Marco’s Musings: Secondhand PC Gaming Could Trump Consoles

PC gaming is expensive, of that there is no doubt. We have a GPU — the monstrous Titan Z which was released by Nvidia — which costs as much as all the previous six console prices combined, from the Wii up to the PS4.

But I want to argue that it doesn’t need to be this way; you don’t have to scrounge your last cent out of that tattered rag of a wallet to pay for a new GPU every year, which some feel is akin to your Master Race Membership fee. No dear child, there is a better way to enjoy the likes of PC gaming without having to sell your house, car or body. The solution is through the secondhand marketplace and the affordable prices of PC hardware you can find.

Funny, we often hear of the secondhand console game market and how it matters immensely to console gamers, yet we don’t really hear of a very important part of PC gaming (at least for me and a community of others) is the secondhand PC market.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking: “Well I can also buy secondhand consoles on the cheap!”

Right you are dear boy!

However, this train of logic leads on to another related issue which most people also find worrying about the secondhand market: “What happens if the goods break? what warranty will I have?”

Now it gets interesting.

The only next gen console we have, the PlayStation 4, landed here in December and went on sale for around R6300. The standard warranty is 1 year from the date of purchase. You can extend the warranty for an extra 24 months on top of the 12 already given for an extra $50, which I assume will be around R500-R600 here.

Now the secondhand market for PC hardware has something that consoles do not really have (unless you pay for it) and that is longer warranties.

Currently about 70% of my entire PC is secondhand, i.e. I am not the first owner of the parts. I happen to participate in quite a thriving online community called Carbonite where buying and selling PC parts is an integral part of the cultural make up of the site and the members. It’s not the formal affair of BidorBuy or OLX or the scam plagued mess that is Gumtree; it’s more informal and puts the impetus on yourself to trade smartly and openly with members or do face to face deals. The site pushes for as much communication between members and does not try to hide behind keeping communication only through the site’s own infrastructure (like BidorBuy). It is also free to use, with no “percentage” going to keep it running.

Within the secondhand market I also am keenly aware that warranty transferring is somewhat meaningless if it is not local or easily redeemed. This is why it is necessary to do one’s research and planning for possible worst case scenarios. Most of the local big suppliers such as Pinnacle or Corex, who bring in popular brands like MSI and ASUS, use a serial number based warranty check, so you can be assured that warranty is easily transferable provided you have the serial number and have not tampered with the product.

To illuminate the benefits of this system, I will draw from my own personal experience. Last year I bought a broken MSI 6850 on the cheap as the owner was not bothered with waiting for warranty support. I bought the card and went to my local Pinnacle suppler here in Durban and in two weeks time I had a new MSI 7770 card (no stock of the EOL 6850). All they needed was the serial number and to see that the product was not tampered with, like removing the heatsink or accidental damage by the user.

A standard in the GPU space is a 2 year warranty on the “lesser” brands like PowerColour and Sapphire, with brands like Gigabyte, ASUS and MSI having 3 years of glorious warranty. With processors the standard is 3 years. Motherboards from MSI, Gigabyte and ASUS all carry a healthy 3 year warranty as well. With RAM some offer lifetime warranties, like Corsair (it is limited, but still not bad at all). The only thing that has the least amount of warranty is a chassis, which is usually 1 year (seriously, what could go wrong with a chassis?).

Essentially what I am arguing is that you can buy something that is 2 years old, such as a still-relevant Intel Quad Core i7 3470, with 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a 2 year old motherboard and a 2 year old ASUS 680GTX and still have the same warranty as a PS4. Or you could take advantage of the Cryptocurrency AMD GPU crash and buy a 6 month old Gigabyte R9 280x for R2500 (these were retailing new for R5000 6 months ago). Arguably the performance of the 680GTX or R9 280x may not have the puff for highest Ultra settings in modern games, but they will mince through those same games with more tame settings and similar graphical grunt as modern day consoles — at full 1080p and 60FPS.

To put my money where my mouth is I will try and build a gaming PC with as small a budget as I can in the limited amount of time I dedicate to doing articles, sourcing my parts from Carbonite. Now take heed, these deals may or may not be concluded and you most likely won’t get the same deals if you ever start looking, but Carbonite does stay quite ahead of the curve when it comes to secondhand prices and if you are patient enough some epic specials can be had. So, let the journey of secondhand PC gaming begin!

  • Motherboard: R1250 — Gigabyte Z77 – Over a year warranty
  • CPU: R1700 — Intel Core i5 3470 – 2 year warranty
  • Graphics card: R2500 — R9 280x – 2.5 year Warranty
  • RAM: R999 — Corsair Vengeance Blue 2x4GB – bought this year, lifetime warranty
  • PSU: R850 — Corsair CS 750 (a bit overkill, but will do the job fine) – 2 years 7 month warranty remaining
  • Chassis: R500 — Carbide 500R – no warranty (but it’s a chassis, come on!)
  • HDD: R450 — Seagate HDD – new, but warranty not definite

The total for this remarkable PC would be R 8249- all with warranty on most of the parts for at least a year- except for the HDD which is not clear. Not only that, if a part does break out of warranty, you wont have to have the whole unit replaced- unlike an out of warranty PS4.

To put it in better perspective, I could buy two PlayStation 4 consoles — one now and one next year July — and both would run out of warranty before some of the components in this secondhand PC. Not too shabby for a PC capable of playing most modern games today at decent-to-high settings, and even some older ones at Ultra settings.

I do realise the price is a bit north of a PlayStation 4, but you can arguably get a cheaper chassis and definitely a cheaper PSU — the point is that the secondhand market place is thriving with great deals of older, but still quick, PC tech. All it requires is having to put in the effort to search for a good deal and you could save quite a bit of cash in the process of getting a pretty decent “last summer” high end gaming PC.

The next time someone says PC gaming is too expensive, open up in your browser and tell them they are just not looking at it the right way or in the right places.

  • Bianca

    Ooorr, I can enter ALL the competitions and try and win parts. Not that it actually happens, but a girl can dream.

    • CodeDisQus

      Find these dudes on twitter and FB andenter every competition they have, you probably won’t win, but if you do, You’ll win THAT!!

    • Bianca

      I already have a Gaming Tribe account :P they seriously have THEE BEST competitions

    • CodeDisQus

      The thought of winning one of those PCs is crazy, I’ll be honest, I often check my email IMMEDIATELY after the FB announcement says that they’ve chosen a winner :P

  • CodeDisQus

    Thanks a lot for this article! I’ve been meaning to find PC parts and the normal OLX, Bidorbuy and gumtree have sweet bugger all (People are selling “gaming pcs” with preposterous parts) Keen to see what I can get there! Thanks again!

  • NeoN

    I haven’t heard of Carbonite before, thanks for the heads up. This will come in great help if I’m tempted to get a new GPU in December.

    In the past, I usually gave my old hardware away to my friends / cousins who might need an upgrade – thus never selling my 2nd hand components. Since I’ve now stepped up my rig to a more hardcore gaming one, I don’t think I can keep doing that, thus this is perfect for keeping upto date with hardware. :)

    • Marco Bozza

      Let me know if you do, I can help you out on Carbonite if you ever intend using is (which I highly recommend)

      Selling PC hardware is the next topic of my Opinion column :)

    • NeoN

      Sweet, appreciated dude. Really looking forward to your next column then.

  • Wayne Jacobs

    Great read, helped me out a bit