The rise of online auction sites like eBay or personal buying and selling sites like craigslist and Swappa (opens in new tab) made it really easy to sell your old laptop to generate some cash towards a new one.
It's equally easy to buy a pre-owned laptop yourself to save some money while still getting a quality product. AS long as you know what to look for, you can easily find a great deal.
1. Buy from reputable sources
There's always a risk when you're buying a used product, but you can mitigate that. For example, buying at sites like eBay (opens in new tab), Amazon, or Swappa (opens in new tab) will give you buyer protections that you won't find on craigslist or in your local newspaper classifieds.
You'll still be able to buy from individuals directly, thus usually guaranteeing a better price. But there's some backup if anything goes south.
2. Buy and collect face to face when possible
If you are going to collect an item you've bought online, always arrange to meet in a neutral, public place for your own safety.
Getting your hands on the laptop before you close the deal is the surest way of making sure you're happy, the product works, and it's in the condition you want.
3. Check the hardware and software
Whether buying face to face or having it delivered from somewhere like an eBay seller, make sure the first thing you do is give the hardware and software a thorough check. Perform the following checks:
- Is the OS activated and a genuine copy?
- Is there any noticeable damage to the laptop?
- Test all the ports and any optical drives it may have.
- Try the keyboard and trackpad, make sure the key travel is even throughout, that there are no broken keys and that the trackpad behaves as you would expect.
- Fire up the webcam, make sure it works using something such as the Windows Camera app.
- Play some audio to check the speakers.
- Examine the display, looking for any dead pixels or serious bleed.
- Make sure the Wi-Fi and Ethernet are working.
If you're not happy with the condition, walk away. If faults you find aren't deal breakers, at least haggle for a discount if they weren't previously declared.
4. Price check against new hardware
It's easy to think buying a used laptop will automatically save you money. But you don't know that unless you check the prices at the manufacturer stores or big retailers like Amazon, Newegg and Best Buy.
If you aren't saving much, it might be worth spending more for a new laptop with a manufacturer warranty and some form of after-sales support.
Buying a used laptop won't usually give you much support after you purchase it.
5. If it seems too good to be true it probably is
You see a lightly used, one-year-old Surface Book (opens in new tab) on eBay for $400. An absolute steal, you have to have it!
Except, that's too good to be true. One of the most basic rules of buying used hardware is that if the deal seems too good, it likely is some form of scam.
Those are what we recommend to help you make the best purchase for you. If you have any tips of the trade to share, be sure to drop them into the comments below.
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Search online for reviews for the specific make and model you are interested in buying used. Look up the manuals online. Check the prices and availability of add-ons.
I don't want a laptop new or used but I do want that cat!
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