Part2: Buying Used Computers -- Auctions, Surplus and Recycling Centers | Level One Techs

Part1 video:

Part 1 discussion thread:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

For a future video, you guys should do a collaboration with Brian from Tech City as a follow-up to this video.
Probably have him talk about his experience, and he can do a video looking for used parts with the Level1 crew


I work at an e-waste / refurbishing company so this video struck home for me, its pretty amazing what people will toss. Just a tip though, if you want to find good hardware see if there is an e-waste facility in a well to do area. This can be a double edged blade because the prices might be higher, but you have facilities dropping off much better hardware because they upgrade more frequently and have the funds to do so.

Also if the company you find also refurbishes, be aware that they may not be as willing to sell you nicer hardware for cheap because they can turn it around and make a profit. On top of that any responsible refurbisher won't sell you a full computer that came in because of data theft issues (yes you'd be amazed at how few destroy their data).

Just my experience and 2 cents... Happy hunting and great video guys!


When I worked at a moving company (the mid 90's) we had several banks that we did moves for. The stuff I had access to was kinda scary. Since we were transporting there old stuff to a recycling place no one cared.
The new video cards really make OEM psu's a viable option


Yea its kinda sad that many are that oblivious to whats on their machine. I mean we charge $10 to remove a hard drive and either wipe it or take it to a drill press. But many don't think its worth it :/ Luckily we have reputable companies that pick up drives we don't use, but still...

I live in Canberra, Australia and am having a hard time finding good sources. We do have lots of government agencies, but they typically sell their old equipment through other companies that auction the items of. And it's super hard to find a real bargain, because you're bidding against people that plan on reselling the items with tiny margins on ebay.

I never had to buy these when I was a kid. My parents work for the government and they had a bunch of those office PC's. So every time they upgraded I would ask for a few of the old ones. No one cared. So I'd even get the monitors. In fact I was the first kid in school to get a TFT monitor back in the day when everyone was still using CRT's. I still remember it. It was the 17" LG with 1280x1024 resolution.


Thanks for the inspiration guys. My workplace is university / hospital, throwing away all its optiplex 790s with i5 2500, think its the exact same ones youve covered in the past 2 videos. But just this morning I've found an unused unwanted HP workstation with extended atx LGA2011, xeon e5-1603, 2Gb, Quadro K2000 and x3 1Tb SATA 3 mech drives and 600W PSU- originally bought for a post doc who never arrived. Seems like fate following this vid :)

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You lucky bastard you...

In my country it's about 5 times more difficult to get even a decent deal on used parts because people already have established lines of trade for used gear, and it's a pretty much closed system. The amount of people that make a living out of that is too damn high.
University tech crews will always, without exception get all the good stuff for themselves and some of them are even in the resale business apart from working as a uni tech.

I think the best thing that I got was a stock Nvidia 8800 GT about 5 years ago for free :)

It was even more perfect because I was already running a 880GT in my system at the time, so I just plopped it in and BOOM SLI upgrade.

Oh yeah, as for the capacitors...

I had a ASUS TUSL2-C back in 2002 that was outfitted with faulty caps (google "capacitor plague") but I didn't know about it until I gave the old machine to a friend and a couple of months later he reported that it was starting to smell funny, blaming it on the PSU first. Later he noticed orange stuff coming out of the caps and also one of the RAM slots was emitting a molten plastic smell... The order of events might not have been exactly like that but you get the picture.

Into the trash.

I was lucky enough to meet some great people from online gaming when getting parts. One of the people I played with had issues where his computer wasn't booting into windows anymore so he got a new one and ended up shipping me his old ASUS prebuilt with a 9800gt in it. I only had to pay him 30 bucks for the shipping cost all I did was reinstall windows and it worked great(Although the HDD did need replacing). I was eventually from another friend able to get the same deal for a HD 6870 for 20 dollars since he had upgraded. I now am using that video card still and a lot of the parts that were in the prebuild (PSU, CPU/MOBO, Video Card) are now recycled in both my mother's computer and a friends computer. Sometimes knowing people can be a great was to get parts.

Best deal I got are my current Headphones in a cash converters place. Wireless Senheiser HDR 160 for 40 euros, brand new, still had the plastic covers on. At the time they were going for 200$ in retail. I've been looking for a recycling center for ages near me, but no luck. I live in Lisbon, Portugal...if anyone knows of a place, let me know!

Unfortunately I have found that Consolitis is an incurable affliction. So often I have wasted my time trying to let those poor infected souls know that there are other options and to respect my second opinion. But to quote the ever Awesome Bill Murray:
'Arguing with a smart person is really difficult, arguing with a dumb person is damn near impossible."

Console are easier and have huge marketing blitzes hawking "PS4! Now only $250." But the folks with consolitis only see the price and do not know how to read the specs of what $250 buys you. I try telling them "I could build you a PC for $250 if you want one that is equal to a console. But I am a PC guy, I assumed you wanted better than a console." Now when I see someone spreading the consolitis virus unchecked throughout society I say "Before you spend money on a console, stop in for a visit so you can see how well a PC can run games. Then think of how hard it is to use a console as a PC." Somehow the "A console is just a console, but a gaming PC is a working PC most of the time and a console when you want to take a break." argument always falls on deaf ears.
They have their minds made up "Me Wantie Console!"

I volunteered at a non-profit recycling center that exists to help people with challenges acquire computers. Their prices have gone up a bit but still reasonable. $150 for a Core2Quad or i3 w/ 8GB RAM and 500GB HD and Win10. But that is after someone else has spent the TIME to troubleshoot it, rebuild it, wipe it and install a Windows license. I am going to try your methods get find even cheaper used PC's.


I looked and looked and looked, but to no avail, I live in Bulgaria and there is no way I'm getting a propper pc like this, my last resort is asking my own Uni weather or not they have any surplus/unused stuff lying around.
Thanks for the amazing videos and keep up the good work!

Sadly, those days are behind me. But it was fun while it lasted :)

I tell people this all the time, my current computer was primarily built for gaming but 90% of the time I don't even game on it but that extra hardware bought because of gaming helps immensely for other tasks. I mean sure, I wouldn't build a computer with similar specifications for my mother even though much of the workload is similar to mine (web browsing etc). Would it help her workload? Sure but the extra cost isn't warranted if the hardware doesn't have another use and if you think about it this way it makes more sense. If you want a system for gaming and one for work you'd be better served with a gaming desktop than a craptastic dual-core laptop and a games console.

If you aggregate the price of both a crappy desktop/laptop and a console you'd have a pretty decent system for work and play.

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Also, there are good reasons to upgrade a minimum spec corporate PC, into a half-way decent PC with just enough power for the task at hand without shooting for the moon.

A friend had a Core2Duo SFF Lenovo w/ 2GB RAM. What drove me nuts is it could not even play video properly = massive screen tearing. I got her a 1TB HDD, 8GB RAM and a GT730 GPU. It's a low-profile HTPC video card that can do light gaming. It's the max GPU that would fit physically and power wise. She uses her DVD, so there is no room for an SSD and with SATA II plugged into a Core2Duo, I thought that she won't notice the lack of a SSD. Her PC runs much better now and watching videos no longer gives me epilepsy. I could have performed major surgery on the PSU in order to upgrade further, but that would have been for me.

A user may not be into gaming, but they will still notice a RAM + SSD + GPU upgrade. Even if they just use the GPU to watch Netflix. Many in the PCMR poopoo the sub-$100 graphics cards, but they are not for us gamers. Nor are those GPU's for the cheap, they are for users that need better than nothing. My friend, the client, is satisfied with her reasonably small upgrade.

When you are looking for recycling centers what exactly should you be looking for? There are a few in my area but they are just for drop offs. Do you guys just roll up and ask if you can look through all the stuff before it gets recycled?


Started looking for places in my local area after seeing the first video and it seems this is something that just isn't a thing in the UK sadly or am I looking in the wrong place? All I want is, is a better storage solution than extHDDs or out of the bopx NAS.

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