How Much Is My Computer Worth?
There’s an oft-quoted statistic about computer value that says a computer loses 2% of its value every week, inclusive. According to this maxim, your computer is worth 2% less of its value after a single week, then 2% of that revised value the week after, and so on until after just a couple of years, your computer is an expensive paperweight.
This figure seems drawn out of nowhere, and depending on the original value of your computer, the value of your computer may decrease faster or slower than 2%. In fact, it is safe to say that (much like a car) a computer loses value as soon as it is used a single time. If you never use a computer, you can sell it as “new,” but once you use it, it becomes used technology. Big drop in value.
What Makes My Computer Less Valuable?
The release of computers with better parts means that the machine you bought last year is outmoded. Faster processors, less expensive and better memory, and larger hard drives hit the market every year. Just a few years ago, the best computers on the market were 933 mhz — now, the fastest computers are closer to 4Ghz. No matter how much money you spend on your computer, something better and faster will be available in just a few month’s time.
Another factor that drives down the what your computer is worth is the existence of new models that cost less to build and therefore are less expensive to the consumer. A basic model new computer right out of the box a scant six years ago would set you back about $1500. These days, even with the popularity of more expensive laptop models, you can buy a new computer for as little as a couple of hundred bucks, and most models for home use run $400 – $700. Why would someone want to buy your (slower) used computer for more than it costs to buy a new one?
The final piece of the computer devaluation puzzle is simple oversupply. The used computer market is huge, and competition for low prices is high. Why so many used computers? Businesses phase out equipment faster now than ever before, releasing a massive number of pieces of used tech every year. The used market is chock full of computers usually sold by people who can accept a lower price than you because of volume.
How Can I Figure Out My Computer’s Value? Can I Use a “How Much Is My Computer Worth Calculator” of Some Kind?
One quick way to judge the value of your used computer is to look at other similar used machines and see what price they’re fetching. If you look into used computer sales on eBay, you can find out what people are actually paying for used computers rather than what used computer retailers are asking for old equipment. On eBay, you can see the final price of sold used computers by selecting a few options on a search. Put in your computer’s make and model number and compare final sales prices. This won’t give you a precise value for your computer, but at least you’ll have a ballpark figure.
I don’t know of a single “how much is my computer worth calculator” that works more effectively or quickly than your brain and a little comparison shopping on the Internet.
Can I Donate My Old Computer for a Tax Write-off?
You can donate your old computer for a tax write-off, but you’ll have plenty of work to do. If you think the effort required to sell a used computer is more than the value, making a donation (and getting a nice tax break to boot) may seem logical. But donating a used computer may be even more of a hassle than trying to sell it.
1. You have to clean up the hard drive — You don’t want to donate your computer with your personal information all over it. Take into account your various software licenses and personal details and you realize you’ll simply have to “wipe” the hard drive clean before donating it. This takes about an hour.
2. You have to find a charity or school that will take the used computer — Not all charities accept donations of used technology. Finding one that will (and that you support) could take some time.
3. You will have to pay to move the equipment or move it yourself — Do you really want to take the time and money to take your used computer equipment down to your charity’s receiving station?
4. You will probably have to catalog your used computer donation yourself — Yes, some charities will accept your used computer without having it itemized, but for tax purposes most charities will insist that this cataloging is done before the donation is received. EPA regulations have really changed the face of technology donations — computer monitors are particularly notorious for violating EPA laws, and you will be hard pressed to find a place to accept the donation of a monitor. Also thanks to EPA regulations, many schools will no longer accept a computer donation if the machine is more than a year old.
What is a Computer Liquidator?
A computer liquidator service takes care of a lot of the hassle involved in getting rid of old technology. They are trained in computer value and will give you a no-nonsense fair offer for your technology. Obviously, newer computers will earn you more money, and don’t forget that computer liquidators are in the business of making money. Selling your computer will not make you rich.
The computer liquidator will take your old computer away with haste, getting it out of your way and cutting you a little check. The liquidator will also wipe any data that still exists on your hard drive for you. If you prefer to have your hard drive shredded (the most efficient way to remove data) then the liquidator can do that for you, for a charge. Liquidators also act within the bounds of EPA regulation to get rid of any unusable parts such as monitors or very old computers.
Technology of any kind exists in a kind of stasis between the old and the new — your computer is probably worth far more than a computer purchased twenty years ago but not nearly as valuable as the one you’ll buy tomorrow. Advances in computer technology mean that purchasing a computer is something of a risk — ask any iPhone owner about the impact of new generations of that technology on the value of their phone and they’ll tell you the same thing. You may not make yourself wealthy selling your old computer, but you can recoup at least some of the costs of the machine by using a computer liquidator or auction service.
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