Should I Buy Used PC Parts?


There’s a dark trend brewing on the horizon: 

Building a new gaming PC is getting more and more expensive. 

A PC that would have once cost $500 is now costing well over $1000. Costs are spiraling, tornado-like, out of control. 

How can we claw back some savings? 

The answer:

Used PC parts.

But I’m sure you’re asking:

Should I buy used PC parts? Yes, you should buy used PC parts. You can save over 50% in cost when building a pc from used parts instead of new parts. Used PC parts like CPUs, Graphics cards, Motherboards, RAM, Monitors, Cases, PSUs, Mice, and keyboard can be bought safely for huge savings. However, you should avoid used Hard drives and SSDs as they can contain harmful data. And they can fail, leading to loss of important data. 

Now you know you can save a huge amount of money buying used parts. 

But telling you isn’t enough…

I want to show you how much you can save. 

To that end, I’ve spent time finding all the used parts needed to build a mid-range gaming PC. Then I found all the comparable parts so I could compare the cost of building a PC from used parts to the cost of building one with new parts. 

These are all real-world peripherals and components you can buy right now. The used parts I found were listed as auctions on eBay. So you could, with a little luck, build the same or better PC as I’ve done here. 

Read on to find out what was in my build, how much you could save on each component, how much was saved overall, and, as a bonus, how to buy each component safely. 

Why you should absolutely buy used PC parts

Some fantastic hardware can be bought used.

I really wanted to drill home the real-world financial benefit of building a PC from used parts. 

Here, I’ll be building a mid-range gaming PC entirely from used parts found on eBay. And I’ll be comparing the prices of these parts to comparably powered parts available today. 

1-2 generation old PC parts offer fantastic price vs performance, but they will not be as powerful as their newer versions. So I’ll be sticking to components 1-3 years old.

For example, a GTX 1080 will not be as powerful as an RTX 2080. But an older high-end card such as GTX 1080 ti can easily be more powerful and less expensive than a mid-range graphics card such as an RTX 2070 Super. 

And you’ll find this is a repeating pattern throughout PC used hardware: Old high-end components are nearly always more powerful and vastly cheaper than new mid-range hardware.

It’s also worth remembering that new parts often offer very little improvement on previous generations. For example, 3 year old used 3200mhz RAM is just as good as new 3200mhz RAM. 

For this example, I’ll be going with an AMD Ryzen AM4 build as it offers plenty of room for upgrades in the future. 

Also, all used parts were found on eBay. All new parts were found on Amazon.  

Please keep in mind that all the information in this article was correct at the time of writing. 

The PC component industry moves faster than I can get around to rewriting articles in between writing new ones! 

But, all the info in this article will still be applicable in 1 year’s time, or 10 year’s time. 

Generally speaking, buying 1-2 generation old high-end components, will be far cheaper and more power than equivalently powered new mid-range components. Regardless of whether you are building a PC today or in 10 years’ time. 

Yes, you do get paradigm shifts such as what we got when Nvidia launched the 3000 series RTX cards. But this massive jump in power is absorbed by ever-increasing screen resolutions.

Pro tip: 4k is over double the pixels of 1440p. So 4K needs double the amount of GPU power to sustain the same frame rate. Just for extra pixels, you won’t even notice when the game is moving. So if you are willing to game at 1440p, which I do instead of 4k, you can have a graphics card with half the power, yet still, turn on all the graphical niceties such as reflections or even raytracing. And all without having to pay huge amounts of money for high-end cards. 

Anyway, first let’s get an overview of all the parts I found…

Here are all the parts I found and their prices

Ok, now you’ve got the raw data, and it’s staggering on its own, let look at each component separately. 

Motherboard

Used motherboards can be bought relatively cheaply and offer a great base for building a gaming pc

Should you buy a used motherboard: Yes

Motherboards bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $69 saved buying used
  • Saving of 54%

The motherboard is the foundation of your PC. So it’s important to buy one that can not only support your current components but lets you upgrade in the future. 

Buying used is a great way to save a chunk of cash while ensuring the future upgradability of your gaming rig.

In this example, the used Gigabyte B450m Aorus offers 90% of the features of the B550m Aorus at a vastly lower cost. It can take fast RAM and supports Ryzen generations 1, 2, and 3. And it will support Ryzen 5000 series CPUs with a bios update. 

For the thrifty gamer, the B450 is the perfect balance between cost-saving and performance.

By buying the B450 over the B550, you would save over $69 or 54% on the cost of a comparable new motherboard. 

Though buying a used motherboard sounds daunting, it need not be. 

Check out my “Should I buy a used motherboard” article for tips on how to buy a used motherboard safely and confidently. 

CPU

Both Intel and AMD CPUs can be bought at great prices on the used market.

Should you buy a used CPU: Yes

CPUs bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $85 saved buying used
  • Saving of 60%

For this example, I found a Ryzen 2600 on eBay supplied without its original Cooler. But I thought, considering I would want to overclock any used CPU I buy, I’d need a better cooler anyway.

Originally, I thought about doing a straight-up comparison with the Ryzen 3600. But the Ryzen 3600 is a $200 CPU and it’s about 12% more powerful than the Ryzen 2600. So I wanted something of equivalent power. 

In stepped the Ryzen 3400G. Though the 3400g is only a 4 core CPU compared to the 6 core 2600, the Ryzen 2600 is only about 4% faster than the Ryzen 3400g in gaming. Well, according to userbenchmark.com, anyway. I thought this was a fair comparison given the prices we are talking about. 

Considering most games are heavily GPU limited, the CPU just needs to be “good enough”. Most gamers go way over the top when it comes to the CPU. 6 cores is more than enough for modern games. And that makes the Ryzen 5 2600 more than good enough too. 

At only $55, you’re making a gigantic saving over the 3400G of 60% or $85. And you’re getting more power. 

For more information and tips on how to buy a used CPU safely and with confidence, check out my “Should I buy a used CPU” article. 

CPU cooler 

CPU coolers of all types can be bought cheaply on eBay.

Should you buy a used CPU cooler: Yes

CPU Coolers bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $55 saved buying used
  • Saving of 54%

I wanted better cooling than the stock AMD CPU cooler, as I’d like to overclock the Ryzen 2600 to make up for the drop in IPC (instructions per clock) compared to the 3rd gen Ryzen CPUs. 

So, water cooling was my only option. I didn’t think I’d make such a huge saving when buying a cooler, but again, I was pleasantly mistaken. 

I’ve bought Corsair water coolers for years and they have always offered superb cooling on both my AMD and Intel CPUs. 

I searched eBay for an H60 Corsair water cooler and quickly found one selling for only $25. Seriously, only 25 dollars! What a steal! 

That offered a saving of $55 over a new H60. Or, in percentage terms, it offers a saving of 69.75%!

The used H60 water cooler came with all the parts needed such as screws and mounts. Plus, it came boxed. 

You can’t go wrong with that!

Just be careful when buying coolers as they do come with a lot of different hardware to attach them to different generations of CPUs. Check with the seller that all the original hardware is supplied. 

For more information and tips on how to buy the correct used CPU cooler for your rig check out my “Should I buy a used CPU cooler” article. 

RAM

Here’s some dashing looking RGB RAM. Colored lights cost more. Remember that when buying used or new.

Should you buy used RAM: Yes

RAM bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $32 saved buying used
  • Saving of 50.8%

RAM is used as temporary storage for all the data that your PC is currently using to function. This can be anything from Web browsers and games, to sound files and pictures. All of it pulled from the Hard drive and stored in RAM. 

RAM has to be quick to supply the CPU with enough data to process. If the RAM is too slow the CPU stalls and the PC slows down. 

To avoid a RAM bottleneck, I wanted to pair my CPU with 3200mhz RAM. It’s about average when it comes to RAM speeds, but again, it’s good enough for our needs. 

I found a pair of Team T-force 8GB RAM sticks that sold for just under half the price of the equivalent new Corsair Vengeance 3200 RAM. 

In fact, I managed to save $32 buying the used RAM which gave me a saving of just under 51% compared to the new RAM.

The great thing about RAM is it’s pretty benign stuff. It just works. You can just buy it used and slot it neatly into your motherboard for an instant upgrade. 

For more information and tips on how to buy used RAM check out my “Should I buy used RAM” article. 

Graphics card

Graphics cards of all shapes and sizes can be bought used. But it’s best to stick to ones that are 1-2 generations old.

Should you buy a used graphics card: Yes

Graphics cards bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $440 saved buying used
  • Saving of 58.7%

When buying used you’ll make your biggest saving by buying a used graphics card.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice power. In fact, buying used means you’ll get far more graphical power than you would buy new. 

When I buy a graphics card, I usually aim to buy 1-2 generations old. After Nvidia released their RTX GPUs, I immediately popped on eBay and hunted down a GTX 1080 ti which was recently reduced as it was, from that moment, a generation old. 

This monster GPU can still quite comfortably game at 4k, and at my resolution of choice: 1440p and 60fps. 

To this day, it still heats the innards of my gaming PC. 

For this example build, I decided to compare the 1080 ti to the RTX 2070 super as they both offer roughly the same processing power.

The RTX 2070 may offer Raytracing, but it does it for more than double the price of the GTX 1080ti. Plus the GTX 1080 ti is actually a faster card in “normal” graphical tasks.

By buying the 1080 ti instead of the 2070 super, I saved $440 for a saving of 58.7%. Yes, you read that right, I managed to buy a graphics card that is more powerful than an RTX 2070 super for less than half the price. 

This is something that companies don’t want you to know. That used high end GPUs are more powerful but far cheaper than the new mid range. Yet every year, people spend billions buying new graphics cards, when they could spend far less on a used GPU. 

Check out my “Should I buy a used graphics card” article to find out how. 

Case

Need a PC case on the cheap without resorting to buying one of those god-awful Chines knock-off cases? Then buy one, like the one above, used on eBay.

Should you buy a used case: Yes

Cases bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $69 saved buying used
  • Saving of 54%

I actually have an NZXT H510 for my current build and it’s a spacious feature-full case from a fantastic company. The fact that you can buy it at half the price nearly new on eBay is unbelievable. 

In fact, I would have saved exactly $35, or 50%, when looking on eBay. 

Just keep in mind that PC cases are heavy and will cost about $10 to deliver if bought used. 

For more information and tips on how to buy a used PC case check out my “Should I buy a used PC case” article. 

PSU

500W PSUs are usually not enough for top graphics cards.

Should you buy a used PSU: Yes

PSUs bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $33 saved buying used
  • Saving of 47%

The PSU, or power supply unit, is what supplies electricity to all the components in your PC. 

Power supplies come in different power levels.

For example, you can buy 500W PSUs all the way up to 1300W PSUs and beyond. 

Generally, the more powerful your components, the more power they draw, and the more power your PSU needs to be. 

But, for most mid-range gaming PCs, a 650W power supply is more than enough to power even the most powerful graphics cards and hardware. 

With the 650W mark in mind, I scoured ebay and found a Thermaltake Smart 650W PSU. Nothing fancy. Just a good power unit from a great company. 

It was selling for just $37. Compare that to a new Corsair 650W power supply, which costs $70, you can see there are substantial savings to be had by buying a used PSU. 

However, caution is advised: Do not buy PSUs that are too old. As PSUs age, the amount of power they can generate slowly drops. A 5 years old 650W PSU will not produce the same amount of power as a new 650W PSU.

To learn how to safely and confidently buy a used PSU by checking out my “Should I buy a used PSU” article.  

SSD

SSDs. They’re brilliant. Just don’t buy them used.

Should you buy a used SSD: No, and I explain why despite the saving that can be had

SSDs bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $10 saved buying used
  • Saving of 16.6%

For starters, the financial savings you can make by buying a used M.2 SSD are very small. OK, 16% is still a good saving. But not compared to everything else on this list. 

I’d buy a new SSD. Every time.

Not just because of the lack of savings, but because of the lack of security inherent in using somebody else’s old storage. You don’t know what the previous user has used the SSD for. 

Nor do you know if there are any malicious viruses lying in wait on the SSD until you feed it with power. 

Personally I would avoid buying used SSDs 

Check out my “Should I buy a used SSD” article to see why I don’t think you should buy one used and what to do instead. 

Hard Drive 

Yes, this is the shattered innards of a hard drive. Just as Dr. Leonard McCoy would say, “It’s dead Jim!”

Should you buy a used hard drive: No, and I explain why despite the saving that can be had.

Hard drives bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $29 saved buying used
  • Saving of 64%

Really good savings can be had by buying a used hard drive. 

However, I would not buy a used one. 

Traditional hard drives have more moving parts in them anthem than any other component in a PC. 

And, if dropped or knocked in the past, they can catastrophically die at any moment. Taking your data along for the ill fated ride to valhalla. 

Plus, they suffer from all the same negatives as used SSDs. They are a security risk to your PC. 

They are best avoided. 

For more information and tips on why I think you shouldn’t buy a used hard drive, and what to do instead, check out my “Should I buy a used hard drive” article. 

Monitor 

All sorts of gaming monitors can be bought used. You just need to spend some time digging for them. Not literally mind. You won’t find any monitors in the ground like potatoes.

Should you buy a used monitor: Yes

Monitors bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $144 saved buying used
  • Saving of 52%

Pointless, marketing department-driven, yearly increments is one of my biggest problems with the technology industry. Every year, companies like Apple and Samsung will release phones that are 95% identical to the previous year’s phone. 

New CPUs are released that offer 5% increase in power. 

And monitors get yearly refreshes along with a new lick of marketing paint, to convince you that the monitor you bought last year, yeah, it’s “obsolete” and “belongs in landfill.” 

But that’s a lie corporations want you to believe. That incremental tech updates, jazzed up by marketing departments, are much bigger, better, and sexier than they really are. 

Last year’s products are good enough. In Fact products from 1-2 generations of hardware ago are good enough. And the same goes for gaming monitors. 

I found an AOC G2590FX, a stunning 1080p 144hz monitor from 2018, selling on eBay for just $131. At that price, it’s nearly worth me flying to the fella’s house to pick it up! The new version of the same monitor, which is nearly identical in all ways that matter I might add, sells for $275. 

That means by ignoring the marketing splurge, you can save $144 or 52% by buying the used monitor over the new monitor. 

Seriously, don’t let these companies trick you into thinking their newest stuff makes everything else redundant. 

For more information and tips on how to buy a used monitor check out my “Should I buy a used monitor” article. 

Keyboard

keyboards. The staple of the PC gamer. Well, for some anyway. I must admit, I use a PS4 controller with my PC most of the time. I don’t get the whole keyboard and mouse thing as work with those all day already.

Should you buy a used keyboard: Yes

keyboards bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $67.50 saved buying used
  • Saving of 84%

As a gamer, you can make some of the biggest savings on peripherals by buying used peripherals. 

But there’s a problem:

For some reason, most people do not like buying used keyboards. 

I think it’s got something to do with the fact sweat palms, and sticky toffee pudding fingers, have smeared all over the keys. 

Yet, if you’re willing to give them a deep clean, and I mean a really deep clean, a USB keyboard from 5 years ago will still be a superb keyboard today. 

I found an entry-level Razer Cynosa selling for just $12.50. Seriously, the person selling it would have probably had more value for it by using it as an elaborate fly swatter or something. 

This is the biggest saving on this list, actually. 

The new version of this great keyboard retails for $80. That means by buying the used version for only $12.50 you’re saving $67.50. Which translates to a percentage saving of 84%.

Seriously, just go take a look at my “Should I buy a used keyboard” article to see how to buy one. Your wallet will thank me for it. 

Mouse

Mice haven’t changed much in years. Regardless of what Razer and other companies would have you believe.

Should you buy a used mouse: Yes

Mice bought

Money Saved buying used:

  • $60 saved buying used
  • Saving of 80%

Like gaming keyboards and other peripherals, big savings can be made buying used mice.  

For this build example, I wanted to buy a Razer mouse to show you can get fantastic bargains on high-end peripherals. 

On scanning the eBay listings, I found a Razer DeathAdder Elite selling for only $15. 

To give you some perspective on how huge a saving that is, a new DeathAdder V2 sells for $75.

That means that you are saving 80% by buying a used mouse over new one. 

Yes, you should clean a mouse thoroughly before using it. But with savings this big, spending 10 minutes cleaning a mouse is something I’d happily do. 

Also, mice haven’t changed much over the past 5-10 years. A high-end mouse 5 years ago, would still be a high-end mouse today. It’s just companies like Razer don’t want you to know that! 

For more information and tips on how to buy a used mouse check out my “Should I buy a used mouse” article. 

Postage and Packaging

I have said postage and packaging is around $60 for items bought off ebay. 

The reason for this is some heavy or bulky PC parts cost a lot to deliver, like cases. 

Whereas smaller parts cost very little to post, like an M.2 SSD or RAM. 

Plus, you can buy some items and get them delivered for free. They just take longer to arrive. 

The new items, on the other hand, have no postage and packaging. I assumed this, as I would buy the parts and have them delivered for free on Amazon using 5 days postage. 

However, if you buy all the parts in one go, you can save massively on delivery even on Amazon. 

But for this example, the P&P was free for new parts. 

Extras 

You may have to spend a little bit of money buying extras such as a SATA cable for the hard drive, cable ties, screws, and standoff screws. 

Fortunately, these sorts of things can be bought very cheaply on websites like Amazon or eBay. 

Take a look below to see what I mean:

Keep in mind that many used PC components will come with things like screws and SATA cables, and you don’t really need cable ties. But they are nice to have. 

Conclusion 

This boxer dog is shocked by the massive savings you can make buying used. Seriously, this is his shocked face.

I must admit, even after years of building PCs from used parts I was still staggered by the massive saving that can be had from buying used.

Seriously, take a look at some of these figures. 

The used PC costs would have cost in total, that includes P&P, $848.50.

The equivalent new computer would have cost, drum roll please, $1833.

That’s a staggering difference of $984.5. 

That equals a percentage saving of 53.7% 

Seriously, PC component companies don’t want you to know this! They want you to keep buying new components year after year. 

Why?

Because they make no money from used components. 

This frankly huge saving of nearly $1000 brings a mid to high-end gaming PC into the reach of many more gamers. 

And this type of saving is found across the spectrum of budgets. You can expect to save 50% plus on low end, mid-range, and high-end gaming rigs. 

What Next?

Ok, I love the idea of building a PC from used parts. But how do I go about doing that? I’m glad you asked. We have an article dedicated to building a PC from only used parts. Take a look at it here

I’m not convinced that buying used is for me. I’m a bit concerned with parts not working. What should I do? I Understand your worries. I really do. Buying used means you do not have the cushion of a warranty to protect you. However, you do not have to build a PC completely from used parts. You can do as I do these days: mix and match. For example, I have a PC that uses a used CPU, CPU fan, a used graphics card, and used RAM. But the SSD, the hard drive, the case, the fans, the power supply, monitor, keyboard and mouse are all new. 

I’ve built a PC from used parts and it’s purring along perfectly. What should I do now? Start playing games. Or, better yet, start getting paid to play games. Create your own Youtube gaming channel. But, if you do, remember we put the idea in your head ;-). 
Check out our guide for building a successful Youtube channel 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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