Buying A Used Processor? Keep These Points In Mind

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Is Buying A Used Processor A Good Choice In 2024?

Story Highlight
  • Before changing the CPU, the first step is to keep compatibility between the motherboard and CPU cooler in mind.
  • A quick yet thorough glance at the CPU can help find bent pins, scratch marks, or discoloration.
  • The performance and thermals should be verified through testing on the spot before making the purchase.

As a budget-conscious gamer, I always try to save money when I decide to upgrade my PC without sacrificing the performance too much. That’s where purchasing used PC components comes into play. Specifically, I prefer buying a used processor to reduce bottlenecks while also improving my productivity output. However, diving into the world of used PC components requires careful consideration. Let me explain.

Assessing Compatibility With Your Motherboard

CPU GenerationSocketChipset Series Support
Intel 14th-GenLGA 1700Z790, B760, H770, H610, B660, H670, Q670, W680, Z690
Intel 13th-GenLGA 1700Z790, B760, H770, H610, B660, H670, Q670, W680, Z690
Intel 12th-GenLGA 1700Z790, B760, H770, H610, B660, H670, Q670, W680, Z690
AMD Ryzen 70-SeriesAM5X670, X670E, B650, B650E
AMD Ryzen 50-SeriesAM4X570, B550, A520, X470, B450, X370, B350, A320
AMD Ryzen 30-SeriesAM4X570, B550, A520, X470, B450, X370, B350, A320

The first thing you need to consider is how future-proof your motherboard is before looking for a processor. No matter how good a deal is, the purchase is essentially worthless if my motherboard isn’t compatible with the CPU. Therefore, I don’t recommend jumping platforms, especially if you’re considering buying a used processor.

On the other hand, for newer CPUs, such as the 12th gen CPUs, you can directly upgrade to a 14th-gen counterpart without changing the motherboard. The same can be said for AMD’s AM4 processors.

However, if you’re looking to stay in the limelight with the latest CPUs, you won’t be able to do so if you’re on an AM4 platform and want to upgrade to an AM5 CPU due to the socket difference.

Checking For Signs Of Wear And Tear

Processor
Bent processor pins [Image from Tech4Gamers]Z
Secondly, I recommend checking the CPU for signs of damage or extensive usage. This can be a difficult step to achieve, especially if you’re buying a used processor online from a website such as eBay or Newegg. However, if you’re buying in person, you shouldn’t have any problems with taking the CPU in your hands and giving it a thorough scan.

The most important things I recommend looking at are the pins at the bottom, particularly for LGA CPUs, and being on the lookout for scratches or other signs of wear and tear on the top of the CPU. In case the CPU has bent pins or one (or more) pins are missing, you should opt out of the deal and look for another processor.

I have also experienced seeing a CPU that had discoloration at the top. It turns out the original owner tried cleaning the CPU with some isopropyl alcohol when they were scrubbing off the old thermal paste, which caused the color change. So, these points should be taken into account as well.

Verifying The Performance

Although it may sound conceited, I want the most performance I can get from my purchases. Therefore, I always verify the CPU’s performance before purchasing. Checking the performance doesn’t only help me see whether there are any underlying issues with the CPU. Still, it also allows me to identify any thermal issues the processor may have.

There are many ways of checking, such as looking for the productivity performance of a CPU on YouTube or looking through the world rankings of the said CPU on Cinebench R23, Geekbench, and other software that you may want to test out. Similarly, checking the CPU’s gaming performance and temperatures is essential.

Debunking a few myths, the performance difference between a new and old CPU isn’t great. That is if it hasn’t been worn down due to excessive overclocking and insufficient cooling methods. Here’s a handy comparison to prove my point:

YouTube video

Is The CPU Heating Up?

Another major issue that needs to be addressed when buying a used processor is to measure its thermals. As I explained above, during the performance testing, simply take note of the CPU’s temperatures. A few factors may affect the CPU’s cooling performance, but other than that, if you’re meeting a certain threshold, you shouldn’t face any problems.

To avoid thermal throttling problems, you can install higher RPM case fans to improve the PC case’s airflow. Otherwise, you can always use the CPU without overclocking it and keeping the stock settings at all times.

The Long Run With A Used Processor

A CPU is one of the longest-running PC components, so unless you plan on using a second-hand processor for half a decade, you won’t have any issues using it in the long run. Therefore, as long as you follow the tips I mentioned, you can get the best deals for your already-built PC without any bottlenecking, thermal throttling, or performance issues.

Understand your personal usage requirements and how well a new CPU will fit in your PC without needing any additional upgrades. Once that’s done, you’re all good to buy a used processor!

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