E-Wasted's Adventures in Electronics Repair

Note: Discussion is more than welcome, but the primary intent of this thread is to create more of an ongoing blog-style postings where I share my adventures in learning about the used tech market and how to flip PCs. Thanks for stopping by and reading/posting either way.


Before the spring of last year, I wouldn’t have considered myself more than a casual enthusiast at best. While I had a fair understanding of the basics, messing around with hardware always seemed to scare me more than software ever did. Around March of 2021, I was finally able to upgrade my decade old gaming PC (1st gen “8-core” bulldozer/GTX660/Win7) to something from the current decade* (10900KF/Z490Unify/970EVO+/64GB/cough1060-6GB*).

To research parts for the new build, I had to catch myself up with about a decades worth of tech, but with the amount of quality content that is now on youtube, tech was surprisingly more accessible than it had ever been before. Problem was, I didn’t have the tools nor the workspace to build myself a PC, so I was left with seeking out a local builder to assemble my growing pile of computer parts. I managed to find one through a friend of a sibling of a friend type of deal, but despite the flawless build and okay Windows install, I had misunderstood him when we initially discussed the price.

What I thought was going to be $175 for the build and windows install plus key cost (which did sound a tad low, but not questionably so), turned out that he wanted $175 for the build AND an additional $175 for the windows install. Plus the full cost of a Windows key and the total bill was $450. Needless to say, I still have a very strong sour taste in my mouth from that event. But honestly it was exactly the motivation I needed to finally decide to learn how to work on tech myself, partly so that I’ll never get hosed like that again, but also to try and help others and maybe save some tech from a landfill along the way.

Fast forward to the beginning of the new year, and after being inspired by various tech youtubers (Including Brian from TechYES), I decided to try and see how successful I could be at the used parts game. First step was to create an office/workshop space where I could feel comfortable enough to get actual work done. Thankfully I had been working on this since the previous summer and after a new office PC I can say that it is pretty much exactly where I want it to be.

I started out by “adopting” a few discarded laptops and helping with data recovery for a couple of friends & family. One of the first ones I fixed up was a fully-functioning 2016 Asus X540SA pentium laptop that was likely abandoned because of a noise, but that noise was very obviously from the fan and not the hard drive. $11.65 later, including shipping, and the mildly-annoying-at-best fan noise was gone. Another $37 for a 240GB BX500 and it is now running as good as it ever will.

After a few months of attempting to buy just about anything at or under a hundred bucks and then adding SSDs to make them usable, I had amassed a whopping four ~$150 budget laptops, but also an ever growing pile of “broken” ones. I’ve also started to collect old desktops, components and monitors, but not really anything that could be used to flip a budget gaming PC. Clearly this isn’t where the money is at, but maybe still worthwhile down the road for other reasons. Ifixit has been a real savior throughout it all, as I’m now convinced that there is very little you can’t fix (at least at a component level) with a Pro toolkit and google.

But these things require both time and patience, especially in rural areas where the used market only gets lukewarm at its hottest. Then about a week ago the deal I had been waiting for finally popped up on the local marketplace. It was a large assortment of PC parts including five storage drives, several cases, two DDR4 memory kits, two decent low-end PSUs, a GT1030, and almost 20 case fans which where mostly corsair and/or RGB.

Ask was $350 total, but I knocked 'em down to $275 for everything. Not a steal by any means, but I believe there’s enough there to add some value and profit into a few builds. Turns out that only one of the cases is good enough for a flip, but it’s all good for now, since it will let me focus on what I am now affectionately calling the Budget Banger #1:

The angle is going to be that the build is “drop-in” upgradeable on both the CPU and GPU, but it also checks off certain boxes like 12th gen core processor, nvidia, and the always important and necessary RGB. The rest of the new parts should all be here by Wednesday at the latest, so hopefully I can have it up and benchmarking by the end of the weekend. I am interested to see how well it can handle console emulation software like PCSX2 and Duckstation, as well as as select few older AAA titles. Until then, thanks again for reading/browsing and I hope you at least found this somewhat mildly amusing and maybe even interested enough to follow along with what’s to come. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Other than not having any motherboard screws (had to steal some from my old gaming rig), the build went well with only a few minor hiccups and everything worked right away except for XMP.

Spread it like butter

Cable management went well, mostly.

Now it’s time to tune the GPU for a 20% increase and then do some benchmarking to see what it’s capable of. Oh, and I should mention that this isn’t just my first flip, but also my first ever complete build.

Edit: For some reason XMP was trying to run at 1.2V, seems to be working at full advertised speeds once I manually bumped up the voltage to 1.25, but I set it to the profiles full 1.35V just in case it needs it for stability. Runs at ~1.36 like my other DDR4 kits.

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Nice room

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:man_facepalming: what were you expecting would be required? … but seriously… Was there something that made you insecure or made you believe it’d be harder than following instructions that came in the box?

An expensive lesson.

A desk or work surface for a start.

Same thing that makes anyone insecure, lack of knowledge and experience mostly. New things can be exciting, but the unknown can also be scary.

Indeed, but those also tend to be the ones that stick with you.

The intention of this thread/blog is to foster an environment of learning and inclusion, not to criticize from a place of hindsight. It is great that you are so knowledgeable about these things yourself, but not everyone has that benefit or even the access to that knowledge. (Edit: I also understand that you may not have intended this tone, but I think it still comes across as such.)

I wasn’t intending on sharing any personal info on here either, but I suffer from severe anxiety on a daily basis. I have my whole life to the point where it is easier to try to live with and manage, than to eliminate altogether. For the longest time I had an irrational fear of doing anything with computer hardware, mainly because I didn’t fully understand it and I am the type of person who needs to fully understand something to be comfortable with it. I still get a physiological response any and every time I touch a bare PCB, even though I now have knowledge on proper handling and have done so many times without issue.

In less than a year, I have gone from being terrified of computer hardware, to fully rebuilding several broken laptops with a 100% success rate on anything I have attempted. Building this flip was proof to myself that I am both competent and capable, and I am nothing put proud of this accomplishment with or without external validation.

As a goal orientated person who is constantly seeking out new skills and challenges, the next big thing on my list is to learn how to do basic PCB work such as soldering, replacing SMDs, and repairing traces. And I’ll continue to learn in the manner which best suits me, which is essentially watching 2-3 hours of sometimes very obscure youtube each and every day. YMMV and thanks for reading all the same.

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Near useless athlon 64 and core 2 duo stuff is the minimum for Linux GameCube and PS1 emulation, they make nice batocera boxes

Something to keep in mind when trash is given away

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Well, hindsight is always 2020 (as they say; no pun, not in this case).

here's what I was thinking

I was angered when I read about that leech ripping you off, and what came out reads poorly. I know not everything in life is always roses but, wtf… how does that person get away with that kind of highway robbery, I was lost for words.

They basically charged hourly rates as if they were a law firm partner or something along those lines… !!! Jeez.

A lifetime ago I used to sell assembled computers and sell parts (mid 2000s), I never thought about charging for assembly / parts / os install - the whole point was actually getting people to come back, and buy more stuff. Once in a while their companies would order things from some place that actually employed accountants and there was a nice healthy commission for me. This kind of thing got me my first car (I jokingly say it’s from lugging Samsung 17" CRTs through public transport, but some of my friends had cars before I did and they and my dad helped and profits were shared in some cases and it was fun, … but I digress).

In cases (pun intended) I was familiar with components, it used to take me leisurely 15 minutes to take everything out of the boxes, and antistatic wraps, and put stuff together (… yuck, sharp HDD cage steel and those not-really-standoff folded tensioned steel clips that love to bury under the fingernails, and finding shaving in a brand new case… only thing worse were cheap plastic standoffs , . anyways). $175 … wtf!

Some times it’d take longer, os installs were always a drag, but at least network installs were easy to do if properly motivated. It was all on HDDs and you needed a keyboard/mouse/power cable/monitor plugged in, which made a mess.

Anyways, I think more people should be encouraged to do things with this stuff, and was just curious what it was that put you off. I’m guessing maybe I was fortunate to have a technically very inclined dad growing up - statistically most people wouldn’t be as lucky perhaps.

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Sounds like we’re both 100% on the same page, just had our communication wires crossed is all. I know that your rage is justified because I felt it all myself, but thankfully I can now use it as a lesson on how I treat my own customers. At least he did a quality job on the build even if the Windows install was mediocre at best.

Speaking of Windows, everything was going fine with the new budget gaming PC until I tried to enable the hardware accelerated GPU setting and then the entire installation became corrupted somehow and completely unrecoverable. Like I have literally never seen an OS implode like that before. Thankfully I could reset CMOS and start again with a fresh USB install. I had just finished spending 20hrs downloading GTA V @1.5MB/s too…

Also the GPU overclocking was a bust, even OC Scan VF tuner barely increased the firestrike score by 50pts and the performance wasn’t scaling with memory frequency either. Stock configuration it is then.

At least the cable management is finished and I’m okay with the results.

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If I were to go into business for myself, this is what I’d want to do. Recycle old computers into something halfway useful. Unfortunately I lack the appropriate gene/algorithm for ‘hustling’ (i.e., negotiation, sales and marketing.) :man_shrugging:

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I really wanted to update this blog a lot more frequently than this, but the dog in my profile picture, Annabelle, isn’t feeling well right now and it has me in a rough spot emotionally.

My apologies to anyone that has been following along, I would still like to continue but I am not sure when the next update will be (even though I have most of it already written out in my head). I still appreciate all of the support and “likes” all the same, so thanks for that.

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it’s a skill . one I am currently learning myself as I unsuccessfully try to negotiate my salary .

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Take all the time you need.

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It’s been a long while since I’ve updated this blog, but not much has happened until very recently. As my dog Annabelle started slowly getting better towards the end of summer, I started having problems with my own health issues that progressively got worse through to the end of the year. However, during Christmas weekend I finally started to see results from new nerve medication and this month I started feeling well enough to mess around with tech again. My goals are still generally the same, fix electronics to the best of my abilities. I still want to be able to sell the things I fix, but now I’m less focused on profits and in exchange I’m just going to not waste my time on flaky online buyers. At least as much as I can avoid it.

I intended on continuing on with this post to write about the recent upgrades to the Budget Banger I’ve now adopted for myself (including a 13th gen i5), but I have been struggling physically with writing out longer posts and I’ve run out of time for today. I remembered to take lots of pictures though and everything turned out really well, so be on the lookout for that in the near future. Thanks for reading.

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After not being able to give it away for $500, not even with a GPU upgrade from a 1030 to a 1060 6GB, the Budget Banger sat in the corner for months before I decided to just use it for myself. I’d rather not get into the psychological aspects of the what, why, and how, but I will say that this upgrade does prove the point of my original intention of selling it as an “upgrade ready” gaming PC. Granted in my case I rebuilt the entire… case, but I could have easily gotten away with just a simple CPU and GPU swap and the performance would have been near identical.

I ended up using the PC for several months to stream 1080p 60fps with med-high settings in most games to my office PC with surprisingly good results. However it did struggle occasionally in both CPU and GPU in certain AAA titles like Cyberpunk @ 30fps and Death Stranding @ 60fps when driving.

Then, one day in December a local contact messaged me asking for the 1060 that I had mentioned previously when parting out the 10900K system. Told him I’d drop it off tomorrow for $100 and I went ahead and ordered the MSI 6650XT for $270(-$20MiR).

The GPU upgrade happened without incident, but the system was now clearly CPU limited and the lows were noticeable, though not enough to be bothersome. Around this time I also upgrade the game drive from 1TB of spinning rust to a 2TB SN570 for $135.

A couple weeks later a dual-rank 2x16 ddr4 kit for $65 popped up on r/buildapcsales, then shortly after a 6-pipe thermalright tower cooler with cold plate for $22. The fan on the cooler was garbage but I had a set of 120mm Noctuas that work excellent together for both cooler and exhaust. If we’re now maxing out the thermal solution then a $16 CPU bracket is practically a must. And at this point I might as well purchase the CPU as a $20 premium over MSRP isn’t a huge waste when the other parts were cheap. I decided that I might as well use the RM850x that was also left over from the 10900K build, albeit very overkill for a max 300w system. The list of upgrades came out like this:

12100f → 13400f
1060 6gb → 6650XT
2x8gb → 2x16 dual rank
4-pipe cooler → 6-pipe w/ cold plate
1tb hard drive-> 2tb NVME
EVGA 600 → RM850x

First on the list was the tear down. I don’t mind non-modular PSUs, but they definitely add a layer of complexity to the build.

You can see the bit of wiring mess to the left that I inherited along with the $10 case. If it’s functional, then it’s fine for me if it’s a “neat” mess.

The rest of the teardown went smoothly.

Installing the Thermalright CPU bracket was surprisingly painless as well, although I did second guess myself and had to check the pins before redoing it a second time. In retrospect this was a waste of time as the pins were perfect after two installs.

I like to try to heat up Kryonaut Extreme because it doesn’t like to stick to the cold IHS. It cools off quickly, put if you’re quick enough you can get a nice thin spread that actually sticks, otherwise it bunches up and you end up using too much.

It always feels like I’m not using enough TiM, but every cooler I’ve pulled has had full coverage. If anything I think I use slightly too much, but in my opinion that’s exactly what you should aim for anyways.

New memory and cooler. I just now realized that even the heat pipes are nickle plated and not just the cold plate. Too bad that doesn’t make a difference for copper heat pipes.

“Never miss a free lunch”, or in this instance, don’t overlook built-in cable management and take advantage of it whenever and wherever possible.

I missed taking a picture of the PSU swap, but I really struggled with the thick sleeved cables on the Corsair unit, mainly the EPS and 24-pin. I ended up having to put an uncomfortable bend in the 24-pin, but then tried to flatten it out as much as possible. For those that aren’t aware, bends in cables can increase their resistance making them heat up more than normal.

I also had to run the two EPS cables (needed an 8+4) along the top instead of up and behind, but once they were plugged in they stayed tucked away fairly well. Plugging them in was also a struggle with the cooler installed, but I eventually got there after having to utilize quite a bit of patience.

Overall the upstairs turned out fairly tidy.

However, the downstairs is a bit of a mess. But everything is out of the way, so I’m not really bothered by it.

The other huge struggle was trying to get the EPS & 24-pin cables to fit flush along the back. This was probably the longest step of the build, but I’m satisfied with how my wiring came out despite the inherited stuff for the fans and RGB. In the end this was also a bit of a waste of time as it turns out the back panel has a protrusion that would have cleared the original layout. In any case the back panel slid on effortlessly.

Ready for first boot.

It works! I laughed at the CPU temps because I would see similar temps with a Noctua D15 on my 10900K. Turns out the temp sensor is a bit wonky because it has reported as low as 9C! on both the package and individual cores in a 17C ambient environment.

Easy and effective solution for the basement aesthetic. This came in a two pack and I had the other covering the top 120mmx240mm vent. Turns out it also covers exactly half of the cutout and I kind of like the way it looks.

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The first post was too long, so I’m going to make another one to talk about the performance.


12100f + 1060 6GB


12100f + 6650XT (-50mV, +100mem, fast timings)


13400f + 6650XT (-75mV, +144mem, fast timings)


Just a few points behind a 9900K & 2080


R23 Single - 54-56w at “the wall”, 1792pts


R23 Multi - 114-118w at “the wall”, 16086pts


Desktop Idle - 30w at “the wall”


Screen-off Idle

Got that sucker running gear 1?

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Auto had it set to gear 1 by default, but I went ahead and set it manually just in case.

@wwed26 said you were interested in how it performs, see the above post for some TimeSpy and Cinebench R23.

Ah yes, the problems with growing attached to your projects :stuck_out_tongue:

I enjoyed reading your posts here. Have you thought about specializing somewhat? I think a lot of people can buy (used) components and build a gaming computer.
But what about selling people low-cost NAS devices, a firewall to block ads(ala. pihole), or “media center PCs”?
You could “upcycle” thinclients, or just old computers. Best of all, you don’t need expensive GPUs!
That 1030 you’ve got there is not something I’d want to game on…

You’d need the skills to install and setup the software for these kinds of things. But that should be possible, there are a lot of YouTube videos on those subjects.
(Or maybe those are bad ideas, it’s just that I personally know a lot of people that build computers, but very few that do business with “other things” in this area, outside of “corporate”)

Keep it up, I hope you keep your personal problems in check, I’ve enjoyed reading your posts. Kinds regards from Germany.

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@E-Wasted
Thanks mate,

Sorry - didn’t get back to you. This is helpful info. Will run these tests to compare against my 11600k.

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You might be able to “overclock” by undervolting to reduce wattage per amp