What Scrap Metals Are Inside Computers?

metals inside scrap computersAs our technology continues to advance through the last few decades, it has significantly changed the value of computers in the scrap industry. For example, some components that were made of gold inside computers 20 years ago are now being built with a less-costly option like copper or even aluminum. With major changes like that in computers, the scrap metals that are found inside have changed throughout the years. We are going to discuss some of the metals that can be found inside computers with both older and newer computers.

Common Metals Found Inside Computers

scrapping gold from computers


This is the obvious metal that is desired when scrapping computers. Whether it’s from the RAM boards, CPU chips, or the motherboard, gold is all over the inside of a computer. Many older computers will have more gold content inside of them compared to the more modern computers. Gold is such a high valued commodity that manufacturers have tried to find more ways to avoid using such an expensive metal.

RAM boards from computersGold Materials Inside Computers:

Older computers will have larger gold contacts on the boards and CPUs, in some instances there will even be pins of gold for contact points like for the RAM boards and the bottom of the CPU chips. Those are very valuable and are the reason why some scrap yard may have range pricing for CPU chips. In the newer computers there isn’t as much gold used so the contact points are smaller and thinner, so the gold value in the computer is much less. There are even some instances where computers are replacing gold contacts with less expensive copper.

Suggested Reading: Different Kinds of CPU Chips For Scrap

copper wire from computers


Copper is a high sought material in the scrap metal industry, so it’s no wonder why it even can be found inside computers. While you’re not going to pull out bare bright wire, you can still find some wires and occasional copper heatsinks inside. When you are taking apart your computer, you will come across many wires connected between different parts inside. These wires can be sold as computer copper wire to your local scrap yard.

Copper Materials Inside Computers:

When selling copper wires from your computer there will be two different types, ribbon wire and computer wire. Ribbon wire will usually be priced separately because of the lower amount of copper inside. The computer wire can be bought as different grades of wire, depending on your scrap yard. They may have a separate category just for computer wire or they may ask you to mix it with regular wire. Check with them before you prepare your materials. Also there is a chance that the back of your CPU chip as a copper plate, check with your buying yard to make sure you separate that from other CPU chips.

Suggested Reading: Top 8 Places to Find Scrap Copper

aluminum scrap from computers


When you are scrapping a computer, aluminum is another metal that can be found inside. Sometimes the frame of the desktop can be aluminum, so be sure to check it with your magnet (it will not stick if it’s aluminum). Also some other parts inside may be aluminum, like the heatsink that sits on top of the CPU chip. It will usually be topped with a small plastic fan, which allows cooling when the computer is in use. You can typically easily detach the aluminum heatsink from the motherboard with clips on the side.

Aluminum Materials Inside Computers:

  • Heatsinks
  • Frame of computer
  • Case of the Hard Drive

When you are opening your computer, you can expect to be a lot of boards and precious metals attached to them, but remember aluminum is a decent priced metal too. You can also find some aluminum as the casing for the hard drive inside the computer. You may have to remove the hard drive from the framing first by unscrewing it before you can remove it.

Suggested Reading: Difference Between Aluminum & Stainless Steel

scrapping metal from computers


When you are scrapping computers it’s always handy to have your magnet with you. You will be able to quickly identify the steel. If the magnet sticks then you have steel. These pieces of the computer should be separated from the others. Steel is worth very little compared to the other metals found inside. Commonly the steel is used for the frame of the desktop tower and also the frames to hold the various boards and drives inside.

Steel Materials Inside Computers:

  • Frame of the Tower
  • Screws
  • Drive Frames

Precious Metals

It is rare, but you may come across some precious metals like silver and platinum in older computers. If that is the case, you should definitely check in with your yard and see how they would handle or even pay a different price for your computer scrap.

Other Materials Inside Computers

Once you have taken the computer apart and separated all the different metals, you will be left with some other non-metal materials like plastic and rubber. You can place plastic pieces with your regular plastic recycling usually handled by your municipality. Some plastic items found inside computers are the fans, front face of the computer, frame of computer, or various pieces inside.

Suggested Reading: 4 Steps To Selling Your Scrap Online

When you are recycling your computer towers, it’s important to know what your scrap yard accepts. So be sure to find your local scrap yard on the iScrap App website and ask them about the materials and different computer parts they accept. You may want to shop around for the best prices if you have a large quantity of materials.

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