Laptops are now extremely expensive. Even the low-end ultrabooks with no dedicated GPUs are at least $500, and the higher ones will definitely drain your wallet.
Luckily for you, just like used cars, you can get much better prices on laptops that have been used for a while and save some of your hard-earned cash.
So, to make sure you get the best bang for your buck, here are some tips you must consider when buying a used laptop.
1. Identify Your Need
If you are a business professional or a student, then you would want to look for three things in your laptop which are durability, battery life & typing experience.
You would want something with a solid build quality that holds up over time and since you will type a lot, you would want a decent keyboard. And of course, the laptop should also run a full day without charging.
Gamers, however, will have different needs. As a gamer, you would want the best gaming experience, a good display, and a working quality GPU.
In that case, search for laptops with dedicated GPUs like the 980m or 1060. As for displays, you will be better off with a laptop that has a 1080p display. It will give you a decently high pixel per inch count, enabling you to play games higher than 60 fps.
2. Determine Your Budget
After figuring out why you need a laptop, you need to set a budget. But you have to be realistic here, you will not get a 2018 razor blade 15 for $500.
However, if you are a student, you will get a quality laptop for $400. But if you are a gamer or a creative professional, you will have to shell out a lot more money for a gaming laptop and performance parts.
3. Inspect the Body for Visible Damage
Now that we have all that cleared out, it is time to inspect the laptop you are willing to buy.
First up, you have to check the exterior body for any signs of visible damage or dent. Check for loose hinges and missing screws.
Carefully check the screen for any cracks. Sometimes, even the tiniest scratch can later result in putting too much stress on the screen and cracking up.
Also, open and close the lid of the laptop several times to check if there is any problem or noise in the movement.
4. Check the Display
Since you cannot easily replace your display, always check for any discoloration, brightness problems, flickering screen, and dead pixels.
Dead pixels are the tiny pixels on the screen that no longer work. Online tools like Dead Pixels and CheckPixels can help you identify if there are bad pixels inside your screen. Be sure to press F11 before starting the test.
A lot of the newer models also come with touch screens and pen functionalities.
To check if your one works, open any paint program and start drawing with your fingers or pen and try to cover the entire surface with paint to see if there is any pixel that does not work.
5. Test The Keyboard Condition
Open any word processing software and type on the keyboard for a few minutes. Make sure you hit all the buttons. This will help you identify broken or stuck keys. See if your hands feel comfortable while typing.
There are a few functions of the trackpad which may not be super important but should be checked.
See if functions like the two-finger scroll, pinch to zoom, and three-finger swipe work. If there are mouse keys in the trackpad, then make sure they are easy to use and press.
6. The Battery Status Needs To Be Good
Many newer laptops come with sealed batteries, which makes it even more important to know the actual battery condition.
You can generate battery reports in MacBook to easily understand the number of cycles and the condition of your battery.
You can also use the power management systems of the OS to check its health status.
The ideal battery status for a used laptop would be around 100 to 150 cycles because most of the batteries stop working at a hundred percent after 400 to 500 cycles. After that, the battery slowly deteriorates.
Plugin the charger to see if the laptop properly charges and the battery does not drain abnormally.
7. Make Sure the Ports Work
Your laptop will have a bunch of ports like USB ports, Ethernet ports, SD card slot, HDMI, or display port, and a headphone jack.
Test all the ports using a USB cable, a flash drive, and headphones. Some ports are even connected to the motherboard so replacing them is quite expensive. If any of the ports do not work, then look for another laptop to avoid unnecessary expenses.
8. Observe the SSD & HDD Condition
To check the condition of the SSD, you can use crystal disk marks or similar applications.
You can either install it on the laptop or have it on your flash drive and still check the SDD status. The program will show how much SSD has been used and how much data has been written.
The ideal SSD condition will be if data usage is within the range of 10 Terabytes.
If the laptop has an HDD, then use the manufacturer’s tools, or the in-built CHKDSK tool or the command line WMIC to scan for any errors.
9. Check for CPU & GPU Issues
The CPU & GPU are vital parts of your laptop. If either one of them is not working properly, you should look for another laptop.
You can use stress tester tools like Cinebench or CPU burner to check the CPU condition. If the laptop lags or shuts down without warning, then there is something wrong with the CPU and cooling functions.
To test the GPU, run multiple applications or games, and see if the screen flickers or hangs. If it does, then it is a problem.
10. Identify If the Laptop Can Be Upgraded
If you are looking to buy a laptop that you want to keep for at least a couple of years then make sure it can be upgraded with newer parts when it starts to slow down.
The battery should also be replaceable. If the laptop has been used for a few years, then chances are that it won’t have the battery capacity it used to and it is going to die a lot faster. So, you might have to replace the battery at some point.
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Always try your luck by haggling down the price and thoroughly inspect the laptop for any defects. We do hope this article was helpful in providing you with the information you needed to buy the best-used laptop.