Identifying E-Scrap

This is a supplement to my write up on how to scrap a computer.


How To Scrap High Grade Boards

  • High Grade scrap boards are worth money because of their gold content.
  • Motherboards are the main boards in the computers, and things like PCI boards.
  • PCI boards are the gold fingered cards that are plugged into the motherboards
  • The “gold fingers” in PCIs can be cut off of high grade boards and sold separately
  • Many scrap yards buy high grade boards, but like most types of scrap, people on eBay will definitely pay more then them.
  • If you have more then a small amount of boards, contact a online e-scrap vender.
  • Gold fingers are the gold plated connectors cut off of high grade PCI boards, or RAM
  • They are easy to refine, so they sell for a very nice price.
  • Cut close to the fingers, or else they are not worth much.
How To Scrap RAM
  • RAM is effectively the “buffer” for data as it comes from the hard drive to the CPU.
  • RAM has GOLD (Au) plated connectors. (some old ones have just tin plated connectors)
  • RAM is valuable because of its gold, platinum, and palladium content.
  • CPU are almost always under some type of aluminum heat sink.
  • CPUs have all kinds of scrap gold.
  • Gold is inside the CPU, plated on the fingers on the bottom of the CPU, and is sometimes plated on the top as well.
  • One of the most valuable scrap CPUs on the market are intel’s Pentium Pro Processors, and Intel’s 386/486 CPUs.
  • Every model of CPU varies in price. and when the model was made could also effect the value.
  • Every hard drive is made of milled aluminum with a stainless steel top
  • It has a small high grade board on it.
  • Each has two super strong neodymium magnet inside.
  • Can be sold for 50¢ a pound.

Selling Scrap Heat Sinks

  • Are made of high grade aluminum: often 6061 or 6063.
  • Can often have copper billets, or be made entirely of copper.
  • Are connected to the CPU and other processors (usually).
  • May have small fans attached to them which can be sold for electric motors.


{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark November 10, 2011 at 12:35 am

Whats the best way of cutting off the fingers? I’m thinking a hacksaw would result in pcb-dust, and the hacksaw blades might not last that long? Alternatively breaking them off with pliers wont be tidy.


ScrapMetalJunkie November 10, 2011 at 3:39 am

Check out my description in How To Scrap Gold Fingers.


Rhys September 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Hi Mark,

I study electronic waste for my doctorate, I tear stuff apart, cut it up, digest it in acid etc. The best way to cut the contacts off to avoid dust and get it done easy is with a pair of tin snips. They will cut straight through RAM. Alternativley you can use a guilotine, the kind you use for cutting Aluminium sheet. If this sort of thing is your business then might be worth investing. A good place to look for that kind of stuff is Farnell. Then when you have found what you want see if you can get it off Amazon or someone cheeper. You can always use a dremel or a band saw, but then you are right you have the dust issue, so you need to buy a respirator.



Mealane8 May 22, 2013 at 12:28 am

A tin-snips. However, be VERY careful when using such a tool!
Thanks for the comment!
God bless!


Harry January 10, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I have in the past stripped the copper coils and any alluminum off the boards left the rest with computer frame. I keep the ram and processor until I have enough to sell ebay. Should I be leaving the boards intact with copper and alluminum minus ram and processors or
stripping them? Which produces the best returns? I’ve never sold the boards before will have to find a buyer.


ScrapMetalJunkie January 11, 2012 at 12:36 am

Yes! You will most definitely want to start selling the boards! Hopefully, you have not been throwing old boards away. You will want to keep them all! Including Scrap hard drives, which have high grade boards as well!

I answer all of your questions in my write up: How To Sell Computer Scrap


Todd February 11, 2012 at 3:17 am

Make sure you test your hard drive tops with a magnet. They are usually stainless, but most of them are NOT 304 stainless. If a magnet sticks to the top, they are not worth taking apart. Take the board off and sell them as dirty aluminum.


Mealane8 May 22, 2013 at 12:32 am

“Make sure you test your hard drive tops with a magnet.
They are usually stainless, but most of them are NOT 304 stainless.
If a magnet sticks to the top, they are not worth taking apart.
Take the board off and sell them as dirty aluminum.”
Well, firstly thanks for your comment!
Secondly, the I have seen someone claiming to offer up to 8 cents a piece for those hard-disk platters. (Just so you know.)
Thanks for your time!


Simon February 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi i have 200 pound of Heat Sinks. What do you think is the right price to sell?

Tnx in advance for the answer 😉


ScrapMetalJunkie March 2, 2012 at 8:33 am

dont sell for less than 50¢ per pound. heat sinks are generally made from 6061 or 6063, so they are a better grade of aluminum.


Bill July 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I took my scale ticket and didn’t notice until later that they gave me “old sheet” aluminum for my heat sinks. ??????


Mealane8 May 22, 2013 at 12:34 am

Are they aluminum or copper?
If they are copper, you could probably sell them for about 1.90 a pound.
If they are aluminum, I’d say about 40 cents a pound (maybe more).


Al March 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I have been checking around about heat sinks and cast aluminum. The best price I can get now is .55 to .60 cents/lb. I can get .60/lb for cans. I thought they would pay more then can price if it is a better grade. I will probally, just group it all together as can aluminum. What do you think about this?


ScrapMetalJunkie March 5, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Thanks for the comment Al!

Remember that Heat sinks are made of 6061 and 6063. That is what you should say when calling scrap yards; They pay better prices for 6061 and 6063. Also, cast aluminum is a lower quality aluminum, so it should not be worth as much as cans, which are a high quality aluminum. Additionally, aluminum cans have a higher value because their composition is so standardized, the alloy is very well know, which means buyers hold its value at a slight premium.


James April 9, 2012 at 12:19 am

As general e-Waste advice, if you find an old clicky-style keyboard, keep it and sell it on Ebay as people tend to pay good prices on them (since they’re very nice to type on)


CD June 1, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Is there a place I can submit a photo or two and have feedback as to what kind of processor, motherobard, circuit board, etc. I have? thx.


Justin June 5, 2012 at 2:13 am

Hey guys! I’m wondering how to sort out motherboards? What are the tell-tale signs that determine the grade?

I have retrieved motherboards from everything from computers to satellite receivers to car stereos and I’m not sure how I should sort it.

For the moment, I have computer boards, tv boards and all other boards in seperate bins.

Thanks a lot in advance


HAPPY SCRAPPIE June 15, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I have a couple of questions that I am hoping someone can address;

1. When we are talking about circuit boards, are we addressing ALL types, or just mother boards. I realize only mother boards and the like are the only ones with gold fingers, but is it worth my keeping boards out of TVs, radios DVD players and such?

2. Also, I saw a YouTube video where the guy was pointing out various kinds of components on virtually all circuit boards which contain PMs and he recommended cutting them off and saving them to sell separately. For instance the large, square black gismos “that have two legs. I can’t remember what they are off-hand, but think he said they contain Palladium (or was it beryllium….?) Is it worth stripping off those “black boxes” along with the heat sinks & transformers?

3. Anyway, virtually anything that plugs-in nowadays has Circuit board’s inside. Some dealers here in Cleveland, OH, don’t even take them, and one place was offering at around 20 cents p/p. Does that seem like a fair rate? Another yard even stipulated that they had to “be intact.”


Mealane8 May 22, 2013 at 12:40 am

You likely won’t make much more than 5 cents a pound for these (“low grade”) boards: such as are in TVs.
On low-grade boards–yes, I would “cut off” the heat sinks and transformers, however I am unsure about “those black boxes”.
Yes, 20 cents a pound sounds fine (for low grade boards).
Thanks for your comment!


Darrell July 22, 2012 at 11:47 pm

I was scrapping the other day and came across a bar that was closing . I got 13 tvs a few computers fridges etc, and 2 ATM machines . Any ideas on how to scrap an ATM machine ? Thanks Darrell


Stephen January 13, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Hey Darrell, I’ve been in the ATM business for many years now and have scrapped quite a few ATMs. Most of the scrap value is going to be in steel. There are several high grade boards worth saving though. The main circuit board, the keypad board, and the dispenser board are the most valuable. The main board is usually located in the top of the ATM, but some Tidel ATMs have them in the top of the vault. There’s also a printer board, boards for the screen, and buttons that might surround the screen. Some of the really old ATMs even have hard drives. Make sure you take the lock off the vault door; there’s usually quite a bit of brass in it. Finally, get your magnet and check for stainless around the vault door and inside the vault


Christine October 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Do you happen to have any good references for a breakdown of material % content in a monitor and/or computer? I’m curious about the metals especially, like what % lead, cadmium, mercury, steel components, nickel, gold, etc. I find a lot of articles that say, for example, that the circuit board contains mercury, but I have been unable to find anything that says the % content. I’ve also found charts that lump ferrous and non-ferrous metals together, but I’m more interested in each specific element.

Also, do you have any idea about when barium oxide started to replace lead oxide in CRTs? Like what year?



rachel January 15, 2016 at 6:36 am

i think this is what youre looking for, right?


mrstechnoidiot November 11, 2012 at 11:10 am

Your site has been of enormous help to me as a newcomer to scrapping IT. Thank you, and other contributors, for being there when I needed you.


D Wilkison March 20, 2013 at 3:26 am

Are the tips of the connectors from the inside the slots on motherboards gold? The end that connects to the memory stick is gold, is it gold?


Brent January 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm

those are plated gold. not much,.it would take a ton of those connectors to perhaps get a 1/8 ounce of AU and that might be a stretch.


Robert August 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Recently getting my feet wet into scraping, and during one of my first couple of internet sweeps to become a veritable genius on the subject overnight I came across this site, and this was one of my first few page views, as we have quite a few computers stored up (from all sorts of generations, lol), and this article in particular at the moment is extremely helpful to me, thanks for your work


Brent Christopher August 19, 2013 at 1:06 am

Hello: Thank you for the valuble information. I have been disassembling computers for some time and continue to save all of what you mention above in your information.
My question is about the platters inside a hardrive. I have read from what i consider a good source that the metal inside a platter is either platinum or of the platinum group. Can you verify this? I have taken the time to chisel off everything on the boards and have separated all the differing objects on the board just in case of any precious metal content on any of it. I have bins of the stuff.
As well, I would like to know what each component is. as i understand that some of those barrel objects have either silver or a platinum group on them as well.


jack December 3, 2013 at 11:16 am

was wondering of some one tell me the content of low grade PCB.

does it have precious metals such as (silver, gold , and palladium…..)

if does what the amount of it because i found a website saying it does have less the 50 ppm of gold

hope my question been answered


Joe December 24, 2013 at 1:09 am

How do I tell what’s worth taking off and what to keep whole before scrapping as a whole?


Brent January 30, 2014 at 10:38 pm

keep the motherboards,processing chips,video cards,memory cards, and hard drives.
if you process a lot of computers have plastic barrels/containers to separate and place the other components in such as the power supplies, separate the various metal casings.


Brent January 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

I have been ripping apart computers for at least 8 years. I have searched the web and there is no definite findings as to how much precious metals are in the pcb. I do know that if you save a lot of something with very little in it, that over time of accumulation you might want to check into leaching the metals out yourself. If you want to do this on the hobby level, the company I purchase my lab materials from is Shor International corp. They have saved me from taking my good material to the scrapyard and realizing there really is profit in computer scrapping. You might want to check out on youtube a very profitable computer scrapping company in Germany and watch how the pro’s do it. I ask everyone I meet and know if they have any broken computers in the basement and get all of my scrap free because they want it out of their basement or garage. any other questions feel free to email me.


Joe February 3, 2014 at 3:59 am

What are the best things to save off PCBs to stockpile and sell in bulk please include a picture if you can also when sorting IC chips how exclusive does the process need to be also if image available would appreciate


Teri March 26, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I have scrapped 4 PC’s and have them all ready to go… what do I do with them now? Where do I take them to be sold? I’m in PA


Dean Strong April 7, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Thanks for your in- put on scrapping…..I’m a vet just getting into it… am wondering if you may haveany specific pictures of individual pieces or parts on these computer boards??? Thanks Dean…


Lauren Prueter May 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm

What about tantalum capacitors? Shouldn’t those be included in this article? o.o


Brent June 9, 2014 at 2:37 pm

like i said in earlier posts that i have been scrapping computers for some time. I got a flyer in the mail on it is advertisement for a recycling company who is coming in from out of state and setting up a drop off point. They advertise they will take for free all computers,cellphones and any other computer related equipment. As well, they will take for a fee any televisions,monitors and all other hazardous appliances. They gave their location for collection and by the end of the day they easily collect 1-2 semi trailers full of the items i will pay people for. I have seen these outfits come in and literally steal a resource that i really believe belongs to local recyclers who are starting out in that business and take the loot back to their state and profit. So what I am going to do is go and see if i need a business licence to purchase from people those Items i will pay for. then get permission from the owner to park my pickup truck along the parkway ahead of where their operation is set up a sign Saying I will purchase their old desktop,laptop and cell phones and pay them.


John July 25, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Right on Brent, I’d grab a crew and park right in front of their drop off point!!!!!


John July 25, 2014 at 8:25 pm

What kind of prices are you getting for your E-scrap? I’m in DE?


Brent July 27, 2014 at 4:18 pm

I am holding on to all scrape until the gold prices start climbing..made a couple trips to the scrap yard when gold was peaking,the purchaser must have realised he was paying out too much, but I got 8.00 per pd. be lucky to see 3 bucks now,if that. so I am stockpiling them.


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