When building or upgrading a PC, what you’re able to buy is in all likelihood going to come down to one factor: your budget. A few sales here and there at the major retailers might let you squeeze a new component into your budget,
but odds are the tighter the budget, the more likely it is you’re going to be shopping for a used component.
The best part about shopping used should is obvious - for the same money as a new component, you can almost always get a higher-performing used one. Graphics cards, CPUs, memory...all components are fair game, but not all used components are the same. When someone else bought it new, they didn’t use it exactly the same way you would have. Was a component put through its paces under a 24/7 high-stress workload, or used only a couple times a month to play a few rounds of solitaire? We may never know these things, but what we do know is that most used components have signs of wear that can help you figure out if what you’re buying is hidden treasure or worthless junk. We noticed there were plenty of articles about why you should buy used components, but too few of them discussed what to look out for when you’re shopping.
For this article, we amassed what knowledge we could by reaching beyond the OzTalksHW team. Two prominent YouTubers in the used tech scene took the time to answer our questions:
- Bryan of Tech YES City has been creating content for over ten years, focusing on both the latest enthusiast hardware and the best performance-per-dollar you can find. Check out his YouTube channel as well as the Tech YES City website.
- Phil of PhilsComputerLab routinely explores the last few generations of PC technology, perusing eBay and AliExpress to find whether these components can keep up today. Be sure to visit his YouTube channel here.
A quick foreword - this article assumes that a used part with obvious physical damage won’t be considered. It’s readily apparent when something’s been intentionally broken or abused, and it goes without saying that taking a seller
at nothing but their word is rolling the dice. We don’t recommend buying used parts sight-unseen unless you absolutely trust who you’re buying from.