What's a fair price for used computer equipment between friends?
September 29, 2006 8:02 AM   Subscribe

What is a fair price on an older, used computer?

My friend has a Gateway computer purchased around 2000, running Win98ME gathering dust in her basement. In 2000, it was mid-range, nothing special. She said she'd sell it to me but doesn't know what to ask for it. I'm more than happy to give her some cash for it, but am leery of setting a price, so as not to take advantage. I know it's not worth much, and I'm just going to wipe it and have a machine for playing around with Linux. How much should she sell it to me for?
posted by Roger Dodger to Computers & Internet (23 answers total)
posted by null terminated at 8:08 AM on September 29, 2006

What are the specs? I don't think I'm the only person that will suggest a computer from the year 2000 is pretty much worth nothing. I wouldn't pay more than 50 bucks for something that old.

Canada Computers sells this budget computer for 370 dollars:
* Intel Pentium D 805 Dual Core Processor
* 512MB DDR400
* 160GB Hard Drive
* 16X DVD-Writer
* AGP 8X Slot
* Integrated Video, Audio, and LAN
posted by chunking express at 8:09 AM on September 29, 2006

I got a computer like that for free. I didn't know the person giving it away so it wasn't meant as a favour. The person just didn't want to be bothered throwing it away and it was easier for them to have me come pick it up.

What I'm saying is I don't think it's worth a lot. Offer a nice bottle of wine for it.

Or go see what similar computers go for at eBay.
posted by sveskemus at 8:10 AM on September 29, 2006

I'd offer to take it off her hands for $20 (or $50 if you are feeling generous), considering you can buy a new computer for about $200. It's just taking up space, and if she went through the hassle of putting it on craigslist or in the classifieds, she would be unlikely to get much more.
posted by mikepop at 8:12 AM on September 29, 2006

A machine that old, particularly from Gateway, hardly a speed-demon outfit, will be essentially worthless. You'll have to buy a bunch of RAM to make it useful, but RAM from that era is often very expensive.

I can't say for sure without actual specs, but I think you're wasting your time with it. A brand-new, solid machine, much MUCH faster than that Gateway, will be like $400.

Linux will almost certainly run on it, but it's gotten all bloaty and stuff too, and needs tons of RAM to run either KDE or GNOME well. It's not really any better than Windows in that regard. It once was, but that was because the programmers hadn't written that much code for it yet.

I think you'll probably just get a bad feeling about Linux from a machine that old. Instead, use one of the LiveCDs and tinker around on a modern machine. It's not as fast as a hard drive install, but it's free and doesn't change your computer in any way.
posted by Malor at 8:13 AM on September 29, 2006

$0. If anything, you re doing her a favor. Old computers are actually kind of hard to get rid of. Even most thrift stores won't take them anymore.

but a nice bottle of wine, or other gift would be cool ...
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:14 AM on September 29, 2006

The market depreciation on personal computers is near-100% in about 4 years.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:20 AM on September 29, 2006

posted by mkultra at 8:21 AM on September 29, 2006

I take a lot of old computers off people's hands. They give them to me for free. That said, if you really do want the computer, $50 sounds fair for something of this vintage. It's not worthless as some people have suggested here — there's plenty you can do with it, even if you aren't running Linux. My main PC is a 300mhz Celeron from 1998. It runs just fine. But I wouldn't try to charge anyone money for it.

I wouldn't pay more than $50 for something like this.
posted by jdroth at 8:21 AM on September 29, 2006

I spent a few weeks in a city far from home and there was no computer at the house I was housesitting (I thought there would be. There was a cable modem but the owner only had a laptop which she took). I wound up buying a used W98 computer from a dealer for $100. I'm sure I could have done better with more effort, but the dealer put a fresh install of W98 on the disk, so I was assured the system didn't start out corrupted.

That computer ran firefox and openoffice fine for me.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:31 AM on September 29, 2006

You'd probably be better off saving the money and getting VMWare or something. Or even a second hard drive to install Linux on.
posted by wackybrit at 8:49 AM on September 29, 2006

I just sold an old Celeron from before that time period at a yard sale for $10, monitor included.
posted by jefeweiss at 9:02 AM on September 29, 2006

Best answer: Don't pay what the hardware is worth (practically $0) but pay what the usage of the hardware is worth to you. (as has been suggested, $50. Would you pay that for what you want to accomplish?)
posted by blue_beetle at 9:02 AM on September 29, 2006

When I worked there, the Grand Rapids Public Library was selling some of their old computers for between $5 and $20.
posted by dagnyscott at 9:04 AM on September 29, 2006

Rather than cash, I'd do what others have suggested and barter something for it, like the aforementioned bottle of wine.

She may view the $10 that it's truly worth to be somewhat insulting, but she'd happily accept a couple of cases of soda pop or something for it.
posted by unixrat at 9:35 AM on September 29, 2006

Really, 6 years old?

The price should be negative $50. You're doing her a favor by taking it off her hands.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 9:39 AM on September 29, 2006

Having a dedicated machine to putz around with Linux on is a great idea. VMWare has its own ... issues but nothing compares to a bare-metal install.

I'd buy a lunch or something or do a favor.
posted by Skorgu at 9:43 AM on September 29, 2006

I run a 2TB home media server using Windows 2003 that also hosts quite a busy web dyndns website and use it to remote desktop in form anywhere and run Office 2003 within a session that I know I can resume from anywhere that has a web connection. Most of the hardware is 1998-2000 vintage. It's not a speed demon, but it is rock solid.

As others have pointed out, old hardware is worth something to you only if you can use it for something that is useful to you. The power consumption also has to be taken into account. Running old hardware with lower power needs can save hundreds of dollars over several years relative to a huge rig lighting up lots of unnecessary transistors.

Personally, I get a kick when I reboot "the Beast" and all the copyright dates on the BIOS, GFX, and sound card are from mid to late 90s. Brand new we're retro.
posted by meehawl at 10:25 AM on September 29, 2006

Xubuntu would be my Linux distro of choice for a machine of that vintage. If it's got 128MB RAM or more, it should run very sweetly.
posted by flabdablet at 11:51 AM on September 29, 2006

Not more than $100 for that vintage. Probably much less. At this point, you're saving her money and hassle by taking it, since she won't have to take it to a dump that takes CRTs/electronics and pay for disposal there.
posted by Alterscape at 12:28 PM on September 29, 2006

$10-20. Or, more realistically, free.

It's true that she could supposedly "get more" if she donated it to charity, got the receipt, and then went through all the bullshit to actually *get* it deducted, but people put stuff of that age out on the street all the time.
posted by fishfucker at 1:54 PM on September 29, 2006

See, it's only worth $20, max. However, if she doesn't know this, she probably will be insulted when you offer $20, saying something like, "But I paid $2000 when I bought it."

There's a PC like the one you described sitting out by the trash at my house right now, and it's been there for weeks.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 5:10 PM on September 29, 2006

Response by poster: Well, I sent my friend the link to this page and told her to pick out her favorite answer. She chose blue_beetle's. I know the computer isn't worth $50, but I'd have to pay $350 minimum for a new machine. I don't know the exact specs, but I helped her pick it out when she bought it, so it must be decent. Plus, she does have a lot of music and photos that she'll have to transfer now, so that's some work for her.

And I must add that she has been one of the most generous people I know when it comes to gift giving and was awesome during my engagement/wedding. So, 50 bucks it is. We'll both feel good about it.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:34 PM on September 29, 2006

« Older Job Identity Crisis!   |   Calling all roof rack ninjas. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.