Lawrenceville Goodwill store a treasure chest for computer DIY’ers
I’d noticed that the onboard components of my motherboard have been slowly dying or succumbing to PC dementia. First the USB ports went wonky, with things not being recognized and only 3 of the 4 ports being able to work at one time. Then it was the audio dying completely, which I only noticed after I pulled my add-on Soundblaster board. And the reason I yanked said Soundblaster board was because my NIC quit completely and I needed a free PCI slot for a replacement NIC.
Going in search of a wired Ethernet adapter didn’t yield any results. Lots of wireless cards and USB dongles, but nothing wired at my local OfficeMax, Radio Shack or Wal-Mart. There were plenty available online for between $10-20, but I didn’t really want to wait for shipping.
I had visited Goodwill’s computer store on 51st Street in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh before and was quite impressed. It’s great for folks with older computers that need a part right away and don’t need to have the latest technology. It’s also great for pickers who know a good video card sitting in the $5 graphics card bin when they see one.
The computer store is in the back of the main store and easy to find. It is also remarkably diverse and complete. There are bins of USB and Ethernet cables, ATA hard drives, wireless routers, case fans, SATA and IDE cables and – woot! – Ethernet NIC cards. They had many items brand new and packaged as well; there was a big selection of wired and wireless networking equipment from companies like D-Link and Zonet still in-box. Like I said, these items are older and not up to date. I couldn’t find a PCI-express card or one that had Gigabit LAN for example. But given that I could buy a brand new D-Link 10/100 Ethernet card for $5 I didn’t quibble. Anyway, my Internet speed never hits those high marks anyway.
If you’re looking for a component you’ll need to have a good eye and knowledge of what’s what, as individual parts aren’t labeled. The staff are helpful though and can help you in a pinch. The computer section is well organized which makes finding what you need a relatively easy task.
They have components for laptops as well, but these are more limited to DVD drives (they had a stack of Dell’s) and memory.
This Goodwill also sells complete systems, including desktops, laptops and even Macs. The prices are not bad for used machinery, and the fact that you can try them out and see exactly what you’re getting helps a great deal.
While most components are priced at a bargain, I was disappointed with the pricing on monitors, hard drives and other more pricey components. Prices for used 19″ monitors were not much better than new. In fact I initially had gone there in search of a new monitor and, discouraged by the pricing, found a brand new Acer monitor at Staples for less money than Goodwill’s used price.
Still, the Goodwill computer store can be a gold mine for anyone with an eye for a bargian.