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Logan Hughes
Logan Hughes

Is Buying A Used Laptop A Good Idea

Buying a used laptop does not have to be difficult. By performing these simple checks, you can potentially avoid making a purchase you would regret. For more advice on laptops, see whether a gaming laptop is actually worth buying and how to stream your PS4 to a laptop or Mac.

is buying a used laptop a good idea

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Should you wish to squeeze as much value out of your next laptop purchase, a refurbished or new option may appear rather enticing. While there can be some degree of risk involved with purchasing a used product, even from reputable retailers, we'll provide some helpful tips to ensure you're purchasing a laptop you'll be happy with.

In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about new, used, and refurbished systems so that you can make an informed decision when buying a Windows laptop. We'll also provide some helpful tips to ensure you're purchasing a laptop you'll ultimately be happy with.

Buying a new laptop instead of a used or refurbished one is typically what many people default to doing, and there are several good reasons why. For one, choosing a new device ensures that you won't have to deal with any user-caused damages to the laptop. You also don't have to worry about battery degradation when buying new, which is an important consideration for folks that aren't always able to stay near a wall plug and need dependable battery life. You'll also be able to take advantage of the device's full warranty period, and in most cases, stock of specific laptops and configurations will also be more readily available compared to used and refurbished options.

Choosing to buy a used device instead of a new one is best described as the high-risk, high-reward option. It's almost always the most affordable way to get your hands on a laptop, but since there isn't any official quality assurance with consumer-to-consumer purchases, the device's chassis or components might be damaged. Since the machine has also been, well, used before, you might have to contend with a worn-down battery and/or a short (or non-existent) warranty.

Notably, there generally aren't many cutting edge laptops available used, so you'll probably have to settle for something a year or two old (a good example being older models of the Acer Spin 5, which recently got a new design refresh). Specific spec configurations might be tough to find as well, so keep that in mind.

Overall, buying used can be tricky, but there are some things you can do to mitigate the risks and make sure you're getting a reliable and dependable system. Here are the tips and strategies we recommend:

If a brand new device isn't a good fit for you but you don't want to deal with the risks of buying a used one, consider going with a refurbished (sometimes referred to as recertified) laptop. These exist as a middle ground offering, as they're usually not as affordable as used systems, but are thoroughly inspected and restored as much as possible by the device's manufacturers. This guarantees that they'll be in good working order, and while the condition won't be as good as a brand new laptop, you're still getting a nice discount.

The downside to going with a refurbished laptop is that depending on when you're looking to buy, the specific system with the specific hardware configuration you want may not be available. With that said, it's often easier to find newer devices like the Dell XPS 13 Plus for sale refurbished than it is to find them used, as manufacturers generally try to get pre-owned products returned to them back on the market quickly.

Ultimately, all three types of laptops are worth considering, but depending on what you need out of your purchase, there are some clear winners. Here's a quick recap of the main pros and cons of buying used and refurbished laptops compared to new ones:

Overall, we recommend most people to either buy new or get something refurbished since you don't need to worry about quality assurance issues and can still get a decent price with sales and discounts. With that said, buying used can be great too, especially if you're getting a laptop from a seller with great reviews and a history of trustworthy transactions.

If you buy a used machine, test the battery right away: Make sure you can charge it to full, and then run the laptop until the battery dies. If you have time, repeat the test a second time. If you find that the battery can't hold a reasonable charge, you should probably return it for a refund, unless you can replace the battery inexpensively. Keep in mind that it might be hard to get a replacement battery for an older laptop.

You can buy used, open-box, and refurbished laptops directly from the manufacturer, at physical and online retailers, and on marketplaces. Buying directly from the manufacturer cuts out the middleman, will offer the clearest terms as to whether the used product carries any additional warranties, and it will nearly guarantee a product works like new or as close to new as possible.

Buying used is also a great opportunity to get more performance than you normally would be able to at a given price point. Generally, you should try to stick to laptops with at least 8GB of DDR4 memory, 256GB or more of SSD storage, and an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor or better. Laptops with these specs start at about $400 new, but they are much cheaper used.

Buying a used MacBook is tricky because of the late 2010s models with unreliable Butterfly keyboards and overheating issues. If you can, stick to buying used MacBooks with an M1 processor and scissor-switch keyboard. They have excellent battery life and performance and have had good reliability among reviewers and consumers.

Plus, buying a used PC cuts down on electronic waste. You rescue an old but functional computer from getting thrown in the trash, and you avoid buying a cheap PC that will wear out and be disposed of in a few years.

The three most important things to look for in a used PC are its physical condition (especially for laptops, which move around more and take more punishment), its make and model number, and its specifications.

If you're trying to squeeze the most value out of every dollar of your next laptop purchase, consider buying a refurbished unit. While you won't usually find the latest and greatest products being sold as refurbished, you will often be able to save money and get slightly more functionality by considering a product that's not fresh off the factory line.

Regardless of its route to the laptop spa, manufacturers or third-party authorized refurbishers typically sanitize, sort and grade the units based on physical look and functionality. They disassemble each one, checking for damaged components, battery function, screen quality, power supply, loose connections, hard drive and optical drive. If a seller does not follow a process like this, the product isn't really refurbished; it's used.

After a refurbisher inspects, cleans, repairs and restores a used or returned laptop to factory settings, the unit is certified to be in good working order and returned to the retailer or manufacturer for sale at a discount.

Also, look for a generous return policy so you get to test the machine and otherwise make sure the unit suits you. Rechargeable batteries are considered consumables and have a natural lifespan, so you'll want to make sure your refurbished laptop can hold a charge. Amazon states that new, used and refurbished products purchased from Marketplace vendors are subject to the returns' policy of the individual vendor. Some 14-day money-back return policies involve a restocking fee, so watch out.

Amazon also sells refurbished, used and open-box laptops from its Amazon Warehouse Deals site. Though the company tests the functional and physical condition of products sold there, and grades them before putting them out for sale, there are no warranties for such used items, except for optional extended warranties you can purchase.

If you're willing to put in the work, you can also buy with confidence from sites like Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Craigslist. Craigslist is the most difficult to work with, since listings don't include photos of what's being sold, just text descriptions; this means you have to be willing to exchange contact information with sellers in order to get photo and video proof of working condition. Even then, it's possible that this evidence has been faked in order to dupe you into buying a dud item or sending money without ever receiving your laptop.

If you're considering buying a pre-owned laptop -- whether it's used or refurbished -- from a local buy/sell/trade page, here are a few tips to keep in mind to protect yourself as well as your wallet:

Buying used from a local seller is much different than walking into a big -name retail store and browsing their pre-owned items. You often can't get your hands on the actual laptop to make sure it works. So you have to get creative. If a listing provides pictures that show the laptop is on and running properly, ask for a video of the entire boot-up sequence from black screen to home screen. You'll be able to tell if the seller has made any cuts to hide problems or has faked the still photos. You should also ask for a photo of the laptop model and serial number; you can plug these into Google to find exact manufacture and release dates, build configurations, known issues, and any product recalls. This helps you to fact-check seller-provided information.

This mostly applies to retailers who offer pre-owned and refurbished laptops, since you can often get limited warranties to cover things like bad batteries, cracked screens, or dead components. But it never hurts to ask an individual seller if a laptop is still covered by any manufacturer's warranties, especially if it's a somewhat newer model. This way, if anything goes wrong, you can contact someone to help troubleshoot or offer repairs. Apple offers AppleCare coverage for their certified refurbished laptops as well as 90-day tech support so you never have to worry about your used computer giving up the ghost and leaving you high and dry. 041b061a72


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