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13 Things to Check Before Buying a Used Laptop

Used Laptops

There is always a point of a dilemma when buying a fairly used laptop even for the tech-savvy; especially where there is a need to strike a balance between performance and pricing. This article (the first in a series) is a sort of quick guide for choosing the right used laptop whiles maintaining a balance between price and performance. Let’s look at the basic features to look out for before making a choice so as to get the best out of your money.

Let’s get started already.

So What Do You Look Out For When Buying A Used Laptop

1.     Check the kitting

You are looking for a laptop, and some inventive scammers may be looking for profit. Though the laptop remains the core of the system, it is useless without components kit, which include:

  • hardware
  • battery
  • charging device
  • software (optional)
  • additional accessories, like mouse or bag

Some of the older models may cause troubles in case they come without a battery or a charging device – they may be simply out of production, which means they are almost impossible to find or do not exist anymore.

Such an item as a computer bag is something you do not think about before you have a laptop in your hands and do not know where to place it and how to come back home.

Sellers always indicate details about kiting in the product description. If not, feel free to ask before making a final decision. Check everything once again during the meeting (before you pay).

2.     Check an exterior

It may be not the defining criteria, but objectively the way a laptop looks tells a lot about the way it was used.

Some prefer little white lies as a marketing approach and indicate an incorrect period of exploitation. The general wear is directly related to general productivity. In case of serious damages, significant functions may be affected, and in such cases, a device becomes completely useless. Pay attention to case and chassis – it is the “body”, that protects “mind” and keeps it functioning.

Always try to notice:

  • dents, holes, scratches etc. – whether they are absent
  • bolts, screws, shirring – whether they are present.

Do not buy a device, which seems unstable and looks more like Lego than a solid device.

Check a screen

Change a background picture, look through the photos, open videos, and make sure graphics is okay.

Try to play a little bit with brightness and contrast levels, to adjust the screen to different conditions. If you are not sure any content left on a laptop, bring a USB flash drive, it will be helpful with checking inputs, too.

4.     Check battery life

Ask a seller about battery life. After you get the answer and are satisfied, turn on a laptop and leave it working during your conversation. It probably won’t take much time, but if a seller has lied about battery life, it may start going off faster than needed.

To be completely sure about what you are going to buy, take a special device for inspecting a battery, as shown in the video.

You can also try to get a backup: ask a seller for a testing day of use, for replacement or discount. In case you are not sure about battery quality, do not hurry to buy a device.

Weak battery life is actually what you should expect when buying a used laptop. Just decide whether you are ready to use a laptop in such a condition, how weak battery you may stand, and whether you are ready to replace it.

5.     Check a motherboard

It would be perfect to ask for proper documentation and test a laptop – how responsive and fast it is, whether it heats to fast, making loud noises, or is somehow disturbing.

6.     Check a processor

If it takes a long time for a device to load and carry out a simple operation, there is a reason to be concerned.

Certainly, a laptop will work slower than a new one, maybe a little noisier. This is what a buyer should be ready for, but they do not have to buy a device, which is hardly working, only because the price is attractive.

7.     Check RAM

Try to run several programs and applications at once, open many tabs in web browser, and then try to switch between them.

If it takes enough time to make you angry and ready to destroy everything around, this laptop is probably not the best option for you.

To be more serious, take a little test and decide whether a device is fast enough for you. If you feel that it affects your work, look for an option with better RAM – more advanced or less used.

8.     Check a keyboard

The first thing you will pay attention to is the visibility of letters. Look whether it will be convenient for you to use what you are offered or not.

While visibility is what you can correct by putting stickers (sold in every store with electronic devices), broken, missing, and keys impossible to press will cause a lot of troubles.

Pay attention to touchpad responsiveness, even if you are operating mostly with the computer mouse.

9.  Check ports and inputs

Inspect everything you can, from the USB connection, headphone jacks, power cord input to what you can reach and test. Buying a device, which will cause troubles with simple launching to the network via cable or data transfer is certainly not worth doing.

10. Check a camera

It is probably not the most important feature, but if you like to make video calls, it would be hard to survive without a well-functioning webcam. Run the application or log into Skype to conduct a test.

11. Check software

There are many programs fixed to a specific computer. If there is something special installed, consider a resale. Also, do not forget to ask about software in general, at least about the operating system.

Make sure everything is licensed. Otherwise, it may come with viruses, bugs, or even lead to your personal data leakage in the future.

Remember: no one puts cracked programs into free access just because they have good intentions. In most cases, these intentions are not that good for you.

12. Check whether the device belongs to the seller

Let’s suppose, buying a stolen laptop is okay because:

  • you are not the one, who did it
  • you have paid, and it is not your trouble that the money didn’t reach a real owner
  • an owner should have taken better care of valuable things

However, it is NOT okay because:

  • you will be the one, who suffers

Sometimes it happens that police find a lost or stolen device. If your newly acquired laptop becomes the one, it will cause inconvenience and maybe even serious troubles: try to prove you weren’t the one, who stole it.

Anyway, ask a seller for documentation, which is the best (and probably the only) proof that a device you are going to buy always belonged to a person, who is going to sell it to you.

13. Check warranty documentation

Depending on the age of the laptop and manufacturer, it may come with a warranty.

If so, it is an extra bonus and great insurance. In this case, do not forget to ask for proper documents, including a bill and a box, and make a written agreement with a seller. It does not have to be something special and proved by a lawyer – just a note with text about transfer and signatures of buyer and seller below it is enough.

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