Short Answer: You can find small amounts of gold in several household electronics. Computers and televisions typically have the most, and cameras, radios, and media players — especially older models — also contain gold in the circuit boards. Other electronics like game consoles, tablets, and phones contain just trace amounts of gold. Keep in mind that even for computers and televisions, you will still likely need several (possibly more than one hundred) units to get a decent return on the time needed to collect and deconstruct the electronics. Below, we list the electronics that contain the most gold, plus a few things to consider when retrieving gold for scrap.
What Electronics Have the Most Gold in Them?
There is no simple answer to the question of which electronics have the most gold in them, a representative from Specialty Metals, Smelters & Refiners in Connecticut told us. We consulted with e-scrap recyclers and scrap gold refiners, as well as scrap retrieval videos and scrap forums, to create the following list of electronics that have gold in them. Gold prices fluctuate — for current scrap gold prices, you can go to GoldCalc.com. (Our article lists prices for other scrap metals.) Gold refineries, precious metal recyclers, and scrapyards all buy scrap gold.
The value of gold in each item varies by age, brand, model, gold purity, and retrieval method. Because of these variations, we are unable to tell you exactly how much gold you can expect to find in each item. However, we’ve sorted the list below by approximate gold content, in order from highest to lowest; specific examples within each category are also in order of highest to lowest expected gold content.
There are about five troy ounces of gold in 2,000 PC circuit boards or 200 complete laptops. There is typically more gold content in older supercomputers and desktop computers (from the 1990s or earlier). In addition to the circuit boards, the modem cards, graphics cards, and memory components also contain gold. Examples include:
- Supercomputers: Like the Cray-2
- Note: The old Cray models typically have more gold than any other household electronic device, but they are not very easy to find.
- Laptops: Brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo
- Desktops: Mac and PC models
Televisions — both old tube models and newer flat-screen models — contain gold in the printed circuit boards and/or integrated circuits. As with most items in this list, older models typically contain more gold, even if they are smaller than newer flat-screen models. Examples include:
- CRT (Tube) TVs: Brands like Emerson, Panasonic, Quasar, and Toshiba
- LCD and plasma flat screens: Brands like LG, Sharp, Toshiba, Sony, and VIZIO
- Note: Plasma TVs tend to have much higher amounts of silver than gold; you can check the current price for scrap silver.
Both film and digital still cameras have circuit boards with gold components. Additionally, camcorders — particularly older models that record full-size VHS tapes — have larger circuit boards that contain gold and other valuable metals like silver, copper, and lead. Examples include:
- Camcorders: Brands like JVC, Panasonic, RCA, and Zenith
- Film and digital still cameras: Brands like Canon, Fujifilm, and Nikon
Stereos and Radios
Older stereos and radios contain much more gold than newer ones since they often have more gold-plated components, but all stereos have circuit boards with some gold. Examples include:
- Car stereos: Brands like Alpine and Sony
- Radios: CB, ham, and shortwave radios
- Home audio systems: Brands like Yamaha
Gold is in the circuit boards of Blu-ray, CD, and DVD players, as well as VCRs and Betamax players. Betamax players contain particularly large circuit boards, but Betamax players were a short-lived technology and can be hard to find. Examples include:
- Older media players: Sony Betamax players and VCR brands like JVC, Panasonic, and Sony
- Boomboxes and portable CD players: Brands like Pioneer, Sony, and Yamaha
- Blu-ray and DVD players: Brands like LG, Magnavox, Sony, and Sylvania
Game Consoles and Accessories
Circuit boards in video game consoles typically contain less than an ounce of gold per console. Older controllers and game cartridges may also have gold in them. Examples include:
- Consoles: Brands like Nintendo 64, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo NES, PlayStation Portable, and Xbox 360
- Accessories: Wired controllers and old game cartridges
Cell Phones and Tablets
The amount of gold in cell phones is quite small; it takes approximately 10,000 phones to retrieve 10 troy ounces. However, you can find old cell phones in abundance, since many people typically replace them every few years. Both older cell phones and newer smartphones contain gold. In many cases, tablets are essentially constructed like large smartphones, so you can expect to find a similar or slightly higher amount of gold in them. Examples include:
- Tablets: Brands like Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab
- Smartphones: Brands like Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, Huawei P and Mate series, Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia, and Motorola E, G, Z, and X series
- Older cell phones: Brands like Nokia and BlackBerry
What to Know About Retrieving Gold From Electronics
Many common household electronics have only small amounts of gold in them, though older electronics may contain higher quantities. Gold is found in electronic components like CPUs, pins, and circuit boards, and is suitable for electronic use since it resists corrosion. However, since gold is expensive, today’s manufacturers try to use as little of it as possible.
Most places require that you recover the gold from the electronics before selling it so it can be more easily refined. Note that gold can be difficult to recover, and you will need to completely dismantle the device and separate the gold from other elements in components like circuit boards. The process can also be dangerous; some recovery processes require the use of corrosive chemicals. An easier — and often safer — option is to sell the circuit boards whole to companies that specialize in electronic scrap.
You may also want to keep in mind that while older electronics typically contain more gold, the effort required to dismantle old stereos or computers may not be worth the value of the gold inside. Some older electronics like camcorders and game consoles may even have greater value as collectibles. Consider selling the item whole or for parts instead. You can research similar items on sites like eBay or Etsy to see how much the device and/or the parts are selling for.
The amount of gold in electronics can be difficult to determine since it varies greatly by brand, age, size, and model. Generally, you can get at least a little bit of gold out of anything that contains a circuit board, with additional gold found in elements like connective pins. Computers and televisions tend to be the electronics with the most gold in them, but camcorders, media players, game consoles, and cell phones also contain gold. Be aware that you may be able to get more money by selling the item or the parts instead — you’ll need several hundred or even thousand circuit boards to make any real money from gold scrap.