Should I Buy a Used Monitor?


Without a gaming monitor, a $1000 gaming PC is just a collection of plastic and metal humming away under your desk wasting electricity. 

To play games, you need to see games. You need a monitor. 

But monitors can be extremely expensive, with some of the high-end models costing over $1000. 

So why not buy a used monitor instead? 

I know what your thinking: 

Buying a used gaming monitor is risky. After all, you know exactly what you’re getting when buying new. 

But buying a used monitor need not be risky. I’ve bought multiple used monitors over the years, from workhorses such as 21 inch Viewsonic monitors for my office, to 32 inch 1440p HP Omen monsters. And they have all worked perfectly.

Buying a used gaming monitor, if you’re mindful of the (spoiler alert) tips i’ll show you in this article, can get you a high-end gaming monitor for a fraction of the price of a new monitor. 

So, should I buy a used Monitor? Yes, you should absolutely buy a used monitor. You can easily save as much as 59.5% when buying a used high-end monitor. And that saving applies when buying a cheaper used monitor too.

In this article:

  • Your question: “Should I buy a used monitor”, will be answered in more depth
  • You’ll discover where you can buy a used monitor
  • You’ll learn the difference between a refurbished and used gaming monitor
  • I’ll show you a list of tips to help you confidently buy a used monitor
  • Finally, you’ll get a conclusion and a look at what you can do next

Now you’re ready to dive into the first section, let’s get started!

But first, a quick note… 

As I’m from Wales in the UK, I sometimes talk about prices in UK pounds. 

The reason for this is simple:

I wanted to be as authentic as possible by using my own experience of buying used PC parts here in the UK.

UK prices can be easily converted to US dollars. 

The price in US dollars and UK pounds are pretty much the same cost after taking into account UK VAT Tax. So £100 is roughly equal to $100.

Why you should buy a used monitor 

Some generic monitors here… To be honest, I just put this image in because I like the color blue.

Buying a used monitor… Saves you money

The money will always be the biggest motivator to buy a used monitor. Buying used lowers the cost of entry to the high-end gaming monitor market. 

A super widescreen Alienware monitor, that costs close to $1000 new, can be had for less than half of that used.

In fact, while looking through eBay, I discovered a super example of just such an Alienware monitor.

Let’s take a look:

Alienware AW3418DW 34″ 120 Hz G-Sync Gaming Monitor 1440p 

Alienware is the Ferrari of PC hardware. Renowned for making some of the most powerful custom gaming PCs and Laptops the world, Alienware is now pulverizing boundaries to push into new markets. 

And one such market is the high-end gaming monitor market.

The Alienware AW3418DW was one of the most advanced monitors on the market at the time of release and still stands proud above 90% of the gaming monitor competition. 

Sporting a super-wide curved display that unfurls 34” wide, the monitor can crank out 120 frames per second for super slick pro-level graphics. 

Plus, it offers a mind-boggling 3440 x 1440 resolution. More than enough pixels to keep the most powerful graphics card busy.

And you’d expect something as beautiful, but badly named, as the AW3418DW to cost a lot. And you’d be right. This desk swallowing monster would have cost just over $1000 dollars new. 

Way beyond the wallet power of most gamers.

Not so if you buy used…

Slide on over to eBay and it’s a different story. What once was a $1000 gaming monitor is now a hardly used, nearly new, bargain. 

I found the monitor sold, after 23 bids, for only $405.00

That’s a staggering $595 less than the same monitor new! 

Or, to put it in percentage terms, buying the used monitor saves you 59.5%. A bargain if I ever saw one! 

Buying a used monitor… Helps save the environment 

I’m sure that’s my old monitor on the floor…

If you’ve been coming to Career Gamers often, and if you haven’t why not, you’ve probably noticed in my used gaming component guides that I talk a lot about saving the environment.

I believe gamers, regardless of whether your a hardcore PC gamer, a console gamer, or a casual gamer shuffling sweets on Candy Crush, have a responsibility to help save the environment. 

E-waste, such as Laptops, PCs , PC components, consoles, and of course, monitors, accounts for 70% of all toxic waste in the US. What’s even more frightening is that only 12% of all electronics are designed with recycling in mind. 

That means 88 out of every 100 monitors made get stacked in landfill as time does our dirty work over thousands of years to break the bonds of plastic down. 

By buying used, you can delay those 88 monitors from ending their lives in a heap of trash. By buying used, you stop yet another new monitor from being sold, which sends a clear message to companies. A message that reads, “Unless you make your components 100% recyclable, I will not buy.” 

But I know what you are thinking. You are only one person buying one monitor. What difference can you make? 

You can make all the difference. 

All great goals, such as saving the planet for future generations to enjoy, are nothing but the culmination, thousands, millions of little goals. 

Just as the great goal of climbing Mount Everest is the culmination of taking thousands of little steps, little goals, so can you take a little step by buying a used monitor instead of a new one.

So help by being one of those little steps on the road to a more sustainable future. Buy used. Save the planet. Repeat. 

It really is that simple. 

Buying a used monitor… Lets you buy a better monitor for the same money.

For example, say you have a gaming monitor budget of $1000.

You could buy a used Alienware AW3418DW for $400, and pocket the rest of the cash. 

Or, you could skip past the AW3418DW and buy an even better monitor. One that would be way out of your budget if bought new.

For example, you could level-up your monitor experience and buy a Samsung 49 inch CHG90 QLED ultrawide curved monitor for $580. A bargain for a monitor that usually retails for nearly $2000! 

So for your $1000 budget, you’re getting a nearly $2000 monitor, and you’re still saving $320 of your $1000 budget! 

Buying used seems better and better doesn’t it! 

Buying a used monitor… Lets you buy better computer components for a given budget. 

Sticking with the example above of the Alienware AW3418DW, you could spend the $595 you saved on better PC components such as better GPU or CPU. 

Where can I buy a used monitor?

This is my list of the best shops and websites to buy used and refurbished monitors. If you can think of anywhere else that I could add to this list, let me know in the comments. 

Websites 

Shops 

  • UK 
    • CeX – Offers a good 2-year warranty, but you do pay a little extra fee for this. 
    • Game – Sometimes sells used computer components, but not often. Usually sells them cheaply.

Difference between a refurbished and a plain used monitor

A lovely ultra wide monitor here. You can buy these at bargain prices, if you buy used.

Plain Used Monitors

Used gaming Monitors are sold by individuals that have decided to upgrade to a newer, and hopefully better, Monitor. 

There’s usually nothing wrong with the monitor they are selling. It’s just being sold because it’s surplus to requirements.

You’ll find lots of gamers selling their old monitors on websites like eBay. 

A used gaming monitor, such as those made by Samsung, Asus, LG, and HP Omen can often be found at absolute bargain prices compared to their new prices. 

However, monitors bought from individual sellers will not come with a warranty, and will be sold as seen. 

Refurbished Monitors 

Refurbished gaming monitors are usually sold by businesses not individuals. 

To be considered refurbished, the monitor must pass through a rigorous inspection by a trained technician. 

The Monitor will first be checked for physical defects such as dents and damaged ports. They will also check all the buttons, cables, and supplied accessories. If everything passes A-Ok, the technician will push the monitor to the next set of tests. 

In phase 2 of the tests, the technician will plug the monitor into a PC and test that it is functioning correctly. The test includes checking for obvious signs of wear such as lines of pixels not working, dead pixels, dark marks on the screen such as bruising caused by failed backlights. 

If the monitor works as it should, it’s given a thorough clean, passed as refurbished, and promptly put up for sale. 

Refurbished monitors often come with a 1-2 year limited warranty. 

Tips for buying a used or refurbished monitor

It’s worth noting that these tips are not in order of importance. I have put them all in random order in order (sorry) to emphasize the importance of working through each tip to ensure what you are buying is worth your money. 

Tip 1: Look for Dead pixels

Dead pixels are pixels on the screen that stop switching color every frame. Often a dead pixel can easily be seen on either an all-black screen or an all-white screen. 

Sometimes, you’ll get a single dead pixel. Other times, you’ll find multiple dead pixels grouped together. 

Dead pixels are not the end of the world when it comes to buying a monitor. Most games are not played on purely white or black backgrounds making single dead pixels hard to see in real-world use. 

So one or two dead pixels might not be a problem for you. 

However, it’s worth keeping two things in mind:

  1. Dead pixels can’t be fixed. If it’s dead now it will very likely remain that way forever
  2. A group of dead pixels can indicate that the Monitor has been abused. If something has been thrown at the screen with enough force, the impact can destroy a group of pixels

If you spot a group of dead pixels, do not buy the monitor.

If there are just a couple of dead pixels scattered in different places, then it’s up to you to decide if this will bother you or not. 

Tip 2: Are there any bruise/dark marks

Bruise marks or large dark areas on the screen when it’s switched on usually indicate that either the LED lights behind the bruise have died, or the intricate array of mirrors that channel the light throughout the monitor have been damaged. 

Usually, a bruise is caused by mishandling the monitor. This could be through abuse such as throwing something at the monitor or dropping it. 

Either way, if it’s bruised, do not buy it. 

Tip 3: Check for burn-in/ghosting

You may have heard of the dreaded burn-in from years ago on old-school Plasma TVs. 

Basically, if you leave an image on the screen too long, it can slowly “wear down” the pixel’s ability to fully switch away from the color that made up that original static image. 

The result is a ghost of the image that was left on screen a lot. 

I used to have a plasma screen TV back in the PS3/Xbox360 days and mistakenly left my Xbox on the home menu so much, a ghostly outline of it was burned into the screen, even when I played games and watched TV. 

It’s less of an issue these days on LCD monitors but it can still happen. Especially on OLED monitors. 

Screen burn is irreversible, so do not buy the monitor if you notice any.  

Tip 4: Avoid Cracked or damaged monitor cases

If the monitor case is cracked or damaged in any way, I would avoid buying it. 

A cracked case can indicate the mishandling of a Monitor. Either somebody has dropped it, or it’s been abused in some other way. 

Yes, the picture may still be fine. But if it was hit hard enough to break the case, you have no idea what that sort of impact has done to the electronics. They could fail at any point. 

So avoid monitors with damage to the outer case.

Tip 5: Does it have the right connectors for your needs

If you’re buying a used monitor, chances are it’ll be a few years old. And that’s no bad thing. I’ve bought Viewsonic monitors in the past for my first freelance office computer that was 15 years old! And they worked perfectly. 

The only problem with these old monitors was they used an outdated connection standard: DVI. 

Check what connectors the monitor comes with. Avoid anything older than DVI such as the antiquated VGA standard. 

And try your best to get a monitor with at least an HDMI port or modern Display port. Especially if this used monitor is for gaming. 

Old connector types are not a problem as you can buy adaptors to fit HDMI or Display port connectors. 

But you will notice a lower quality picture and dramatically lower contrast levels with older connection standards. 

This is screen burn in. See the CNN logo in the bottom right hand corner?

Tip 6: Watch out for color and contrast degradation

You may notice a degradation in color and/or contrast with older monitors. This is usually because older monitors use fluorescent tubes to light the pixels.

A dead giveaway for a fluorescent tube totting monitor is its thickness and air vents. If you look at the back of a monitor and it is thick, say three fingers thick, and there are air vents at the top, it’s lit with fluorescent bulbs. 

As these bulbs age, they produce less light. This decreases the contrast of the image and makes colors look muddy and washed out. 

If you notice this when viewing a monitor, do not buy it. 

Tip 7: Is the resolution right for you

Older monitors do not support very high resolutions. For example, my old Viewsonic monitors were only 900p.

If you want to game at a high resolution such as 1440p or even 4k, you’ll need a newer monitor.

So be sure to check the resolutions the monitor supports before committing to buying it. 

Tip 8: Does it support a high enough frame rate

Most monitors, gaming or otherwise, support a 60hz refresh rate or frames per second. This means that every second, 60 static images are rendered to the screen to produce an illusion of motion. 

However, with the arrival of super-powered GPUs and Esports, we’ve seen the rise of high refresh rate monitors. 

120hz, 144hz, 240hz, and even 320hz monitors are now available. 

Personally, I game at 60hz. I’m one of the lucky few who doesn’t really notice a difference in frame rate from about 45 frames per second and up. And I’ve tried a lot of different high Hz monitors. But I never notice the difference. 

However, you might be different, you might think that 120hz is an absolute minimum. Maybe because you suffer from bad motion sickness. 

So be sure to check the monitor supports the refresh rate you desire to game at. 

Tip 9: Does the monitor come with all the cables and are they in good condition

Many PC monitors use proprietary power and connection cables. So be sure to check that the monitor comes with all the cables it should come supplied with. 

Also, check that the cables are in good condition.

Tip 10: Crack in screen 

Nice and quick one here:

Crack in screen = do not buy. 

Tip 11: Lines or rainbowing on screen

Are there colored lines running across the screen? Is a large section of the monitor showing rainbow colors? 

If so, the monitor is toast. 

Do not buy it. 

Tip 12: Does it come with the stand? 

Most monitors come with a stand. However, some users, if they’ve mounted the monitor on a wall or 3rd party stand, may have thrown away the stand that came with the monitor. 

So be sure to check that the correct stand is supplied. 

Tip 13: Can the monitor be mounted on VESA

Not the biggest deal-breaker as most gamers will likely not want to VESA mount their monitor to a wall. However, if you are using the monitor as a second monitor, perhaps to monitor coms while streaming, you may want to check if the used monitor you are looking at can be VESA mounted. 

Don’t worry if it can’t, Amazon sells a great VESA conversion kit. It’s quite cheap but remember to take the cost of this conversion mounting bracket into account when buying the used monitor.

Tip 14: Does the monitor come with Manuals

Be sure the monitor comes with all the manuals so you know how to easily change the settings. 

Tip 15: Are there any scratches on the screen

Do not buy a monitor with scratches on the screen. The scratch will act as an inverted prism and you will notice the line on the screen when you are gaming. 

Avoid. 

Dead pixels do not change when the surrounding pixels do.

Tip 16: Damaged corners or edges is a bad sign

Damaged corners or edges could indicate the monitor has been dropped or treated roughly. 

It’s best to avoid monitors that have physical damage as you have no idea how that may have affected the electronics or the LCD panel. 

Tip 17: Does the stand allow the monitor to tilt/move up/down

Does the monitor stant let you change the height of or tilt the monitor? 

If you intend on sitting in front of your monitor for a number of hours each day, it’s always a good idea to buy a monitor that can be height adjusted so you are not straining your neck looking up or looking down at the monitor. 

As a rule of thumb, your eyes should be looking 3/4th of the way up the monitor screen when you look straight ahead, so your natural slightly downward gaze is fixed on the centre of the monitor. 

Tip 18: See it working

Make sure you know the monitor is working before you buy it. 

Ask the seller to plug it into their PC, and take a photo or video of the monitor working.

If they refuse to take a video or photo, do not buy the monitor 

Also, if you can, see the monitor in person. Nothing beats an in-person inspection. 

Tip 19: Are all the buttons working

On the underside of most monitors are 3-5 buttons that let you turn the monitor off/on and scroll through and change different options. Sadly, these buttons on most monitors are just little paddles of plastic and they can fail after a while. 

Check that the buttons are intact and working correctly. 

Tip 20: Does the monitor come in the original box?

Buying a used monitor in its original box is always a good idea. 

Why? 

A monitor sold with its original box usually indicates that the previous owner looked after their kit knowing they would eventually sell. 

Also, the original box helps protect the item in postage. 

Whenever possible, buy used monitors that come packed in the original box. 

Tip 21: Compare to new monitor prices

Before committing to buying a used or refurbished monitor, check the price of a new version of the same monitor. 

You may find that the new monitor is selling for the same amount as the used version. 

This will not often be the case as used monitors usually sell for far less cash than their new counterparts.

However, sometimes, especially on days such as Black Friday, new monitors sell for less than their used counterparts. 

So always compare the used price to the new price. You may not be getting as much of a bargain as you thought you were. 

Tip 22: Paypal offers buyer protection: use it

Do not pay in cash. You get buyer protection by using Paypal. If there is a problem with the monitor, you can inform Paypal and you’ll get your money back. 

Tip 23: Check warranties before buying refurbished

Buying refurbished will mean you get a limited warranty. This is great, but be sure you are not paying too much. 

Some sellers add a massive price premium for the “security’ of a warranty. 

Be sure you’re not paying over the odds for a warranty by checking the price of the same monitor when new. 

If possible, also check the price of the monitor when it is just plain used to get an idea of the difference in price. 

Tip 24: Watch the postage and packaging (P&P)

If you buy a new monitor from a website like Amazon, chances are you’ll get free P&P. 

However, when buying used, you will have to pay for P&P. 

Remember monitors, though getting thinner, are still big and bulky things. And flinging them across the country using a courier is not cheap 

Sending a monitor can cost as little as $8 to as much as $20 dollars depending on the size of the monitor.

So take the cost of P&P into account when buying. 

Conclusion

I honestly believe that buying a used or refurbished gaming monitor is the perfect path for a gamer on a budget, or any gamer, to experience the wonderful and varied world of high spec monitors. 

Buying used opens up a world of possibilities, such as 4k and 240hz, at a price that anybody can afford. 

The money you save by buying a used monitor can be either saved or spent on a better monitor. 

Alternatively, the saved cash can be spent on better PC components such as a better CPU, GPU, or RAM.

Also, it’s worth remembering that buying used saves yet another monitor from the mountains of rubbish in landfill sites. 

So, the answer to the question, “Should you buy a used monitor” is clear: 

You should absolutely buy a used gaming monitor. 

What’s next?

Can I buy other used refurbished parts? Yes. GPUs, CPUs, motherboards, Blue-ray drives, you name it I’ve bought it used and built a system out of it. I’ve never had any failure or problems. 

What about used fans and cases? Yes, you can buy used fans and cases. You can also buy used CPU cooling solutions. 

What about the PSU? I have bought used PSUs in the past and they have worked absolutely fine. However, PSUs degrade over time. Their power output drops by about 5% every year. So, an old PSU will supply less power than a new PSU. That being said, if you buy a very powerful old PSU, it should easily have enough power to power even the most power-hungry modern components.

I’d like to build my own gaming PC from used parts, how would I do that? Ah, you are in luck, I wrote a “how to create a gaming PC from used parts” a few months back. You can take a look at it here.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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