How not to buy a gaming pc

Welcome to a sad tale of lies and disappointment, with a happy ending (eventually)


We recently published a guide, covering the pros and cons of buying a used PC. If only the protagonist of this sorry tale had read it first.

It all started when I received a message from a client, early one Monday morning. Unfortunately, it was a message I've had a few times before.

Repairing PC's is my bread and butter, and something I get a lot of pleasure from. However, my computey senses were tingling with this one. I assure you, that's a thing. I was keen to know more about the system and how it was purchased. It turns out the buyer made some pretty basic mistakes.

1. They didn't do any research.

By his own admission, the buyer is a complete novice when it comes to PC's. He'd been an avid console gamer but was using this purchase as his leap into the PC gaming realm.

This is why he should have done some thorough research before buying this PC. He wasn't helped by the very vague specs, provided by the seller:

Let's break this down:

GPU: Asus 710

There is not a lot of detail here, but a quick search on Google would have told the buyer that this graphics card is an Asus GeForce GT 710. From there, another search would lead to finding out if this card is good for gaming (it's not). In fact, it's about as bad as they come.

CPU: Intel core i3

Again, very little information to go on here, but we know its a core i3. There are plenty of articles out there explaining what that means, but even then, we are left with some questions. How old is the chip? What is the model? There is a huge difference between an i3 10320 and an i3 2100, for example.

Image from

RAM: 8GB of RAM but comes with more

Comes with more? is it 8GB or not? 8GB of RAM is fine, but this is confusing. Also, is it DDR4 or DDR3? What speed? So many questions!

Comes with a free rgb GPU cooler:

A GPU cooler, for free: great! But wait...this is a GT 710 we're talking about. Why would a GT 710 need additional cooling? It's so low powered that i just has passive cooling built in. But RGB though, so it must be good, right?

Creams games like CS:GO and Valorant:

Well, yeah. A potato can cream games like CS:GO and Valorant. This is not much of a boast.

Now let's take a look at this thing and see if we can pick up any more details.

Okay, we'll start by being positive here. a SSD is clearly visible, but no idea on the size. The CPU cooler looks nice and meaty, but the image is too blurry for me to say what it is exactly. The case has a tempered glass side panel, not acrylic like some cheaper cases.

Now for the negatives. The case is...meh. The side panel is nice, but without a PSU shroud, you can see the rat's nest of multi-coloured cables. The GPU, which is meant to be a GT 710 is clearly not a GT 710. The picture shows a large, triple fan GPU, which is very misleading. There's also no way for me to identify the motherboard, so it could be old as hell. Finally, there is no indication of what the PSU is, who made it and what the wattage is. This could be one of those cheap ticking time-bomb PSU's.

£240 is cheap for a gaming PC. In this industry, you usually get what you pay for. In this instance, I wouldn't pay any more than £150, and that's being very generous.

The buyer eventually bought this for £220.

2. They never saw the PC running in person

This one is important. If you are going to buy a used PC you must always check it out in person. Ideally, the day you see it working is the day you buy it and take it home. Why?

To avoid being scammed!

If you go and see a computer and it's all working fine, but then go back to pick it up a few days later, you give the seller a window of opportunity. What's to stop them from swapping out some expensive components with cheaper alternatives? It happens more often than you'd think. There are people out there who prey on inexperience and it really pisses us off. It tarnishes the whole industry.

3. They met the seller in a car park

Okay, so there are genuine reasons why a seller would not want to give out their home address or meet at a neutral venue. However, this would make me uneasy about buying an expensive item from them. For starters, you won't be able to see the system running, as just discussed. Secondly, what happens if you get home and the thing isn't working, like in this case? Where do you go? You can try contacting them via the messenger service of whichever site the product was listed, but this is sketchy. It's all too easy for a scammer to block your messages, or delete their account altogether. Which leads us nicely to our final point...

4. They never checked the seller's profile

There are lots of things to look out for on a seller's profile. Reviews are a good start; have they got any negatives? Don't just look at 5-star ratings either; read the negative ones too.

If you are buying through Facebook marketplace, take a look at theri full profile. You'll be able to see how long they have been registered on the site. If the account is fairly new, avoid the seller like the plague. Scammer love to set up new profiles then delete them when they have stung a few people.

So what was wrong with it?

The buyer reported that he wasn't getting any signal from the PC, so I made sure he was plugged into the GPU and not the motherboard IO (a common mistake). That was all fine however, so I went to collect the system. When I picked up the PC, I was alarmed. Firstly, there was a lot of rattling coming from inside. When I opened it up, i could see loose screws everywhere. The motherboard (an ancient Acer H61H2-AM3) was held in place by 2 screws, not the usual 6. There was also a strong smell of stale tobacco and a brown residue all over it. Gross.

The beefy CPU cooler, shown in the image above, was no longer there. It had been replaced with a cheap stock cooler. The GPU was smaller than the picture too; the aforementioned GT 710.

What was described an "rgb GPU cooler" was, in fact, a cheap GPU bracket, intended for use on large, heavy card to stop them sagging and putting strain in the PCiE slot. Definitely not a problem you'd have with a GT 710.

Another oddity was the box of random RAM sticks that came with the PC. There was 1 stick of 8GB DDR3 installed in one of two available DIMM slots, but there was also four sticks of 2GB DDR3 (which is what the seller meant by "comes with more".

I connected everything up powered on the PC and was bowled over by the noise it made. All fans ramped up to 100% instantly. I too was getting no signal from any of the GPU outputs (HDMI, DVA and VGA), so i took the card out and popped it into my test rig, where it worked perfectly.

Next on my hitlist was the RAM. A computer will never boot without RAM, so a faulty stick will lead to no signal. They were also fine, so I had to strip the machine down and check the CPU, which I was kinda wanting to do anyway just to see what the mysterious core i3 was. Turns out it was an i3 2100. When I unseated the CPU, I saw a bent pin in the socket, which I straightened, but this doesn't always work. I didn't have a motherboard with the same socket (LGA 1155) in stock to be able to test the CPU. The i3 CPU's come with integrated graphics drivers though, so my plan was to rebuild the system, minus the GPU, and test for signal from the motherboard IO outputs. None of these worked either, so either the CPU or the motherboard were dead.

What were the options available?

This PC was a mess. I advised the buyer to try and get a refund on it, rather than throw more money at what is essentially an old system, totally unfit for what he bought it for. To get it running, I suggested he would need to fit a new CPU and motherboard, DDR4 RAM and get a more powerful graphics card. I did consider finding a like-for-like motherboard, but they were discontinued long ago and only sold refurbished (which I don't like to use).

I offered to build my client a brand new system, that would suit his needs (mostly Valorant), for £350. This would be slightly less than it would cost for replacing parts in the existing system, plus his initial outlay. If only he'd come to me first.

Typically, the seller had gone dark! It was clear we were not going to be getting his money back, so I had to resort to plan B. Although not ideal, I could salvage some parts from the broken system (case, PSU, fans, SSD and make the most out of what we had.

To the above, I added some of the components I recommended in my Budget PC for Under £500 article.

CPU: Ryzen 3 3200G

MOBO: Gigabyte A320M

RAM: Patriot Viper 4 2 x 4GB

I also added a better GPU, in the MSI GeForce GT 1030 Aero ITX. It's still a fairly lightweight GPU, but significantly better than the GT 710 and, more importantly, within my clients tight budget and suitable for the games he wanted to play.

A Happy Ending?

Absolutely! My client was up and running and playing the games he'd been longing to play. Although he had to spend more money fixing the issues he inherited. The anxiety could have been avoided altogether with a little research and planning.

Some time later, he is still a client of mine and regularly comes to me for advice and upgrades.


It's a jungle, out there. If you want some advice or would like to talk about your options for new, custom built gaming PC's, we are here for you.

Get in touch to see how we can help.

Keep up to date!

Sign up below For all the latest guides and news, as well as special offers.