by Paul Rudo on 14/02/11 at 5:06 pm
With computer manufactures releasing new and innovative models every 6 months, many consumers can still get a powerful used laptop at an affordable price. When looking to purchase a used laptop computer many factors come into play that will impact your purchasing decision. I have compiled my 5 top tips for making sure you get the best bang for your buck when looking to purchase used gear.
1. Determine what you need the laptop for:
Are you looking to buy and everyday machine? Gaming? Design? By determining what you will be primarily using the laptop for will help you understand what kind of specifications your machine will need to complete the tasks at hand.
For example if you will be gaming or doing projects with intense graphics or video you should opt for a machine with a faster processor, more RAM, and a high-end graphics card.
2. Research the model:
Once you have found a certain model that looks appealing to you, Google the heck out of it. Start by searching known problems or help articles to understand if the model has any common issues or known problems. Your next bit of research should be on the standard specification of the laptop. You want to make sure the one you are buying is up to par and has not been downgraded. Also check to see if it can be upgraded. Certain laptops will only allow certain size RAM maximum or hard drive size. So if you are looking to upgrade it later this is something you should look into.
3. Physical Inspection:
When a professional athlete signs a million dollar contract with a team he is sure to get a thorough physical inspection. This should be true for you new computer purchase as well (minus the cough and turn!). Below are the main hardware components to watch out for. If you are buying online ask the seller for detailed images or a video that will cover the items below.
- Screen- check for dead pixels, flickering, and proper brightness
- Hinges, Ports, and Drives- maker sure all the moving parts work from the hinges to the optical drive slot. Also try to plug in USB drives to see if all the ports work properly.
- Battery- check to see if the battery holds a charge. If possible make sure it can stay on longer than 30 minutes. Also check the power cable and jack to ensure it powers when plugged in.
- Use your senses- listen to strange sounds from hard drive or chassis, touch to feel for extreme heat or hot air. If it smells bad…just stay away.
4. Check for legal issues and warranty:
With plenty of counterfeit machines and operating systems on the market you want to make sure authenticity. Look for a COA (certificate of authenticity) on the bottom of the machine. Next make sure the COA matches the OS installed on the machine. If the previous user has made OS or software upgrades, make sure they have all licenses and boxes if possible. One last thing to check would be remaining warranty if applicable. Just like buying a used car, many vehicles still offer the remaining factory warranty with the purchase.
5. Ask question, seek advice:
If you are still undecided about your purchase ask the user as many questions as possible. The seller’s reactions should give you better clarity on how the machine was used and how honest the seller is. If possible ask for help from tech savvy friend or colleague. Obliviously a second or third opinion from an outside source can’t hurt.
Finding a proper used machine for yourself does require you to do your homework, but will be rewarding at the end of the day. If researching and examining is not your cup of tea, I would recommend looking at refurbished machines from the manufacturer. This essentially is like buying a “Certified Pre-Owned” car. Normally the manufacturer will offer a warranty and money back guarantee behind their refurbished products. The savings on a refurbished machine may not be as great compared to a second hand machine, but it does replace a lot of the headache. The bottom line is whether you are buying new, refurbished, or used you make sure you know what you need and what you like. With those 2 factors decided and a bit of Google power, you should be well on your way to finding your perfect match. Good luck!
About The Author: Anthony Scarsella is the Chief Gadget Officer at Gazelle.com, a leading online seller of used laptops.