I’ve built over 20 used gaming PCs over the past 15 years.
And each PC, every used part, was crammed inside a used case.
From mighty full tower ATX cases that dominated small gaming rooms to miniature ITX builds that hide stealthy under TVs: every rig I’ve built has found it’s home inside a used PC case.
I’ve found that a used case has always been a reliable and cheap alternative to expensive feature full modern cases.
Plus, because ATX standards have not changed in decades, a 20 year old ATX case will still work perfectly with modern hardware.
But I’m sure you have your doubts. After all, used cases could be missing loads of parts, from SSD caddies to mounting screws.
And your right. Used cases do come with a few caveats.
If you buy right, a used PC case can be the perfect home for your next gaming or streaming PC. Plus you can save a load of cash buying used!
So, should I buy a used PC case? Yes, you should buy a used PC case. By buying a used PC case you can save between 20-59% on the price of a new case, if not more. However, when buying a used PC case, you should check that it comes with all the extra screws and HDD caddies before commiting.
In this article:
- Your question, “Should I buy a used Case”, and why, will be answered in more depth
- You’ll discover where you can buy a used PC cases
- You’ll learn the difference between a refurbished and used PC case
- I’ll show you a list of tips to help you confidently buy your next used gaming PC case
- 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 PC case
Buying a used PC Case… 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 lots of money buying a used PC case instead of splurging on a new one.
But how much can you actually save?
The best way of explaining is to show you with an example…
The fractal Design Vector Blackout Midi Tower is a class looking case. It’s sleek on the outside, but offers lots of quality-of-life features on the inside. For such a case, you can normally expect to pay quite a lot of cash. In fact, the Vector has a recommended retail price of £185 here in the UK, according to Overlockers. However, they currently sell the case for £155.
Head over to ebay, and you could have bought the same case used, with all accessories, for £90 plus £10 P&P. That’s £100 in total.
That’s a massive £55 or 35.5% saving over the Overclockers price and a £85 or 46% saving over the recommended retail price!
How about another example?
I found a Corsair Crystal Series 460X on ebay for £50 + £10 P&P.
This stunning case usually sells for over £147 on amazon!
That means, by buying used, you’d be saving 59% or £87! Way less than half price!
That saved money can be dumped directly into buying better components. Components that’ll give you higher FPS and resolutions.
Buying a used PC Case… Helps save the environment
PC cases are hulking great big chunks of steel or aluminium. They are mixed with a little bit of glass here, a little bit of plastic there, some paint, and some electronics.
Now you’d think these cases would recycle well. And they do, in part. The cases can be tossed in a furnace, melted down, and a few weeks later, they are new cases. The glass? That’ll become new bear bottles!
But, it’s not all rolling green hills and blue skies.
As I mentioned, there are a lot of other materials in a PC case that don’t recycle well.
Electronics, such as wires don’t get recycled because it’s not “economically viable” to strip away all the plastics. They’ll end up in landfill.
The plastic fans that once spun the case cool… They’ll burn those in an incinerator. Nobody will notice.
What about the paint? Yeah, that’ll melt when they melt down the metal case, they’ll scrape it off the top of the molten metal, and then they’ll toss it away in landfill. Nice!
See, whenever the world makes new stuff, we try to convince ourselves that they can be recycled. That all the parts can be melted down and turned into new stuff.
But this isn’t the case. Recycling isn’t efficient. Every cycle of recycling leads to new waste. In the case of a PC case, a lot of things still end up in landfill.
So by buying used, you are stopping all those nastly little things, like wires, melted paint, and burnt plastic, from polluting our planet.
Buying a used PC Case… Lets you buy a bigger better case
By buying a used case, you’ll save a lot of money. As discussed above, you can save over 50% off the price of a new case.
You could put this money into new components. Or…
You could buy a better or bigger case.
For example, say you had a budget for a case of £100. If you bought new, that would buy you a budget to mid level gaming PC case. Not bad, but you could do better.
However, as we have seen above, you can buy mid to high end cases for as little as £60 when you buy used.
So why not put the rest of your budget, in this case £40, into buying an even better used case?
You could buy a feature full high end gaming PC case worth over £200 for less than £100 at auction on eBay.
Or you can buy a larger case for your money which will offer more expansion options and room to work in.
Where can I buy a Used PC Case?
This is my list of the best shops and websites to buy used and refurbished PC cases. 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 cheap.
Difference between a refurbished and a plain used PC Case
What is the difference between refurbished and used PC cases?
Used PC cases are sold by individuals. Usually because they’ve bought a new PC or because they’ve upgraded and bought a new PC case to house their new components.
There is usually nothing wrong with the case they are selling. It’s just being sold because it’s surplus to requirements.
You’ll find lots of individual sellers, such as gamers, selling their old cases on websites like eBay.
Though care should be taken when buying from an individual as the PC case may be missing extras such as screws or HDD caddies.
But these can be bought off Amazon very cheaply.
A used case, being sold by an individual, will not come with a warranty, and will be sold as seen. Therefore you should see the case working before you buy if possible, especially if it includes fans or RGB lighting.
Refurbished PC cases are different to used PC cases:
Refurbished PC cases are usually sold by businesses not individuals.
To be considered refurbished, the Cases will undergo a thorough inspection by a trained technician.
The case will first be checked for physical defects such as dents, scratch marks, cracks in the glass, and damage to ports. They will also check if the case comes with all the extras that it should such as screws, the manual, and mounting hardware.
If the case passes this first check, it’s then moved on to phase two of the inspection process.
In phase two, the cases’ electronics are checked. This includes checking all the USB ports on the front of the case, any RGB lighting built into the case, and all the fans.
If the cases’ electronics work as they should, the board is passed as refurbished, and promptly put up for sale.
Refurbished cases often come with a 1-2 year limited warranty.
However, you will pay a premium for the refurbishment process and the 3rd party warranty.
Tips for buying a used or refurbished PC case
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 emphasise the importance of looking over the entire case.
Tip 1: Wil your GPU fit
GPU’s are, from a gamer’s point of view, the most important component of a PC. The better the graphics card, the higher the resolution and frame rate, and the better the graphics.
Unfortunately, as time plods by, graphics cards have gotten bigger.
The latest Nvidia RTX 3080 is a huge 28cm or 11.2 inches long. This is too big for many cases.
So when buying a used PC case make sure it’s big enough to take the graphics card you want to put in it.
Ask the seller to slide their measuring tape out and check for you.
Tip 2: Will your CPU cooler fit?
Some traditional fan and heatsink CPU coolers can be very tall.
For example, I have a CPU cooler on an older i5-6500 CPU at the moment that is well over 17cm tall.
This was a fine fit for my old case, but it won’t fit in a new case.
So be sure to buy a case that is deep enough to take a large CPU cooler.
Or buy a smaller CPU cooler.
You could also consider buying an all in one water cooler for your CPU such as this one from Cool Master.
They are much lower profile than traditional heatsink coolers, and they are more effective.
Though they do cost a little more, they are easily transferable to future PC builds.
Tip 3: Check for dents and scratches
A nice obvious one, check for dents and scraps on the case.
Dents and scraps will diminish the aesthetic of the case.
A large dent might also affect the operation of the case internally.
But most of all, dents and scraps indicate the case has not been well looked after.
For me, large dents and scratch marks are enough for me to say no to a case.
Tip 4: What Motherboard size does it take?
Different case sizes are designed to house different motherboard sizes.
For example, large full tower cases can house large ATX or even extended-ATX motherboards.
Where as, at the other end of the spectrum, ITX cases will only house the specialised ITX motherboard standard. ITX is a tiny motherboard only 6 inches by 6 inches in size.
So before you buy your used PC case, be sure that your motherboard, or the motherboard you intend on buying, will fit in it.
If you are unsure, consult the manufacturer’s website, or ask the seller.
Tip 5: Check the size of the case
Cases come in many sizes, so be sure to buy one that suits your needs.
For example, you can buy massive full tower cases that are over 60cm tall that can fit even the most massive of components.
Or you can buy ITX cases. These are designed to be small and compact, almost console-like in size. But they limit what you can put inside.
If you want a case stuffed full of fans, RGB lighting, huge coolers, and multiple GPUs, you’ll need a big case.
If you’re looking for a more modest size gaming PC that can still house a large powerful graphics card, an M-ATX mid-tower case should suit you.
Or, if you are like me and you want to build streamlined micro gaming PCs, you can buy an ITX case. But just remember, they can’t take a lot of components. And they can be fiddly to work with.
Tip 6: What size PSU does the Case take?
Some smaller ITX cases will not take a standard size power supply unit. So be sure to ask the seller or check the manufacturer’s website for details.
Tip 7: Can the case take CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives?
Some smaller ITX cases, and even some Mid-tower cases, will not take a DVD/Blu-Ray drive. For most gaming purposes you may not need a DVD drive, as most games are downloaded these days.
However, if you want to use your PC to play films, music CDs, or old PC games that use disks, then you will need a case big enough to take the drive.
If you are unsure, check the manufacturer’s website or ask the seller.
Tip 8: Does it come with all it’s panels?
Many PC Cases come with 2 side panels, and often a front panel. Some even come with 5 panels such as the Thermaltake Core V21 that I’m using at the moment.
Make sure your case comes with all the panels before buying.
Tip 9: Does it come with all the Hard drive/SSD trays?
Most PC cases come with a number of hard drive bays designed to take Large and small hard drives and SSDs.
However, more modern cases have removable toolless hard drive/SSD caddies that just slide out whenever you want to install or remove a drive.
These toolless caddies are useful. However, they easily go missing.
For example, my last case came with 10, yes 10, HDD caddies. I usually use 3 at most, along with the M.2 drive built into the motherboard. So I tossed away the remaining unused 7 caddies to help increase air flow inside the case.
You may find many used PC cases do not come with all the caddies included. Have a think about how many you’ll need, and buy accordingly.
Tip 10: Does it come with the fans it’s supposed to come with and do they work?
Most PC cases come pre-installed with a selection of fans. Usually, a case will come with 1, 2 or even 3 fans on the front of the case to suck cool air in.
And in some cases, you’ll get 1 or 2 fans positioned at the top or side of the case to help push hot air out.
Check that the PC case comes with all the fans it is supposed to come with. Yes you can buy PC fans cheaply.
But if the seller has removed the fans, it’s another expense you’ll have to pay.
If the fan’s do come with the case, check that they are actually working. Ask the seller to send pictures, or see the case in person and check that each fan is spinning.
Tip 11: Is the side glass ok?
Most PC cases these days come with at least one side made of transparent plastic, or even glass.
Make sure the glass is free from cracks and deep scratches.
Tip 12: If the case comes with lighting and does it work?
If the case comes with any kind of lighting check that it works. Either ask the seller to send pictures or see the lighting working in person.
If the lighting doesn’t work, keep in mind it would be very hard to fix or directly replace.
However, you can buy RGB lights to go in a case very cheaply. Such as these RGB lights here. But again, keep in mind that it’s an extra expense.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of RGB lighting. Building a gaming PC, to me, is an almost perfect art form. You’re building something you’ll get huge amounts of practical use from and something you can make to look utterly breathtaking and artistic.
If I saw an RGB used case on ebay, and the lights did not work, I would not buy it.
Tip 13: Are the PCI slot covers included?
On the back of a PC, there are a number of slot covers that can be removed to make way for a GPU or other PCI card, such as a sound card.
These PCI covers are designed to stop dust and large debris being sucked inside the case.
They are not vital to the operation of your PC and you can do without them.
Just keep in mind you will have to clean your case a little more often if they are not attached.
If the used case you are looking at doesn’t come with PCI slot covers, or some are missing, you can always cheaply buy more.
Check out these spare slot covers here.
Tip 14: Is the dust protection mesh included?
Many modern PC cases have magnetic fan meshes covering the fan inlet and outlet holes.
Head over to the manufacturer’s website to check if the case you want to buy comes with some dust mesh.
If they are not included in the used case, that is not the end of the world as you can buy more. Check out some low cost magnetic dust mesh here.
Just keep in mind you will have to clean dust out of your case more often.
But then, you should be cleaning the inside of your PC case at least once every 3 months anyway, if not every month.
Tip 15: Are risers and other extras included?
Cases always come with loads of extras such as risers and screws for motherboards, along with screws to keep GPUs in place.
Look to see if the case comes with the original hardware that was packed in with it.
If it doesn’t you can buy a set of PC screws here.
Keep in mind though that it is an extra cost you have to take into account.
Tip 16: You can buy old… very old.
The ATX and MATX standard is the same as it was 15 years ago.
If you see a really old PC case going cheap and you like it, buy it. It will fit new parts.
The only problem you may encounter is the I/O panel on the front of the PC case may support old standards.
For example, I once bought a monster full tower case to build a dual-graphics card Rig. But the Case only had USB Gen 1 on the front I/O panel.
But that was an easy fix. I bought a front USB 3 panel. Like one of these USB panels.
That way I could buy old cases without worrying about the quality of the USB ports on the front.
Tip 17: Does it come with all rubber gaskets?
Most modern gaming PC cases come with pre drilled holes ready for 3rd party custom water cooling solutions.
Additionally, the case may come with a number of pre-cut holes in the inside of the case so you can reroute wires behind the back of the motherboard. This helps keep the inside of your case nice and tidy, and helps air flow.
However, these holes after they have been cut usually have sharp edges. These edges can easily wreck water pipes and cables.
Most cases come with fitted rubber gaskets to protect the wires from the harsh edges.
Unfortunately, these gaskets can easily pop out and get lost. So be sure the case comes supplied with all gaskets.
Tip 18: Compare to new case prices
Before committing to buying a used or refurbished case, check the price of a new version of the same case.
You may find that the new case is selling for the same amount as the used version.
Sometimes, especially on days such as Black Friday, new cases 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 19: Paypal offers buyer protection: use it
Do not pay in cash. You get buyer protection by using Paypal.
If the case is seriously dented or loads of parts are missing, and the buyer didn’t point this out in the auction, you can contact paypal, and get your money back.
Tip 20: 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 case when new.
If possible, also check the price of the case when it is just plain used, to get an idea of the difference in price.
Tip 21: Watch the postage and packaging (P&P)
If you buy a new gaming PC case 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.
This usually costs around £10 or $10 if you are buying the case from within your own country.
So take the cost of P&P into account when buying used.
If you can, pick the case up from the seller to save on P&P. But do take somebody with you to help with the lifting.
Tip 22: Does the case come with the original box?
Check to see if the case comes with the original box.
If it does, this is a good indicator that the person you are buying the case off has looked after it and knew that one day they may sell it.
Plus, having the original box means the case can be delivered in safety.
I honestly believe that buying a used or refurbished PC case is a great way to give you lots of options when building a PC, but at a much lower price point.
By going used, you can get a case that offers far more features such as better USB ports, or better toolless construction, without paying a premium.
But, let’s be honest, the biggest draw is the money you can save. And you can save a boat load!
So, check out some of the websites I mentioned above, your next PC case could be at auction 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? Yes, you can buy used 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.