Gaming Rig Sustainability – New or Second-Hand?

My gaming rig is 10 years old, and I'm in dire need of a replacement. But how much should I care about gaming rig sustainability?

Every time I buy a new computer, I have to learn everything about hardware and the state of various operating systems all over again. In a series of posts, I’ll got through some of the important things to consider when buying a gaming rig:

  1. Operating system: Windows or Linux?
  2. CPU: Intel or AMD?
  3. Graphics Card: Nvidia or AMD?
  4. Form factor: Laptop or desktop?
  5. Tinkering factor: Parts or pre-assembled?
  6. Sustainability: New or second-hand?
  7. Conclusion: So what’s the ultimate gaming rig setup, then!?

I’ve decided on this specific order of things because decisions taken on the top of the list might limit the available choices later.

This sixth post is about how much I should care about gaming rig sustainability. Should I purchase everything brand new, or is second-hand the way to go?

Downhill From Here

All nerds like new and shiny hardware. Opening a box and getting that first sniff of pristine hardware is great. Slowly peeling off that plastic cover on a slick LED screen is better than sliced bread. Brand new hardware also comes with a warranty, which is very convenient if it breaks down.

But as we all most of us have realized by now, the world is going to hell in a handbasket. We’re like a huge swarm of locust, devouring everything we come across without a single thought of the consequences. One way to postpone humanity’s impending doom1 is to stop buying shit we don’t need. A gaming rig clearly fits very well in the “shit we don’t need” category, but it looks like I’m getting one anyway. I can, however, do it in a way that minimizes the environmental impact.

One approach would be to purchase locally produced hardware. But since I don’t live in Shenzhen, none of the hardware I need is produced locally. Every piece of it have probably been several times around the world before I get my hands on the hardware.

Another option is to purchase hardware for my gaming rig from manufactures that claim they are environmentally friendly, carbon neutral, or similar. But none of them do that2.

Finn Finn Finn

This brings us to the second-hand hardware market. If I don’t need the latest and greatest hardware - and I don’t - there’s a lot of nice hardware available on second-hand websites. By purchasing used hardware, I can save both money and the environment. It’s a win-win for everybody.

The Norwegian go-to classifieds market is Their computer hardware and desktop categories currently have over 15 000 items for sale. 35 of the items, including CPUs, graphics cards, and computers, are in my immediate area. I’m pretty sure I’ll find something useful there.

But purchasing every piece of hardware from second-hand websites isn’t necessarily that future proof in terms of sustainability. A second-hand motherboard, for instance, probably won’t support emerging hardware standards, like PCIe 4.0. This will limit the longevity of the motherboard since I have to replace it if I want to upgrade to a PCIe 4.0 graphics card one day. A motherboard upgrade often brings with it other hardware upgrades as well, for instance RAM chips.

The bottom line is that I will try to primarily purchase second-hand hardware, but be smart about it. If it’s more sustainable to buy a new piece of hardware, I’ll do that instead.

I can start by looking at the chassis for my old gaming rig and see if it can be reused. Fingers crossed!

  1. Yes, that got dark quickly. ↩︎

  2. It’s almost like they don’t give a crap. Because their customers don’t give a crap. ↩︎


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