Used hardware.

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Rwn
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Postby Rwn » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:34 am

What are your thoughts on buying secondhand hardware? Either pc components, phones, toys, gadgets, etc.

Any experience with this?
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Zombie
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Postby Zombie » Mon Apr 11, 2016 11:02 am

honestly I don't like to by second hand.. there might not be anything wrong with second hand stuff but I like the new thing smell.. maybe I have a thing for vacuum packaging and crisp edges on boxes
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Zansi'Vara
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Postby Zansi'Vara » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:27 pm

PC components can be okay, but you need to know what you're looking at before you buy, and how to determine if it's already broken or not. Unfortunately, many PC components can be hard to test outside of a built PC, so usually new is a better garuantee. At least that way it comes with some kind of warranty.
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Postby Pawly » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:54 pm

From "some guy on the net", no. From a shop with a money back or swap guarantee, yes.
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cerrodepedro
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Postby cerrodepedro » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:48 pm

This is a bit of a hoarder's list of used components I would buy. For anyone in here looking to do any startup with serious IT demands, a friend with pretty good Linux/UNIX/Mac expertise and a shitty budget, keeping this stuff around could come in handy in lieu of getting more capital and configuring a less jerry-rigged thing. Keep in mind that IT-wise, my job makes me a storage junkie, and I'm not huge into gaming:

  1. Case (except I'd replace the power supply unless it wasn't 'mission critical')
  2. Expansion cards for desktops since PCIe cards that aren't visibly damaged are seated nicely and with exception of over-clocked hardware or just shit models (hello Google!), video cards aren't prone to burn out
  3. TrackMan corded track ball mice because holy shit they don't make them any more and they were perfect
  4. Conventional (none of this laptop-style shit, but the conventional ones that don't involve massive risk by popping off the keys for cleaning) full-layout keyboards
  5. Heat sinks (it's just a chunk of metal)
  6. Network switches! Even if some of the slots are bad, that generally doesn't matter since if you need to bring up an IT operation in a hurry (get creative), they're good to have in a pinch. Note that if you're unlikely to actually bring up big but temporary IT setups, you probably shouldn't be hoarding these since they tend to be heavy, and you'd ALSO want to be hoarding high-end network cables
  7. Rack-mounted battery backup anythings: If you're good at hardware and know how to be safe about it, you can find some badass lithium-ion equipment. Some of these may be dead (so only buy very cheap), but if they're not, they can come in very handy for things like cheap solar setups where you end up sacrificing batteries anyhow due to high frequencies of charge/discharge
  8. Drive caddy/bay combos. Only buy them in combos since um, you don't need a bunch of caddies that don't fit in any slots. It's like online dating for pan/bisexual women; there is considerable 'dick glut' and they can probably find safe casual partners among women, so they can afford to be picky when it comes to men.
  9. VERY cheap high-capacity hard drives: OK so this is complicated. If you are doing any kind of rapidly-expanding storage setup, do a RAID 6 configuration with software RAID. Use disks of mixed capacity, for example, 750 GB to 1500 GB. Sure, you lose half of your capacity for the 1500-GB drives, but you make up for that in redundancy and performance. Used drives are shit anyhow, so if you have a stack of them around and plenty of SATA/SAS ports, plug that shit into a 6+2 config, format them all to be firmware-stupid, and have moderate performance with medium-high availability. You can have two of those shit-on-spindles product-of-Thai-child-labor abominations fail and still have some availability to your people. If you need 4.39 TB of data storage (minus software overhead) with 180-300 MegabYtes per second of performance, this is a handy thing to have ready to go. Again, make sure you're using adequate buses and also have plenty of SATA/SAS interface cards kicking around.
  10. Low-end but functional peripherals like web cams or microphones or speakers. You can use both audio things as microphones together with web cams, Raspberry Pi boards, and the open source ffmpeg suite to get a respectable security system going. Stock up on cheapo USB sound cards. Keep a high-capacity USB storage device connected, and regularly offload to your cheap NAS you should also have configured. Tier security data storage to the bottom since I don't think you'll have a reason to be SO paranoid as to need security footage from last week or month.
  11. Server racks: Holy shit there are so many uses for these big, ugly refrigerator thingies. Especially if they have working power distribution units with multiple kinds of connectors, you're likely to be getting a deal.
  12. Rack-mounted server cases, especially 2U-4U. If they follow a semblance of industry standards, you should be able to find both motherboards and power supplies compatible with whatever cases you're hoarding, and it makes cooling your setup pretty cheap. Even if you don't have a rack, you can do something awesome with these 6-dollar IKEA LACK tables: Lack Rack!.
  13. Mac Minis. They are small enough that their power footprint won't be horrible, and as long as they work, you get some cool shit like OS X which includes native support for a number of file systems, and pre-installed open source server software, with most of the stack you might need. Even if you aren't a Mac OS fan, they run x86 Linux/NetBSD/FreeBSD distros easily.
  14. Embeddable computing devices like the Raspberry Pi models. Since with new versions a lot of people are looking to get rid of these, it's an opportunity. Hell, if you have an Android phone that was rootable, run fuckin' Cyanogen Mod on that thing, or if it's an old iPhone, jailbreak it, and you have a fully functional little server. In all cases, things that run with little 800 mAmp to 2-Amp chargers are great to have around if you need to do mobile weird shit quickly.

Things I wouldn't buy used:

  1. Hard drives. YES, I KNOW I listed them as things I WOULD buy TOO, BUT if you have never heard of the acronym LVM or don't have a lot of free SAS/SATA ports, they will just consume lots of energy and be fault-prone. RAID has stood for "Redundant Array of Independent Disks" but also "Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks" because it was a good standard to use when you had lots of back-end interfaces and lots of cheap disks. If you can't plug in 5 or more at a time, you're just hoarding, and you don't want to stripe anything less than 4 with a parity disk because it's inefficient. Even if you can manage a RAID 5 (4+1 or 8+1) or RAID 6 (6+2) configuration, chances are you won't have the capacity or performance to justify that much power consumption. Moreover, NEVER buy solid state drives (SSDs) used. They have a limited number of writes. LIMITED NUMBER OF WRITES. That's an absolute limit. Can't be circumvented. ONLY buy SSDs new.
  2. Motherboards: I have this BEAUTIFUL old A8N-SLI board but it can't load more than 8 GB of RAM and the CPU architecture is limited. Apart from this, I can't make it any more power efficient than the BIOS permits. Just don't. Unless you have a very specific need or a very specific set of hardware, this is a pile of trash in your basement or apartment or storage unit waiting to torment your significant other.
  3. Cables: Goddammit, this doesn't even merit a "Goddessdammit." We're going old-school patriarchal bullshit to describe the unpleasant absurdity of folks who, with the resources to go new in this regard, choose to go used. These fail SO MUCH and you can waste so very much time and physical hardware troubleshooting bad cables. Just go new, and don't risk a standards-non-compliant cable or cables in your configuration. It's unprofessional. It's embarrassing. It's a n00b move. Don't care if we're talking high-end Ethernets or FC or super high-gauge power cables. Stop it. Go sit in the corner.
  4. Monitors: I say this because as you can tell from above, I'm conscious about power consumption, and standards are mixed on this. If you have used ones sitting around, whatever, cool, do what you do. The other possibility could be the secondhand store but with mixed connectors (HDMI, VGA, etc.), it's a bit of a crapshoot. Go with something that doesn't rack up the KW hours. It's kind of a toss-up, honestly. It's nothing like my cables proscription above.
  5. Laptops, unless you have lots of specialized little shit parts. I hate laptops, most of them. If you need a little server, use a smart phone or a mini computer. If you need to go somewhere mobile, get a cheap little Chrome book. All you need's an SSH connection, right?

OK this isn't exhaustive. Maybe I'll edit and expand this post later. You get the system admin bent. I hope this is helpful for some rando wanting to do a fun startup. If not, maybe at least it gives someone else some useful general IT knowledge.
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Zansi'Vara
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Postby Zansi'Vara » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:10 pm

^Brilliant list. Very well compiled. I would say power supplies should usually not be bought used, because they so often arrive DOA new, and they are nearly impossible to repair unless you are an electronic engineer or technician. Adaptors though! Holy shit, keep like every adaptor you come across because you NEVER know what you will need to jury-rig to what when working in IT. xD
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MAK
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Postby MAK » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:32 pm

depends what it is. Anything that has mechanics in it is scary (e.g hard drives). There are certain things you can get a pretty sweet deal on. (like cars, if you know what you're doing :D)... Consoles and console controllers/entertainment systems/TVs are great stuff to get second hand, cuz it basically makes no difference whether you get a brand new PS4 or one that has been turned on before. feel me?
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cerrodepedro
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Postby cerrodepedro » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:56 pm

Damned excellent points!
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Corgimom
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Postby Corgimom » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:08 pm

I have bought scads of used pci cards and hard drives for various reasons. Like I have a security recorder in the office and one in the
house. They both run on used hard drives and I have a stack of about 6 for various backup operations.

I bought a box of cat 5 wall jacks a few years ago (all pulled from a hard wired installation) and I still reach in there when I am hard wiring.

I would agree no used motherboards - that's just asking for an issue. I have about a dozen multi reader slots for towers that I scavenged off old PC's.

The thing is I don't usually buy used- I salvage so I don't know if there is a difference. I see a PC being tosses and I grab it. Pull the usually useful stuff then scrap it.

I do have an Ipad I bought used It works. I don't like it but I wanted to see what the fuss was.
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Rwn
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Postby Rwn » Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:54 am

I'm a little odd in the used area. I know how I treat hardware, and it isn't pretty. I've over clocked everything imaginable in my system and pushed it to its limits and sometimes beyond. With this in mind, the only things I've managed to kill have been a power supply which took the motherboard with it.

So I'm in the same boat as the general opinion here. I wouldn't buy anything with moving parts or anything that can be stressed.

So

Video cards
Cpu
Hard drives
Ram

Now I say I wouldn't buy them but if I found these things for dirt cheap and I just needed something to get by then sure not a problem.

Laptops... This is a hard one. Because I can be cheap... So if I was able to throughly stress test it and it didn't seem beat then I'd think about it for a good price.
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Postby Corgimom » Sat Apr 16, 2016 4:05 am

I have bought off lease and returned lappys thru cowboom No issues in 5 or 6
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