Recycling Laptops, Desktops, And Their Components

Posted on: 3 March 2017


It's illegal to throw away electronic waste with the general trash or on the curb in many states, but why would you? In addition to protecting the environment, you can make a pretty decent wad of cash back as you take your old systems to a recycling professional. If you're not sure what's worth recycling in your systems, here's an overview of different computer types and components to know what you may have on hand.

Desktop vs Laptop Recycling

Desktop computers are the flagship of computer recycling because they're bigger than laptops and have full-sized components. Laptops are more compact and have smaller components to achieve the smaller size with comparable performance, but this can be a benefit with certain recyclable components.

In desktop computers, the biggest recycling point is aluminum. The case is made out of it, there is a bigger heat sink made of aluminum compared to laptops, and many of the internal components are protected with additional aluminum cases.

Although most of a laptop's design is smaller, many laptops trade the heat sink for a pipe ventilation system. The heat sink itself is low profile to fit inside the laptop, but a system of heat and air transfer pipes made of copper are used in laptops. These are dense components, and copper is usually worth more than aluminum.

Hard Drives vs SSDs

There is a change in information storage that many computer users may not realize. The hard drive is often used as a generic term for computer storage, but it's actually a specific type of storage drive that uses platters, reading/writing arms, and magnets to manage how your data is saved.

Hard drives use rare earth magnets in the place of screws, and these magnets fetch a fair price in both recycling centers and with hobbyists. The issue is that a new type of storage--the solid state drive (SSD)--is taking over the storage field and does not have magnets.

SSDs used as computer storage drives are currently faster, but hard drives are still cheaper and getting faster. The break-even point of affordable SSDs is not yet here as of 2017, so you'll need to read the labels to know what you're recycling. If it's a hard drive, you may want to take it apart for separate material recycling. If not, recycle the component as a whole unit.

Contact a laptop recycling professional to discuss components and recycling materials in demand.