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WTF?! A tech repair channel recently got its hands on what appeared to be an unboxed but brand new Asus TUF GeForce RTX 4090 with that fresh protective film on and everything. However, upon cracking it open, they discovered something that left them floored – the GPU was actually an RTX 3080 Ti disguised in incredible detail.

The GPU inside wasn’t Nvidia’s latest AD102 “Ada Lovelace” chip powering the RTX 4090. Instead, it was an older GA102 die from the RTX 3080 Ti, repackaged and relabeled to look like the new flagship. The scammers used the GA102 because it was pin-compatible with the AD102.

The channel, Northwestrepair, grew skeptical when they found that the core resistance was incredibly high, “almost as if the core wasn’t even there.” Examining it further revealed that the card was anything but new. The channel found a giant scrape on the board and a dead short on one component. Furthermore, the counterfeiters had swapped some of the memory modules on the board for lower capacity 256MB chips rather than the 2GB GDDR6X units the 4090 uses.

Incredibly detailed scam relabels RTX 3080 Ti cards as RTX 4090

Fooling someone by passing off an older or repurposed GPU isn’t new. Over the years, we’ve seen plenty of cases of scammers trying to offload used cards, put up fake listings, switch out components, and generally use whatever grimy tactics they can to make a quick buck. However, this RTX 4090 scheme stands out for how much effort went into the scam.

For one, the counterfeiters polished off the die markings on the GA102 chip and laser-etched fake RTX 4090 AD102 labeling. Their choice for the die swap was impeccable since the GA102 and AD102 are nearly identical in size – just a few millimeters difference – making it easier to swap one for the other undetected.

The scammers were looking at a tidy profit from the fake cards. The RTX 4090 retails for $1,599, while the older 3080 Ti costs around $700. The scammers targeted buyers, hoping they wouldn’t scrutinize the GPU too closely.

In April, Northwestrepair uncovered a similar scam in which a customer who bought a used GeForce RTX 4090 off Facebook Marketplace found it stripped of most of its vital components. Graphics cards are in high demand, so these scams aren’t going away.

The moral of the story is to be extremely cautious when buying GPUs, especially from resellers and less reputable sources. Unless you can carefully inspect the card in person, you should avoid too-good-to-be-true deals.

[ For more curated Computing news, check out the main news page here]

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