Buying used parts to replace damaged or worn-out PC components can be a great way to save money. However, due to the sensitive nature of PCs, there are some second-hand parts you should avoid. What PC parts can you buy used, and which ones should you avoid?

You can buy PC parts used, including the central processing unit (CPU), PC cases, covers, RAM, coolers, and monitors. These parts are usually durable and can give you proper service if bought from trusted sources. You shouldn’t buy used hard discs, motherboards, or graphics cards.

If you’re still reading, chances are you’re considering whether to buy second-hand part(s) or not. If so, then you’re in the right place.

Read on to learn more about PC parts that you can buy used and those you should steer clear of.

computer parts layed on table for display

What PC parts are safe to buy used?

Whether you’re repairing a damaged part or simply looking to build your PC from scratch, buying used parts can help bring the total costs down significantly. 

Below are PC parts that are safe to buy used. 

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

a cpu

A new CPU can prove expensive, especially if you go for a high-performance unit. That explains why used units have become increasingly popular over the years.

And although a CPU is one of the components that you can buy used, it’s crucial to do your due diligence before settling for a friendly-priced unit. 

There are many perks to buying a used CPU. 

First, due to their status as the ‘brains’ of the computer, CPUs are usually built to last and can serve owners for several years.

Secondly, used CPUs are generally far cheaper than newer ones, allowing you to save on assembling or replacing a damaged CPU.

Take your time examining the CPU, keeping an eye out for red flags like unplanned shutdown and damaged or bent pins.

But you’re generally safe when buying a used CPU as long as it functions well. CPUs are usually hardy and can offer several years of use!

Please refer to my article guiding you on how to check if a CPU is working to know more about testing a CPU.

RAM

ram modules

The cost of buying RAM has increased over the years, making a RAM upgrade a costly affair, especially when purchasing new units.

And since you’re likely to need a large amount of RAM to effectively run all the apps and software on your computer, buying used can come in handy. 

So why should you buy used RAM? 

First, RAM can stand the test of time. These devices are among the most durable parts of a PC and will serve you for years if put to the correct type of use.

However, when buying used RAM, check whether the unit(s) is repaired. That’s because fixed units are likely to have reduced service life compared to used ones without a repair history.

Another crucial factor to consider when buying used RAM is its compatibility with your motherboard.

Buying an incompatible RAM translates to losing money, especially if you buy from online sources without testing it on your device. 

Try checking your motherboard’s manual to see the guidelines for slots and memory modules. Download software like CPU-Z, too, after installing the used RAM.

Open the software and head to the memory tab to check features like frequency, module type, and speed. 

PC Cases, enclosures, and covers

used computer case with cat sitting inside it

The good thing about second-hand PC cases and covers is that they don’t need much testing to determine legitimacy.

If it looks good, then it probably is good. One thing you’ll need to check on, though, is the sturdiness of the frame. 

Go for used PC cases that don’t look too old or damaged. 

You can also buy used bezels, hard drive doors, and even USB ports. The trick is to check whether they have any broken parts and, even more importantly, if they’re compatible with your current PC. 

Keyboards and mice

keyboard and mouse on white table surface

Keyboards and mice aren’t as costly as components like CPUs, meaning you won’t get to save much when buying used units.

However, if you want a quick replacement for a broken part, you can easily purchase second-hand keyboards and mice. 

Again, when buying second-hand hardware like mice and keyboards, check on their physical state before even trying them on your device.

Avoid buying hardware that appears worn out and damaged, even if the seller claims they work perfectly (unless you’re on a very tight budget).

Check for compatibility with your device by connecting the mouse or keyboard. It’s ideal to try using the device for over five minutes to determine its functionality.

Another great way to ensure you end up with quality products is by switching the mouse or keyboard on, then off and on again to see how they work after being turned on. 

Coolers

dual fan air cpu cooler

Coolers are among the safe PC parts to buy used. However, while purchasing a second-hand air cooler for your PC is okay, don’t buy liquid coolers, as air coolers are much less risky than their liquid counterparts when bought used. 

So what should you be on the lookout for when buying used coolers? 

First, always check on the physical condition of the contact area. For example, dents and dings in the aluminum fins are red flags; don’t attempt to buy a cooler with holes or cracks. 

As a rule of thumb, avoid using second-hand liquid coolers due to the risk of leakage in the case of dents and cracks.

Another point of consideration is listening to the noise levels. A cooler that’s too noisy is probably nearing the end of its useful life and won’t serve you much longer.

Monitors

dated computer monitor

A monitor is also safe to buy used, especially since new monitors can set you back a pretty penny.

You’ll need to check for dead pixels when buying a used monitor. You’ll easily spot a dead pixel on an all-white or all-black screen.

While a single dead pixel won’t do you much harm, a group of dead pixels will almost certainly compromise your viewing experience. 

Another important consideration when buying a used monitor is whether it has dark marks or bruise marks.

Dark areas (large) and bruise marks appearing after switching a monitor on indicate potential damage to the LED lights or problems with the light-channeling mirrors.

Avoid buying a bruised monitor, as it usually signals an improperly handled device.

Disc readers

old internal dvd drive for computer

Disc readers are safe components to buy used. However, the price of disc readers has declined significantly over the years, meaning you won’t save a lot of cash buying used. 

When looking to buy a disc reader, pay extra attention to the unit’s physical appearance. For example, avoid buying disc readers that appear damaged or have broken parts. 

PC Parts that you shouldn’t buy used

While buying used parts for your PC can help you lower overall repair or assembly costs, some parts are best when brand new. In this section, we’ll discuss PC parts that you shouldn’t buy used. 

Hard drive

mechanical hard disk drive

Buying a used hard drive is a sure recipe for disaster. While the device might work for a while, it might eventually fail, especially if you don’t know its usage history.

This is because hard drives usually come packed with magnetic platters that spin at thousand revolutions per minute (rpm). 

Hard drives also contain moving heads that communicate information to the magnetic platters.

The moving parts inside a hard drive increase the chances of malfunction, especially if the device was previously dropped or improperly used. 

The risk associated with buying used hard drives is too high, explaining why it’s best to settle for new units.

And although used hard drives might appear normal and function as expected, they can easily malfunction, leaving you counting both financial and data-related losses. 

Therefore, purchasing new units is highly recommended due to the risks involved with second-hand hard drives.

Granted, buying a high-memory hard drive might be costlier than purchasing second-hand units.

However, the benefits will be worth the investment because you won’t risk losing crucial data. 

Motherboards

a computer motherboard

Motherboards are essential parts of a PC and are undoubtedly the foundation on which PCs are built. Every other PC component slots into a motherboard, highlighting the device’s importance.

Buying a used motherboard isn’t such a bad idea. However, the risks involved are too high to justify the fairly cheaper costs of second-hand motherboards. 

The problem with buying used motherboards is you don’t know their history, meaning they can backfire and leave you greatly exposed.

For instance, crucial components like capacitors could have worn out, thus limiting the functionality and performance of the motherboard.

Moreover, older motherboards rarely support the latest or advanced CPUs and RAM. 

Most second-hand PCs also come with faulty back connectors, meaning you might not get the chance to use your female USB sockets.

Exposed connector pins are likely to be bent and damaged, giving you much more work than needed.

Therefore, it’s best to avoid purchasing second-hand motherboards for your PC unless you’re buying from a trusted seller. 

Power cables

computer power cable

You can buy used power cables. However, the risks involved can prove too much. That’s because power cables can malfunction and even damage your PC’s other parts.

Therefore, if you have to buy a used power cable, it’s better to buy from a trusted supplier or repair shop. 

You can buy HDMI cables and other types of secondary cables second-hand from trusted retailers. However, you’ll need to examine the physical condition of the wires and test them before making any purchase. 

Graphics card

a computer graphics card standing upright

Buying used graphic cards might help you save your hard-earned cash. However, making such a move is risky, especially if you don’t know the device’s history.

For instance, buying a GPU previously used in cryptocurrency mining will do more harm than good. 

It’s a lot safer to buy a new GPU, especially if you want to use your PC for gaming and editing activities.

However, you can still buy a used graphics card if you don’t mind returning to the market if your graphics card malfunctions

Power supply (PSU)

a power supply or psu

This is probably the most important computer part to never ever buy second-hand.

All the components inside your system rely on good power to operate properly. It can lower the lifespan of the part that relies on it if the PSU is in bad shape.

Make sure that this is the one component you don’t try and cut costs on.

Also, keep in mind that some extra Wattage in the specs goes a long way for a longer-lasting power supply and a cooler operating one too.

Advantages of buying used PC parts

save money key on a computer keyboard

Used parts are cheaper than new components

Perhaps the greatest advantage of buying used parts is affordability.

Second-hand components are usually cheaper than new parts, meaning you’ll get to save, especially when assembling a computer from scratch.

You can save upwards of $200 when buying used computer parts from a trusted retailer.

Used spare parts can also help reduce the overall repair cost, which can come in handy when operating on a budget. 

You can get premium components for a lot less

Buying new premium PC parts can severely dent your savings, especially if you purchase parts packed with advanced features.

The good news is that premium parts usually become affordable once used.

That means you can upgrade your PC and improve its overall performance by buying a used or refurbished premium part. 

You can buy spare parts for your PC

Spare parts don’t need to be new to work. You can easily repair a spoilt PC by replacing the damaged parts with a used part that’s functional.

Not only will this help you save on unnecessarily ballooned costs, but it also allows you to stock up on spares for the future.

In addition, having several used parts to act as backup means you’ll never be caught off guard if one of the used parts malfunctions. 

Buying used helps conserve the environment

While this isn’t an obvious advantage that many consider when buying used PC parts, it still counts as a plus. Buying used products means you’ll contribute to keeping unspoiled equipment or devices out of landfills.

In addition, recycling electronic equipment helps preserve the environment, ensuring that functional parts don’t wind up in the landfill.

Disadvantages of buying used PC parts

a woman frustrated with a computer

Used products don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty

With almost all warranties tied to the original owner, you’ll have to kiss a warranty goodbye if you choose to buy second-hand PC parts.

This highlights the importance of conducting thorough checks before settling for a particular product.

However, some retailers offer limited warranties to clients, so you’ll need to be on the lookout for such deals. 

Difficult to examine

The importance of thoroughly checking used computer parts cannot be overstated.

However, examining the parts isn’t as straightforward as most people perceive, especially for relatively inexperienced users.

In addition, you’ll probably need advanced technical know-how to understand sensitive parts like a CPU or motherboard. 

Used parts have reduced useful life

Although you might get a used product in great shape, chances are it won’t last as long as it would when new.

However, this shouldn’t prevent you from buying used parts, provided they’re in good shape.

Mishandling or overworking used parts can lead to premature damage, hence the need to be extra careful when using second-hand or refurbished parts. 

Some parts should be new

While buying used PC parts can help reduce overall costs, it’s not the best idea for some parts.

You should always buy parts like hard drives, motherboards, and brand-new power supplies.

Using second-hand hard drives, for instance, can lead to the loss of essential data. Similarly, a faulty second-hand power supply can leave you counting losses as it can easily damage other parts. 

Is it hard to build a gaming PC?

Building a gaming PC from scratch isn’t hard. You can either choose to buy used or new parts and assemble them to create your gaming beast.

Unfortunately, new PC parts are often costly, which explains why most people prefer using quality used parts like RAM, cooler, monitors, and the CPU. 

Buying the parts from trusted vendors is best if you prefer to build a gaming PC by assembling used parts. Or consider buying new parts if you doubt the quality of used parts. 

Tips for buying used PC parts

Buying used PC parts is risky and rewarding at the same time. While you can end up with a well-functioning used part, you might also purchase a faulty part. Below are essential tips to follow when buying used PC parts.

  • Buy from trusted sellers. As a good rule of thumb, always buy from a trusted seller. Check for reviews and customer ratings to determine the seller’s legitimacy if you’re buying online.
  • Always examine the products. Ensure that you take your time to check its physical appearance before buying a second-hand product. Some products like casings and keyboards are easy to examine based on their physical appearance.
  • Test the parts. Buying a used PC part without proper testing isn’t the smartest idea. Not only does it increase the chances of disappointment, but it also means you can incur losses should the seller have a no-return policy.

Wrapping up

You can buy PC parts used, including CPUs, RAM, cases, coolers, disc readers, mice, and keyboards.

However, when purchasing these parts, it’s crucial to check for compatibility with your device.

Besides compatibility, you’ll also need to check and confirm the parts are in good shape by testing them. 

PC components you shouldn’t buy used include hard drives, graphic cards, motherboards, and power cables.

Instead, buy sensitive parts new to prevent data loss and ensure that all parts function as expected.