What Do People Do with Their Old Computers?

Why is it so hard to sell old computers nowadays?

I have an old i5 desktop with monitor. Still works reasonably fast, no issues, no external marks/damage, Windows 10. Can't sell it. Should I reduce the price to near $0, or throw it away, or keep it and upgrade the processor one day? I'm an IT novice, so I don't even know if it's easy to upgrade the processor/motherboard.

Poll Options

  • 38
    Try to sell it for $30-$50
  • 109
    Give it away
  • 16
    Throw it away
  • 10
    Keep it and upgrade the CPU one day
  • 1
    Upgrade the motherboard, CPU, ram, etc. right now


  • +2

    Yeeet it out a window, repeat.

    • +5

      Help - Neighbour complained to council for thorwing computers in his backyard.

  • +3

    I used to sell the parts on eBay. I haven't sold anything since eBay changed the way they handle payments though. I never had anything that wouldn't sell if the price was right.

  • +1

    Depends how much effort you're willing to go through. If it's an old piece of junk then put it up for free and someone will take it.

    In general it's worth the effort selling low value items.

  • +1

    Sell it for parts then throw it away (whatever left off will be junk).

    • The parts will sell for more than the whole. I suspect because purchasers tend to be repairing their own functional systems. However, it's more effort to deconstruct and individually sell parts.

  • Depends on how old they are, if they are still within warranty you can propably sell them for 50% of retail depending on age. If they are older than 3 years old to 5 years old they may still have some value. Older than 5 years usually makes it worthless.

    • +2

      Heyyyy… don't call my computer worthless. I'm still running on my i5-4690k from 7 years ago.

      • 4690k is a very special lad

  • +3

    Depends on the age. My last old systems have been sold for parts on free classifieds or eBay.

    If the parts won't fetch a decent price, they would go into e-waste. Giving things away is generally too painful.

    If you don't have one already, you could also build a home server.

  • +10

    If you do want to get rid of it make sure you wipe it first. In Windows 10, use the option to restore to a fresh image and do a full format - should be sufficient for most standard users.

    All Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Get Started button (under "Reset this PC" ) > Remove Everything > Change Settings > Toggle the "Clean Data" to "on" > Confirm > Next > Follow the prompts.

    It will take a few hours to do, but should wipe the drive sufficiently to let you feel safe with offloading it to a random person.

    • I wouldnt be 100% confident in that. I always use killdisk to zero the drive before disposing/selling.

  • +7


    That's the issue. Unless you're after a serious gaming rig everyone wants laptops.

    You can dispose at an e-recycle point or donate to a local community centre (who may or might not be able to accept electrical donations)

    • +1

      I'm still a desktop fan - better specs (desktop i7>laptop i7), better keyboard, better monitor. I have 6 year old desktop and a brand new laptop, desktop still gets far more use.

  • +2

    I break it up and sell it as parts - all gone in a short time. Its much easier to sell it as parts as usually people find what fits them.

  • +5

    Lots of charities take computers. If you have any particular type you want to support plenty of options.

  • Still get a decent price on fbm if they're current

  • +9

    Where’s the “keep it in the corner because I can’t decide what to do with it” option?

  • +8

    My kids school is happy to take working old computers so kids can learn how to build them. Consider asking your local.

  • Depends on the age and technology, personally I won't buy anything older than 8th gen Intel or DDR4, which are both "old tech" now there's 13th gen and DDR5, for myself, friends and family.

    • I just 'upgraded' my HTPC from a circa 2009 Xeon box to an 8th gen i7. lol

  • You can give it away to me

  • +1

    Pretty sure Lifeline and other charities will take it.

  • +2

    Give it away = Recycle via officeworks in most cases.

  • +1

    Mine i update in stages as i dont play any real juice consuming games. Parts, give away if still decent. Plenty of charities and schools will take them.

    As for old laptops, thats how the grandparents get their new ones 🤣

  • +6

    Where is the "Throw it in the corner and forget about it" option??

  • +1

    ATO determines that computers are worthless within a few years. It's always been that way. Only now it's worse because everyone's phones can basically do what old computers can do but it fits in your pocket.

    • +4

      Unless you are over 75 and can't see things on the tiny screen nor push the tiny buttons. :)

  • +5

    I went to an inner city officeworks yesterday and was waiting in line to check out and noticed there was almost an absurd number of people bringing in e-waste..just one after another - pc towers, monitors etc - the officeworks staff was just instructing people to place them into the set aside trolleys and it would be sorted and processed when they had time.

    i personally just have all my old towers/peripherals stacked up in a neat pile under my stairs..just in case one day i need a * checks list* 486 CPU? …a 3Dfx Voodoo 1 ??

    sure, its not 1996 today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?!

    • Unless your 486 has the maths co-processor it's junk 😉

    • +2

      Ha, I did a big clean out of all that stuff before Christmas, 5 car loads of PC stuff straight to the tip.

      I kept the old Celeron 300a and slocket though just in case I need it to defeat the alien invasion with old tech they weren't prepared for.

      • +2

        ewwww Celeron. Pentium or nothing baby

        • -1

          OK millenial….

          • +1

            @EightImmortals: I know I would regret the day that I sold my dual Celery Abit BP6. They just don't make dual socket on consumer hardware anymore…

    • +2

      Well I could have helped you out - 8 years ago I binned a 486 4/100 with a 850Mb (I think) hard drive and 16Mb of RAM

      It was given to my grandparents maybe 10 years prior to that so that my grandfather could play solitaire. Never had to worry about it getting hacked because it was never connected to the internet but man when I was a teenager dial up 'images' were excellent!

      I think I still have the Os2/Warp and Lotus Notes CDs that it came with somewhere if you need them

      • +2



        The Internet King? I wonder if he could provide faster nudity…

        • +1

          Buy him out

      • Imagine how well Os/2 would run on todays hardware?

        I recall having it on a 486DX with 20mb of Ram? A 120 and 214mb Hard drive. The machine worked so hard I thought it was going to explode, so back to Windows 3.11. :(

        • haha that was exactly my experience

          • +2

            @Gunnar: We had numerous instances of shoplifting, mainly Windows NT, Office and OS/2. We would find empty boxes (with the floppy discs missing). One day we busted the guy who was on his break 'buying software'. We had him in the Office waiting for the Police to come and search him. They were taking their time, and the guy started complaining of stomach cramps, threatening to relieve himself in the office. We eneded up taking him to the toilet area, but said he couldn't with the door open. This went on forever, and the Manager said okay, but only for a minute. He tried flushing all the floppy discs down the toilet, and putting them in the cistern.
            Meanwhile the Boss rang his employer (HR section) to let them know he would be late back to work, as he had to wait for the Police to question him. The Police finally arrived and they had enough evidence to take him away and charge him. Absurdly, this wasn't enough for his employer to sack him (though they did eventually).
            I knew someone that worked there, and they said he was writing dummy PO's, Dummy Invoices and being reimbursed in cash, when he provided the discs (and license).

    • I should have kept an old board with an ISA slot for my VFX-1. Pretty sure I've got a graphics card with a feature connector around somewhere though which is the other part of the puzzle.

      • Found out today it Turns out all my old towers and bits n pieces got thrown out during our last Reno… I guess to be fair I am a bit of a hoarder

        • +1

          Yeah same.. though I did cull a lot of it a while back. The amount of 100mb LAN and soundcards I had accumulated…. and AMR risers, I have no idea why I even kept them.

  • +1

    Frisbee them off a tall building into a skip bin below. Bonus points if you get it in the neighbours skip.

  • +1

    I'm an IT novice, so I don't even know if it's easy to upgrade the processor/motherboard.

    Perfect reason to give it away, e.g., elderly user like my Mum. She's using a laptop at the moment, but I have a spare PC/monitor lined up for her in case that breaks. She only has to turn it on and off and use the keyboard/mouse.

  • +3

    Trade it in for a GC at Officeworks or JB/HN etc etc?


  • +2

    I turned my old pc (mATX) into a NAS running Plex server.
    Has 3 hard drives in it.
    I only switch it on once in a while to save electricity.

  • +2

    Are you including all the specs in the ad, including model numbers etc.?

    People might be hesitating if they think it's junk when it's actually pretty decent for day-to-day tasks.

  • +1

    Where is the keep it to one day fix it when you realise you can't use your work computer for torrents option?

  • Sometimes people leave them out in the front yard and I take them for potential parts / backup parts only to find they are fully working (but slow) systems with saved passwords, payment cards and all! (luckily I'm not a criminal)

  • Can't sell it.

    Try selling only motherboard + CPU + RAM combo on eBay. Throw away the rest.

  • +1

    I break it down and salvage all the rare minerals. By the time I’m done there’s only a thimble sized amount of material left that goes in the bin.

  • Depends what the actual specs are and what you want to do. If you just want it gone with no issues advertise it for free

    If you want a bit of cash for it, spend some time and do a fresh install, clean it up and depending on the specs offer it as a workstation or entry gaming pc

    If your in a local city so no need for delivery put it on some computer specific forums - people always have a use for old hardware. I just picked up an old i3 system for my daughter to play roblox and fortnite on with the help of an old GPU I had laying around

  • A friend of mine who was pretty handy made cuff links out of motherboard etc. parts and sold those quite successfully, A matter of cutting the boards to cuff link size, then smoothing out all the surfaces, lacquering the whole piece, then gluing on the stub that fits through the shirt hole. He even got fancy and started putting the board piece into a sort of 'frame' - even 18 carat if requested. I had a pair of pretty gold-plate ones for years - much admired!

  • I have about 4 very old computers which ‘one day’ I plan to use to build M.A.M.E. cabinets. Unfortunately I also suffer from terminal procrastination…..

  • Selling off some on eBay and keeping old pc parts for LEGO photography.

  • Depending on your specs, firewall?

    I added an extra network card, installed the software off USB, and now everyone gets Ad-block, decent shaping to prevent downloads from affecting streaming, and full speed on NBN (FTTP).

    That said, I work in IT, so it wasn't a stretch.

  • +1

    Why is it so hard to sell old computers nowadays?

    Same reason its so hard for me to sell my 'lightly used' underpants, I imagine. People are entitled!

    • Same reason its so hard for me to sell my 'lightly used' underpants

      There would surely be a much larger market for lightly used underpants right?

  • Keep them in a stack. Forget the windows passwords.

  • +1

    Why is it so hard to sell old computers nowadays?

    For the same reason you're not in the market for an old computer.

    • Don't forget that if you are selling an old computer you are competing with masses of old office ones from government and corporate - there are far more of them on the market than home ones.

      These are auctioned for absolute peanuts. If you have a couple of thousand computers well past their tax writeoff date it is a lot cheaper to just dump them for whatever you can get rather than try and update them all. Most get picked up by secondhand dealers as bulk buys, lightly refurbished and sold off for cashews rather than peanuts.

  • used to try to sell, but nowadays the amount of scumbags on things like gumtree mean I would rather try to give it away to a friend otherwise throw away.

  • What do people do with old tablets? They seem utterly worthless.

    • +1

      Put them in a museum. They are priceless, because they are often the only written records of ancient civilisations.

      Ancient Greek tablet

      Ancient Near East clay tablets

    • You can install custom firmware to accept modern software and run them as things like weather stations, digital photo display, art display, etc. I have a ASUS TF300T's I use as weather stations, it's very good.

  • I try to sell them before they are absolutely worthless. If not, I'd just dispose of it.

  • Where are all these cheap second computers you speak of? Im in the market for one but find that most sellers are asking way too much for their old gear. My budget is $50 and i just need a full sized tower. If someone is near Sydney I can buy.

  • I'm a hoarder so I usually just keep it. I'm pretty good at the moment actually, only have 2 CPUs and a motherboard lying around at the moment (one of which was my mum's old Sandy Bridge which she finally upgraded from).

  • use it as a media player with the TV

  • Use the computer as an emulation / media player system to play music, video and all the old retro computer/console games. Just install Batocera. Add a USB controller and install your favourite games.videos and music.

  • Just give it away. I'm going to give away an old pc to a friend who doesn't have a computer.

  • I went through a major PC upgrading cycle over the last 2 years. 2nd to 4th gen Intel still sell very well.

    In 2023, I'd expect to sell the following i5 whole PC relatively easily:
    2nd gen at $150
    3rd gen at $175
    4th gen at $200 (I sold this year, $240 in winter, $210 in spring)

    The issue is that the customers who want to buy these sorts of machines usually are not tech-heads and they want something well presented and to trust that you are not selling them garbage.

    The bare minimum would be to partially disassemble and clean for dust, list every single part included by part model and brand, show images of the PC/monitor actually working, and take multiple photos of the (clean) inside and outside. If the case is in terrible condition, go out and buy a excellent condition case for less than $40, and swap. Basically the product appearance should be like new.

    Re-applying the CPU thermal paste is recommended, as is testing and replacing noisy/broken case/cooler fans. (I would still consider this basic customer service). OS should be reinstalled as well.

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