Here Are The PC Parts That Are Fine To Buy Used (And Parts You Should Buy Brand New)

Having recently built a new PC, I know all too well just how expensive parts can be. It's tempting to source used PC parts to save money but there are some components that are definitely worth buying new. So what PC parts are fine to buy second-hand and what should you buy brand new? Let's find out.

Over at YouTube channel Paul's Hardware, host Paul Heimlich addressed what PC parts are considered acceptable to buy second-hand. Bear in mind, there are a few factors to consider when you do buy used PC components and you'll need to do your own assessment of the parts. For example, if a part is caked with dust and doesn't look like it's been well looked after, obviously steer clear.

You should also confirm that each of the used parts work before you buy them. Here's a list of components that are fine to buy used:

  • CPU
  • Coolers (excluding liquid coolers)
  • RAM
  • Graphics card
  • PC case
  • Power supply (depending on brand and rating)

What you should buy brand new Avoid:

  • Storage: Hard drives and SSDs
  • Peripherals like keyboards and mice

There are a few items that Heimlich considers a 50:50 bet:

  • Motherboard: Individual parts on a motherboard may fail even though it may appear to work when you initially test it.
  • Monitors: Backlights can fail and colours may lose vibrancy, depending on age.

Watch the video from Paul's Warehouse (skip to 12:00) for more details on why Heimlich made those recommendations.

[YouTube - Paul's Hardware]


Comments

    In my limited experience the questions I always ask when buying second-hand parts are 1. how long has the product been in use (including any previous owners before the current seller) and 2. why are you getting rid of it?

    There are some parts that you can grab dirt cheap and still feel good about them with these two questions - for example I picked up a graphics card and 8gb of ram that had been used for less than 2 months total (ram was in use for 6 days and graphics card about a month) and got roughly a 50% saving, all the while feeling confident that I had parts that would work as new.

    I don't have the same qualms as the video with buying second-hand monitors, but I personally haven't done it because the availability of computer monitors/cheap 1080p 60hz tv's is ridiculous nowadays so I've never felt like it was a huge saving for better products.

    In general, you're looking to avoid things with high risk of failure - power supplies (even though they don't fail often they have a finite lifespan like all computer parts and if you're not SURE that it's not going to fail it can have disastrous consequences, like destroying the rest of your computer), motherboards, and hard drives (mechanical hard drives SUCK in terms of longevity and have the potential to corrupt random parts of your data as they age. Not entirely sure about SSD's at this point but mine has been in use for a fair few years now and been performing admirably the whole time).

    I'd also like to note that it's always best to buy things like cd drives (lol) or wireless network adapters new, as they're very cheap and getting the latest tech in those areas is usually worth it for reasons like driver stability, compatibility with existing standards etc.

    On the whole though, bargain hunting on second hand/buy-sell-swap pages and groups is extremely rewarding - you learn a lot about the parts you're buying and the value of different components/brands/models as you do research on what's a good deal and you get the feeling of immense satisfaction looking at what the PC would've cost you had you not done that.

    Monitors are great second hand because they are usually a fraction of the price. Yea, it's a bit of an each way bet but I got my last monitor for $50 third hand and it is still going strong with it's fourth owner (a work colleague).

    Rather than buy used, I'd ask: what I can keep from my older PC?

    My current [old] PC has connectors starting to fail on the motherboard. As a 7+ year old i5 running at 2.6GHz, it's hardly up to date. The 1156 socket type is end-of-life, so a new motherboard means new CPU, replacing DDR3 RAM with DDR4, etc.

    Monitor, case, drives, power supply, keyboard and mouse are the few things I definitely CAN recycle. It's a 50/50 on whether to keep my silent 9800GT, or look at the passive cooled GT730.

    Last edited 24/01/17 9:37 am

      That's a good idea for a follow up article. Thanks!

        Actually, I just realised my old case has USB 2 connectors built into the front - If I want USB 3.0 I'll have to dump that, too. Built-in connectors are a double-edged sword.

    I would put CPU (unlocked), especially GPU and RAM on 50:50, as overclocked components would have shorter lifespan; There is no way to tell if it had been overclocked but to place your trust in the seller's words.

    For GPU, you should ask if can meet at his/her place and run stress tests before handing over the money.

    As for RAM, it gets a bit troublesome if you want to thoroughly validate it.

    Chassis it's down to personal taste; I'm a strong believer in investing in chassis that has both form and function upfront, got the Bitfenix Prodigy upon launch, never regret it for mini-itx builds :)

    Monitors I would put on should list, as the cost of 2nd hand monitors is getting so cheap these days, but remember to inspect in person before you hand over your money; you can pick out any flaws upon inspection and bargin down the price if the flaws doesnt both you.

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