How much is your Computer worth? (Guide to Valuating a PC)

CG Director Author Alex Glawionby Alex Glawion   /  Updated 
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How much is your Computer worth? (Guide to Valuating a PC)

Knowing how to valuate the worth of second-hand computer components is always useful, especially in a market where prices fluctuate strongly.

And it works both ways: for buying, and for selling. Not only can this knowledge provide you with the means of optimizing your build, but it can also allow you to shift resources for maximizing its value.

To help you assess the worth of a PC or hardware component, this article will cover every aspect associated with the appraisal.

Additionally, we will also provide general guidelines that are paramount for making the most out of any buying or selling exchange.

Reasons Why You Might Need to Know a PC’s Worth

The first thing you want to know is whether there’s value in selling your PC, or whether it’s best to keep it for its potential utility. There are several instances when either option can be found to be worthwhile.

Find Out if Selling Your PC Is Worth It

The last thing you want to do is to sell your PC, only to need it at a later time.

It is difficult to predict when you might run into issues with your main computer, in which case a backup PC could prove to be incredibly convenient during the downtime.

Also, if one component of your main computer proves to be faulty, you can always have spare parts to exchange; given that compatibility is a nonissue.

Also, a secondary PC does have its own utilitarian functionality. Allocating a, e.g. rendering, process to one computer, for example, can allow you the freedom to work, browse, or even play games on the other.

What can you use a secondary pc for

Speaking of gamers, streamers will also find a second computer to be of use, as it can relieve some of the stress associated with streaming from the primary PC. It also guarantees that if your main computer freezes, the stream will not drop.

Pricing Your PC Correctly

If the above cases are hardly of any concern to you, then selling the unused PC, or its parts will surely be of interest.

With the resulting income, additional components can be added to your main build (like RAM or storage), or other hardware upgrades can be utilized. In order to maximize the value of this trade, you will first want to make sure that you correctly price what it is that you are selling.

Selling PC-Parts Individually vs Selling the PC as a Whole

There are two ways of going about marketing a PC, that is of little to no use. You can either sell the PC as a whole or sell the individual components.

Selling individual components vs complete build

Depending on the hardware, there will be cases where one method proves to be of more value than the other. This is yet another reason why the PC must be properly evaluated prior to its listing.

Some buyers might value a complete and working PC out of the box, others will want only certain components and won’t pay extra for parts they won’t use or need.

Knowing if It’s Worth to Upgrade Your PC vs Buying a New One

Now, if you’re looking to buy, rather than sell, there is a very important question you must ask yourself: Is your PC worth upgrading, or should you just buy a new one altogether?

Upgrading certain hardware may cause incompatibility issues with others. The PSU must be able to supply the proper wattage to all new components.

The motherboard must be able to house a new CPU’s chipset and have a VRM & thermal solution that does not throttle the processor’s potential power.

Also, new components will have different thermal demands, and the cooling within the case must be able to provide them with sufficient cooling.

Changing too many components will oftentimes cost the same – or more – than simply buying a new PC; be it pre-built or custom.

You Want to Insure Your PC and Need to Know Its Value

Finally, another reason why you may want to know exactly how much your PC is worth is purchasing insurance to protect it from any possible harm.

Computers comprise expensive units of equipment, especially when it comes to workstations. Having insurance can allow for peace of mind, that if something were to occur to this machine, it can be promptly replaced at minimal cost.

How Fast Does PC Hardware Depreciate?

Many will often skip evaluating their older, used, PC; as they fear that it may have already dropped significantly in value.

It is, indeed, true, that hardware components depreciate in value rapidly. A study carried out by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, found that PCs lose as much as half their remaining value with each additional year of use.

Furthermore, after a certain number of years, the depreciation increases exponentially, due to the fact that the hardware is no longer able to work essential tasks and applications.

Another example of drastic depreciation is the chipset and RAM compatibility of the motherboard. DDR3, AM3, and LGA 1151 compatible units, for example, saw a steep decline in value when succeeded by their new-generation successors.

When Does PC-Hardware Appreciate?

There are cases when PC components retain their value fairly well, or may even appreciate. One such case being the shortage of graphical processors.

Even almost eight months after the initial GPU shortage of 2020, an Nvidia GeForce 2080 Super – which launched at a retail price of $699 – could be found selling (used) for upwards of $1,000 on eBay.

How does PC hardware appreciate - gain in value

In fact, during this time, when Nvidia released their $1,200 GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, the product still sold-out immediately upon release. In other words, the new model did not alleviate the demand even in the slightest.

Also, certain PC components may become rare, collectible, or vintage; which can also add to their worth.

When Is the Right Time to Sell Your PC?

In general, if you are not using a PC or individual components, it is best to sell them as soon as possible. The only exception to this rule is if you believe that their price may increase, due to a potential shortage.

Of course, just like holding on to any investment, this move can quickly prove to be unprofitable. Even when experiencing a shortage of semiconductors, how long such a shortage will last, and how quickly the market will bounce back, is anyone’s guess.

How to Estimate Your/a PC’s Worth

If, after careful consideration, you have decided to sell your PC or PC parts, the very first step to take is to assess your specifications.

For this procedure, we refer you to our in-depth article, which includes a comprehensive guide for rounding up what components your PC consists of.

Checking the Hardware Components

Next, you’re going to want to check the parts themselves, in order to determine some key factors that can significantly affect the price. Especially when buying a used Computer, ask the seller the following questions:

  • The age of the unit: How long has it been in your possession, and how much was it used?
  • Its physical condition: Is it scratched, bent, or broken? Are there any pieces (such as wires or screws) that are missing?
  • The level of its prior usage: Has the CPU been overclocked? If so, to what extent? Was it done sparingly or regularly?
  • Did the PC or components run 24/7 on heavy tasks such as rendering or mining? Or was the PC hardly ever used?
  • The warranty status and original packaging: Is the PC, or its parts, still under manufacturer warranty? If so, how much of said warranty is still remaining? Is the original packaging, and/or any included manuals available?
  • Any differentiating factors: Were any of the components part of an exclusive promotional deal? Do they feature a limited edition, or collectible, theme or design?

Consider this before buying or selling a used pc

Once the above questions have been answered, your next step is to check their current market worth. This can be done by searching for the components in various marketplace websites, like the sub-reddit /r/HardwareSwap or eBay.

If you cannot find the exact model of the component you are looking to sell, try comparing it with other similar variants. You can also use eBay’s auction functionality, and let the market decide its price.

Using PC Worth Calculators

Another excellent tool for evaluating a computer’s value – especially for older units and financial inventory – are PC worth calculators. For example, at Gadget Value you can appraise a desktop (or laptop), and receive a printable advertisement template. This template even includes an appraisal code that potential buyers can plug into the website and verify the price.

Checking Local Availability

It is always important to make sure that the prices you find are relevant to the locality in which you reside.

A component that can be readily found in New Zealand, for example, may be much more difficult to find in Germany or the United States; and vice versa.

Availability will also cause the price of the product to vary substantially, so it is best to compare prices to the specific geographic area of your target audience.

Where and How to Sell a PC

When it comes to actually selling the PC and/or components, it is always best to begin on a local level, and then expand according to demand; or lack thereof.

Where to buy - sell your pc

Friends & Acquaintances

A good starting point is contacting friends or acquaintances, and checking whether or not they would be interested in what you have to offer.

This ensures, to a degree, that the negotiations, and the exchange itself, can be done in a manner that is pleasant and effortless.

Local Marketplaces

Next, you want to check local marketplaces. The aforementioned sub-reddit does allow you to create a post, and list the area in which you wish the exchange to occur. Similarly, Facebook’s marketplace will promote your ad in an area based upon your zip code.

Craigslist is also an option, but due to the anonymity associated with the listings, it can be plagued by scammers. Therefore, if you are to use this site, tread lightly and exercise extreme caution.

Global Market

Finally, if you cannot find a buyer locally, or if you’re selling something that is rare or valuable, the best website to use is eBay. With eBay you can reach a much larger target audience, and create an auction that can be more profitable than a fixed price.

Buying PC Components

For those looking to buy used components, PC Part Picker has an excellent article that goes over which components are best bought new, and which are best bought used. They also include some tips to help you avoid any malicious scams.

Conclusion

The art of PC building is all about creating the maximum amount of value, for the least possible price.

At the end of the day, a PC is a machine that provides utility from the amalgam of its individual components.

The money saved when buying one piece of hardware allows for more purchasing power for the next. If you save $100 from your CPU purchase, you can buy an additional 16 GB of RAM, or even a terabyte of NVMe storage.

Not only that but the money saved can also be spent on peripherals that are critical for utilizing the processing potential of your PC.

A high-end monitor, for example, can provide both astonishing visuals, as well as practicality for productivity applications.

This is why it is important to properly plan a PC build with both budget and efficacy in mind. If you are a beginner in the field, we have two articles that can help you immensely. One is our detailed guide that will assist you in both planning, as well assembling your computer.

The other is a guide written for those looking to upgrade their PC, rather than build one from scratch.

Over to you

Are you looking to buy or sell a PC? Do you have any preferred marketplace for carrying out your exchanges? Let us know with a comment below!

You can also find expert advice for PC planning & building on the CGDirector Forum, so make sure to say hello there.

Find a new friend on the CGDirector Forum! Expert Advice & PC-Build Planning with a warm and friendly Community! :)

Alex Glawion - post author

Hi, I’m Alex, a Freelance 3D Generalist, Motion Designer and Compositor.

I’ve built a multitude of Computers, Workstations and Renderfarms and love to optimize them as much as possible.

Feel free to comment and ask for suggestions on your PC-Build or 3D-related Problem, I’ll do my best to help out!

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