We are already living with first world problems in the United States. I know this because, amid a global chip shortage and a 1,000-year drought of GPUs, I’ve stumbled upon a fully functional gaming computer that has literally been thrown into the gutter.
Honor the nerd (which you say correctly with the Vulcan salute)!
Yes, I know you think I’m telling you fish stories when I say I found a hexa-core Core i7-5930K processor and liquid cooler on my X99 motherboard, 32GB of DDR4, 128GB SSD, and 1TB hard drive while walking a dog. The jewel was the graphics card: EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 ACS.
Fact: I don’t lie. The previous owner didn’t dump them at random, but where I live, the city offers mass dump days where you get to throw away appliances, mattresses, and yes – even your computers.
As you can see, it looks like it was attached to a truck bumper and pulled to hell and back. Its fans were clogged with dust, a memory heat diffuser fell off, and the cap that would normally cover the liquid coolant somehow disappeared. One of the case fans has a wire that rubs it in, so the solution was apparently to fold a piece of paper and jam the fan blade instead of listening for the fan’s “hash mark” hitting the wire.
Honestly, I can understand why someone might decide it’s time to get rid of this mess during their spring cleaning. But as a finalist for the exciting new show, PC Hardware Hoarders of Silicon Valley (I actually live north of Silicon Valley, and no, there isn’t such a show—but it has to be!), I can’t give up my old hardware. Not because I need it, but because I find beauty in ugliness. Yes, the machine you see here seems sketchy, but in my opinion – someone somewhere – could use it. I know I can find a home for an old monitor at the public library, or someone who is happy to take an old computer. Better if someone takes advantage of it and then takes it to a big e-waste pit in the sky.
I wonder what his history was. Was it replaced by the shiny and fast new Ryzen 5000 paired with the GeForce RTX 3080? Did the owner stop computer games, or buy a new generation console? By the way, the house I found for this PC is with a relative who has long been a console gamer but really wants – and can’t afford – a gaming PC.
The rest of the parts I’ve found, I haven’t found a home for yet, but I will. Yes, it wasn’t just the hands-on Core i7-5930K and GeForce GTX 1080 processor that was headed for the garbage heap.
Besides the old computer analog speakers and PS/2 keyboard, I also found a 9th generation Core i5-9600K processor with 16GB of RAM. The motherboard was lying on the floor and was missing its own fan, so I suspect someone actually came across it in a case and decided to leave it behind, keeping whatever components were somewhat better instead. As with a gaming PC, the motherboard, CPU, and RAM work just fine, as you can see from the BIOS screenshot below.
Not Ryzen, not mine
Even I have limits. There was already a third computer in a stripped-down state by a bystander: an older AMD CPU based on the AM3 socket. I didn’t remove the cooler to find the model number, but previous Ryzen CPUs don’t rank highly in my book anymore. I have enough old Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge machines that I’m still trying to rehouse.
I could see sanitation engineers driving my way, so I went home with my computer and motherboard while dragging my confused dog. Hopefully someone else has found a use for the old AM3 chip.
This is why Windows 11 makes me sad
My story about turning e-waste into useful devices is a good strip story, but it also highlights why people are so angry about Windows 11’s plan to hook up old devices. Yes, there may indeed be legitimate needs with the growing security threats, but that doesn’t lessen the sting. For as long as I can remember, old computers have survived with the ability to run the latest and most secure operating systems.
Coming to 2025 when Windows 10 is out, I’m afraid I’ll just have to leave any old hardware to the e-waste gods instead (sorry Linux fans, it’s really hard to find regular consumers who would take an old computer without much of the popular consumer operating system on it).
For now, I can at least appreciate that I’ve found homes for this device.