Weekend Open Forum: Finding a use for old hardware

By on June 3, 2011, 7:42 PM

Being tech enthusiasts, we've committed ourselves to an everlasting pursuit of owning the latest and greatest hardware. Many of you probably upgrade your graphics card more often than you get an oil change, and we wouldn't be shocked to learn that your computer costs more than your car.

Considering that, we'd love to hear about what you do with your "old" components and systems. Do you resell them to fund your habit? Donate them to friends, family or charity? Demote them to server duty? Hoard them for a rainy day project? Condemn them to a silicon tomb in your basement?

**Image courtesy of our staffer, Shawn.

User Comments: 47

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bchen88c said:

disassemble everything just for fun (if it's something really old)

UPDATE: my phone just went through the washer, now im going to take it apart

matchu said:

Definitely sell them to fund a new project

Personally, do not have a need for more than 1 desktop + 1 notebook

phillai said:

I've got two old PC's not in use (Athlon 2600XP & P4 3.00GHz). I really want to build my own MAME cabinets with these PC's.

Win7Dev said:

phillai said:

I've got two old PC's not in use (Athlon 2600XP & P4 3.00GHz). I really want to build my own MAME cabinets with these PC's.

lol. I've still got a desktop running with a pentium 4 @3.00Ghz (no overclock) w/Windows XP Pro. Can anyone beat my laptop with 1.25Gb of DDR ram and 1400Mhz pentium M?

Guest said:

AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 1.8GHz Single Core, 1GB SDRAM 400MHz, Hitachi 250GB SCSI HDD, BFG 6800GT 256MB, Sony DVD-ROM, Sony DVD Burner, 3.5" floppy drive, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS, Windows XP Home. Still in use today, not selling it. :)

stewi0001 stewi0001 said:

I'm planning on doing an overhual on my current computer and with the old parts I'm thinking of making a media center since they're still good parts, but getting old.

bchen88c said:

my 4 pc's

1.) hp d530 2.8ghz p4 northwood, 512mb ddr 400mhz, seagate 7200.12 500gb and 2x ide wd 80gb, geforce mx 440 agp, xp pro

2.) same thing except 3ghz p4 prescott, 1gb ddr, 160gb hdd, geforce 6200 agp, ubuntu

3.)hp dv2000t 1.6ghz t5200 core 2 duo, 1gb ddr2, 120gb hdd, intel 950 integrated, windows 7

4.)hp dv7t-4100 2.53ghz intel i5 460m, 6gb ddr3, 500gb hdd, intel hd graphics (1st gen), windows 7

the first 3 have either too little ram or disk, its messed up. can anyone dig below 512 ram?

Guest said:

I have stuff going back to a Kaypro II (1983). Total maybe 16 systems. Most work. I have 3 Win98 boxes which we connect for some older multi-player stuff. Someday I plan to sacrifice the P3 to the glycerin tank in hopes of a double overclock.. A friend of mine runs a robotics clubs - and they LOVE old systems for use as parts.

techfiend4 said:

i have 4 laptops 2 complete, 2 are parts but working. i also have 4 desktops, 1 brand new custom built, 3 old (5 years atleast). 2 of the desktops need new capacitors so i figure id use the mobo for practice, the other i use for a test bench. im going to use the extra laptop mobos for a custom wall server like what hak5 featured. also considering a mame cabinet like phillai mentioned.

Cota Cota said:

I personally just stock them in my garage or put them to work until they die from brute force work *evil laugh*

For Laptops... well sadly for me all of them had died from screen hits, so i like to dissemble them and put the hardware in polycarbonate slim cases and use remote desktop, they look uber and gives me a good low power consumption slave, however since my last build they had become useless so i just use them as decoration or lamps, wich my 2 VAIO's are very capable to do...

"One VAIO was mine other was free! so no im not so stupid to buy another VAIO > "

Lurker101 said:

Always keep one set of good parts in case something in the main rig dies prematurely.

war59312 said:

Proxy them all together and make a server using http://www.google.com/search?q=linux raid .

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Does a 6 1/2 year old eMachines T-5026 count as "old hardware"? Cause if it does, I just use it as a computer.

At least a a prime internet machine. The P-4, 400Mhz DDR, and 915 chipset is a tad slow for DVD burning and photo editing.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A combination of the options. I sell what I manage to sell without too much effort, for example to the store where I buy my new PC (which used to sell and lend used PC's) or happened to sell to my neighbour, that kind of thing. I also give a lot of stuff to my family, especially my brother in law who's a gamer. Some of the stuff I keep in storage. Some I keep because they might still prove marginally useful, some for nostalgia (like the 3 or 4 sets of LCD shutter glasses showing the history of 3D through the ages), some just because I have no idea that I still have them. I occasionally throw things away because they're really too old to be of use, even if there were good once (like the Sound Blaster AWE32 and Voodoo cards).

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh, I once tried the media centre thing, many years ago, but ended up deciding it was just easier to use dedicated hardware. I tend to stick to just one desktop and one small laptop.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I just upgraded my itx system to sandybridge and good graphics, so I put all the old hardware back in my mini MINI desktop case (not tower). Incidentally, I had a raid card in there so now I have this Frankenstein looking thing with 4 hardrives that are connected to the computer via an umbilical cord of power and Sata cables.

TL;DR: I try to re-purpose my old systems.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

My oldest stuff I gave away in the form of computers for my family members, but I pretty much have all the computer components I bought in the last decade.

When I get a new video card, or other component, I take the one that was replaced and put it in my second best computer, and then take that replaced component, and put it in the third computer.

As far as use goes, I don't really use more than two computers simultaneously, so the older ones I just load up with Ubuntu and they sit to the side. I'll occasionally turn those on to install all the updates, but I don't really do that much with them.

arkantos said:

sell them to fund a new project this is what I do usually. and other is a torrent rig.

hitech0101 said:

Sell them if they're pretty much useless some components i keep them like i have an extra optical drive which i lend to friends in time of need.


Almost all of my old computers get turned into servers or spare-parts collection. I have about 11 computers floating around my bedroom at the moment with atleast 4 unused motherboards.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Whenever I have something functional - like an old PC, I soup it up as best I can and donate it to the Boys and Girls Club of America.

For stuff that is just completely unsalvageable, I drop off at Office Depot for recycling.

Bottom line, I do what I can to empower kids who don't have the means to have their own PC as well as being green as possible with old components that serve no purpose.

Guest said:

I've got enough parts to build myself a Pentium machine (yes, original Pentium). Does that count? =P

Guest said:

What about recycling of unusable old hardware like CRT monitors?!

Do you know where and how they can be used?!

fpsgamerJR62 said:

I still have my old office desktop which I bought in 2001. It has an Intel Celeron 667 Mhz processor, a 10 GB HDD, 128 MB RAM, built-in SIS graphics and it's running Windows ME. It is currently my back-up office machine running Word, Excel and a few DOS apps. I'll keep it around as long as it still functions. I actually used it as my primary rig for a few months about 3 years ago when my Athlon 64 X2 PC went down with a busted motherboard.

g4mer said:

AMD Athlon 64bit 3000+ .1.8GHz, 1.5GB DDR1, GeForce 9500GT, MSi k8N NEO4...

Nope, thats my current PC.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

All my 'old' hardware ends up under my bed. I'm probably sleeping on a few hundred quid.

I must admit, I even collect crap i'll never even use...Like an old burnt out powerbox i picked up the other day with me thinking "hmm...I might need a SATA plug fix in the future".

I think it comes from being in love with PC's yet most of the time not being able to afford the latest stuff.

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

'Old machines' around here tend to get a semi-modern Linux OS - and they're as good as new really. I had a 32MHz-computer until recently. The parts got recycled for the tin and copper they contained (presumably also because of the led, refined cadmium, netherrack and God knows what...) at the local PC-depository. And I converted the chassis from AT to ATX just for a 2-month lasting fun.

Having a 3 foot PC on the desk looks totally awesome!

I have a Pentium (original) processor laying around... totally gold plated, weighs about 20 grams... *snaps out of dream about rolling around in cash*...

Old hardware otherwise ends up in the garage. After about 10 months or so, the humidity kicks in and the copper plating is ruined in a cyan fashion.

Guest said:

Considering the amount of new hardware coming in, I really have no use for my old hardware. I always keep two fairly new computer systems in my house. When I upgrade the main computer, the leftovers go to the second computer. The leftovers from the second computer usually ends up in storage until there's enough parts to piece together a third computer, which (depending on current value) I'll usually sell to friends for next to nothing or just give away to close family. I suspect this is how most hardware enthusiasts do it.

I must say I was surprised to see a couple of my old 8800GTS 512's decode/encode video (with CUDA) faster than my new GTX 580, even though that's just a single card. There may have been slight differences on the video material being processed, but the GTX 580 computer is running a i7-2600k CPU, and the other one had a i7-860 CPU. Nice to see old hardware still having some use. Not that I care much. I'm a gamer, and those 8800GTS 512's can't run a game like a single GTX 580.

I have to say, though, I like giving away old hardware more than selling it. You can never quite tell how long these parts will last. Nor can you tell how they're being used/treated outside your care. Like say, you sell your computer and the next day the buyer shows up on your door with the thing in hand, demanding a refund, because it didn't survive his overclocking expectations.

I sold a computer to an ***** friend:

I've been in the position of having sold an old (2-3 years by my standards) computer to a friend, only to see it break down within 6 months. First the graphics card overheated, because the ***** didn't pop the lid and clean out the dust once in a while. He got a new graphics card, and shortly after that, the PSU died. I gave him a new one simply because I had one in storage and I had no use for it. After talking to the guy, I learned that he had problems with lightbulbs popping left and right. There was obviously a serious electrical problem in his house, and still I gave him a brand new PSU, just because I felt bad for the guy. After that I don't really know what happened, but the computer broke down again. There was talk of a virus or something. Then the ***** buys a brand new computer, without even consulting me, the one guy he knows who could make sure he got a fair deal and max value for his money! S.M.R.T. I even told him when he bought my old computer that what he paid the most for, was the Chieftec case, PSU, WD Raptor HDD, Blu-Ray, etc. Most of the value was in components that has nothing to do with the gaming performance of a computer. I explained this to him, and yet he paid the asking price, which was a good deal, knowing that he would get a computer he could EASILY UPGRADE! Hell, I'd be the one upgrading it for him, as usual, for free. The case and the PSU complies with the ATX standard requirement for new motherboards coming out even today! So, naturally, he ignores the possibility of upgrading because he can't do it himself and he no longer trusts me. The new computer he bought was one those sad little HP complete package, factory-built systems I wouldn't have thrown after me. And guess what, his "hot" new PC performs with roughly 20% of the gaming power of the computer he got from me in the first place. Oh, and just one more little thing. His new computer died not even a year later. Don't know how. Don't care.

Lesson learned: Never sell used hardware to ******, especially if they're your friends.


Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have a lot of old hardware sitting in my closet. Sometimes I pull connectors off them like fan headers from motherboards, and I reuse heatsinks for electronics projects. I also have re-purposed old PSU's as bench power supplies.

blimp01 said:

so i tried to startup my AMD 2500+ 1.8 ghz machine but it kinda blew up, the cpu sparked and some smoke came out lol

Guest said:

How about an HP Vectra desktop with P3-300 Mhz processor running Win98?

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Since my son is also a PC enthusiast I generally pass along components to him whenever I do a significant upgrade. From time to time a friend will decide to build a rig of his own, so I'll sell spare components for a song to help get them started. In the end, I'm a world class pack rat and have boxes and boxes of parts that will likely continue to sit in the basement and gather dust.

Kralnor said:

Inspiring, different and interesting discussion!

I like to keep spare parts around as backup, incase a component in my main PC breaks. I use my main PC both for study-related work as well as for gaming, with the latter increasingly consisting of good old classics, so I don't upgrade that frequently any longer, resulting in me not really having that many "new old" (few years old) components lying around. My last full PC I donated to the folks, and it still works just fine as a desktop for e-mail, word-processing and browsing; Athlon 64 3500+, 1GB DDR2, 320GB HDD, 6600GT. I tend to use older HDD's for storing data that I don't access frequently. They tend to fail after 3-4 years of moderate use.

I don't have more than one desktop assembled at any one time. Coupled with a laptop for that seems to cover my computing needs just fine.

Opolis said:

Folding at Home! Or donate/sell to a friend in need.

Guest said:

well a recycling fee just came into effect to junk old computers tv and other electronics 2 years ago. now they are raising the costs to dispose of the old useless electronics its still only pennies per kilogram but I can see the future now. "100.00 per computer is coming keyboard,mouse and monitor extra."

so my advice get rid of the stuff now while you can or somebody is in the near future is going to call that stuff hazardous waste and charge you an arm and a leg to get rid of it.

hell some of the net books that are coming out are twice as powerful than a couple of computers I have in my house and they sell those things for less than 300.00 and take up 1/10 of the size and power requirements

zillion said:

...I wish i could tell u all that i recycle and revive my old parts for a better life then what state they are in right now just holding my carpet in place so the damn bastard wont attack me. But the truth be told i am the guy that ppl call when they are fixing pcÂ's of almost any age.....because i most likely have that thingy they need, somewhere in my personal universe of awsomeness....of pc scraps......

....so now u know what i do with any tech related items, i salvage and i belive i have a drawer full of really old cables aswell.....

KapteinPyn said:

Build into a media centre and sell off for upgrade money

Guest said:

The PC hardware manufacturers should start to recycle such scrap or old parts as part of their eco politics. They should get these parts as soothing rate (%) of the new hardware, we buy! This is a real incentive for us to recycle and they have a real opportunity to achieve through an investment in that direction. Every company eco politics lead to success somehow affecting all related directions!

Guest said:

This is why I think foolish to have everything integrated in the motherboard.

If we had a PCI-express x4 (or so) card for all SATA, USB, 1394, etc. motherboard would be cheaper and wouldn't be such a waste to throw it all away when upgrading

Guest said:

Yes ... the future is in the modular design!

Guest said:

Have a P4 3.0 running Mandriva Linux (I've always had a Linux box form the Debian days) as a server for my house hold, printing, storage, file sharing,...24/7 and never needs a reboot :)

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This is why I think foolish to have everything integrated in the motherboard.

If we had a PCI-express x4 (or so) card for all SATA, USB, 1394, etc. motherboard would be cheaper and wouldn't be such a waste to throw it all away when upgrading

Every once in a while, a "guest" posts something so grandiosely absurd that it needs to be dealt with.

The reason that SATA controllers, modems, ethernet LAN adapters, multi channel sound adapters, and VGA are built into the motherboard, is to control price, not to raise it.

Competition between manufacturers places pressure on them to put more features into a motherboard, to offer good price vs. performance.

Were we to go back to the old ways of separate items, the price would go up, not down.

Incidentally, the cost of all electronics has gone down dramatically, not up. It's the only venue where a dollar is almost worth a dollar. Consider, you can buy a decent motherboard for a hundred bucks, or you can take the same money and buy a pair of basketball sneakers with some a**h***'s name on them for the same money. Now answer a simple question, which item is harder to produce, and which has a higher start up investment?

Yes ... the future is in the modular design!

Really, well then the future passed you by, and you missed it completely.

The desktop PC, is and has been modular for years. But all the new stuff that you simply can't live without, like iPhones that you can't even change the battery, netbooks, and what ever other POS "portable device" you care to name, are certainly NOT. In fact, if they're not thrown away when they break, you almost have to send them back to China for, "refurbishment"!

In fact, most electronics have become throwaways, beings as the cost of bench repair far exceeds the value of a replacement.

Guest said:

My old Dual Core Athlon S939 is currently my media PC.

Couldn't bear to toss it out, I cut my teeth on that thing.

So much UT..........

I think S939 and 478 are pretty much binable these days, which is a shame,

but in our throwaway world, replacement parts have gone the way of the Dodo.

I have "Liquid Nailed" about 40 MoBo's to the wall inside my shed.

Does that count as recycling?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I have "Liquid Nailed" about 40 MoBo's to the wall inside my shed.

Does that count as recycling?

I suppose if that's what you consider "paneling", it does.

Are you sure it's not the solvents in the "Liquid Nails" that intrigue you?

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

captaincranky said:

I suppose if that's what you consider "paneling", it does.

Hmm...I wonder if anyone has ever created a giant artwork using old PC parts?

Tate Modern would probably snap that straight up.

Guest said:

Well im planning to convert my old ADM 3000+ into and airbrush booth using the PSU to run the case fans and some lights. Will modify the side cover with an hinge and put down a kitchen fan filter to trap all the paint. If the pc itself survives ill hook my old Sony 17" CRT and a pair of speakers to it

Guest said:

My wife gets my "hand-me-downs" for her rig when I upgrade, and I upgrade a lot so she has a nice PC! When I have enough leftover to build a working PC I build it, put Ubuntu on it, and donate it to charity or local schools. Usually donate a least 3 PC's a year.

A year ago a cleaned out my basement cabinets and filled four full 55 gallon garbage cans of VGA video cards, 20-80MB hard drives, ISA controllers, old sound and network cards etc.. Not to mention about a hundred old books etc. And now it's almost ready to be cleaned out again! Yeah, I have a serious habit.....

PS: all components were disposed of properly...

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