How much Gold is in a Computer Desktop or Laptop?

There is gold inside the device from where you are reading this SD Bullion blog post.

In order to help our readers better understand gold investing today, here we explain fundamental facts on how much gold is thinly spread inside a computer desktop, laptop and even smartphones.

Few consumers of computer laptops and desktops know the interior of their electronics have gotten thinly layered in gold.

Why do you think computer makers like Dell and Apple are offering to recycle your electronics? 

While silver may be less expensive and faster in terms of conducting electricity than gold, the fact that gold does not corrode with open-air is why it gets used in high-end electronics. After all, metallic corrosion is to electron speed what unpaved roads would be to formula one cars (does not function well at all).

Gold, on the other hand, is highly corrosion-resistant and supremely malleable. So, while it's not as fast as silver, it doesn't attract a sulfuric hue as silver does in the open air. And yes, gold moving electrons is many times faster than copper, so we often see gold contacts in parts such as RAM chips, which are electrical contacts, plated with thin layers of gold coatings in order to improve corrosion protection and increase electrical conductivity. 

Thus far in the 21st Century, we humans have averaged using about 10% of our annual new line gold supplies to build out our modern computing and electronics infrastructure.

Of the typical 3,000 metric tonnes of newly mined gold ore per year, some 300 tonnes of gold goes into producing high-end electronics (some may too come from another 1,000 tonnes annually recycled gold).

Gold coats parts inside the computer or smartphone you are reading this fr. 

How much Gold is in a Computer?

The answer varies depending on the e-waste recycling source and computer board components.

We believe it conservative to say with today's gold price, over $10 of gold gets layered in an average computer.

In other words, 1/5th of a gram of gold can get pulled or withdrawn from an average computer's interior.

How much Gold is in a Laptop?

While slightly less gold gets layered through a smaller computer laptop.

In our research, with today's gold price, over $6 of gold is layered in an average laptop.

In other words, just over 1/10th of a gram of gold can be recycled off one singular laptop on average.

How much Gold is in a Smartphone?

Our phones also contain some parts of precious metals content. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are 0.034 grams of gold in a cell phone and, again, these are usually used in electrical connectors, forming the wirings inside chips and microchips, again for its malleability, corrosion resistance and conductivity.

That would be worth, approximately, $2 at today's prices.

Compter Gold / Laptop Gold Recycling can be Profitable at Scale

Some fractional grams of gold per computer, laptop or smartphone may not sound like much valuable metal content, but if you recycle e-waste by the tonne, the gold and silver one can withdraw starts to add up to real money and purchasing power.

When done at a large scale, recycling computer and laptops for gold and silver can be very profitable, especially when you are paying next to nothing for the e-waste ore. 

Mining circuit boards for gold can be more valuable than mining much of the highest grade gold mine ores.

One ton of computer and laptop circuit boards are estimated to contain 40 to 800 times more gold than one metric ton of ore.

Computer Gold Recycling at Scale (2014)

Quick facts about e-Waste

In the early 2010s, the US' EPA estimated only some 12.5% of e-waste waste gets recycled. This figure has likely increased some in the last few years.

The electronic waste industry is a globalized business. 

About 70% of e-waste gets shipped to landfills in developing nations, where it is typically sorted and sold for scrap metal. Sometimes short-sightedly, this e-waste gets burned to extract valuable materials; such action is harmful to people and the surrounding environment, of course.

According to the United Nations, up to 50 million metric tons of e-waste gets discarded every year.

The USA leads the world in e-waste output, producing over 10 tons million of electronic waste per year. The USA also sends e-waste to its prison industrial complex, where it often gets processed in under-regulated environments.


Gold Investing Information

The vast majority of gold bullion we humans have mined has not gotten recklessly tossed into emerging market landfills or become precious metal scrap.

The most massive hoard of gold bullion sits with governments and their fiat currency-issuing central banks. They hold about 1 in 5 ounces of gold ever mined because gold is default-proof money. Among human beings, it is the pinnacle monetary store of value long term.

Another large swath of gold bullion gets owned among millions of people all around the world. Slightly less than 40% of all the gold ever mined remains in gold coins or investment-grade gold bullion bar forms.

The slightly largest sector for gold demand is in jewelry (most demand from India and China). Eastern gold jewelry buyers treat higher grade 22k and 24k gold pieces like bullion. They see it as a store of value for the intergenerational long term.

Learn more about Gold with our free SD Bullion Guide

Even though scrapping the computer or smartphone you are reading this on may not contain a large amount of gold or silver, the information you learned here should be of higher value. Especially if you begin to investigate and ultimately understand why a prudent gold investment position makes sense, even more so in the devaluing fiat currency world we live in at the moment.

Thanks for visiting us here at SD Bullion.


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James Anderson
James Anderson
Content Director

A bullion buyer years before the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, James Anderson is a grounded precious metals researcher, content creator, and physical investment grade bullion professional. He has authored several Gold