Gold can be found in many household electronics like computers, cell phones, and televisions. If you retrieve and separate the gold from the other components in electronic devices, you can sell it for scrap. Below, we have the list of electronics that contain the most gold, plus a few things to keep in mind when retrieving gold for scrap.
What Electronics Have the Most Gold in Them?
There is no simple answer to the question: “Which electronics have the most gold in them?” a representative from Specialty Metals, Smelters & Refiners in Connecticut said. The value of gold in each item varies by age, brand, model, gold purity, and retrieval method. Because of this variation, we sorted the list below by approximate gold content (highest to lowest), but there is no way we could tell you exactly how much gold you can expect to find in each item. Know that in any case, you will need hundreds of any of these items to get a good scrap value out of them.
We consulted with e-scrap recyclers and scrap gold refiners, in addition to scrap retrieval videos and scrap forums, to create the following list of electronics that have gold in them. For current scrap gold prices, go to GoldCalc.com (for other scrap metal prices, see our article). Gold refineries, precious metal recyclers, and scrapyards all buy gold scrap.
There are five troy ounces of gold in 2,000 PC circuit boards or 200 complete laptops. There is typically more gold content in older desktop computers (from the 1990s or earlier). In addition to the circuit boards, modem cards, graphics cards, and memory components also contain gold. Examples include:
- Laptops: Brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo
- Desktops: Mac and PC models
- Supercomputers: Like the Cray-2
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:
- Blu-ray and DVD players: Brands like LG, Magnavox, Sony, and Sylvania
- Boomboxes and portable CD players: Brands like Pioneer, Sony, and Yamaha
- Older media players: Sony Betamax players and VCR brands like JVC, Panasonic, and Sony
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
Things 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 requires you to completely dismantle the device, including separating gold from other elements in components like circuit boards. And the process can 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 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 tend to be the electronics with the most gold in them, but camcorders, 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.