Are collecting pins from old CPUs, worth it?

I was told that the pins that hold Intel CPU’s in their sockets (Socket 7) were made from gold.

Are they? And if they are, what ‘k’ would the gold be?

Would it be worth recovering? I ask because I have 4 or 5 old CPU’s sitting around.



They aren’t made of gold, they’re only plated with it. Typically a few microns thick, and anywhere from 18 to 24 k. It would take a LOT of CPU pins to obtain any significant amount of gold–without calculating, I’d say around a few thousand chips for a gram or so of gold.

Q.E.D. has it right. We have people coming in every month, trying to scrap them out. It’s hard to convince them.

Ok, so let’s say ‘a few thousand’ is 3,000.

3,000 chips = 1 gram of gold.

31 grams = 1 troy ounce

31 x 3,000 = 93,000 chips

Gold seems to be going for a bit under $400/oz, according to the minimal research I just did. Thanks, Google!

So it would take a while, granted. But $400 is $400.

If I was absolutely determined to do this, what method would be the most effiecient, for actually removing the gold plating? Let’s assume I have access to an unlimited supply of incoming computer chips with gold. A couple chemical baths? Reverse electrolysis of some sort? What?

Heh, if you have 93,000 CPUs, why not just sell the chips themselves? Even if you only make a penny from each one, that’s still over twice as much as the gold is worth.

The government has a very effective program for precious metals from electronics. In it’s precious metals recovery program scrap electronics are ‘mined’ for components known to contain precious metals: circuit boards, relays, buss bars, transistors, etc. Silver is also recovered from photographic processes, including x-rays.

These potentially valuable parts are place in ‘tri-wall’ boxes, essentially triple-thick large cardboard boxes. Each one holds hundred of pounds of parts. This ‘ore’ contains a far, far greater concentration of precious metals than the best natural ore. It is shipped to smelters, and the various precious metals are recovered. Some fixed amount of the metals are given to the smelter as payment for the smelting process, much of the rest is sold on the spot market.

Companies under contract to provide electronic parts, or finished products containing extensive electronics (airplanes, tanks, even ships) for government projects can receive much of the precious metals (typically gold) necessary to complete the contract at a very reduced rate. They must reduce the final price of the product by the amount saved, but the net result is positive for the contracter.

Of course, as the only program the government has that actually makes money, it is in constant jepoardy – the precious metals recovery program may be no more.

Any cite to back up the assertion that it “makes money”? I truly doubt that the time invested by government employees to salvage this stuff and send it to the refiner pays for itself. With perhaps a few exceptions. Certainly not in gold recovered from computer parts.

I used to work for a company that bought and sold used DEC equipment, and a few people would buy broken or totally obsolete circuit boards from us in order to mine out the gold used in the boards and the chips. I don’t know how lucrative it was, but apparently it was sufficient to keep them at it, in spite of the fact that some pretty nasty chemicals were used in the process. A lot of the gold they would get was from the various chips on the board - not so much from the legs, but rather from the inside of the chips.

This was aabout 15 years ago, so I don’t know how applicable it is to more recent chips.

The simplest way I can think of is mercury dissolution.

Get a large fluid-tight reinforced container and fill it with shredded chips. Pour in mercury. use some grating to keep the chips “underwater” as it were because mercury is so dense that ANYTHING floats in it. After some amount of time, you use heat to vaporise the mercury, leaving the gold behind.

Not quite. Solid (frozen) mercury sinks in liquid mercury. Also there’s quite a few other elements that are denser, though you’re not likely to have any osmium or iridium sitting around your house.

It’s been a few years since I was involved in the program, but it definately was a winner at the time. The equipment being scrapped was generally not consumer PC’s – it was serious military hardware. Electronics from airplanes, old mainframes and micros, old x-ray machines, entire weapon systems, etc. Serious iron.

Here’s a cite.
“On behalf of the Department of Defense (DoD), DRMS has saved the government $235 million over the last 25 years though this program.”
“Though prices fluctuate from year to year, the value of the metals recovered remains substantial, saving millions of dollars annually.”

Here are the stock numbers for the products available through the program.

[Here](The market value of the precious metals is usually far greater than the recovery cost. Recovery also helps conserve valuable resources and benefits the environment by reducing pollution.) is another cite.
“The market value of the precious metals is usually far greater than the recovery cost. Recovery also helps conserve valuable resources and benefits the environment by reducing pollution.”

Here is a list of the elements, sorted in desceding order of density. Mercury is 15th on list.