Help me sell my computer!
March 22, 2014 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to sell my desktop computer. I built it in 2011, with intermittent upgrades. It was fairly powerful at the time, as I used it as an engineering student. Specs are below. I have a few questions, never having done this before. I need help setting a price, setting up the OS for sale, and safely deleting my data

1) What's a fair asking price? I was going to list it on ebay with a buy it now of $1200 and bidding starting at $800. Is that too much?
2) It has Windows 8 on it and I'd like to sell it like that (Also office, I still have the disk). How do I set it up like a manufacturer so when they get it, they set it up as a new user, but it still has the drivers for the graphics card and such?
3) What's the best way to wipe both hard drives clear of my data? I know it can be recovered after regular deletion.

Motherboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 - AM3 - AMD 880G - DDR3 - USB 3.0 SATA 6 Gb/s - ATX Motherboard
Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 640 Propus 3.0 GHz 4x512 KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail ADX640WFGMBOX
RAM: G.SKILL 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1333MHz CAS 9 1.5v
SSD (1 year old): OCZ Technology Vertex Plus 120GB 2.5" SATA II Solid State Drive (SSD)
HDD: Samsung 1 TB Spinpoint 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.5 inch Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive HD103SJ
Graphics Card: Sapphire Radeon HD5770 FleX 1 GB DDR5 2DVI/HDMI/DisplayPort PCI-Express Video Card 100283FLEX
WiFi Card: TP-Link TL-WN951N 300Mbps Wireless N PCI Adapter
Case: Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External 3 X 5.25; Internal 6 X 3.5 2*Usb2.0
posted by nickhb to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you aren't including a monitor, I would consider $500 or less to be a realistic listing price for Craigslist. Your hardware is [mostly] three years old, and nearly everyone spends their money on laptops these days.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:02 PM on March 22, 2014

A 3 year old PC has essentially no resale value. If you set the floor to $800 you won't get any bids.

Computer hardware depreciates at an appalling rate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:05 PM on March 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

Poor CPU, slower RAM, entry level gaming video card of yesteryear, and lousy brand of SSD known for high failure rates add up to a $300 sale price at most.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:06 PM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Looking at eBay prices for used stuff, you've got less than $400 worth of hardware there if you were to part it out. I'm not very knowledgeable about this market, but my guess is it's worth even less as a whole because, like a couch covered in your very favorite upholstery, the combination was chosen to suit you, not any particular potential secondary buyer.
posted by jon1270 at 7:18 PM on March 22, 2014

One of the things you will notice is that several people that list their products on Craigslist or eBay have really unrealistic expectations of what their old PCs are worth. To set a price, look around at what similar products are selling for to get a sense of the competition (for Craigslist, that is in your city). Also, look at what a new PC (or components in your case) cost now for the same speeds and feeds. A buyer will value the system based on the trade offs they'd make buying you're old stuff, versus buying new stuff that have warranties.

I think you'll be super lucky to get $500 and may have to settle for less. You can try doing the minimum bid at a higher price but it might not sell. You can start high and re-list it at lower prices until you get someone to nibble.

In answering your question about wiping the disks and setting it up for the new buyer. It has been a while, but what I did was boot to an external disk and from there use a utility to zero out the drives on the system. Then, reinstall the OS and during the setup you set up the user account as Admin with admin rights and the simple password 'admin' and put that on a post-it you give the the new owner. You can let Windows update do its thing and make sure the OS is still authenticated but after that pretty much shut it down and get the hardware ready to give to the buyer. The buyer can create a user account and/or change the admin account's password to something stronger.
posted by birdherder at 8:01 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Like the other posters I don't think you're going to get nearly as much of the value out of it as you hope. Computer hardware is commoditized and depreciates quickly.

What's the best way to wipe both hard drives clear of my data? I know it can be recovered after regular deletion.

You can use a linux boot disc or thumbdrive with shred to overwrite all the data on your drive (repeatedly, with random data, making recovery much harder). This will obviously obliterate your OS install as well, so may be a suboptimal solution, but I don't think you can selectively nuke only part of the filesystem.
posted by axiom at 8:05 PM on March 22, 2014

Wayy too much. I'd consider selling the parts individually, as then you'll expand your market to people who are looking to plug a gap in their build rather than wanting a fairly outdated system.

Be aware that OCZ SSDs have a bad reputation for reliability and that CPU is definitively bad in a world with the intel i5 4570.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:38 PM on March 22, 2014

Besides looking at the prices of new systems, for more data there are also "refurbished" ones that show up even in places like the Walmart web site now.
posted by XMLicious at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2014

Completely unreasonable pricing, sorry. A brand new base level iMac that would beat the pants off that setup for benchmarks at $1299. And that's an all in one 21 inch monitor.

I probably wouldn't pay any more than $300 for a three year old system, and even that is a big stretch. There is no warranty, and any individual hardware failure in that setup is at least another $100.

Hard drives are finicky after 3 years, especially a SSD with a bad rep. Sorry.
posted by shinynewnick at 9:49 PM on March 22, 2014

I don't know why my answer was deleted, but DBAN is what you want to wipe your hard rive and reinstall Windows. It's highly effective and easy to use.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:13 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

DBAN is best for wiping hard drives, Partition Magic is best for wiping SSD drives. I've read that SSDs can't be wiped as securely using DBAN or anything that overwrites as the SSD drive will remap writes and you may not be writing the blocks that you think you are due to TRIM technologies. Also drives overprovision so you may not get a clean wipe there as well.
posted by chuckleb at 11:06 PM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

To set a price, look around at what similar products are selling for to get a sense of the competition (for Craigslist, that is in your city).

Worth mentioning that it's easy to deceive yourself about likely prices by looking casually at Craigslist listings. Things that are priced competitively sell quickly and then the ads get taken down, whereas things that are overpriced do not sell and the ads stay up for several weeks. The result is that the overewhelming majority of items visible on Craigslist at any given time are overpriced.
posted by jon1270 at 1:39 AM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Part it out. Check ebay's "completed listings" to get realistic selling prices. If you have a laptop without an SSD, stick it in there.
posted by alexei at 1:57 AM on March 23, 2014

The problem you face here is that people who care about detailed hardware specs won't want that hardware, and people who don't care about specs won't pay that price. Desktops are rapidly declining in popularity for home use, and the longer you wait to get rid of yours, the less likely you are to make any money from it. You're also in a market where companies will donate 2011 desktop machines to Goodwill because it's easier to take a tax deduction than sell them on. So yeah, $300ish.

You could probably sell some of the parts separately to upgraders or people looking to replace a broken component with a contemporary equivalent if you're willing to put the time and effort into a handful of listings.
posted by holgate at 7:53 AM on March 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm probably your market for that machine. I have an Athlon-based desktop that I'd like to upgrade, but it's DDR2, which makes RAM expensive, so I'll probably have to do MB/CPU/RAM all at once.

Yours would be attractive as that replacement, but no way would I pay over $300 for it.
posted by chazlarson at 8:07 PM on March 23, 2014

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