1. Know Your Needs
Before making any sort of purchase, you need to know what you will be using the computer for and buy something that matches your needs. Think about the sort of applications you will need, how portable you need your laptop to be, battery life, RAM and storage requirements.
When you find a second hand laptop you want to buy, search for the make and model online and print out its specifications to verify that it matches with the product you’re about to purchase.
Before you buy, check reviews online and see what people are saying about the laptop and its performance over a long period of time.
2. Inspect the Laptop Body
A thorough body check is non-negotiable. You need to make sure the laptop frame is free from cracks and signs of impact. Also, check for missing screws, loose hinges, and any other irregularities.
3. Check the Screen Condition
The next important step is to make sure the screen is in good working condition. Check for flickering, discolouration, brightness and bad pixels.
Open a video and see if the viewing angles are wide enough. Compare with other laptops before making a purchase.
4. Test the Keyboard and Trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad are the most used parts of computers, so it’s crucial to make sure both parts are working in a satisfactory manner.
Check for broken keys, pay attention to key travel and see if you feel comfortable typing with the keyboard. If you’re making too many mistakes, it might be best to try out other laptops.
Check what gestures are supported by the trackpad and try them out (such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, three-finger swipe, etc.). If mouse keys are present, make sure they’re easy to press.
5. Test the Ports and CD/DVD Drive
Try out all the USB ports, headphone jack, ethernet ports, HDMI, SD card slot, CD/DVD drive and other available inputs. Many of these are attached directly to the motherboard which is costly to replace.
6. Check Wireless Connectivity
Nobody wants a laptop that cannot connect to WiFi, so make sure you can view and connect to WiFi networks without hassle. Also check to see how Bluetooth performs.
7. Test the Webcam and Speakers
Most laptop webcams are mediocre. Still, it’s better to have a mediocre working webcam than no webcam at all.
I suspect not many people use their laptop speakers much, but it’s still a good idea to see how loud it can get and see if sounds get muffled or distorted easily.
8. Check the Battery Health
You may not always be able to perform a thorough battery check in most cases. Still, you can get a rough idea of how long the battery lasts by going into the power management settings of the installed OS to see how much charge the battery can hold and the battery health status.
Also, make sure the battery charges properly and doesn’t drain too fast. Otherwise, ask for a discount so you can get a replacement.
9. Software Checks
Make sure the preloaded operating system is genuine
Check the licenses of the software that is included with the laptop and make sure any product keys are made available to you
Ask for the original software CDs, recovery CD, drivers and backup media that came with the laptop
10. Make Sure You’re Getting a Good Deal
Before you commit to purchasing a used computer, make sure that you compare the quoted price with the price of its brand new or refurbished equivalent. If you plan to make any upgrades to the hardware, research the prices properly so that you can make an informed decision on whether you’d be better off buying new or refurbished.
Buying a used laptop does not have to be difficult. By performing these simple checks, you can potentially avoid making a purchase you would regret.
Please note that these checks do not guarantee that nothing will go wrong in the future, so be cautious while shopping, and don’t be afraid to return the product if you find any major problems.
Have you bought a used laptop in the past? How did you guard yourself from getting screwed by the purchase? Let us know in the comments!