Tips and Advice for Buying Used PC Desktops and All-in-Ones

Like if this guide is helpful
Tips and Advice for Buying Used PC Desktops and All-in-Ones

In today's world many people find themselves buying more than one computer, particularly for the home. One of the easiest ways to do that is by buying a used PC desktop or all-in-one computer. These computers are often available for an excellent price and and make a great first computer for someone just getting into computing or a second computer for the family. They are not as easily moved around as a laptop, but for a computer that is being used in one place all the time, that is hardly a problem. In fact it can be a major advantage in that it allows various accessories to be set up permanently without worrying about the need to disconnect and reconnect them. Desktops and all-in-ones often have larger screens than laptops, as well, which can be another benefit as it makes everything much easier to see, and also allows the user to have more programs visible on their desktop at the same time.

Differences and Similarities Between Desktops and All-in-Ones

While both desktop and all-in-one computers are designed to fulfil the same purposes, there are a number of both similarities and differences between the two. For a person who simply wants a computer to use in one place, these factors may not be important, but for some they may be enough to push the decision to one side or the other.

Similarities Between Desktops and All-in-Ones

Both desktop and all-in-one computers rely entirely on mains power, rather than batteries because they are not designed to be portable. They also use the same accessories, particularly keyboards and mice, as unlike laptops these computers do not come with those devices built in. For someone who simply wants to surf the Internet, they are essentially indistinguishable.

Differences Between Desktops and All-in-Ones

The biggest difference between a desktop and an all-in-one computer is the modular nature of the desktop. In an all-in-one, everything is built into one housing, including the monitor. Many all-in-ones use the same parts as laptops in order to prevent heat buildup. Desktops are modular, requiring external monitors and speakers. The big advantage of a desktop is that it is easier to upgrade, as there is more room in the case, and everything is more accessible. The disadvantage is that it is easier to spend more money as in addition to the tower, the buyer needs also to provide a monitor, which is included in an all-in-one.

Why Buy Used PC Desktops and All-in-Ones?

The biggest reason for buying a used computer is to stretch the purchaser's budget. Buying used allows a person to either buy a better computer than they could otherwise afford, or allows them to buy the same computer for a lower total expenditure. It does require a little more time and research to find exactly the right computer than buying new might, but it is often well worth the effort.

Tips for Buying Used PC Desktops and All-in-Ones

The most important thing to remember when buying anything used is that every used computer, whether desktop or all-in-one, is unique. It may have started out as just another computer in a box, but by the time the original owner is ready to sell it has its own unique history. This means it is important to take the time to not only research the make and model of the computer, but also to study that specific example so that the buyer can make an informed purchase decision based on the condition of that specific machine. In order to make that decision, there are a number of tips a prospective buyer should follow.

What are the Specifications?

Many people upgrade their computers over time, and some computer companies may offer the same basic computer at several different price and performance levels. Because of this, it is important for every buyer to take the time to determine exactly what they are buying. The exact specifications of a given computer may be the difference between getting a great deal and paying more than an item of similar performance might cost new.

The following table lists three of the most important things to consider:



Hard Drive

Stores all the information on the computer


Provides working space for running programs


Runs all software, brains of the computer

A computer with lots of hard drive space, a faster processor, and more RAM is worth more than one with lower ratings in those categories. RAM in particular is easy to upgrade, and so it is worth the purchaser's time to find out exactly what they are getting in the way of technical specifications.

What Comes With it?

It is important to know exactly what the seller is offering. If they are selling a desktop, is it the tower alone or are they including a keyboard, mouse, and monitor? If not, what about cables? There is no way to accurately judge the value of a deal without knowing exactly what is included. Sometimes what might appear to be a less-valuable computer can have that value made up because it comes with a number of accessories that would otherwise add to the cost.

What About Software?

Every computer requires software, from the operating system to various games and even office application. Buyers should ascertain exactly what software they are getting with a particular computer, and whether the previous owner is including the installation disks in the sale. As a general rule, software only adds to the value of the system when the media is included. Otherwise the buyer has no way to reinstall it should the computer need to be reformatted. Knowing exactly what comes with the computer makes judging its value that much easier.

How About the Condition?

Computers are complex machines, and as with anything they have parts that can lose functionality over time. With desktops and all-in-ones, two things to watch out for are the optical drive and the expansion ports. If a computer is kept in a particularly dusty environment, these devices may eventually cease to function without otherwise impairing the computer. In some cases, it may only take a good cleaning to restore functionality, but in others it may require the components be replaced. Depending on the buyer and their intended use this may not be a showstopper, but it is something that has to be taken into account before the purchase is finalised.

Before Considering a Purchase

Once the buyer has the answers to all of the questions above, and knows what he or she is getting, the next step is to compare to the price of buying a new computer with similar performance. Sometimes people get so caught up in the idea that buying used is less expensive, that they actually pay more than they need to. Without knowing the comparative price of a new computer with equivalent performance, it can be almost impossible to know the true value of what is being offered, which makes finding a good deal that much harder.

Buying a Used PC Desktop or All-in-One on eBay

eBay is an excellent place to buy a used PC desktop or all-in-one, offering a wide range of options for any budget. All you need to do is put your requirements into the search box, which you can find on any eBay page, and watch the results fill your screen. Then, once you have your results in front of you, you can use the filters in the sidebar to eliminate those which do not fit your needs. You can filter by everything from CPU type and speed, to RAM, to hard drive space, or whatever else is most important for your computing needs. Then, once that is done you can use the sort function to make sure those that best fit your requirements are at the top of the screen.

After you have narrowed down your options as to which computers you want to buy, the next step is to find your best fit amongst eBay's sellers. The best place to do that is at their profile page, where you can see everything from their feedback rating to their location. Some sellers may also bundle accessories with computer purchases, while others may let local purchasers save on shipping by picking up their desktop or all-in-one in person.


Buying a used desktop or all-in-one computer is an excellent way for any buyer to leverage a tight budget into a better computer than they could otherwise afford. Before choosing this option, a buyer should be aware that buying used does take a little more thought and research than buying brand new. Every used item is unique, so it behooves the buyer to take the time to research exactly what the seller is offering before evaluating the purchase. Sometimes, the true value of a used desktop or all-in-one lies in the accessories and add-ons the seller is bundling with it, and the only way to tell is to find out exactly what is being offered. Buyers need to be aware of the exact specifications of the computer, whether it comes with any software, and if so, what installation media are included. It all comes down to knowledge, knowing exactly what is offered and how much a comparable system is worth new. With those two pieces of information, buying a used desktop or all-in-one is both easy and rewarding.

Have something to share? Create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides