Whether to Upgrade or Put Your Old Computer for Sale
Will upgrading your computer be better for you, or should you put your computer for sale? Have you considered donation? Image by Alan Bruce via Flickr

It’s bound to happen sooner or later. Your beloved computer has served past its prime and it’s just not performing as efficiently as it once did. Newer software often demands higher equipment specifications, and time has, as it does to us all, worn down your once spry machine into a dusty shell of its former self.

Is it worth it to upgrade some of its obsolete innards, or should you just put an ad on Craigslist that you’ve got a computer for sale? While putting whatever money you’d get from selling the old thing toward the price of a new one, perhaps a tiny bit of your heart regrets casting away an old friend so easily.

There are pros and cons to either option, so let’s try and break them down and help you make this difficult decision: whether to upgrade or place your old computer for sale.

Upgrade Your Computer

If your computer is just not pulling in the right area — like graphics or sound — then it’s a pretty simple task to buy a new graphics or sound card and install it into the right place on your computer’s motherboard. If you’re not technical or computer savvy, this might seem like a daunting task, but you should take heart in knowing that there’s lots of help on the Internet. Take encouragement from the fact that it’s only a smidgin more involved than plugging in a lamp or changing a battery.

If you need more power for your computing operations, then perhaps it’s time for a new processor, which might also require you to upgrade your motherboard, as well. This is more like major surgery for your old computer — which can make it an intimidating upgrade for first-timers — but thanks to the magic of the Internet, there are plenty of videos online that show you what’s involved in the process. Here’s one example from the fine folks at Newegg:

Of course, you could pay someone else to take care of these upgrades for you, but be warned ahead of time that parts and labor will likely eat up any savings you were hoping to hold on to by upgrading your old computer — it may even be comparable to the cost of a brand-new computer!

So what are the pros and cons of upgrading your old computer?


  • You give the trusty old computer that you know and love a longer lease on life.
  • You’ll get that “new computer” feel without having to get used to a whole new system (and the bloatware imposed upon it by the manufacturer).
  • If you perform the upgrade yourself, you’ll learn something and gain a little more confidence in your abilities; perhaps it’ll develop into a fulfilling hobby or even a source of supplemental income.
  • Depending on the magnitude of your upgrade and how much of it you can do yourself, you’ll potentially be saving a significant amount of money.
  • Swapping out parts of a computer rather than disposing of an entire system is more environmentally friendly.


  • If you’re a first-timer, you may experience a consequence-filled sense of anxiety and dread. That’s no fun! (But overcoming this feeling and prevailing in spite of it is fun.)
  • The research involved with making sure that all of your parts will fit together properly can be time consuming.
  • Unlike what happens when part of a pre-assembled computer goes bad and gets replaced by the manufacturer, you’re responsible for the individual parts that you’re upgrading.
  • Paying someone else to do the upgrade for you might be very, very expensive — to the point where buying a whole new computer may have been your most sensible option.

Computer for Sale

Posting your computer for sale may seem like the simplest option, and one that could recoup some of the costs involved with buying a new system to replace it. However, you should be prepared for disappointment if you’re expecting to make a mint on its sale. Nowadays, the market is highly competitive and new computers can be purchased for practically a song.

A local computer reseller will probably give you between 30%-40% of the machine’s true value (keep in mind that it has to turn a profit, too). It may only be interested in buying the old thing for parts or even scrap materials, which is a sad way for your old computer to go out, don’t you think?

Hey, even loyal, war-scarred battleships get melted down when their numbers are up. It’s the way of the world.

Maybe you’ll consider posting your computer for sale on eBay, Craigslist, the local newspaper, or some similar service in hopes that an individual will pay you a little more than a heartless corporation. Maybe this strategy will work to some degree, but, again, you’re really up against a buyer’s market. There’s no shortage of old computers being cycled out for new, and people are hunting for bargains if they’re scoping out the used computer section of a resale service.

Even if you are selling a computer that still has four or five years left before being truly obsolete, only a sucker will give you a price that approaches what could just as easily be better spent on a brand-new system.

Another thing to consider is that, if you put your computer for sale and someone buys it, you’re the one they’re going to call if something goes wrong with it. Even if it’s a problem for which you’re not directly responsible — say it gets damaged during shipping — you risk negative feedback from the buyer if they feel like they’ve been cheated and you’re trying to pass off useless goods at their expense.

You can put as many “system sold as is — seller assumes no liability for damage incurred once shipped” warnings in your ad, but it will make precious little difference if the buyer receives something that simply doesn’t work.


  • A little bit of money from offering your computer for sale is better than the zero dollars you’d get from just throwing the poor old thing in the trash.
  • You’re giving someone — maybe someone who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a computer — a deal. Warm fuzzies feel good, don’t they?
  • If you’re turned off by the research and labor involved with upgrading your computer, then offering your computer for sale solves this problem in one fell swoop.
  • Your replacement computer is going to seem shiny and bright and new in comparison to the old one. Making new friends is fun!


  • You’re saying goodbye to an old friend.
  • You’re not going to get a big return on your investment.
  • The buyer may hold you responsible for faulty parts after a sale’s been finalized.

So should you upgrade your old computer, or offer your old computer for sale? There’s actually another option that some people don’t consider, and that’s donation. Yep! There are schools and organizations and community centers and all sorts of people out there who would be so grateful for the opportunity to tinker around with your old technology, but it’s just not in the budget to go buying it. This is where you can fly in like a supergeek and save the day!