In my 30 odd years of breathing on this planet, I’ve built many a gaming rig. And nearly all of them were built from used parts.
From GTX 1080ti’s and 32 Gigs of 2400mhz RAM to i5’s and Ryzens, I’ve built machines with everything. And all of it was used.
But one question that constantly gets asked by family, friends, acquaintances, the internet, and you, is “should I buy a used Motherboard?”
And it’s always asked with fear and trepidation? Why?
Well, the motherboard in your PC is literally the foundation on which your PC is built. Every other component, in one way or another, slots into the motherboard.
Your motherboard limits or broadens your upgrade options. It determines your PC’s top speed. And, if it breaks down your PC breaks down with it. It’s a vital piece of kit.
So for a vital piece of kit, should you really buy a used motherboard? Wouldn’t it better to, you know, buy new?
Well, I’m going to finally answer your question…
Should I buy a used Motherboard? Yes, you should buy a used Motherboard. By buying a used Motherboard you’ll get more upgrade options for your money. You’ll also be able to buy a better motherboard for your money which will support faster CPUs, faster or more RAM, or better SSDs such as M.2 Drives. Plus, you’ll be saving a decidedly large junk of plastic and metal from wasting away.
In this article we’ll look at:
- Your question: “Should I buy a Used Motherboard”, and why, will be answered in more depth
- You’ll get a list of where you can buy a used Motherboard
- You’ll be shown the difference between a refurbished and used motherboard
- I’ll explore the other side of the argument: why you shouldn’t buy a used motherboard.
- You’ll get a big list of used motherboard buying tips
- And 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 consider buying a used motherboard
Buying a used motherboard… Saves you money
You’re thinking about buying used, and one of the biggest reasons for you doing so is to save money.
Well guess what:
You can save a great deal of money by buying a used motherboard over a new motherboard.
And that’s just the start of the many benefits of buying used.
But before I get carried away with all those other benefits, how much money can you actually save?
Let’s take a look at an example.
Take the Gigabyte Aorus Elite 570 X wifi AM4 motherboard. This enthusiast-level AMD motherboard usually retails for around $200 dollars. However, I found this motherboard on eBay and it sold for just $155.50. Take a look at the image below!
That’s a massive saving of 22.25%! That $45 that could be spent on better RAM, a faster GPU, or CPU.
Any savings you make on the motherboard can be pumped back into other components. So dollars saved on the motherboard directly translate into higher FPS and better graphics.
Buying a used motherboard… Helps save the environment
In 2019, the world produced over 53 million tons of electronic waste. That’s about the equivalent of 350 large cruise ships dumped in a pile!
That massive number of discarded electronics is growing every year.
As you read this, there are billions of tons of electronic gadgets, consoles, TV’s and PC components needlessly rotting away in landfill.
Every day, governments around the world struggle to cope with this ever-growing mountain of plastic and metal that is near impossible to effectively recycle.
To deal with this mass of wase, governments have only one option: incineration.
Millions of tons of plastic particles go up in smoke and straight into our lungs every time we breathe.
And there is no end in sight to this pollution.
Our obsession with electronics, with plastic products, with stuff, doesn’t look like stopping any time soon.
But we need to make a change.
If we don’t, the youngest generation on our planet, our children, will live to witness the end of our oasis in the stars. This isn’t the stuff of Hollywood action movies… It’ll be the stuff of nightmares. Nightmares future generations will live through.
But it need not be that way.
You can make a difference!
Every time you buy used, you’re not just saving a load of cash, you’re directly helping to save the very environment that helps support our lives.
By buying used, you’re contributing to a cleaner, greener, safer world.
Together, in the fight against climate change, we can be a force as unstoppable as a Roman Army.
But instead of wielding swords and shields, we stand fast, fists clenched around used Motherboards, CPUs, and graphics cards, ready to fight for the future.
So buying a used motherboard isn’t just saving you a dollar, it’s helping to save your future.
Buying a used Motherboard… Lets you use higher-end components for less
One of the main reasons to buy a used motherboard is that it lets you use higher-end components for less.
For example, a new motherboard that costs around $150 may not support RAM much faster than 3400mhz.
However, you can buy a used high-end motherboard that supports faster RAM speeds, such as the Gigabyte Aorus Elite 570 X wifi AM4 motherboard, for the same amount of money.
Buying a used motherboard lets you use higher-end components than buying a new motherboard.
Buying a used Motherboard… Gives you more upgrade options
Let’s be honest, whether we are buying new or used components, as PC gamers we all love to splurge on a fancy new upgrade.
Unfortunately, our motherboards aren’t always up to the task.
You often find that when it’s time to upgrade, our motherboards are often the limiting factor in what we can upgrade.
Sometimes your motherboard won’t take more or faster RAM. Or your board doesn’t support a new superfast M.2 SSD drives.
Whatever your upgrade, the motherboard will always limit you.
However, the higher-end the motherboard, the more upgrade options it will offer.
However, new high end motherboards can easily cost 200-300 dollars.
Fortunately, used versions of high end motherboards are a lot less.
By buying used, you can buy a high-end motherboard for the equivalent cost of a mid-range motherboard.
So you get all the added extras such as M.2 slots, faster RAM speeds, and CPU support without the inflated “enthusiast-level” price.
Where can I buy a Used Motherboard?
This is my list of the best shops and websites to buy used and refurbished Motherboards. If you can think of anywhere else that I could add to this list, let me know in the comments.
- 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 motherboard.
What is the difference between refurbished and used motherboards?
You’ve probably wondered about the difference with other electronic bits and bobs in the past. For example, when buying a used or refurbished mobile phone.
Well, there is a difference between used and refurbished motherboards and electronics in general.
Let me explain…
Used motherboards are sold by individuals. Usually, because they’ve bought a new PC or upgraded to a newer motherboard. There is usually nothing wrong with the motherboard they are selling as it came out of a working PC. It’s just being sold because it’s surplus to requirements.
You’ll find lots of individual sellers, such as gamers, selling their old motherboards on websites like eBay. These parts are sold as seen. But you can take confidence from the fact that they would have been taken from a working PC.
When buying a Motherboard from an individual, the board will not come with a warranty and the only protection you get is what Paypal or other payment systems offer.
Therefore, it’s vital to get evidence that the Motherboard is working.
Refurbished motherboards are different to used motherboards:
Refurbished Motherboards are still used.
However, there are few differences that set apart refurbished motherboards from used motherboards.
Refurbished Motherboards are usually sold by businesses not individuals.
To be considered refurbished, the Motherboards will undergo a thorough inspection by a trained technician.
The Motherboard will be first checked over for physical defects such as blown capacitors or cracks in the PCB.
If the motherboard passes this first check, it’s then moved on to phase two of the inspection process.
In phase two, the motherboard is stress tested to check that it’s working at 100% capacity. The technician will fit parts to the motherboard – RAM, CPU, HDD, GPU – powers them all up, and then checks that each component is working as it should be.
If the motherboard and all the components work as they should, the board is given a fancy seal of approval, passed as refurbished, and promptly put up for sale.
Refurbished motherboards often come with a 1-2 year limited warranty.
Because of the testing process and the inclusion of a warranty, buying a refurbished motherboard is less risky.
However, you will pay a premium for the refurbishment process and the 3rd party warranty.
Why shouldn’t you buy a used motherboard?
There are many positives to buying a used motherboard. But, I’d be lying if I said there’s no potential negatives to buying a used motherboard.
There are problems that can pop their ugly heads up when buying any PC component. And those problems can be magnified slightly by buying used.
However, I must stress that as long as you pay attention to the tips section after this section, you will avoid all of these potential problems.
Some of the reasons why you shouldn’t buy a used motherboard are:
- Used Motherboard’s don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty
- You may not be able to return a motherboard if you buy from an individual seller
- A lot of the time, you won’t know the Motherboard’s history
- For example, it could have been used in a cryptocurrency rig
- Components such as capacitors can wear out
- However, I have built gaming PCs with 10-year-old used motherboards in the past and never had one fail.
- Very old motherboards support older components and won’t be compatible with the latest RAM/CPUs
- There are lots of exposed connector pins on motherboards that can easily be bent
- They can also be easily bent back
- Overclocked components such as CPUs stress the motherboard and can decrease the lifespan of the motherboard
- Large component costs more to ship
- Back connectors, such as female USB sockets, can be damaged
It’s worth me pointing out that in all the time I’ve spent buying used Motherboards, I have never encountered any of the above problems.
However, I wanted to make you aware of the potential problem you may face, regardless of how small they may be.
Tips for buying a used or refurbished motherboard
Tip 1: Buy a motherboard that supports your RAM or the RAM you want to buy
Different motherboards support different types and speeds of RAM. Check your motherboard’s manual to find out what RAM the board is compatible with, then buy only that RAM.
Nearly all modern gaming motherboards work with DDR4 RAM. However, they likely only support certain speeds of RAM.
For example, my motherboard works with DDR4 2400 RAM but no faster. However, if I did buy a faster RAM, such as DDR4 3200, it would still work. It’s just the Motherboard will downclock the RAM to the Motherboards fastest supported speed.
Be sure the RAM you already own works with the Motherboard you’ll buy.
Or make sure the RAM you end up buying works in the used motherboard you end up buying.
You can easily check what RAM speeds are supported by searching Google for the motherboard’s name, such as the Gigabyte Aorus Elite 570X. You’ll then be shown a page that’ll give you all the information you need.
Tip 2: Check what components the motherboard supports
The motherboard is the foundation of your PC. And just like foundations for buildings, you have to select the right foundation, not just for what you’re building now but what your PC can support in the future.
Though it may be overkill, you could build a house on a skyscraper’s foundation. But you couldn’t build a skyscraper on a house’s foundation.
The same is with motherboards, if you buy an old motherboard, there’ll be no foundation of support within the motherboard for future upgrades.
So you want to be sure what you are buying supports future upgrades.
Tip 3: Check the connections on the surface of the motherboard
Motherboards come with a lot of connectors built directly onto the motherboard for you to insert components, or to power things like fans or LED lights.
The problem is, most of these connectors are just naked pins sticking out of the motherboard’s surface, and they can be very easily bent.
Check to see that nothing is bent. Yes, the pins can be easily bent back, but bent pins might indicate that the board has been abused or has sat unused outside a PC for a while.
Tip 4: Check the connections on the edge of the motherboard.
On the edge of the motherboard is the I/O plate. This is where you plug in your ethernet cable plus other USB peripherals.
Be sure to scrutinize the I/O carefully. Are there any broken or missing connectors? Are the metal surrounds of the connectors OK?
If any of the connectors are damaged, it could indicate the board has been abused or left out of a PC unused for a length of time.
It would be best to avoid a motherboard if it has damaged connectors.
Tip 5: Is the M.2 SSD screw included
M.2 SSD storage drives are the future of mass storage in PCs and consoles. However, you need a motherboard that supports them.
Fortunately, motherboards from as far back as 5 years ago support M.2 Drives.
However, there is one little detail you should keep an eye out for: The M.2 Screw
The screw holds the drive in place on the motherboard and stops the SSD from falling out or squirming around.
Many used motherboards do not come with their M.2 screw. They do not cost a lot to buy. However, it is a small extra cost you’ll have to pay for something that should really be included.
Tip 6: Check the RAM slots
Check that the plastic surrounding the RAM slot is undamaged. And check that the lever hinges that hold the RAM in place are present and undamaged.
If there are any issues, do not buy the motherboard as damage could indicate force has been used to assemble or disassemble the PC.
Tip 7: Check the CPU socket
The CPU Socket is one of the very few moving parts found on a motherboard. There is a lever system that applies force to the top of an inserted CPU to keep it in the socket.
If this is damaged, bent, or completely missing do not buy the motherboard.
Tip 8: Check CPU socket pins
On intel Motherboards, the CPU socket has hundreds of little pins sticking out ready to make contact with the underside of the CPU.
The problem is, these CPU socket pins are very easy to bent out of shape.
I’ve written a guide on how to bend CPU socket pins back to their normal position. Check it out here.
However, I would avoid buying a motherboard with bent pins even if it’s priced low.
Fixing 1 or 2 pins is fine. But having to fix 20 or 30 pins, which I have had to in the past, can be an absolute nightmare.
Tip 9: Check the CPU cooling solution connector.
All CPUs generate a lot of heat, and that heat needs to be removed from the CPU by a cooling solution such as a heat sink and a fan. Otherwise, the CPU will continuously shut itself down to protect itself.
When buying a used motherboard, be sure that the cooling solution connectors or holes are undamaged. Look for cracks as they indicate that the cooling solution may have been forced on or off.
Also, with an AMD motherboard, check that the black plastic fan mount is present on either side of the CPU.
Intel Motherboards tend to just have screw holes for mounting a cooling solution.
Tip 10: Check that no thermal paste is on the motherboard or in the CPU
Thermal paste is used to bridge the imperfect metal-on-metal connection between PC components and their cooling solutions.
In the CPU’s case, a blob of thermal paste is splurged onto the top of the CPU, then a heatsink is directly applied onto the thermal paste. This squeezes the thermal paste flat creating a good connection between cooler and CPU.
However, it’s easy to use too much thermal paste and have it squeezed out all over the CPU socket and surrounding motherboard.
If there is thermal paste in the CPU socket or motherboard can be easily cleaned.
Take a look at this article I’ve written on how to clean thermal paste in a CPU socket here.
Tip 11: Compare to new motherboard prices
The price of PC components is forever in flux: undulating, shrinking, moving, and growing like a glacier.
New component parts and used component parts are never the same prices from week to week. Especially around the holiday season and Black Friday.
So it’s always worth comparing the used price of a motherboard to the new price. On the odd occasion, you’ll find the new version being sold at such a deep discount it will, for a time, be cheaper than the used version.
So be sure to check the prices before committing to buying.
Tip 12: Look for evidence that it works
If buying from an individual, always get evidence to show the motherboard works.
Ask for a video showing the motherboard working, or at the very least a photos showing the motherboard running and powering a monitor.
If possible, see the motherboard running in person.
Tip 13: What CPU does it support
First of all, is the motherboard an Intel motherboard, or an AMD motherboard?
AMD and Intel are mutually exclusive and their CPUs do not work in each other’s motherboards.
If you already own an AMD Motherboard you will need an AMD CPU. And vice versa.
Also, you need to check what generation of CPU the motherboard supports.
If the Motherboard is, for example, AM4, then nearly all current Ryzen CPUs will work in it, including the 1000, 2000, and 3000 series.
Plus, AMD’s latest 4000 series desktop CPUs will be compatible with select new AM4 socket motherboards.
So you have a clear upgrade path to the next generation of CPUs.
However, Intel is a different story. Intel’s CPU socket changes with every generation. So an i5-6500, or 6000 generation CPU, will not work in a motherboard designed for an i5-7500, 7000 generation, CPU. The CPU sockets are different to force upgrades and make Intel more money.
As you can probably imagine, I’m an AMD man, and I recommend AMD CPUs and motherboards.
Also bear in mind, you can upgrade through the same generation.
So you could upgrade a Ryzen 3500 to 3900. Or you could upgrade at i5-9500 to an i7-9700.
Also, make sure the CPUs the motherboard supports can still be bought. For example, I have an old work PC that has an i5-4500k inside it. If I wanted to upgrade this to an i7 version CPU, I’d be out of luck as they are not made by Intel any more and they are very expensive if bought used.
Tip 14: Has it been overclocked
If the previous owner of the motherboard overlocked the components plugged into the motherboard, that overclocking will put stress on the board.
Be sure to ask in advance what the motherboard has been used for, and if the seller has done any overlocking.
Tip 15: Paypal offers buyer protection: use it
Do not pay in cash. You get buyer protection by using Paypal.
If the motherboard is dead on arrival, you can contact PayPal, and get your money back.
Tip 16: 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 the warranty.
But the warranty, if you look at the small print, won’t cover you for hardly anything.
So check the warranty.
Tip 17: Check that you can still download the drivers
Windows 10 makes it far easier to install drivers for your components.
However, sometimes it’s not great at detecting the different parts of a motherboard. Windows may not detect the Realtec audio hardware, or maybe you have no easy way of accessing the motherboard’s feature set such as lighting or fan control.
To ensure a used motherboard can function correctly you should check that the drivers are still available on the manufacturer’s website.
Tip 18: Will the motherboard fit in your case
Check that the motherboard will fit into the case you own or intend on buying. Motherboards come in different shapes and sizes. These sizes include, from large to small, Extended-ATX, ATX, and M-ATX, ITX, and others.
Generally, normal PC cases will support at least an M-ATX motherboard. If you are unsure, check with your Case’s manufacturer.
Tip 19: Does it come with the I/O shield
The I/O shield is the plastic or metal guard that surrounds the I/O connectors on the back of the PC.
It helps stop dust getting into the PC. Plus, it stops errant fingers from poking into the chassis by mistake and getting electrocuted.
If the Motherboard is missing the I/O shield, don’t buy it.
Tip 20: Keep an eye out for bad capacitors, resistors, and bad fixes
As motherboards get old capacitors and resistors start to wear.
This can lead to bloated capacitors and burnt out resistors.
If you see any broken resistors or capacitors that look fatter than their neighbors, do not buy the motherboard.
Additionally, if you spot any large blobs of old solder, it usually indicates that something has blown or burned out in the past, and the previous owner has tried an amateur fix.
Again, don’t buy.
I honestly believe that buying a used or refurbished Motherboard is a great way to give you lots of options and upgrade paths at a much lower price.
By going used, you can get a motherboard that supports faster RAM, more RAM, a better CPU, and better SSD options than if you bought a new motherboard.
Plus, you’re helping to save the earth by stopping another green block of plastic, and a few entrails of copper, from an unfortunate end with a trash compactor.
But, let’s be honest, the biggest draw is the money you can save. And you can save a boatload of cash!
So, check out some of the websites I mentioned above, your next motherboard could be on there right now!
Can I buy other used refurbished parts? Yes. GPUs, CPUs, motherboards, Blu-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/cases? Yes, you can buy used cases and fans. 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.