Question Buying a second-hand PC

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the Tom's Hardware community: where nearly two million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.
May 23, 2021
50
2
35
0
what exactly is the obsession with refurbishing a crappy old Dell OEM system?
just tying to save a few dollars vs full do-it-yourself building?
under the false assumption that due to Dell OEM system's popularity in the office & educational arena that they would have more trustworthy components that are worth recycling?

in the majority of these systems;
they are using crap cases with little to no airflow, proprietary cutouts, proprietary wiring and limited upgrade options.
garbage untrustworthy power supplies that could easily cause damage to any higher-end hardware you may try using with them.
low quality, low frequency, high timing memory modules with no heatsinks.
low speed, small capacity HDDs.
there's usually really nothing but a lower tiered CPU that may be worth re-using.
plus zero warranty unless purchased yourself through a certified Dell distributor.

i haven't noticed you mentioning any super low price(s) that may make any of these deals a worthwhile investment.
or mention any budget that could be better used towards decent hardware.
All good points there. Yes the power supply s are a bit puny.And you are right about the prices not being bargin basement .And no warranty well about 30 days on most.It would only be a secondly Pc. I have an IMac so don,t want to spend much on it.I want to use it for Linux with Windows on another drive.
 
Last edited:
what exactly is the obsession with refurbishing a crappy old Dell OEM system?
just tying to save a few dollars vs full do-it-yourself building?
under the false assumption that due to Dell OEM system's popularity in the office & educational arena that they would have more trustworthy components that are worth recycling?

in the majority of these systems;
they are using crap cases with little to no airflow, proprietary cutouts, proprietary wiring and limited upgrade options.
garbage untrustworthy power supplies that could easily cause damage to any higher-end hardware you may try using with them.
low quality, low frequency, high timing memory modules with no heatsinks.
low speed, small capacity HDDs.
there's usually really nothing but a lower tiered CPU that may be worth re-using.
plus zero warranty unless purchased yourself through a certified Dell distributor.

i haven't noticed you mentioning any super low price(s) that may make any of these deals a worthwhile investment.
or mention any budget that could be better used towards decent hardware.
These present a tremendous value when found at the right price and with the right expectations. These are usually business class systems that are usually on par with higher end consumer hardware in terms of reliability if not actually better. And ANY working hardware is worthy of re-use which is the first step in the recycling process.

These systems do not necessarily follow industry standard designs, but obviously work well enough to dominate the PC industry--something to keep in mind.

The power supplies are far better than consumer power supplies and are generally underrated if anything.

Memory modules are very reliable brand names like Samsung and industry standard, which is to be expected unless you are buying specific modules for overclocking (shouldn't be a surprise :rolleyes:).

The hard drives are also industry standard, so not sure how that speed is any lower than any other industry standard drive. :rolleyes:

Yep, zero warranty but if you're doing a project like this, you're ready to work on stuff yourself and save the bucks. If you're not, this is not for you.

What exactly is 'decent' hardware? Stupid gamer crap? I don't understand the mindset that ugly gamer crap is somehow better than reliable enterprise equipment that's actually use to run the businesses of the entire world? If the gamer crap was better, it would be the systems running the world. Again, something to keep in mind.
 
These are usually business class systems that are usually on par with higher end consumer hardware in terms of reliability if not actually better.
i don't know where you've been finding old OEM Dell systems,
but none of the basic home\office\school models have any of the aspects you have toted.
neither have any of the systems listed in this thread.

what you would be referring to would be business class or high grade science-industry standard machines with a heftier price tag,
not basic store models like what the OP is planning on building a gaming system out of.
but obviously work well enough to dominate the PC industry
they "dominate" the industry because they are available in major bulk options for incredibly low prices which makes it an easier & cheaper option for corporations, schools\universities, etc.
and because an average person\family can walk into a Walmart or Best Buy and easily pickup a cheap PC(s) without knowing anything about the subject.

not because of their hardware & build quality.
The power supplies are far better than consumer power supplies and are generally underrated if anything.
out of the 100 or so of these OEM systems i've worked on over the last decades none of them had even a decent reliable power supply included.

always a very minimal wattage(150-400w) with the lowest rating possible to help reduce production cost.
lacking suitable cables for any kind of forward upgrade.

and almost every time i've dealt with one of these systems that has totally failed, it is because the PSU has died during minimal usage scenarios.
Memory modules are very reliable brand names like Samsung and industry standard
almost every one of these OEM systems also always have had a very cheap, lowest possible frequency \ highest possible timings, single channel module that runs extremely hot.
The hard drives are also industry standard, so not sure how that speed is any lower than any other industry standard drive.
the average HDD included in these systems was almost always a 120\240\500GB 5400rpm drive.

comparing 5400rpm to 5400; wow you're right, same speed. amazing.
comparing to any decent drive; 10000rpm HDD, >500MB\s SSD, >2000MB\s M.2.
the speed differences are very noticeable in any situation.

of course now most give many options for adding larger capacity and faster drives, but they are still lower quality versions that will rely on the system's usual 1 year warranty.
What exactly is 'decent' hardware? Stupid gamer crap? I don't understand the mindset that ugly gamer crap is somehow better than reliable enterprise equipment that's actually use to run the businesses of the entire world? If the gamer crap was better, it would be the systems running the world. Again, something to keep in mind.
"decent" hardware is anything that is reliable, offers a good warranty, and offers noticeable improvements in workflow or any other use compared to "basic" hardware.

and again, basic OEM Dell builds do not include decent hardware.
you mention "business class" & "enterprise", so i think you have totally missed the point of this thread which is about purchasing basic systems and using them for gaming.

no one ever stated that Dell doesn't offer some higher grade versions of their OEM systems.
whether they be home "gaming" systems, science industry, or other enterprise use.
but that has nothing to do with class of systems that is being discussed here.
 
Last edited:
May 23, 2021
50
2
35
0
These present a tremendous value when found at the right price and with the right expectations. These are usually business class systems that are usually on par with higher end consumer hardware in terms of reliability if not actually better. And ANY working hardware is worthy of re-use which is the first step in the recycling process.

These systems do not necessarily follow industry standard designs, but obviously work well enough to dominate the PC industry--something to keep in mind.

The power supplies are far better than consumer power supplies and are generally underrated if anything.

Memory modules are very reliable brand names like Samsung and industry standard, which is to be expected unless you are buying specific modules for overclocking (shouldn't be a surprise :rolleyes:).

The hard drives are also industry standard, so not sure how that speed is any lower than any other industry standard drive. :rolleyes:

Yep, zero warranty but if you're doing a project like this, you're ready to work on stuff yourself and save the bucks. If you're not, this is not for you.

What exactly is 'decent' hardware? Stupid gamer crap? I don't understand the mindset that ugly gamer crap is somehow better than reliable enterprise equipment that's actually use to run the businesses of the entire world? If the gamer crap was better, it would be the systems running the world. Again, something to keep in mind.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator
The hard drives are also industry standard, so not sure how that speed is any lower than any other industry standard drive. :rolleyes:
There is nothing standard about HDD performance, different drives can have drastically different performance characteristics. That's why HDD manufacturers have different model ranges on a per-application basis to better fit each application's requirements.
 
May 23, 2021
50
2
35
0
i don't know where you've been finding old OEM Dell systems,
but none of the basic home\office\school models have any of the aspects you have toted.
neither have any of the systems listed in this thread.

what you would be referring to would be business class or high grade science-industry standard machines with a heftier price tag,
not basic store models like what the OP is planning on building a gaming system out of.
they "dominate" the industry because they are available in major bulk options for incredibly low prices which makes it an easier & cheaper option for corporations, schools\universities, etc.
and because an average person\family can walk into a Walmart or Best Buy and easily pickup a cheap PC(s) without knowing anything about the subject.

not because of their hardware & build quality.
out of the 100 or so of these OEM systems i've worked on over the last decades none of them had even a decent reliable power supply included.

always a very minimal wattage(150-400w) with the lowest rating possible to help reduce production cost.
lacking suitable cables for any kind of forward upgrade.

and almost every time i've dealt with one of these systems that has totally failed, it is because the PSU has died during minimal usage scenarios.
almost every one of these OEM systems also always have had a very cheap, lowest possible frequency \ highest possible timings, single channel module that runs extremely hot.
the average HDD included in these systems was almost always a 120\240\500GB 5400rpm drive.

comparing 5400rpm to 5400; wow you're right, same speed. amazing.
comparing to any decent drive; 10000rpm HDD, >500MB\s SSD, >2000MB\s M.2.
the speed differences are very noticeable in any situation.

of course now most give many options for adding larger capacity and faster drives, but they are still lower quality versions that will rely on the system's usual 1 year warranty.

"decent" hardware is anything that is reliable, offers a good warranty, and offers noticeable improvements in workflow or any other use compared to "basic" hardware.

and again, basic OEM Dell builds do not include decent hardware.
you mention "business class" & "enterprise", so i think you have totally missed the point of this thread which is about purchasing basic systems and using them for gaming.

no one ever stated that Dell doesn't offer some higher grade versions of their OEM systems.
whether they be home "gaming" systems, science industry, or other enterprise use.
but that has nothing to do with class of systems that is being discussed here.
I have gone on a different track ,i am now going for one of these Workstation There is one thing id like to know they say if you instal a M.2 NVMe ssd to it you can,t boot from it?.I want to have a dual boot with Linux on a SSD does that mean you can only use one OS on there?I agree with you about the puny 180 w power supply,s which a lot of the newer HP,s have.There are very few HP power supply upgrades and one of them had to mod the case to fit it in
View: https://youtu.be/_yVDMYT1QPY?t=4
 
There is one thing id like to know they say if you instal a M.2 NVMe ssd to it you can,t boot from it?
that would be dependent on the included motherboard.
I want to have a dual boot with Linux on a SSD does that mean you can only use one OS on there?
you can easily have two OS on a single drive.
install your main OS,
create a new partition,
install secondary OS.
just use a boot menu to choose between upon powering up.
i am now going for one of these Workstation
but you never had answered why you are going these routes.

what is your intended budget for this build that limits you to old used junk
vs just a low cost custom build of modern hardware?
 
i don't know where you've been finding old OEM Dell systems,
but none of the basic home\office\school models have any of the aspects you have toted.
neither have any of the systems listed in this thread.

what you would be referring to would be business class or high grade science-industry standard machines with a heftier price tag,
not basic store models like what the OP is planning on building a gaming system out of.
they "dominate" the industry because they are available in major bulk options for incredibly low prices which makes it an easier & cheaper option for corporations, schools\universities, etc.
and because an average person\family can walk into a Walmart or Best Buy and easily pickup a cheap PC(s) without knowing anything about the subject.

not because of their hardware & build quality.
out of the 100 or so of these OEM systems i've worked on over the last decades none of them had even a decent reliable power supply included.

always a very minimal wattage(150-400w) with the lowest rating possible to help reduce production cost.
lacking suitable cables for any kind of forward upgrade.

and almost every time i've dealt with one of these systems that has totally failed, it is because the PSU has died during minimal usage scenarios.
almost every one of these OEM systems also always have had a very cheap, lowest possible frequency \ highest possible timings, single channel module that runs extremely hot.
the average HDD included in these systems was almost always a 120\240\500GB 5400rpm drive.

comparing 5400rpm to 5400; wow you're right, same speed. amazing.
comparing to any decent drive; 10000rpm HDD, >500MB\s SSD, >2000MB\s M.2.
the speed differences are very noticeable in any situation.

of course now most give many options for adding larger capacity and faster drives, but they are still lower quality versions that will rely on the system's usual 1 year warranty.

"decent" hardware is anything that is reliable, offers a good warranty, and offers noticeable improvements in workflow or any other use compared to "basic" hardware.

and again, basic OEM Dell builds do not include decent hardware.
you mention "business class" & "enterprise", so i think you have totally missed the point of this thread which is about purchasing basic systems and using them for gaming.

no one ever stated that Dell doesn't offer some higher grade versions of their OEM systems.
whether they be home "gaming" systems, science industry, or other enterprise use.
but that has nothing to do with class of systems that is being discussed here.
I have probably over a dozen optiplex systems ranging from the socket 478 days to lga1150 and all are still working 24x7.

Their business workstations simply supported ecc registered memory like their servers and dual processors--otherwise the core build quality is the same. But the workstation systems do become much more proprietary and upgrades can be more difficult. But on the flip side, they were underrated in terms of cpu and ram support so typically can be maxed out much higher than originally speced to do so. (This is the T-series for anyone interested.)

They're definitely not the cheapest option, even in bulk. But they do present the best value in terms of a reliable machine that does the job, most of the time far outliving the job and ending up in the used market. Anyone can walk into a retail store and buy a system, even businesses--it's not that as you are suggesting.

Well, that doesn't match my experience nor that of a lot of people who own these systems and run them. You may have simply had a bad batch of components as this did happen a few times in Dell's history.

Yes, these are minimal because that's all their original design was for. But they still are overbuilt for what they are. And again, someone looking at these machines isn't going to be swayed by the lack of a $5 cable or a power supply that they know will need to be upgraded for their use case.

Almost any system that has totally died will probably be the power supply--happens not just to Dells, but many others.

Hot memory modules? Only if you're running them in the desert or have FBDIMMs installed. Some of my systems run in 80F and I would never describe any of the components as 'hot'. And the memory modules are the same as under the metal heatspreader of any of the gamer brands. I run both type of modules in my Dells and they're the same if the modules are rated the same.

For basic usage, I don't think anyone would expect to have more than 500GB as a boot drive. Don't see why this is an issue. Every gamer system has a drive that small for boot, except it's an ssd.

First of all, no one is making 10k sata drives anymore for desktop use, and secondly, it is no surprise an ssd is faster than a hard drive. Again, if one is looking to pick up something cheap and upgrade it, this isn't an issue.

Yes, oem drive warranties can be less. But that's because the drives are oem. If you buy these models direct, you still get less warranty. Again, no surprise.

If decent is anything reliable, warranty, and improvement in workflow, then these are beyond decent because when new they meet all the criteria and hence are bought over comparable systems. Anything used will not qualify because of a lack of warranty, doesn't matter who makes it.

The basic systems you're talking about are the business class, enterprise optiplex series that are found cheap used once they are off-lease--these are not the basic systems you're talking about which are Dell's home line. I'm specifically talking about the systems you're bashing because I literally have at least 1/2 a dozen of them.
 
There is nothing standard about HDD performance, different drives can have drastically different performance characteristics. That's why HDD manufacturers have different model ranges on a per-application basis to better fit each application's requirements.
Different drives, yes, but the same model? Nope. Most Dell desktops come with WD Blue drives, and they perform just the same as retail blue drives. Generally these are even better than most consumer drives that are 5400 rpm. But as drives have evolved, so has their performance. Today's 5400rpm drive is faster than the original 15k velociraptor drive and even their predecessor, 10k rpm scsi drives.
 
May 24, 2021
4
2
15
0
I am after a cheap PC to do some gaming.I was going to buy this one HP 400 G1 MT i5 4TH GEN 8GB RAM/500GB HDD WIN 10 PRO QUAD CORE 3.2GHz But i have looked at the sellers other stuff and saw this
6TH GENERATION TOWER COMPUTER i3 3.7GHZ SSD HDD 8GB DDR4 it is a custom
build by Powerc,com.
PROCESSOR : i3 6TH GEN 6100 3.7 GHz ASUS H110M-PLUS MOTHERBOARD WITH O/B SOUND NETWORK USB 3.3.1+ 2 ETC
120GB SSD WITH O/S INSTALLED
8GB DDR4 RAM 1 X 8GB
ONBOARD INTEL HD 530 GRAPHICS
It is only 15 pound more than the HP one it seems to good to be true.It looks very dusty but that is easy to sort out.I must say that the seller offered me 5 pound less. for the HP not that that is much of a discount Should i wait and see if he gives me something off that one, or should i buy it before someone else dose ./https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/fEsAAOSwSJdgkVIf/s-l1600.jpg. https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/wlAAAOSwLjxgkVIe/s-l1600.jpg
If you are buying second-hand then you must be aware of its warranty and other documents. Before making a purchase, cross Check all the hardware and its processing with the help of a professional.
 
May 24, 2021
4
2
15
0
If one is paying a professional for this service, they should just buy new instead as it will cost the same as a used system plus this service.
Yes, You are right but we are discussing here the second hand purchase so I Think that(Cross checking) would be the best option.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS