Most would not shy away from the idea of buying a used car, but the thought of a used computer is censored by many. The tech industry tries to keep you away in this way: they announce new products in a way that makes previous models obsolete; They block even the simplest hardware upgrades; and they sell low-end models that simply break down within a few years.
This shouldn’t scare you away from a used computer purchase, but knowing that they are imperfect machines. Some research, determination and basic knowledge is required.
To make this list, I used my own experience, along with some tips from friends in the tech industry to help you choose the best used laptop.
Lower your expectations for a used notebook
Decide which computer you want and then change your mind. Like most people, you probably dream of the newest, most current, most expensive – maybe a MacBook Air? Not.
Instead, check out some of the best notebooks from years gone by searching for “best notebook XXXX”, swapping XXXX for at least one year prior to the current one. These are the laptops you should choose from on the used market – and generally, they will perform the same tasks as this year’s models do.
Where to buy a used laptop?
Determine where you will buy your computer.
You can buy from OLX, Ali Baba, Ali Express, Facebook classifieds, other online classifieds, local retailers and direct from the manufacturer. Buying refurbished models from the manufacturer or a local dealer is often more expensive, but they will come with attached warranties that will soothe your worried hearts.
If you plan on using Ali Express, be sure to find a seller with less than 100% feedback rating. If the computer arrives broken, a seller with an impeccable rating will happily have a callback to avoid negative feedback – that’s the beauty of eBay.
For an online classified like OLX, be sure to arrange a public location where you can fully inspect the computer before you buy.
Check for cracks and imperfections in the notebook
Now you need to check for damage. First check for cosmetic issues – and then realize that nothing matters. As long as the computer still works, that little chip in the bottom corner won’t be a problem. But if you want, you can try to get some price discounts because of it.
Examine used notebook screen
One of the most expensive things to replace in a laptop is the screen. Check for any purple or pink discoloration, and if you find any, send the computer back. Not worth the hassle or cost of repairs.
Scratches or other screen problems could be even worse. Research well, investigate, before you have a problem.
Testing notebook or laptop entries
Check all plugs, sockets and wireless connections such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Many of these are attached to the motherboard, which is expensive to replace. If one USB port is broken and you can live with the other three, do it. If the headphones are broken but you have Bluetooth headphones anyway, then use them instead.
And ask for a discount for every little thing that has problems.
Check for a bad hard drive
Test the hard drive disk(s) for errors and remember that replacement drives are usually cheap. The same goes for an SSD.
There are several applications that allow these tests. It may take a while, but a reputable seller will let you test safely.
Check for a defective CD, DVD, or Blu-Ray drive
Try to use all types of media the drive must support CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R, Blu-Ray, etc. Remember to do this only if this type of component is important to you. After all, most people today only use digital media or flash drives.
If the drive is not working, just ask for another discount. But this component is cheaper to repair nonetheless.
Test Laptop Battery Life
If the battery runs out too quickly, try asking the seller to discount the price to offset the cost of a replacement battery, which can often be a little expensive. Test with games, videos, put the screen to the highest possible brightness. Use it for a while and see how much of the battery is consumed.
Seek help testing the notebook
If you don’t want to do all these tests or want an expert opinion, most repair places wouldn’t charge you dearly for a full diagnostic checkup. When your used computer cost less than half the original retail price, the inspection fee might be worth it. Or you can have a tech-savvy friend help you through the process.
Complete your purchase carefully
For Ali Express and OLX buyers, please do not leave feedback until you have verified everything. If there are any major issues, don’t be afraid to return the computer.
Don’t get frustrated if everything isn’t perfect from the start. Remember that people have problems with their new computers often too. Even if you have to pile up some cash for minor repairs or upgrades, rest assured your decision was a smart one.