General Question

hug_of_war's avatar

Have you ever bought a used computer?

Asked by hug_of_war (10720points) June 20th, 2010

Experiences? Advice?

I’ve put my 4 yr old mac through a lot of wear and tear and I’d like to replace it in a year when I head off to grad school but am poor. Just considering my options at this point. Probably aiming towards a macbook but I’d like to hear from anyone.

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26 Answers

anartist's avatar

Yes. On eBay.
The one I am using now. I’m a PC person so it may not help. Decide what you want in a system. Compare new with fewer bells and whistles to older and maybe a little slower.
Try to buy from company that resells large groups of corporate computers.
If you buy on ebay, take your time and watch—the one I bought, the guy was unloading about 6 a week. Write a list of questions for the seller [things like upgradability, are there any necessary bits not included?etc]. Bids began to go up a bit after a few weeks so I bid and got it at decent priice.
Can’t guess everything though. I never thought to ask if the screws in the computer case had been glued in by IT folks and that was a drag to fix.

bootonthroat's avatar

Yes. I have purchased many used computers but never for personal use. I suggest purchasing through e-bay. DO NOT TAKE THE SYSTEM until you have inspected its entire operation. If this takes 30 minutes so be it. You must know that it functions before throwing away your money.

jrpowell's avatar

Right now Apple has a special where they give you a free iPod Touch if you are a student. And you get the student discount. So you can get a white MacBook for $949 and a new iPod Touch. You could turn around and sell the iPod for $150 bring the total cost to $800.

You can also check the refurbished section of, they hay have a MacBook for $759 right now.

I have bought a few from Macofalltrades and have been pleased with them.

arpinum's avatar

Going for a Macbook, make sure you get one with an Intel processor. Other than that you should be fine. RAM upgrades are cheap and easy.
Do a battery test (play a DVD on a loop). If you don’t get more than 2 hours on a macbook, ask for a discount. Replacement batteries are $50.

SamIAm's avatar

You can look into getting a refurbished macbook… i spoke with a computer guy at the office i used to work at before i bought my macbook pro and he advised against used or refurbished computers because you don’t know where they’ve been and what they’ve been used for or put through. his example was that some band could have had the computer on tour and spilled beer all over it/dropped it thousands of times and that there’s not much that refurbishing can do to fix that. i’d be careful… also, keep in mind that new macs (during certain months) are discounted for students.

jerv's avatar

I have had a few hand-me-downs that did well, though all were outdated and bordering on obsolete by the time I got them. I have also “recycled” many components. Aside from hard drives and laptop batteries, computers actually hold up pretty well over time.

That said, I have a preference for factory refurbs. They often have a warranty and sometimes are machines that were returned within hours of purchase and cannot be sold as new even though they practically are.

@anartist Upgradability? On a Macbook? Funny! Laptops in general are often not fun to upgrade though the newr ones are kind enough to put removable panels over the hard drive and RAM, and with a Macbook the fun factor drops exponentially.

tadpole's avatar

i would def recommend the apple refurbished store on apple’s store page….great discounts on macs that have been fully refurbished, checked, verified…they come with standard warranty and nice discount price…why go anywhere else…ebay too risky for me, just a personal thing but i would choose the refurb store first…

anartist's avatar

@jerv I was speaking of my own experience—I bought a Dell All-in-One.
OP asked about experiences not necessarily Mac advice.

hug_of_war's avatar

I am definitely considering a refurb but don’t want to spend tons on a computer I’ll use for probably only 2 years (when hopefully I’ll be employed).

tadpole's avatar

well if you’re looking for something cheap, that will do you for just a couple of years, then you will buy something proper, consider a netbook…

if you can afford it i would still do what i suggested above and then sell it as and when is timely for you…

jerv's avatar

@anartist I know. And as I said, I have had good luck with used computers in general… and not all of them PCs. I just had to laugh when I saw “upgradability” on your list of stuff to ask the seller after the OP mentioned leaning towards a Macbook. Don’t get me wrong; a used Macbook may be great, but not really upgradable.

Buttonstc's avatar

JohnPowells advice is solid and he’s our resident Mac guy. I was going to say Mac Genius, but realized that’s a real life job title:)

But I still would take his advice.

Other company refurbs may range from great to iffy. But Apple refurbs have been consistently rated excellent over many years. And you are eligible for the same warranty and Applecare as if bought new. They stand behind their products. I wouldn’t hesitate to get an Apple Refurb at all.

I think Ebay would be way too risky for a computer purchase.

I got my Macbook from a Professional Graphics Designer who had placed an ad on the local Craigslist.

These guys make their living from their computers so take care of and maintain them excellently.

Because they need to have state of the art stuff, they usually get a new computer every two years or so when most of the depreiation occurs. So they take the financial hit and I get the bargain.

Most of us don’t need the latest and greatest in terms of speed and such so it worked out fine for me.

Plus, because he had Apple care, the battery had been replaced just a few months prior so I had a two year old computer with an almost brand new battery.

My previous G4 tower also came from a Graphics pro and only cost me $200 several years back.

So I’ve had great experiences buying my Macs used because they had been well cared for and usually had the highest specs available to the original owner cuz that’s what pro Graphics guys need.

Just be careful on Craigslist and buy local. I was careful and it worked out fine for me.

The next time I purchase, I will most likely look for another Graphics pro who is upgrading. Either that or a refurb from the Applestore.

One can be poor as a churchmouse and still get a more than decent Mac.

anartist's avatar

@jerv i know nothing of macbooks
i am considering whether to upgrade – refurbish my hp laptop.

Buttonstc's avatar


While it’s true that Macs are not as easily upgradeable as PCs are, you give the impression that they aren’t at all.

Surely you are familiar with OWC ?

They’ve built an entire company from upgrade options for Macs of every description.

Granted, it’s not as easy as PCs but certainly not impossible. Shame on you for discouraging the boy needlessly :D

tadpole's avatar

am i right in thinking the newly redesigned mac mini is easier to upgrade?

jrpowell's avatar

@tadpole :: The new minis are easier to upgrade the RAM. That is about it. The hard-drive takes a bit of work to swap. And the CPU and video card are not replaceable since they are soldered on.

CaptainHarley's avatar

My first computer was a clone of the IBM 8088, which had an amber screen and required two floppy drives, one for the progam and one for the data. It was a used one, since that’s all I could afford at the time ( 1989 ), and I had great fun making it run… with DOS commands! Groan! : )

Side note: a friend of mine did his best to interest me in investing in a small computer software outfit that some guy had started in his garage. I had to use all my money for my family, so I didn’t invest in what later became a fly-by-night outfit called Microsoft! DOUBLE groan!

Andreas's avatar

@hug_of_war My first computer I bought secondhand through a local newspaper ad in about 1998 or so. It was OK. Then I started going to live auctions for all my computer needs in 2001 and 2002 and did really well, and saved a stack of money. The thing to remember at a live auction is do NOT get carried away with bidding. It can be infectious and cause one to lose control and end up paying too much. The printer on my Mum’s computer cost $5.00, had over half a tank of toner (laser printer) and the only thing I’ve had to spend on it was for a new bottle of toner. It still prints great.

UScitizen's avatar

No. But, I’ve sold some very good machines, for very little money. If you can buy from someone you know, go for it.

jerv's avatar

@Buttonstc It really depends on the model, but I don’t recall ever having to use special tools to crack the case on a PC whereas that seems to be common with Macs. You are correct that it is not impossible (few things are) but there are many things that are too much hassle, especially compared to a PC.
And it doesn’t help that I am a DIY guy; no shops for me! That probably affects my attitude a bit.

justn's avatar

I’ve never bought used, but I have bought a machine refurbished from Apple. It really is the way to go if you don’t need to have the latest and greatest right away.

lily786's avatar

No,I have never bought used computer.But i will recommend you to buy always new computer not buy used computer because some time use computer do not work well.

jerv's avatar

@lily786 You occasionally get a DOA new computer as well, so I think it really depends on the source. The last three used computers I bought worked fine and only got replaced because of obsolescence. Two of them are still running under new ownership.

anartist's avatar

@jerv it’s easier to RMA a DOA newbie.

BTW what’s a reasonable amount to spend on battery and new cd/dvd in hp laptop [not new but very good otherwise]
and . . . can a read/write be substituted for the old read-only in a laptop?

jerv's avatar

@anartist Depending on the company, it may actually be more hassle to RMA than to hand-solder your own microchips.

As for pricing out the drives and battery, that really depends on the model. Higher capacity batteries generally cost more and bigger laptops often have “bigger” batteries, so it’s hard to say. Optical drives may or may not be swappable. Some laptops have bays and such swaps are easy. Some have parts compatibility with newer models. Some you are S.O.L. As such, Ireally can’t give you a good answer. Sorry :(

anartist's avatar

@jerv thanx for trying

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