Man tries to smuggle seven-year-old AMD graphics cards through Chinese airport customs—all 44 of them

An image showing Chinese custom officials with a haul of RX 580 graphics cards.
(Image credit: MyDrivers)

With the US ramping up bans on sending high-performance PC parts to China—and China now returning the favour—you'd think there would be a degree of interest in smuggling high-end PC parts into the country. This is not that. This is the case of a smuggler trying to move 44 AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics cards right under everyone's noses.

The smuggler's plan? Walk right out the front door of the airport with boxes full of GPUs. That's right, walk right on through nothing to declare with an innocent smile on their face and hope Chinese customs won't sniff him out. Unfortunately for the smuggler, they did.

According to the Mydrivers report (via Tom's Hardware), the 44 cards were intended to be refurbished and sold for profit. How much profit can you make on seven-year old, second-hand, most likely heavily used graphics cards? My guess would be 'enough' but I doubt it's a massively profitable venture. The 8GB of VRAM on these cards isn't ideal for working with AI models, either.

Getting just one RTX 4090 could be a very worthwhile trip for a smuggler these days, however. That card's price has reportedly skyrocketed since the US has halted Nvidia from selling any more in the country as part of a wider ban on powerful datacentre GPUs.

The report contains various images of the customs officers standing by their haul, as appears to be customary in China. 

There have been various cases of officers catching PC hardware being smuggled across the border. Last year someone tried to bring across 84 SSDs inside an electric scooter, which was at least quite creative, and the year before that a woman pretending to be pregnant hid 200 CPUs and nine iPhones in her prosthetic baby bump. Ultimately they got caught just the same as the man that went through relatively little effort to hide his smuggling attempt, but who knows just how many get through the customs net.


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Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.