Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rules for Buying a Used Computer on Craigslist

I have been teaching myself how to build computers for the past 8 months now and I have been learning quite a bit. I read as much as I can about the theory and operation of computer hardware and then I get to actually go and build computers form spare and refurbished parts. I also check out Craigslist a lot for cheap desktops and it kills me at what I find for sale on Craigslist.

I need to remind myself that most people are not in touch with reality when they go to sell their computer that they paid $750 for over 10 years ago. Most people don't know that Pentium 4 computers are not worth $200 unless they have a new $150 video card in them. Computers and their parts have dropped significantly in the past 5 years and it is no longer necessary to buy a basic computer for $750 anymore. Here are some guidelines on prices that are worth paying for older computers.

Pentium 4 Computers:

  • Do not buy anything lower than a Pentium 4, 2.4GHz computer. Actually that means do not buy any computer that has a lower CPU rating of 300. Even with a decent video card performance on sites like YouTube will be less than desirable.
  • I would only pay $50 for a P4 tower only if I saw it running, it has a 40GB or larger hard drive, and it has at least 512mb of ram.
  • If you happen to get come across a P4, 3.0GHz or higher you can pay a little more for those but nothing over $75 unless it comes with a graphics card of 128mb or higher.
Pentium Duo or Dual Cores:
  • There are a few dual core Pentiums that Intel came out with. There are Pentium D's, Dual Core's and Core 2 Duo's.
  • These are all pretty good processors but don't over pay only because they are dual cores. Always check current CPU prices and system prices on That is where I get all of my current prices on what to pay and what not to pay.
  • Always check the performance of every CPU you plan on buying used or not at
AMD Athlon XP's:
  • These are older processors but don't write them off quite yet. Athlon XP 1800+ and larger are still capable of getting on the internet when using a Linux operating system.
  • I have an Athlon XP 1700+ & 1800+ running with Linux Mint just fine, not the fastest, but definitely capable on the internet.
AMD Athlon 64's:
  • I like the AMD Athlon 64 processors. I have built a 3500 and two 3800 machines and these when combined with a good graphics card are capable of playing 3D games like Nexuiz and Assault Cube.
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core:
  • I have one of these as well, a x2 3800 and it runs as fast as my $1,000 Dell. I built the X2 3800 for about $80 with an ok graphics card. I could use an upgrade there.
AMD Athlon II X3:
  • This is a fast processor, faster than anything my internet connection can throw my way.
  • I have the X3 450 that is rated at 2802, yes that is almost 4 times faster than the fastest P4.
  • I built my X3 system with kick ass graphics card for $220.
In summary I would only go to Craigslist to buy a cheap machine that you plan on upgrading yourself. It is worth it to me to get a nice looking desktop and get a case, usable hard drive, and power supply for $40. Buy yourself a nice CPU motherboard combo and some memory and you could have a really nice desktop for $100.