Buying used notebooks

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 22, 2006
Updated • May 2, 2013

Is it a good idea to look at online marketplaces like eBay to find a (used) notebook? Is it a good idea to buy a used one or should you instead buy a new one instead? Buying used ones often has some advantages over buying new laptops: The price may be considerably lower, even if the used one has been purchased just a few months ago. Prices for last generation notebooks drop fast, even more so if they have been in use. It is also noteworthy that this is mostly true for Windows laptops, and not for Apple Macbooks which often retain much of their value even after years.

You normally get no warranty whatsoever unless you purchase it from an merchant who sells goods on eBay or another shopping site. This may be a disadvantage to some but it could also be seen as an advantage. Not many people would open up the notebook and take a look inside to replace parts if there is still warranty on the notebook.You could easily replace a small hard drive with a larger one for example without the fear of voiding the warranty of the notebook or paying exorbitant prices for it.

The guys from Notebook Review put an article online that gives you valuable hints for purchasing a Notebook on eBay (and other online marketplaces).

  • How was it used?
  • Original owner?
  • Are original accessories included?
  • Is all the bundled software included?
  • Is the screen bright?
  • Are there any dead pixels?
  • Is there a valid serial sticker (COA)?Is the screen hinge solid?
  • Are there cracks or creaks?
  • Are the keyboard keys worn?
  • Does it get hot?
  • How loud is the cooling?
  • Do all the plugs work?
  • Is the operating system included?
  • Repair history?

They put up a checklist of questions that you should ask the seller before you bid or make the purchase. Questions include how the laptop was used, if the keyboard keys are worn, if there are cracks or creaks, dead pixels on the monitor, or if it is having a repair history. Most will hopefully be explained in the items description, everything that is not should be asked.

You still need to trust the seller's answers to go forward with the purchase. A look at past feedback from other buyers may help, as will common sense. A brand new $2000 Dollar laptop offered for $800 buy it now price, from a seller without history, that's a clear sign that something is likely fishy.


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  1. Dave said on March 19, 2006 at 8:32 am

    One guy describes a sweet alternative to laptops that costs a hundred bucks or so.

    If you already have a laptop or just access to one, I guess it will boot that too.

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