Buying new computer parts can be very expensive especially if we’re on a tight budget. As a last resort, we sometimes tend to buy second hand parts which should have a much lower price. However, there are certain risks involved in buying second hand computer parts. The item may have hidden defects, the previous owner may lie about how long it was in his possession, he/she may hide the fact that it’s already a second hand item when it was bought, the owner may have stated a selling price that is questionable, and so on and so forth.
There are still risks even if you know the person who’s selling it. He/she may not know the actual condition of the product. The computer processor is not an exception. Here are some guidelines in buying a second hand computer processor.
The first thing you must check is the physical condition of the processor. Check if there are bent pins. These pins are fragile and if you try to straighten a bent pin, if you apply enough force even how weak it is, it may snap. This will render your processor completely useless. The pins should be aligned in perfect lines. If there’s a slight misalignment from any of the pins, it may have been bent before. Remember, placing a computer processor onto the processor slot of a motherboard requires very little effort to no effort at all. It should fit perfectly. It will be almost impossible or quite difficult to do that if there’s a slight misalignment even on just a single pin. If this happens, do not force it. I suggest that you don’t buy that particular processor.
Another physical sign that you can check is if there are burns on the processor. It can be a sign that the processor was abused. It could have been severely overclocked or was set up incorrectly (i.e. no thermal paste, misaligned or inadequate heat sink and fan or problem with the motherboard where it was previously used.). It may actually work but the processor may not last long so it’s not a good buy. If you’re just using it for testing purposes, then you may go ahead but if you’re planning to use the processor on your main computer, you’re better off buying a new one or a processor that is in better condition.
Now there are times when you won’t see any physical problems with the processor. The best way to see if there are possible internal problems is to test it. Try to reboot the computer a few times. If there’s a problem with the processor, you may hear beeps from your motherboard or your system won’t boot up at all even at the BIOS level. This means that you’ll only get a blank screen when you power on your computer.
Make sure you know the specifications of the processor such as its clock speed, bus speed and ideal multiplier, die size, model number, serial number and general architecture. The best source of information is to go to the manufacturer’s website. If you are planning to buy an Intel processor, go to www.intel.com. For AMD processors, go to www.amd.com. Once you have all the information, test the processor. Your BIOS and operating system should be able to tell you basic information about the processor that it’s using. If it doesn’t match the specifications from the manufacturer’s website, it should raise a red flag.
Let’s say you are buying a second hand Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor. Its rated clock speed should be at 2.4GHz. If your BIOS says otherwise or your Operating System shows you a much lower clock speed (or better yet if it fluctuates considerably like around 500 or so MHz), the processor may not be in good condition. Also, if the name of the processor itself is incorrect, your motherboard must be having a very hard time recognizing the processor.
Let’s say you tested it and it worked perfectly, there is still a possibility that it may get busted soon. So make sure that you ask for a personal warranty to test it for about a week or so. If there’s any problem, you should be able to return the processor and get your money back. It’s much better if it still has shop or manufacturer warranty.
And of course, make sure that the processor you are buying is compatible with your motherboard. It would be a major blunder since you won’t be able to use it. Most likely, you won’t even be able to place it into the processor slot on the motherboard. So, check your motherboard’s manual just to make sure it is supported. Don’t forget to ensure that you have a heat sink, fan and thermal paste for the processor.
There you have it. Scrutinizing the condition of a second hand processor that you plan to buy should go a long way. You may save money by buying it at a cheaper price but if you acquired a bad processor, you will most likely end up losing more money instead. Ask computer experts to assist you (a relative, friend, colleague, etc.) when buying second hand processors as well as other computer parts. I’ve dealt with people who sold bad processors in the past and I had to learn the hard way.