Fancy a borked Intel CPU for just $3.25? This Japanese Gacha machine is just for you

A screengrab from a YouTube video showing a Japanese vending machine that dispenses faulty Intel CPUs
(Image credit: Sawara-San / cluster140)

I've sometimes toyed with the idea of building a wall display of dead hardware, so I can live out my fantasies of a house covered in futuristic greebles. This Japanese Gacha machine might be the cheapest way of getting hold of a large number of borked chips for my project, as it dispenses them for a mere $3.25 a go.

Located outside of a Japanese electronics store, this Gacha machine is the sort that usually dispenses a small toy in a plastic bubble (via Techspot). However, YouTuber Sawara-san has discovered that for a mere 500 Yen—equivalent to around $3.25—this one instead provides you with a CPU. In this case, the prize was an Intel Core i7-8700, although some later testing revealed that the chip, presumably like all the others in the machine, had some serious issues.

A Windows Task Manager screenshot reveals the beleaguered CPU only reported five working cores and 10 threads, whereas a fully functioning Core i7 8700 should have six cores and 12.

Still, for $3.25 you really can't complain, especially as you can still buy this particular model (fully functional, of course) for $200. Given that this vending machine appears to be located in a district full of electronics retailers, I would imagine that this is simply a way of making a bit of extra cash from damaged hardware by selling broken chips off as curiosities.

Given that e-waste is an ongoing issue, the idea of giving broken hardware a second life as an aesthetically pleasing, slightly desirable object is a pleasant one, if not perhaps a sustainable solution. 

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While proper recycling of electronics hardware is still a difficult nut that we don't seem to have cracked, at the very least these chips have a chance of escaping landfill, and may even be cherished as interesting and thought-provoking objects.

After all, I can't be the only one to be fascinated by CPUs simply as objects of incredible design and manufacturing. Holding a chip in my hands and marvelling at the capabilities inside, never mind all the effort required to produce it is something I find immensely satisfying when constructing a PC build, and I think if I passed this machine on the street I'd end up buying quite a few for myself.

Andy Edser
Hardware Writer

Andy built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 12, when IDE cables were a thing and high resolution wasn't. After spending over 15 years in the production industry overseeing a variety of live and recorded projects, he started writing his own PC hardware blog for a year in the hope that people might send him things. Sometimes they did.

Now working as a hardware writer for PC Gamer, Andy can be found quietly muttering to himself and drawing diagrams with his hands in thin air. It's best to leave him to it.