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

Good video. People have trash and treasure sales all the time. E-Waste treasure is a thing if you have the time to hunt and peck out the deals.

Helping my college out with a desktop refresh was rewarding got a PC that smelt of burnt custard and another that would default the bios to Chinese and would wipe the OS when it powered down.

got to spend a day drilling old hard drives too that was fun.

The good thing about all this is the fact that you can upgrade and improve on older hardware with extra RAM/SSD/GPU to get reasonable performance for the use case. I've honestly seen people over build computers for family members and start throwing in LED fan and cases with windows which is stupid imo... Saying that my mothers computer has a case with a side panel window but her old case was really bad and falling apart so gave her my old case when I bought a new one.

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I haven't done anything for my own personal builds but a friend of mine grabbed half a dozen old machines that were being removed from a college and I spliced them together for him.

The people that they were giving these machines away to were informed that the data storage had been removed from the machines for security purposes - quite a few had sensitive, personal information on them. So, as you'd expect, half of them were missing RAM, half were missing hard drives.

After getting a couple of the machines up and running we found that there were CVs and other random bits of personal information left on the drives.
It was an interesting thing to see but by the end of it the guy had 2-3 working P4 machines. They were terrible but for a free, first machine it was okay. He had a PC and that was the important thing.

Since then, fairly recently, the same guy has been given a PC that was coupled together from spare parts that nobody else wanted, except for the hard drive and PSU, which he bought himself as nobody had those spare. If I do somehow manage to win the PC will be going to him as it will be a decent upgrade from what he's running at the moment. I'd also chip in for shipping as I'm overseas.


Wish I could find places like in the video in the Twin Cities area.

I work at an all-shred recycling facility. All the systems we receive (laptops, desktops, servers, network appliances) have their storage shredded in our facility. We then do quick tests to make sure the systems function, then throw them on our Ebay store.

I can tell you the prices we charge really aren't great deals. It's essentially the going rate on Ebay minus the cost of the customer buying the hard drive separately.

So I have processed and worked with many, many Optiplex 990 and 980 desktops (all the form factors), and a metric whack-ton of the E6420 laptops.

A lot of the buyers are either resellers (buy the laptop, add the hard drive, sell for a slight profit) or schools and small to medium businesses looking for cheap(ish) simple business class desktops.

So, yeah, what they said about the time put into the systems is dead nuts on. It probably takes each system about two to four hours of total time from pickup to packaging.

Entered to be able to give my sister a decent PC when she moves out this year. Or possibly for my dads' 2011 budget purchase. Small chance, but everything to support Wendell and the crew :)

yes this is true it is getting harder and harder to find seals on ebay. The since the economy took a bath alot of technical people have been building and refurbing older machines to make some extra money. I myself have built a few computers using parts that where from 3 to 7 years old there's nothing wrong with it. Build a pfsence firewall caching server, a home NAS, a mythtv backend server. the only real price is the price of electricity which for some strange reason has been increasing in price lately. I guess I am going to have to build my on solar far to run my machines on if this keeps up. anyways happy hunting team.

This video explains why I worked for a university refurbisher for four years. A lot of the hardware we would get just needed small investments. I have like 100 units in my basement like the 745, simply in need of a q6600 and ssd to become a decent machine, comparable to a lot of the brand new stuff sold at retail stores in terms of speed.
I had to give up the job cause I wasn't making good hourly and had plateaued as site lead. Giving up all that free stuff was hard.
@Big_Al_Tech @anon85933304 yep I would find a disturbing amount of leftover data on a lot of the machines donated to us from various corporate spheres, surprisingly the university themselves were the only one to require a DoD on all hardware from the school internally. The stuff I would find was how I got to build/make money to build a great rig. I still have a hpzr24 IPS monitor that I use daily from that place.
Old hardware/donated/recycled stuff is certainty nothing to bat an eye at, a lot of the donations we were get were just bad installs, HDDs, or RAM.

I've got to get in better with my local recycler. I've got some good stuff there before (e.g., server rails, random adapters, a few HDDs) but not much. The warehouse is huge, though, and yep: it looks like "the right place."

Just note, though, that craigslist is not always the wrong place. : )

I think ill be takeing a field trip soon.

So this is all pretty cool assuming you know a place, but how the heck do i find a recycling center in my area. Googling "electronics recycling near me" doesn't turn up much and i don't really know what other place i could go to that would yield more promising results.

I didn't get it from a recycle company but this week I got a 4790k, MX Master mouse, some no name blue switch keyboard (I really like it), and H100i for £317 or 395 dollars if you like. All from Amazon warehouse. The mouse was perfect just the box and the keyboard was fine to.I hope the CPU and cooler turn up Sunday OK and I will be very happy with that.

I also reccomend you check out places like FreeGeek, There are a few locations around in Canada and the USA

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The great thing about freegeek is that cases PSU's and hard drives are cheap. However don't expect any motherboards, CPUs, or GPUs for a reasonable cost.

Working on top a Gold mine...

So wait, you just shoot these centers a call and see if they'll let you in?

Thanks @Yockanookany


I got 18, 1.8 GHz G5 power macs and 4 intel core 2 duo PCs all working. A school was getting rid of them. so I got them for free. They all came with 80GB HDD WD Blues. Yay for the middle of nowhere!

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BIG fan of you wendell

I couldn't find anything local in Calgary with a quick google search. UofC apparently has surplus sales every Friday but the catch is they don't have any computer hardware on sale... Of course recycling centers don't advertise that you can go and salvage stuff on the internet. So if anyone knows of a neat place in Calgary where you can get cheap but awesome hardware it'd be nice if you let me know.

Also how does one even make contacts with people at a recycling center like Wendel did? I guess running a business and making use of it is one way but what if you're just another computer science major? Where do you look and who do you ask to find cheap hardware?

I'd mainly just be after old server stuff to get a better router or if it's really good a better server.