Everyone enjoys a good bargain, so buying a used computer can make sense financially. You get an older model, sure, but if you don’t need the latest and greatest cutting-edge technology, it may be sufficient for your needs. You don’t need a 2GB graphics card and 16GB of RAM to check emails, use Microsoft Office, and surf the web. That being said, when buying a used computer it’s not much different than buying a new computer. You need to know what you’re going to use it for and ensure that it will be capable of performing the tasks you intend to use it for. You can even get a great gaming machine with all the power you need, for a fraction of the price of buying new.
The first thing you should consider is portability: are you looking for a new desktop computer, or are you wanting a laptop to carry around with you? If you’re buying a laptop, make sure you check out the dimensions and weight to ensure it will fit in your preferred bag/briefcase/etc. and won’t be too heavy to lug around with you. Also, if you’re buying a laptop, you may wish to look up how much a new battery will cost—laptop batteries are notorious for their decreased ability to hold a charge as time goes on. You may well have to purchase a new battery so you can use it on the go without being tethered to a wall charger (unless the person/company you’re purchasing from has recently replaced the battery; be sure to ask).
You may find a great deal on a classifieds site (such as Craigslist), from a local shop that carries refurbished laptops and desktops, or maybe from a friend who no longer needs the machine and is happy to let it go for a fair price. But before you commit, be sure the software that comes with the machine (especially the operating system) is genuine. The last thing you want is to get an alert one day that your license for Windows (or OSX, as the case may be) is not genuine, and it will cost a fair bit to reauthorize your machine with a legit key.
Also keep in mind the warranty, or lack thereof. If you’re buying from Craigslist or a friend, you likely won’t get any kind of warrant, so if something goes wrong, you’ll have to pay for repairs out of pocket. If you purchase from a local or online seller, there’s a good chance they will offer some kind of warranty or service plan. Be sure to ask to make sure they offer some kind of protection if something goes wrong… peace of mind is always nice to have.
When you’re buying a used machine, see if you can give it a test-run for a bit. Using it for a few hours is a great way to see how it handles and can save you headaches. If they won’t go for that, at least have them turn the machine on and show that everything is in proper working order. When looking over the computer, keep an eye out for any cracks or dents, dead pixels on the screen, broken peripheral ports (especially USB drive ports), etc.
It’s certainly possible to get a good deal on a used machine, but be thorough before purchasing or you may regret it. Also be sure to find out the asking price, and check online to make sure there’s not a better deal for a new machine.
If you’ve purchased a used machine (or a new machine!) and are having problems with it, bring it in to tekRESCUE for a free 15-minute diagnosis and quote! We’d be happy to look it over and let you know what the underlying potential issues could be, and how much they will cost to fix.