Graphics cards are very expensive right now due to supply issues and that is one of the main reasons why you might be interested in going for a used PC. Buying a used PC also means that all the parts are already installed and you do not have to put it together yourself. Getting a used PC can save you some money but there are multiple things to consider when doing so. In this article, we are going to go over the different factors that you should consider when buying a used gaming PC.
What Should You Consider When Buying A Used PC?
There are plenty of things that you should consider when buying a used PC. There are also a couple of things that you should check before making the actual purchase. We have covered everything in detail below.
Price (Money Saved)
One of the major aspects of getting a used PC is that you can save a lot of money. Graphics cards are being sold well over MSRP right now and they are hardly ever in stock, so going with a used, slightly older PC might be the best option for your right now. At the moment, new graphics cards are being sold at 2 to 3 times the MSRP, so it makes sense that more people are attracted to the used PC market.
Do beware that since graphics cards are not available right now, older used graphics cards are being sold at a much higher price as well. So you should definitely look up different used graphics cards and get an idea of what specific models are going for in order to make sure that you are getting a fair deal. You should check the pricing of new graphics cards as well as listing for old ones to make sure that you are getting a good deal.
Prices for used PCs are mostly not fixed, and there is always a bit of wiggle room in terms of how much you need to pay. You can negotiate with the seller to save a few more bucks. This might not work in most cases but if you play your cards right then you might be able to save even more money than you expected. You can get some pretty good deals if the seller urgently needs to get the PC off his or her hands.
In order to get an idea of what the PC is worth you can easily put all the parts into PC Part Picker and see how much it would cost to build that certain PC with new parts. This is going to give you a rough idea of how much you should pay. You can also check similar listings to get an idea of what the average selling point is for such a build.
Age of Components
The age of the components is another factor that you should consider when buying a used PC. Going for older components means having to pay a lower price but it also means that you might not be able to use the PC for long. We would not recommend going older than a 6th generation Intel Core i5 CPU. Ideally, you should aim for an 8th generation Intel CPU keeping in mind that the 12 generation is just around the corner. This will ensure that you get decent performance and a processor that will last you a couple of years before you need to upgrade. On the AMD side, you should pick the first generation of Ryzen CPUs at the very least.
When it comes to gaming, the graphics card is going to do the major heavy lifting. We would recommend nothing older than the 900 series of Nvidia or 400 series of AMD graphics cards. If you are looking for an entry-level PC, then we can recommend the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti or the AMD Radeon RX 560. For a mid-range PC, we can recommend the Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB variant or the AMD Radeon RX 570 8GB model, but the RX 580 would be even better.
When it comes to the RAM, we would recommend going with DDR4. DDR5 is fairly new and it is going to be a while before it becomes mainstream. This means that you can still use DDR4 RAM for a couple of years to come. Sticking with DDR4 will allow you to upgrade to faster RAM and add more capacity down the line and you can use it with modern components as well. So when you do decide to upgrade your PC, chances are that you will still be able to use the RAM.
Usage (how much was the PC previously Used)
How much the PC has already been used is going to be an important factor, as that is not only going to decide the amount of money that you should pay but it will also help you decide whether or not you should go with the particular used PC or not.
Simply searching for the different parts online will give you a release date and an idea of how old the PC really is. When it comes to CPUs, an 8th generation Intel CPU is going to be much newer than a second-generation one. The 8th generation CPU is going to cost you more and is going to be better for you in the long run rather than a 2nd generation Intel chip.
How well the PC has been maintained will also give you an idea regarding the use of the PC and how well it has been kept. If you see a lot of dust build-up then that is a sign that either the PC has not been maintained well or that it has been used a lot.
If you are buying a used gaming PC directly from an individual seller then you should check what you are buying beforehand in order to make sure that everything works as it should. Chances are the seller is not going to give you any kind of warranty afterward. You do get some security in this regard if you are buying from eBay or Amazon.
When it comes to a warranty from the manufacturer, in most cases there is a time limit on the warranty. If your components are old then you are not going to get any kind of warranty but if your PC parts are fairly recent then the manufacturer might cater to you in case something goes wrong. This will depend on the warranty policy of the manufacturer as some do not allow the transfer of warranty when a product is re-sold. This is something that you should keep in mind when buying a used gaming PC.
If you are buying a gaming PC from an individual then you should ask whether they got it new or used. If they did get it new then you can ask for a receipt from where they bought it from. This is going to help you prove that it was purchased legitimately and help you get a warranty claim from the manufacturer.
Parts of your PC such as the case and power supply can be used when you upgrade but you do need to consider an upgrade path when you buy a used gaming PC. Motherboard and processor compatibility is the most common thing that you need to take into account. Intel motherboards typically support 2 generations of CPUs.
AMD on the other hand has a much more flexible socket. Since the first Ryzen CPUs were announced, AMD has used the same AM4 socket which means that you can upgrade the BIOS of your motherboard and install the latest Ryzen CPUs without having to change your motherboard. You will need to check support for the motherboard as not all motherboards support all the Ryzen CPUs even though the CPU socket is the same.
Getting an ATX motherboard is going to give you RAM upgradability as well as there are 4 DIMM slots and you can add more RAM down the line. I recommend sticking with DDR4 as this standard is going to be relevant for a few more years. Even though DDR5 is around the corner and you can buy DDR5 RAM right now, compatibility is limited and prices are high. It is going to be a while before DDR5 RAM becomes mainstream. DDR4 in the meantime is going to give you the performance that you need for gaming.
You can also take storage options into account. Older systems will not have M.2 slots. If you want high-speed storage then you should consider getting a system that has an M.2 slot, even if it does not come with an M.2 SSD. This will allow you to add high-speed storage down the line when you feel like upgrading. I would recommend using a smaller SSD for your boot drive and a few games and getting a hard drive for mass storage.
How To Find A Used Gaming PC
You can find pretty much anything online and the same goes for gaming PCs as well. The following are some common options that you might want to consider as well as our recommendations.
eBay is a massive name when it comes to buying used things. You can sometimes get a good deal on eBay but in general, this is not an option that we would recommend as the ads posted here are published internationally and you have a lot of competition. You will have better chances of getting a good deal locally rather than competing internationally. Keeping in mind the currency supply issues, people are willing to pay more to get their hands on parts and that means that you will need to pay more as well.
In some cases, eBay does give you a level of protection by offering your a return in case something goes wrong. This is definitely something to consider if you are going to buy a used gaming PC from eBay.
There are all kinds of classified sites that you can check out PCs from. CraigsList is one of the major ones but you should be cautious when picking up a PC from this site as there is no indication of the relationship between sellers and buyers. There is no rating system that tells you how reputable or trusted the seller is. This is is not a site that I can recommend for buying a used gaming PC.
Facebook is primarily a social media site and this makes things a bit easier, as you can get an idea of who you are buying the PC from. You can do a lot of research in this area. Facebook Marketplace has local or semi-local listing because of how the algorithm works. This is going to give you a much better deal as compared to other sites like eBay.
Chances are that you already have Facebook on your phone. This means that you do not have to download another app and do not have to put in all your details again. Messenger is also integrated into the site and app, so you do not have to give your phone number or email if you do not want to.
What To Check When You Have Identified A PC You Like
Now that you have narrowed down your options, you need to check if the PC that you are interested in actually works as it should. There are a couple of things that you should check before paying for the PC.
Does The PC Boot Or Turn On?
While some people are going to let you test the PC before you buy it, others might not feel comfortable having a complete stranger in their house. While it is ideal that you test the PC that you are going to pay for thoroughly, you can check if the PC boots by having the seller send you a video of the PC turning on. You can request a video in which you can see the PC booting and verify that the specs advertised are the same on the screen. Ensure that the screen that you see in the video is connected to the PC that you are about to buy.
Testing And Other Things To Look Out For
Now that you know that system actually turns on, you can ask the seller to run some games on the PC. Things to look out for include artifacts. When PC components get older, there is some wear and tear, you can see that in the form of artifacts on the screen. These show up as white dots on the screen. If you do see these when a game is running then you should steer clear of the purchase and look for another option. Artifacts can be only a few pixels large so do look out for them.
Running Cinebench or other benchmarks is a great way of seeing how well the PC performs and whether or not it functions properly when stressed. This will ensure that the PC is worth buying and will not cause you any issues later on. You can download HWMonitor to check the temperature and speeds of the different parts of the build as well as other metrics that you might be interested in checking out before paying for the PC.
General Build, Maintenance, And Part Selection
Make sure that the parts inside are from reputed brands. You know that a graphics card is going to work well if it is from a brand such as Asus or Gigabyte. If it is some OEM graphics card or has no branding at all then that is indeed a red flag.
The same goes for other parts of the build such as the power supply unit. If the cables are a bunch of rainbow colors then chances are that the quality is not great. You can verify that by checking the brand and the rating. You should not go with a white rated power supply. 80+ Gold is going to be ideal but 80+ bronze is fairly good as well.
Similarly, if the RAM does not have any heat spreaders on it and has no branding then chances are that it is cheap and not worth paying for. This could also mean that the speed of the RAM is not all that high either.
Should You Buy A Mining System?
Cryptocurrency mining is very common these days and if you are looking for a used PC then chances are that it has been used for mining different cryptocurrencies. Whether or not you should buy a system that has been used for mining depends on the condition of the system and what kind of cryptocurrency has been mined on it.
For example, if it has been used for Chia mining then that can impact the storage of the PC. Unless you are willing to change the storage down the line if not immediately then you should not buy a system that has been used to mine Chia.
Similarly, if a PC has not been maintained well, has poor ventilation and a lot of dust build-up then chances are that it is not in great shape. This should be a red flag. Miners do tend to take care of the hardware in order to make the most out of their investment but if you see signs of overuse or poor condition then you should not buy the particular used gaming PC.
Should You Buy An Overclocked PC?
You can overclock the RAM, graphics card, and CPU in order to provide better performance. So should you buy a used gaming PC that has been overclocked? While it is true that overclocking PC parts can degrade them over time but they can still last a very long time even with extreme overclocks. When it comes to graphics cards and CPUs there are protections in place that keep the hardware from failing from high voltage.
Furthermore, a graphics card will become obsolete way before there is any significant degradation from overclocking provided that the overclock is sensible and applied via legit software. If there is a mod on the graphics card that bypasses protective protocols then that is a red flag. As long as the hardware has been overclocked via credible software such as MSI Afterburner, you should not have any issues.
RAM is not something that people usually overclock but even if it is overclocked, it is safe to buy more often than not. Just be sure to stress test the system to make sure that all the parts work fine underload and that the PC parts have not been overclocked to a point of instability.
Refurbished PCs Vs Used PCs
Refurbished does not mean new. This means that the PC has been cleaned and the manufacturer or seller has verified that it works. In some cases, the manufacturer might also add in some more RAM or an SSD but that is all. Since the PC is in verified working condition, some sellers and retailers will even give you a short warranty. This is typically for a year or two at most.
This does save you the hassle of checking to see whether or not the PC works and if you are buying a refurbished PC from sites like Amazon then you have the protection of getting a return or refund in case something goes wrong. If you want to save yourself the trouble then you should definitely look into getting a refurbished PC from a reputable retailer or store.
While you can get some refurbished pre-built systems, they do not have the best parts inside. Some of them might have sub-standard graphics cards that do not have decent cooling. Others might have cheap power supplies. This is something that you should be aware of when buying a pre-build system that is refurbished as pre-build sellers are going to cut corners in order to make more money.
It is also worth mentioning that the refurbished PCs that you can get good deals on are generally older office PCs that are great for word processing and content consumption but not great for gaming. They often rely on integrated graphics which means that you will need to get a graphics card and most likely upgrade the power supply as well.
Are The Accessories Included (Big Savings)
If you are going for a used refurbished PC, then you are most likely going to get some accessories such as a keyboard and a mouse. But you should not expect much in terms of quality. Generally, these are not good enough and you will most likely end up throwing them away.
If you are buying a PC from a seller that is selling his complete setup then there is a chance that you get some decent accessories that might be worth keeping. Some sellers might even include freebies in the price if you can negotiate.
Looking Out For Scams
The number one thing to consider here is the price of the used PC. You might think that buying a used PC will always be cheaper but that might not always be the case especially right now when pricing is all over the place. You might find it cheaper to buy a new PC rather than a used one in some cases.
Do check that the PC is in good working order before paying for it. Make sure that it turns on and stress test the PC by running games and benchmarks in order to ensure that it remains stable under full load. Check that the thermals are normal and that none of the parts are overheating. If the CPU or graphics card is running too hot or the PC crashes when playing a game or running a benchmark then that is a red flag and you should walk away.
Running Cinebench or other benchmarks is a great way of seeing how well the PC performs and whether or not it functions properly when stressed. This will ensure that the PC is worth buying and will not cause you any issues later on.
If a seller is not willing to provide you with the details and proof that you need then that would indicate that something is fishy and you should back off from the seller in order to avoid scams. In the current climate, some sellers might not be bothered to cater to your inquiry but you should always stay clear of such sellers.
Note that doing your research is going to go a long way. You might notice that some sellers list a couple of games that the PC can run. What they will fail to mention are the settings at which the PC can run said games and the FPS. Something like a second-generation Intel i5 and Nvidia GTX 750 Ti, will surely be able to run GTAV but only at low settings. This is something that you should look out for and not be fooled by. Verify that the PC can run the games that you want it to play at the resolution, settings, and frame rates that you want.
You should not be deceived by looks either. Just because the case looks great and the PC has RGB lighting does not mean that it is going to perform well and run all the games that you want it to.
Hopefully you now have a good idea of what to look for when buying a used PC. Hopefully you can find a cracking deal and get to PC gaming as soon as possible at the cheapest price.
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