAH I remembered FAH is GPU-friendly (while WCG is not), so I put my modest gaming card to work (GTX 1660 6GB).


But I also try to revive an old PC, in its current state it's jsute a waste of electricity to make it fold, but what if I can upgrade (for cheap) its GPU and make it do GPU folding? It could provide an excellent budget folding machine.

I was about to buy a GTX 1650 Super, but it's a little expensive for my budget, as folding-only card. GT 1030 is cheaper but much much crappier, ithurts paying half the pric for like 3 or 4 time less performances.


So I was thinking about a used P106-90, like mentioned in the last posts. The old PC have a MB video chipset so no problem if no display output, and for such folding potentiel an used P106-90 is a bargain.


What worries me are the drivers, I can't find them on nvidia website, when I google for them I only find people talking about cracked drivers for gaming, but I'm not interested into them.

I just look for the regular mining/computing drivers of this card (For linux if possible, but if windows only it's still fine).


Can a P106-90 owner tell me where to find the drivers for this model? Or must I donwload regular nvidia drivers for GTX 1050 or 1060 and it'll works just fine?



Thank you in advance for your help!


I would really prefer to upgrade this "folding rig" with a P106-90 rather than with a shitty GT 1030 or a pricy (for the budget I have for this personnal project) GTX 1650.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby PantherX » Wed Apr 22, 2020 5:39 am

Welcome to the F@H Forum ZePompom,

Technically, the GPU has support for OpenCL 1.2 and Double Precision: https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/p106-090.c2999

The challenge seems to be getting the driver which will allow it to function correctly.
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby bruce » Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:15 am

The GT 1030 is A LOT different than the GTX 1650.

Anything that starts with GT is probably too slow to be worht investing in. Get smething that starts with GTX.

The next digit or two represents the generation, so the GTX16* is a lot newer that the GTX10* In general that's mostly the technology of the chip and the associated power draw.

The critical digits are the last two. A *30 is the low-cost, low-performance member of the * family and the *50 is midrange and the *80 is the expensive and fast member of the * family.

Since you already said the GTX1650 is too expensive I'd probably pick something like a GTX 1050 if that fits my budget. It's still got a lot of life left in it. Something atjacent to that is probably good, too. You're the one with the budget.

I absolutely recommend the drivers come from nvidia.com
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Re: Any recommendations for inexpensive secondhand GPUs?

Postby ZePompom » Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:35 am

Thank you.

I know the GT 1030 is crap but it's cheap, I was unable to find used gtx 1050 so my choice was basically crap GT gpu for 80€ (or 45 used, found one on ebay) or a good GTX one for like 190€.

But when I found those used P106-90 I told myself it's what I need. Cheap and somewhat powerfull computing cards (the huge price difference with gaming models worth more than the annoyance the lack of display could cause in the future).

Now you tell me regular nvidia drivers works well on these cards, even if not listed on nvidia drivers web page, I ordered one :-)

Let's hope it'll work (I plan yo try under linux and go to win10 only if it doesn't work) and that the pci bus won't bottleneck (or not too hard) on this old PCIe 1.0 motherboard.
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