Thursday, December 22, 2011

People Flip Houses, I Flip Computers…. Sometimes

Back in the 1980’s and ‘90’s a person could make decent money building and selling computers. I could easily make a profit of over $1,500 on each computer. I would build them and sell them to the local computer repair shop or to people directly, the more I could build the more were bought. I miss the ‘90’s!!!

Flash forward to 2011, I’ve built one computer this year, the profit margin, nearly zilch, simply not worth the effort. You can’t make a profit on new computers anymore, not even the high end custom ones. Heck, they practically give them away at Best Buy and the other box stores, nobody seems to care that they’re junk, price is all that matters, at first anyway. When they call me to complain it doesn’t play games like the guy at Best Buy says it should I have to resist saying what did you expect from the $450.00 computer you bought? My video card costs more than their entire computer, I tell them if you want a gaming computer don’t go to Best Buy or any other typical computer company, you get what you pay for, don’t expect Mustang GT performance from your Focus!

There is a reason why cheap computers/laptops are cheap, they cut corners. I never get calls to build a computer anymore, not in this economy and I refuse to build cheap junk. The one computer I built this year was a replacement for one I built my customer 8 years ago. When you build them so good they run 8 years with no down time, you wait a long time for repeat business! It will likely be another 8 before I hear from him again. But I digress.

I figure I can make some money on refurbishing old Apple’s so I’m trying my luck out on two that I just got my hands on.  Apple fans are still buying the old Power PC G5’s from 5 years ago. Are they better or faster than anything today? No, heck they were just even with what was out at the time but the faithful are still buying so why not sell to them? They certainly aren’t bad machines and since I don’t sell junk these are good machines to sell. I bought 2 Apple Powermacs for a ridiculously cheap amount. The first one is a no brainer, a dual processor 2ghz G5 that just needs to be refurbished and sold, should make a few hundred in profit easily.

The second one, well, that one is the risky one. I got it for the price of shipping, it powers up and that’s all the previous owner knows about it. It’s the most powerful G5 ever made, the dual 2.7ghz liquid cooled Power PC. The risks are they were known to leak, if not caught, the leak will destroy the motherboard making the computer a big door stop.

I’m hoping that the G5 2.7 is in running order so I’ll order new O rings for the cooler and install a new hard drive, video card and 8 gigs of memory. If this thing goes well it should net a $400 plus profit. Hopefully by this Spring I’ll have enough to buy new tires and get the front and rear caps painted after taxes are paid of course. I can’t afford to keep doing the liquid cooled machines because of the risk involved but they do offer the most return so we’ll see.

I know this isn’t RV related but there isn’t anything RV related going on right now so I’m just posting life in general…

Until later!


~~Sue B~~ said...

sure seems like these days most electronic devices are throw aways after a few years..such a shame they don't build things like they use to!!

Big Matt said...

Erik, what kind of coolant is the liquid cooled unit using? We used to use Deionized (I think that's the name, its been years since I was building gaming systems as well) water as it didn't have any electrolytes in it and thus couldn't conduct electricity. No conduction, no risk of a fried system.

Nowadays, I make house calls. $45 minimum charge, plus mileage if I have to go a long ways. Hourly depends on what is needed to be done.

I don't do it professionally, usually as an under the table, "I know a guy who knows a guy who can fix yer problems" type scenario, I still make my main money breaking hardware and software for the Intel Corporation on contract.

Erik's RV Blog said...

~~Sue B~~ - Agreed, the cost to make electronics in China is so low they're mostly throw away. Most people are happy about that though. Quality, secondary it seems.

Big Matt - I'm not sure but it's not conductive, the problem is leaking over time it ruins the board. Since these machines are all at minimum 5 to 6 years old anything is possible.

Panasonic makes an LCS for this system but they are expensive and not worth buying anymore. I'm hoping and praying it's in as good a shape as the G5 dual 2ghz machine that showed up today. The case is some scuffs but it works perfectly.

I refurbished the system today plus one my brother bought. Just waiting for memory to arrive for them and then next week the 2.7ghz G5 comes in. Crossing my fingers.

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