Is it worth purchasing second-hand PC parts?

Computer parts can be expensive right?  Second-hand computer parts are usually cheaper, but the question is are they worth the purchase? In this article, I will explain the pro’s and con’s, what to look out for and when it is a good idea to buy second-hand.

So why is it worth it?

What a good question! Apart from saving money, you are saving the environment as some components take years to decompose. Sometimes people throw away parts that are in perfect working order. Why wouldn’t you want to make some money and sell these parts?

It’s important to remember that new parts come with warranties. So if it goes wrong you can get it repaired or replaced free of charge depending on the terms and conditions. Sometimes second-hand parts come with them too, which is great! But they might lack in support.

If you can’t afford to buy a new PC, buying second-hand parts is a cheap way to extend the life of your current PC. I mean when I was in College I didn’t have a job, all I had was savings. Since I was studying Computing I purchased a second-hand Dell Optiplex GX280. According to the auction, it was an ex-business PC and it came pre-loaded with Windows XP, Open-Office and Avast Free Antivirus. The PC had an Intel Pentium 4 CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. However, the software I was using in College required a lot more resources from the system so I decided to upgrade. My first priority was the hard drive, it wasn’t a massive upgrade, but I remember picking up a second hand 160 GB hard drive for £15 on eBay. It was enough for me at the time and It made an improvement. Since the PC was second-hand, I didn’t even consider purchasing a brand new hard drive. I was given a Windows 7 Home Premium installation disk and licence from my uncle who wasn’t using it so I decided to upgrade the operating system too. Unfortunately, I needed to purchase a graphics card otherwise I couldn’t play games or show Aero. I purchased a basic brand new Nvidia graphics card on Amazon. It was the first brand new part I purchased for it. The PC worked well and I used it as a test PC for many years. In fact, below is a video of me upgrading hardware for it to run Windows 10 Insider Preview. It was the second major upgrade I did on that PC.

 

Why it can be a bad idea?

Not knowing the wear and tear of the component is an issue, I mean if it suffered a lot, there is a good chance of the component failing. If you didn’t get a warranty you might find yourself out of pocket. Second-hand parts don’t usually come with support either. So If you purchase a hard drive and lost all your data you will be on your own. Components can be difficult to examine, they may look in very good condition, but you could be mistaken – Never judge a book by its cover!

If your PC is older then 4 years, depending on the part, I wouldn’t bother purchasing new parts. Looking back at my College example today, I would never purchase a second-hand storage device because you don’t know what’s on it. It could contain viruses, spyware and all sorts of nasties. On the other hand, If I was to purchase a second-hand PC, I would wipe the hard drive using a professional tool such as Active Kill Disk. Some parts are cheap, so cheap that it’s not worth buying new. A great example was that graphics card which I purchased for around £30.

Whilst some parts have a long life expectancy, such as CPU’s. Some parts have short life expectancies, especially if they took a battering from the previous owner. For example, I wouldn’t even think about purchasing a component if it has been used in a server as servers are usually used 24/7.

What do I look out for?

  • The condition of the part – you can’t always tell, but if it has a dent, I wouldn’t purchase it
  • Compatibility – Make sure that it’s compatible with your setup and that it doesn’t use too much power
  • Check prices of the part new – Some components can be purchased for a similar price new
  • If you are thinking of purchasing software, check what software is included with the hardware. This usually applies to new parts. For example, My old Asus Nvidia GX750Ti came with Norton Internet Security (I know what your thinking) But it helped me save money at the time
  • Shop around – just because the part seems cheap doesn’t mean it is. I can’t count the number of times I found a part cheaper from another online store. With that said, always look at the refund policy
  • Check returns policy and whether it has a warranty – Checking can be a lifesaver! Parts can become faulty, they may be not as they seemed online and there are so many issues like that to consider.
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