Here are some tips on how to buy a good used laptop. Let's take a look at eBay. Please do not buy from companies that sell laptops on eBay. I have seen many defective laptops that one company has listed on eBay, which is simply outrageous. They list an auction on a laptop that will most likely fail after the warranty period. And, you will be stuck, as they will not accept it for a repair. They know that and also rely on a warranty period that is about six months in the UK, as of the date of writing this article.
What should you look for in a used laptop? First of all, look at the corners. Damaged corners indicate that it has been tossed around too much. Then check all the buttons, switches, DC jack, audio jacks etc., especially the power button and the keyboard. If they look damaged or there are a lot of scratches on them, it’s better to look somewhere else.
The laptop’s DC jack is very important. If it is broken, you will not able to charge the laptop.
Laptop USB ports occasionally get damaged by rough usage from kids. The majority of USB ports are soldered to the motherboard, and if they are abused using force, they get loose and break.
An HDMI port is now a must on a laptop or desktop computer. This is because the VGA port does not provide a good quality picture to the monitor. HDMI always gives exceptional picture quality.
FireWire ports usually stay unused unless you have a camera that connects with FireWire.
Laptop hinges also need to be checked. Sometimes they become so loose that they detach themselves from a laptop and then damage the screen cable.
Missing screws would be an indication that the laptop has been disassembled, and most likely, some parts replaced.
This can be good if it’s for upgrading memory, but it can be a bad thing if it’s a BGA (graphics chip) reflow. So, it’s better when the laptop has all the screws intact.
Audio inputs and outputs ports rarely get damaged. In the rare case, a headphone output can get damaged.
What should you ask the seller? First of all, ask them if the hard drive is okay. If they know what it is they can even tell you if there are any bad sectors on it. Do not buy a laptop that has a hard drive with bad sectors. This is a very bad decision. I need to tell you that companies do a little trick to erase those bad sectors. They try so-called “zeroing” the hard drive and try to install the operating system. If it works, then they list it on eBay. I do not have anything against eBay or good companies, but you need to know what to expect.
The other thing to look for is what screen the laptop has. If it looks like a cinema screen (widescreen), rectangular and the width is more than the height, then this is a modern laptop, most likely with DDR2 memory and a dual core CPU. The ones that have a square screen are not worth buying, as most likely they will be slow.
What type of technical specifications should I look for? As of the date of writing this article, buying a laptop with DDR2 memory is a good choice. There will probably not be many used laptops with a solid state drive (SSD), but you can possibly get one with a smaller capacity, like 64GB or 128GB. Please be careful with those netbooks or laptops that offer only a 32GB hard drive. I can’t imagine for what purpose somebody would use a laptop with a 32GB hard drive, except maybe browsing the net and email. The storage on these netbooks is so small that there is enough space for the operating system and that’s it.
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