This PC gamer built his rig after months of dumpster diving

Dumpster divers find all sorts of things in the trash. Out of a whole range of cold brew coffee To hundreds of metal tone for Yu-Gi-Oh cards, there’s no shortage of cool stuff buried in the piles of junk you’re likely to find in the bin. But while some of it may be useless, Redditor Rydirp7 has taken the adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to heart and built an entire PC out of discarded computer parts.

It’s no secret that electronics aren’t as recyclable as other materials, such as certain types of fabrics, glass, metals, and plastics. Accordingly A 2019 UN report, about 50 million tons of e-waste (e-waste) are produced worldwide each year, of which only 20 percent is formally recycled. That means the other 80 percent — worth $62.5 billion annually — either goes to landfill or “informally recycled‘, the process of trashing unwanted things that can end up in poorer communities, leading to pollution and dangerous health effects. This is where dumpster divers, or people sifting through the trash to find cool or interesting things, can ease the strain by converting what hasn’t been used into something actually usable.

Rydirp7 did just that recently, posts his trash pc build on the popular subreddit r/DumpsterDiving, revealing that he only bought two components for the custom machine. The rest, from the graphics card to the processing chip, was found in a local dumpster. One Redditor said it was “Great.” Another user said he had “Crazy respect for people” like him. Most in the comments simply congratulated him on the build and hopes that it will continue like this. kotaku reached out to Rydirp7 to learn more about the process behind building a junk PC and the benefits of scavenging for gaming setups in the junk.

Dumpster diving for PC parts

Rydirp7, who lives in South Dakota, said he was inspired by the stuff he’d heard online about dumpster diving and thought he’d give the activity a shot in the summer of 2022. He visited a local computer store in his “middle of nowhere” town to see if he could find some things and was quite surprised by his discoveries.

“There was some stuff,” said Rydirp7 kotaku in a phone interview. “Since then, I’ve occasionally checked the store’s dumpster and yes, with the PC you saw in the Reddit post, it was built almost entirely from parts ripped from that dumpster over the course of about six or seven months.”

The only components he bought were the power supply and RAM, which totaled about $120. Rydirp7 said he already had these two parts as he had bought them for another computer but figured he would reuse them for this build as they were just lying around at his house. Interestingly, he encountered a problem with the found graphics card as it was a problem 10 year old EVGA GeForce GTX 570. While it “runs games decently,” he had to troubleshoot extensively because “the drivers didn’t install properly.”

Rydirp7's Trash PC looks really good with its purple glow on a white countertop.

Picture: Rydirp7 / Kotaku / Shutterstock / GROGL

After countless hours trying to fix the graphics card, he decided it was time to just bake the thing in the oven. Seriously. This is known as The oven trick in the PC community and, as Rydirp7 put it, the card has been working flawlessly ever since.

“The oven trick basically consists of you stripping pretty much everything from the graphics card,” Rydirp7 said. “The heatsink, the shroud – basically you strip it down to the bare board and then wrap it in aluminum foil to protect some of the more delicate components on the board. You preheat the oven to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and then place the graphics card or electronics you want to repair in the oven. I believe it’s typically 8-12 minutes for a graphics card. But yeah, that’s basically the oven trick. I did this on two different graphics cards: the other was a GTX 240 and then this GTX 570 and the trick worked for me both times.”

Baking the graphics card like a cookie in the oven works because faulty connections due to loose or old solder joints are remelted, allowing the current to reconnect and flow back through the likely broken spots.

The challenges of building a trash PC

Rydirp7 admits he’s “a bit of a hoarder when it comes to PC parts” so this junk PC was actually the second he’s built from junk components. The first one – with an AMD FX 6300 CPU, 8GB of RAM, this GTX 240 and a 500W PSU – went to a friend of his a while ago. While he said his first attempt at a trash PC was perfect, this second one is “a little bit better” because it packs twice the RAM and delivers more performance. However, one of the most difficult components to build was the 256GB SSD.

Rydirp7's Trash PC takes the side pose and shows its purple angles.

Picture: Rydirp7

“The SSD was the last part I found,” said Rydirp7. “I searched the dumpster for months but could never find anything. If there was anything, it was like a hard drive that was already disassembled. When I first found this SSD I thought it was a new one with no data on it. But when I connected the SSD to the system to install Windows 10, it turned out that it wasn’t actually new and had someone else’s data on it. So if I find a part that has someone else’s data on it, I delete it immediately to protect the privacy of the previous owner, as it’s none of my business.”

In the meantime, the Dell OptiPlex 9010 motherboard was one of the first components Rydirp7 pulled from the junk at his local computer store. Unlike the graphics card and SSD, this part worked flawlessly and didn’t require any tinkering. He said the store, whose name or location he would not reveal for privacy reasons, “mostly throws away older hardware” that is still functional. Thanks to this shop, he was able to build what has become his “main” rig. While he doesn’t play many games, he listed a few he plays regularly, noting that his junk PC “can get a little warm” when he’s playing.

“It could probably play crisis‘ said Rydirp7. “But yeah, I don’t really play a lot of games. The only thing I really play is Minecraft, RobloxAnd scrap mechanic. That’s about it, and my PC runs all these games pretty well.”

The benefits of building a junk PC

Building trash PCs is one way to combat it the approximately 70 percent electronic waste Americans produce, Rydirp7 said, acknowledging the frequency with which most people’s old electronics end up in landfills.

“This tactic of building junk PCs from junk components keeps perfectly usable electronics from ending up in landfills,” Rydirp7 said. “It can be easy for someone to build a computer with little or no money.”

As for the viability of the trash pc, it depends on what you can find and how you are going to use it. It’s more than capable of handling your day-to-day tasks like writing emails and watching YouTube, another thing Rydirp7 said he does frequently on this computer. But as my colleague Claire Jackson said, “In 2010 it was a beautiful facility!”

Rydirp7's Trash PC is open so we can take a look at the inner case and see how he hooked up the build.

Picture: Rydirp7 / Kotaku / Shutterstock / GROGL

In 2023, these aren’t the ideal components to play more modern games with 4K graphics and ray tracing. Rydirp7 can possibly get away with walking crisis on his trash PC, especially since Crytek’s sci-fi FPS these days has been optimized to run on the Nintendo Switch. But it is highly unlikely that he could play Cyberpunk 2077 or one of the PlayStation games – like Last days or God of War– that made the leap to the PC.

Still, to each his own. And you can’t complain much when you’ve only spent a cool $120 on something that could run most indies and Xbox 360-era games. That’s not a bad compromise, especially if you don’t play that many games initially. You can check out Rydirp7 Trash PC specs below:

  • EVGA GTX 570 graphics card
  • Intel Core I7-3770 Non-K processor
  • 16GB Corsair Vengeance RAM at 1600MHz
  • 750 watt Corsair PSU
  • iBUYPOWER Snowblind Element Case
  • Dell OptiPlex 9010 motherboard

While it may not be the most powerful PC in the world, what actually makes this PC stronger than most is the fact that it’s literally built to last. By recycling and reusing old computer components, turning them into a working Frankenstein PC, Rydirp7 has found a way to reduce its overall environmental footprint. I can’t speak to the impact of its energy use on the world, but building junk PCs could go a long way toward minimizing global e-waste.

Curtis Crabtree

Curtis Crabtree is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Curtis Crabtree joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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