We need to talk about all the fans, hard drives and boxes we're hoarding

Jacob Ridley, PC part hoarder

Jacob Ridley headshot with yellow background

(Image credit: Future)

This month I've been testing: Sim rigs that I absolutely have no space for. But they make such a big difference for racing.
This month I have been playing: Assassin's Creed Valhalla over GeForce Now on the Steam Deck. Without a 100GB+ download, I'm all for AC on the go.

I have too many fans. And sadly not the adoring kind. I've held onto every fan I've ever owned, and that means I've boxes of them going back to when they were loud and rubbish. I'll probably never use them, and some are covered in spiders, so I'm definitely not going anywhere near those, but I feel the need to keep them around anyways.

The same goes for every hard drive I've ever owned, including those that I salvaged from old PC builds 10 years ago. That makes them, what, 20 year old drives? They're not fast, hence why I don't have them plugged in anymore. I don't even know if they work. But I promise I have good intentions for all of this PC gaming junk I have lying around.

You never know when you need a spare fan. Or a hard drive. Perhaps you're helping a buddy out with a build and a 120mm fan might make all the difference to thermals, or they need some extra drive space to tide them over until they can buy a faster SSD. Having spares at hand has come in handy at least twice for me in my life.

That doesn't entirely explain away why I'm still holding onto around 15 fans, maybe 10 or so hard drives, a couple of old 1080p monitors, spare PCIe covers for pretty much every case I've ever owned, a kit of DDR3 RAM, two stock air coolers, a motherboard, and the box for everything I've ever bought 'in case I have to send it back'. 

Yeah, right.

But I'm not the only one, and this behaviour is both a blessing and a curse for PC gamers the globe over.

I asked members of the PC Gamer Forum what they're holding onto, and unsurprisingly received plenty of pics of similar piles of, it's not junk, stuff. 

A stash of PC parts in a cupboard.

(Image credit: TechTempest)

This PC Gamer Forum member isn't messing around.

A stash of PC parts on a cupboard.

(Image credit: OF24com)

Ah, the ol' 'throw it on top of another piece of furniture and pretend it's all fine' approach.

A mega amount of old hard drives in a cupboard

(Image credit: KeirUK)

We're going to need a bigger PC.

Spare PC parts

(Image credit: Colif)

Hey, at least they're great fans to have lying around.

Drawer full of cables.

(Image credit: Alm)

Obligatory drawer full of cables.

A cupboard full of loose PC parts

(Image credit: Kaamos_Llama)

You never have to look far in a PC gamer's house to find a loose fan.

Over on Reddit too, you'll find many threads with titles such as "Finally getting rid of my storage hoard", "It's not hoarding if you might need them," and "Anybody else have a hoarding problem?". 

Yes, volchik696, I do.

A whole heap of hard drives.

(Image credit: Reddit: u/dennisspang)

This, but each HDD is stored in a different location within the house and I'm not sure where.

Various PCs pictured under a desk.

(Image credit: Reddit: u/volchik696)

This looks a little like the PC Gamer office, not gonna lie.

A meme with various screwdrivers and PC building with the text 'you will make fine additions to my collection'

(Image credit: Reddit: u/danielguy)

It's not just fans and HDDs, I too have a motherboard box filled with zip ties, screwdrivers and SATA cables.

And PC gamers over on Twitter aren't immune. I see you, with your hoards.

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At least one savvy Reddit go-er and their wife put their stacks of PC boxes to good use. They chopped them up and stuck them in a frame to represent each PC build over the years—thinking outside the box, I see.

A picture frame with various PC hardware boxes fit within

That's one way to re-use, reduce, recycle. (Image credit: Reddit: u/Connormon21)

But I'm going to go out on a limb and say collecting old fans and hard drives is a PC gaming right of passage, and I believe it comes from a good place. Maybe it's a massive space-hog, and don't forget that huge piles of e-waste reside in people's wardrobes, and you very likely won't ever need more than a quarter of it; but that one time you might need to help out a friend or family member with a spare part will make it all worthwhile.

Alright, fine. Time for a clear out.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would later go on to win command of the kit cupboard as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top team as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industry. He also enjoys making short videos for TikTok and believes everyone reading this should go follow our account immediately.