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You can pick up some computer components for less if you go second-hand. Here are some pros and cons of picking up parts that have already been used for your next PC build.

It's possible to grab a bargain when it comes to refurbished or second-hand PC components. I remember picking up a used AMD FX-4100 quad-core CPU for around £30 a number of years back, which performed without issue (overclocked to 4.8GHz) until it was replaced earlier this year by an overclocked Intel Core i5 6600K.

So it's true you can save some money going with used gear, but like anything else you're going to want to know some of the negatives when it comes to pre-owned items, especially PC components and parts.

Why you should buy used

Used GPU

  • You likely don't need new
  • Saving the environment
  • Buy more powerful and advanced parts
  • Saving money

The main point when it comes to looking at new PC components is you don't really need brand new parts. It's great to unbox that shiny new CPU, but you don't actually need it to be brand new. Grabbing a CPU in working order from someone else, saving anywhere up to 70%, is a superb deal. This means you can either spend more on getting a better used part or splashing out on something else.

Even if there is something wrong with the product itself, like cosmetic damage, as long as everything performs as expected you'll be good to go. It also means you'll be doing your part to keep as much equipment out of landfill sites as possible. Not everyone recycles electronic equipment, so taking parts off someone else's hands means that part will enjoy per-longed use before finally reaching its end of life.

One should never feel cheap when looking at second-hand equipment for their PC either. That GPU you're getting for less could simply be a throwaway due to the previous owner forking out for an upgrade. It makes no sense for the old unit to be discarded so if it's an improvement in your system, why not take advantage?

And why you shouldn't

New PSU

  • Kiss the warranty goodbye
  • Difficult to examine condition
  • Unknown wear and tear
  • Some parts should always be new

The warranty of a particular product is usually tied to the original owner through proof of purchase, so be sure to check the overall condition of whatever you're purchasing from someone and take note of any defects. Purchasing second-hand from a retailer tend to be accompanied by a limited warranty on the item, however. That said, it can prove difficult to examine the condition of a part, the CPU for example, without having advanced technical knowledge. Refurbished-by-the-manufacturer products tend to have their own warranties from the point of purchase, though they're often shorter than a brand-new purchase's warranty.

While used components can be a good catch, there are certain components that should always be purchased new. Namely the motherboard, power supply and hard drives (including SSDs). These parts in particular are super-important, especially the motherboard. In my opinion, it's just not worth the risk to go for a second-hand PSU or any storage drive you'll be using on a daily basis. Hard disk drives suffer from mechanical wear-and-tear, so to get the maximum lifespan out of one you should always get it new.

In a worst case scenario, the used motherboard or PSU may look in great condition to the eye, but they could die and take out other components with them. That's something you don't want to happen and would end up costing you more to fix. The last point to make is trust. Do some research on whoever you're buying from if it's online and always test your used gear before putting everything back together.

Do you buy used?

Sound off in the comments if you're a fan of buying components and equipment for your PC used, or are you a fan of unboxing brand new parts and enjoying that sweet smell of new circuitry?