What Scrap Metals Are Inside Computers?

metals inside scrap computers

As 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 made of gold inside computers 20 years ago are now being built with less costly options like copper or aluminum. With significant changes like that in computers, the scrap metals found inside have changed throughout the years. We will discuss some of the metals in older and newer computers.

Common Metals Found Inside Computers

scrapping gold from computers


Obviously, this is the most valuable metal found 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 inside than the more modern ones. Gold is such a highly valued commodity that manufacturers have tried to find more ways to avoid using such an expensive metal.

RAM boards from computers

Gold Materials Inside Computers:

Older computers will have larger gold contacts on the boards and CPUs; sometimes, there will even be pins of gold for contact points like the RAM boards and the bottom of the CPU chips. Those are very valuable and are why some scrap yards 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 replace gold contacts with less expensive copper.

Suggested Reading: Different Kinds of CPU Chips For Scrap

copper wire from computers


Copper is a highly sought-after material in the scrap metal industry, so it’s no wonder it can even be found inside computers. While you won’t pull out Bare Bright wire, you can still find some wires and occasional copper heatsinks inside. You will encounter wires connected between different parts inside when taking apart your computer. These wires can be sold to your local scrap yard as computer copper wire.

Copper Materials Inside Computers:

When selling copper wires from your computer, there will be two different types:

  • Ribbon wire: These wires will usually be priced separately because of the lower amount of copper inside.
  • Computer Wire: This 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 has a copper plate; check with your scrap yard to ensure you separate that from other CPU chips.

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Suggested Reading: Top 8 Places to Find Scrap Copper

aluminum scrap from computers


When scrapping a computer, aluminum is another metal found inside. Sometimes, the desktop frame can be aluminum, so check it with your magnet (it will not stick if it’s aluminum). Also, some other parts inside may be aluminum, like the heatsink 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. Typically, You can 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 have a lot of boards and precious metals attached to them, but remember, aluminum is a decent-priced metal, too. You can also find aluminum as the casing for the hard drive inside the computer. You may have to remove the hard drive from the framing by unscrewing it before removing 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 identify the steel quickly. 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, steel is used for the desktop tower frame and the frames to hold the various boards and drives inside.

Steel Materials Inside Computers:

  • The 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 check in with your yard and see how they would handle it, 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, the front face of the computer, the frame of the computer, or various pieces inside.

Suggested Reading: 4 Steps To Selling Your Scrap Online

Knowing what your scrap yard accepts is essential when recycling your computer towers. So be sure to find your local scrap yard on the iScrap App and ask about the materials and different computer parts they accept. You may want to shop around for the best prices if you have large quantities of materials.