In the past few months I have decided to start buying my PC parts local and have found the best deals ever. If you are willing to hunt, have a very keen eye and plenty of patience, this is what you can find.
Today I am going to teach you how to find the lowest price PC parts possible and where to look. Some of the prices to these parts is literally so cheap sometimes I just consider them free. Keep reading and I will show you what I have found and how to get ahold of them.
These are prices that I have purchased used computer parts for. No, none of this is a joke. All of these prices are real. I have actually gotten PC parts for this cheap before.
Corsair TX850w power supply: $2 (0h 8m)
Intel i5 3470: $1 (0h 4m)
Intel i5-3330: $1 (0h 4m)
4GB of DDR3: $1 (0h 4m)
Gigabyte AM3 motherboard: $5 (0h 20m)
Biostar AM3 motherboard: $2 (0h 8m)
Phenom ii x6: $1 (0h 4m)
500GB HDD: $1 (0h 4m)
OEM Levono LGA 1150 motherboard: $3 (0h 12m)
Radeon HD 5450: $1 (0h 4m)
Geforce GT 240: $2 (0h 8m)
What about ebay and craigslist?
You are right, what about them? Well, I am going to start by saying you will never find these deals on craigslist or ebay, you just won't. When you go on ebay or craigslist and look for used PC parts, where do you think those sellers got those parts in the first place?
They got them from the sources I am going to share today...
Think about it. The people on ebay and craigslist are reselling these parts to turn a profit, and they want the best price possible, But so do we. So how about instead of shelling out cash to somebody for doing something you can do yourself, we bypass them and buy directly from the source. So where do we go to find these unicorn-level prices?
Your local scrap metal yard.
Yes, your local scrap yard. This is by far the absolute cheapest place to find PC parts. You see, everything at a scrap yard is bought or sold by weight. What this means if they don't care if you are buying a pentium 4 or a core i7. If you manage to visit a yard and find core i7 there, they will still charge you the same amount for it as it is simply valued by the metal it contains.
Why is this?
Because they just don't care.
At a scrapyard, their goal is to buy things from the public, and then extract the valuable material out of it like the copper, aluminum and gold. They don't give a s*it whether you bring in a machine from 2001 vs computer made last year. To them, scrap is scrap they they don't care how new or old it is. For us, we can take advantage of this. We can go there, dig through their bins and buy things that are worth far more to us resale than their scrap value. This is how I am able to find the prices above. I paid $2 (0h 8m) for that corsair power supply because I bought it for 30 cents PER POUND. The CPUs above I got for $1 (0h 4m) per CPU because they sell CPUs there for $20 (1h 20m) PER POUND. Cases can be purchased for 5 cents PER POUND. Hard drives (if they sell them) I can get for 50 cents PER POUND.
When you go there, 90% of the stuff you will find will be junk. Many places have a huge container where they keep their RAM and CPUs. You will have to got here and sort through this bin to look for DDR2 or DDR3. The vast majority of what you will find will be DDR2 which is literally worthless to us. What I recommend doing is going there and bring three large containers. Throw the RAM you don't want in one container, throw the RAM that is DDR2 or over in your second container, and throw the RAM you do want in your third container. Pour everything back into their bin and buy the stuff that you have found.
Here is DDR1:
Here is DDR2 or above:
the onboard packages of the RAM will look different, and this is how we can tell them apart.
The same can be repeated with CPUs. Any pinned CPUs are out, there is just far too much risk of pins being bent. Although if you find an AMD CPU where all the pins look intact (RARE), take the risk on it. This has happened to me, but only rarely.
All the pinless CPUs are sorted into our second bin.
The third bin is where our CPUs we actually want will go. You will need to memorize the following sockets:
Anything that is LGA 1366 or above in age, just straight up buy. These CPUs and even the lowest-end ones are still worth far more than scrap value.
LGA 775 get's tricky. Wipe the thermal paste off the CPUs with your finger. If you see any that say "xeon x54xx series xeon e54xx series or core 2 quad" on them, get those.Those are worth less than intels newer LGA CPUs and those are the only ones worth your time. Anything that says "core 2 duo, pentium 4 or pentium D" don't bother. These are too old to be worth it for us.
UPDATE: LGA 775 has not really reached end-of-life status even in the used PC parts market. When I did a lot of business at the scrap yard, I am starting to see exclusively LGA 1366 and LGA 1155 towers turn up there. With LGA 1155 costing the same as LGA 775 when purchased at a scrapyard, I simply can't recommend LGA 775 anymore. LGA 775 might still be okay if it's all you can find, but pick something newer if you can even if it means going back to craigslist to buy used PC parts.
Keep in mind, it will take you about an hour to sort through the whole RAM and CPU bin and you have no idea what you will find. Once I found an entire box of 50 sticks of 4GB sticks of DDR3 in the bin in an unopened box. Other times i got there and I find nothing, and both require the same amount of time to sort through.
The same be repeated with the motherboards:
Just like the CPUs, they will have a huge cardboard bin where all the motherboard are sitting. Many of them are worthless, but some are not. We need to find the ones that are not.
Fisrt of all, you will have to learn to recognize the following sockets. You must have these sockets memorized, no exceptions. otherwise it will take far too much time for you to sort through the boards and look up the sockets on your phone.
On the AMD side:
Any socket older than the ones above like socket 478, or AM2 are all not worth your time. They are simply too slow for what we are trying to do and are best left at the scrap yard.
Other things you will need to check on potential motherboards.
The pins are intact (only applicable on intel boards).
There are no ripped-off or missing components.
All connectors are intact.
All chipset heatsinks are present. This is a big one, as many scrappers will rip off the heat-sink on a motherboard to turn it in for aluminum. Sometimes, these boards still work, other times they do not. The problem is when a scrapper does this, this can be enough to damage the boards chip-set and thus destroy the board. You need to be more considerate about purchasing a board if you find one like this.
All the boards you find with the above socket are potential candidates for something you may want to buy. When you find a board with the above socket, get out your phone and google the board in question and see what CPUs it supports. This is especially important for LGA 775, since some LGA 775 boards only go up to a Pentium D and will not work with core 2 duos or core 2 quads, the CPUs we really want to use.
Power aupplies are harder than the rest, but if you want to make your job easier, just look for any one that is non-grey colored:
PSU color to look for:
PSUs to ignore:
All PSUs that are grey are generally from OEM machines. These PSUs are genrally between 250-350w and are not worth getting. Any PSU that is black or some other color than grey generally means it is from a non pre-built machine and thus have higher-wattage. Although that being said of you are unlucky and you can't find any high-wattage units, you can buy two OEM PSUs and run two power supplies in your computer. Yes it works, yes it looks ghetto, but it will work.
Things to look out for.
Make sure the PSU even has wires at all. Many scrappers cut the wires off their PSUs and turn the cables in for copper. Obviously, you can't use a PSU with no wires, so leave those behind.
Make sure all the PSU connectors are present. Sometimes scrappers cut these off to get more per pound. Although if they have done this and the wire is still there, you can buy the good power supply, and buy the lightest ATX power supply you can find in the bin and rip the connectors off the crappy one and solder them onto the good one.
This is how I got my corsair PSU for so cheap. I saw it in the bin and it was a black PSU (color other than grey) and all it's wires were intact. So I bought it and it paid off.
Computer cases are made of steel, so they will sell them to you for 5-10 cents a pound (ferrous metals like steel are worth next to nothing at a scrap yard) so you will be able to get an entire case for under $5 (0h 20m).
However, make sure the case itself is standard ATX like this:
Notice how the holes and PCIe slots are positioned.
Other form factors you will see are BTX:
Notice how the PCIe slots are to the right of the CPU rather than facing the left. We can't use this form factor so leave it alone.
I don't see many computer cases at my yards mostly because they have been crushed and are sitting in the shred steel pile outside my yard. But if you are lucky, you can get a crappy case just to throw your parts in for under $5 (0h 20m). No, it will not look pretty. No, it will not have toolless anything. You will probably get cuts building in your $5 (0h 20m) case. But that's okay, since any computer case is better than a cardboard box.
Many yards will not sell you hard drives. This is because the hard drives are shredded to protect customer data. Only one yard I go to let's me buy hard drives, so if you are lucky here is what you need to look for:
Hard drives with a SATA connector:
These drives are newer and more likely to work.
Ignore and HDDs with an IDE connector:
Tese drives are all very old as I believe IDE was discontinued in 2005 (although some manufacturers kept making it for a couple of years). These drives are so old they are generally lower than 160GB and very, very slow. Ignore these, they are not worth your time.
To me, hard drives are not worth getting from yards. They just beat the scrap up too much and it is unlikely you will find one that works. Although if you find a computer with a hard drive in it, you might as well buy it. I have gotten lucky a couple of times with 2x 500GB and a 1TB drive I removed from a server I watched a customer turn into the yard, but most of the time you will not be this lucky.
You can generally get windows 7 for free.
Yeah, free as in $0 (0h 0m).
You see, many computers there still have their sticker on them with their OEM key. The employees don't care if you take a picture of the key off the PC as it is worth nothing to them. So these you can get for free just by looking a bit.
About graphics cards:
They are not worth it. The GPUs I find there are stuff like a radeon HD 5450, ATI x300, Geforce 8400GS, mostly very old stuff. You will not be able to game on these cards and they are not worth you getting either. Most buyers who get very expensive GPUs like an HD 7970 or GTX 680 will not sell their GPU to scrapyards since they know it is worth their time to sell it. To date, the best GPU I have found was a geforce GT 240. GPUs are one part you will need to go to craigslist or ebay for.
How to get your foot in the door at these yards:
Call them and ask if you can buy stuff.
Yes, you will actually have to call people. Google "recycling center" or "scrap yard" near me and google will give you a bunch of results. Call up these yards and ask if you can buy scrap. If they say yes go to their yard and have fun. If they say no, hang up and call another yard.
I hope you guys find this guide helpful and I would love to hear about what you find. I also think it would be really cool for @LinusTech to do a video where he visits a scrapyard and get's parts there. Then they test the parts and see just how many still worked.
The disadvantage: The reason these parts are so cheap is because you have no guarantee whether they work or not. They could look new and in pristine condition but still not work. By buying from a scrap yard, you are taking a gamble. Not only do you have no guarantee the part works but you will also usually have to buy other parts to test it (like if i bought a CPU I will need to buy a mobo to know if the CPU works). Keep this in mind. Although in my experience assuming you use all the methods above, I would say well over 80% of the hardware still works. Also, if you bought a broken power supply be accident who cares, it was two bucks.
I would love to see what you guys find, and post them in here. I think it would be very interesting to know what the community digs up from these places.
Good luck and happy digging!