The outbreak of COVID-19 combined with the increase in prices and shortage of chips has triggered an increase in the price of most electronics like Laptops and Smartphones, especially “good” Laptops that were already very expensive to buy. But, do you know that there’s another way to buy good laptops for cheap? We’re talking about buying used/second-hand old laptops.
Now, a lot of people usually stay away from used goods because most either have a lot of trust issues or they prefer buying a new one instead for various reasons like the warranty, but for those who are tight on budget and want to buy a good used laptop for work, here are the things to check when buying a used/refurbished Windows laptop.
Do not buy a used Windows laptop that’s more than a couple of years old. Old laptops tend to overheat, will run slower due to older processors and memory, and will have worse battery backup. As of 2021 standards, stay away from anything lower than 8th Generation Intel and 2nd Generation Ryzen CPUs.
Things To Check When Buying A Used/Second-Hand Laptop
1. Check For Reviews On The Internet
The first thing that I do whenever I’m about to finalize a deal is to check its reviews on the internet or YouTube and know the pros and cons. This way, you’ll know if the device is the right pick for you.
Suppose the online reviews highlight specific cons that you think could be a dealbreaker, as the seller if they’ve faced any issues about the con(s).
2. Ask For A Valid Purchase Receipt
You can ensure that the seller is genuine and the used laptop is not a stolen property by asking for a valid purchase receipt. If the seller doesn’t have a purchase receipt, ask for the online transaction proof if the laptop was purchased online.
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If the seller has neither of them, ask for the original packaging and the box the laptop came in and ask for the accessories. You can check if the laptop is genuine or not by checking if the serial number in the laptop OS matches that on the box.
Asking for the purchase receipt is crucial if the seller claims that the Laptop is still in warranty. If you run into issues with the laptop in the future, the authorized service center might ask you to present a valid purchase receipt.
3. Inspect The Laptop’s Outer Shell
There’s no denying that scratches are the most annoying, and even a minor scratch on your new, shiny gadget can leave you sleep-deprived. Depending on how old the laptop is, it is important to check carefully for scratches and dents.
If you’re getting the laptop for a very reasonable price, you can ignore any minor scratches and scuffs but, if the laptop has heavy dents and marks on both the front lid and on the back cover, don’t buy it as it might’ve also suffered internal damage as the seller probably used it very roughly.
4. Check For Dead Pixels On The Display
Thoroughly inspect the laptop’s display and see if there are any scratches or dead pixels on display. You’ll be spending most of your time staring at the screen. One dead pixel is enough to ruin your experience and make you want to smash the screen, especially when watching movies.
Sometimes, these dead pixels might also spread, making a portion of the laptop’s screen black. Replacing the display of a laptop might cost more than half of the laptop’s price; hence, this is one of the crucial things that you should be checking in a used/second-hand laptop.
Spotting a dead pixel is easy. If you see a tiny black spot on the screen, never assume it to be a dust particle. Try wiping it out with a damp cloth. If it remains, you may be dealing with a dead pixel.
5. Test The Performance
To check if the performance is up to the mark, use the laptop for around ten minutes. Try opening multiple browser windows and system apps and try multi-tasking and switching between them. If the seller claims that the laptop has an SSD, you might want to check the SSD health, which we’ll show you how to, later in this article.
If you find out that the laptop is slow, don’t hesitate to ask the seller why it’s slow. Even when the processor and memory are sufficient to handle the OS and apps, the issue persists in storage inside.
The laptop will run painfully slow if it has a hard drive, whereas an SSD is a faster storage drive that can boost the laptop’s performance so much that you’d be awestruck.
The good news is, SSDs in laptops became a standard a couple of years ago. Hence, if you’re buying a laptop that’s around a year old, chances are, it probably has an SSD.
If the laptop lacks an SSD, you’ll need to buy one. The good news is SSDs have become cheaper over the years. Hence, try to strike a sweet spot while negotiating to cover up the cost of a new SSD. If you’re confused about which SSD to buy from a plethora of options out there, here are the best SSDs that you can buy for gaming and daily usage.
6. Use The Camera And Play Audio
If you’re purchasing a laptop for work, you’d probably want to attend meetings and play audio; hence, it is important to test out the camera and the audio quality.
On Windows, you can open the camera app (Start button -> Type “Camera” in the start search bar -> Click on the first option) to check the camera quality or if it’s actually working.
Similarly, try connecting the laptop to the internet via Wi-Fi, head over to YouTube, and play a video to test out both the audio and the picture quality.
7. Test The Keyboard
Most used laptops tend to have issues with the keyboard; hence, make sure to test out the keys by opening the Notepad app and hitting on each key at least three times.
If, while pressing, you feel that some keys are hard but still work, chances are, they might stop working after some time, or it can also be because there’s a lot of dust accumulation. Do make sure to ask the seller about the same and take inputs about when the issue emerged.
8. Test The I/O Ports
I/O ports are another important things that you shouldn’t forget checking. Start by testing the charging pin if it plugs in tightly or if there’s any play in between, the 3.5mm headphone jack, SD card slot, Type-C, and the USB ports (By plugging in a USB device).
If you don’t have any device to test out the HDMI port, ask the seller if it works properly.
9. Keep An Eye On The Battery Percentage
Honestly, the battery backup of a second-hand laptop will not be amazing to begin with, but the battery of an extensively used laptop might discharge at a faster rate. Hence, keep an eye on how fast the battery is discharging by using it for at least ten to fifteen minutes.
10. Check The Health Of The SSD
Checking the health of the SSD is very simple. If the seller added the SSD later, ask the name of the SSD and download the official OEM tool on it. For example, if the SSD make is Samsung, one can download Samsung’s Magician app to check the health of the SSD.
If the laptop came with a pre-installed SSD, you’d need to untighten the screws at the back of your laptop, open it up, and look at the make of the SSD. You can then download the appropriate tool and check the health of the SSD.
We know this is not something that you can do in front of the seller but, considering most laptops come with Western Digital SSDs or Samsung SSDs installed, you can download the “Western Digital Dashboard” or Samsung Magician to know the health of the SSD.
Buying A Used/Second-Hand Laptop: Specs That A Used Laptop Should Have
- At least 8 GB of RAM
- 8th Gen Intel or 3rd Gen Ryzen processors
- IPS/VA display with 1920×1080 pixels resolution
- Should have an SSD
Lastly, do not buy a laptop with a TN (Twisted Nematic) display panel. To spot a TN panel, all you need to do is tilt the screen while the laptop is switched on to at least a 45° angle and notice if the colors are fading out. If they are, then it’s safe to assume that the display is a TN panel.
VA or IPS panels have greater viewing angles compared to TN. While a VA panel isn’t as good as IPS, it is better than TN in displaying colors with a good contrast ratio.
Is A Used/Second-Hand Laptop Worth Buying
Yes, totally. Buying a used laptop can help you save a lot of money, and more importantly, you’ll be contributing to reducing the carbon footprint on the earth. The only con of buying a used laptop is, you might get scammed if you don’t know how the second-hand market works or what you should look for in a good used laptop.
All in all, we suggest you try to meet the seller in person, thoroughly check the laptop and buy it only you’re satisfied. Try to avoid ordering refurbished laptops directly from platforms like eBay, as they might develop issues over time, and you might even receive a faulty laptop.
These were some of the things on how to check used laptop condition. Make sure you take your time to check all the things, and more importantly, ask the seller about the things you’re skeptical about.