How To Scrap Apart A Computer

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This post describes the ways one can scrap a computer to make the MOST MONEY! Computers are found in bulk at school actions, business closings, and even on Craigslist for free. This explains how to scrap the computer, check here for more info on how to scrap the monitors! When scrapping computers, VOLUME is very important. Before selling any of the gold-bearing components, wait until you have accumulated over 5-10 pounds of the stuff. This will assure you have interested buyers and therefore a very good price when selling on Ebay/to vendors.

Firstly, before scrapping a computer, make sure it is actually worthless. The truth is, any working component of a computer is worth more as a used part than as scrap. With that being said, lets look at the scrap value…

The inside of a computer is full of different types of materials, including, copper, aluminum, gold, silver, palladium, and all types of wire and transformers. Computers are broken apart into several different components:

  • The Case: This is the outside of the computer, this is almost exclusively made of steel. (Older models, and some newer server models consist of aluminum)
  • Disk Drives: including DVD/CD/Floppy disk players, each of which has a high grade board.
  • Hard Drives: Milled aluminum, stainless steel, and high grade board.
  • Motherboards: The main circuit board that hold the CPU, the RAM and the PCIs.
  • CPUs: This is the most gold concentrated part of most computers.
  • RAM: These are the “sticks” that can be pulled from the motherboard. Most have gold fingers but older models have tin fingers.
  • PCIs: These are the “mini boards” that can get pulled out of the motherboard. These also have gold fingers.
  • Power Supply: This is the box that has a big chunk of wire coming out of it.
For more info on identifying electronic scrap check out Identifying E-Scrap.

To pull these different components out of the computer, you first open  he side of the computer case. This is done by unscrewing some screws or pulling in the right places. Newer model computers are usually very easy to get into, and the older they are, the harder it is to open up. However, it is never harder than pulling out a few screws.

The first thing I do to a computer when scrapping it is cut out all the wires.

Once I have the wires cleaned out, I will pull out the CPU and the RAM, both of which appear below. The CPU is almost alway covered with a heat sink, also pictured below. The CPU has a little throw switch lever that needs to be UP to allow it to come out, as well as a strap that holds it to the heat sink. The RAM is usually secured with little plastic tabs on their ends.


How To Remove a CPU from a motherboard









The next thing I pull out of the computer is the PCIs. These can usually just get ripped right out of the motherboard. If I just give it a nice strong pull, the whole thing will get ripped out in one go. If that doesn’t work for you, there is a single screw holding it against the case that you need to take out.

PCI boards have gold fingers. The gold fingers are cut off and sold separately for a premium!  A single PCI, aka daughterboard, is pictured below along with some gold fingers:







The next thing I pull from the computer is usually the Motherboard, aka the big board screwed into the case. To liberate the motherboard, grab a trusty screw driver or power drill and take out the screws. Its pretty simple. A motherboard appears below:

Now that the motherboard is out, I usually pull out the Hard Drive and the disk drives. A hard drive appears below. There is a very small board on the bottom of all the disk drives that can be sold along with the PCIs and the motherboards. For more info on the hard drives, check out my page on How To Scrap A Hard Drive

But How Do You Sell These Components?

Everything you separated COULD be sold to a scrap yard. Hard drives, steel computer cases, and disk drives, can all be sold to a scrap yard.

But the CPUs, RAM, Motherboards, PCIs, Gold Fingers, and other gold-bearing components should all get sold online!

Be aware! Don’t take chances with online vendors! Do your research! If things don’t look good, stick with Ebay! It will always get you better prices then a scrap yard! At the very least, eBay auction bidders will undoubtedly pay you more than a scrap yard.

To sell these gold components, you will need to be patient. The goal is to hold onto everything you have, until you get a large enough quantity/volume to sell.

Sell whatever you have once you are comfortable doing so. But you need to wait until you have the right quantity before selling.

There are specialty yards that only buy and sell scrap gold components. These companies will only pay you the big bucks when you buy and sell in bulk. If you come into contact with people who offer to buy your E-scrap, be cautious. Many are looking to take advantage of small fish.

Now, your scrap should generally get grouped into separate categories of E-Scrap. Remember, the more you have, the better prices you will receive. You can sell these components in four separate lots, and do not mix the separate categories (even if it seems easier) as you will get paid much less.  The four components are:

  • Gold Fingers
  • PCI boards and Motherboards
  • CPUs (worth many different prices depending on what type they are)
  • RAM
There are may different types of computer scrap, and these four categories don’t do them justice. Talk to the e-scrap buyers out there to get their prices because, like a scrap yard, each buyer is different. The value will always depend on how much you have, who you are selling to, and how far away they are.
Please comment with any questions you have!

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