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What to look for when buying a used laptop?

So, I have decided that I will be getting a used laptop to use at uni next year. But the thing is I kind of don't know what I am supposed to be looking for when buying a used laptop, so any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance
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Original post by Amin7
So, I have decided that I will be getting a used laptop to use at uni next year. But the thing is I kind of don't know what I am supposed to be looking for when buying a used laptop, so any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance

Whether you purchase a new laptop, a second-hand one, or even a refurbished one, always look at the specs. These are some of the points you need to be considerate of before buying one -

Screen Size: Minimum 12 inches or over. (Depends on portability and preference).
Display Quality: OLED or QLED, or mini-LED if feasible. (Depends on affordability and preferability). Otherwise, LCD.
Display Resolution: At least FHD+ (1920*1080) or QHD+, or 2K or 4K UHD (3840*2160). (Higher resolution offers a more vibrant and high-quality view).
Central Processing Unit (CPU): For Windows OS - Minimum 11th Gen or 12th Gen - Minimum Intel Core i5 or i7 or i9/AMD Ryzen 5 or 7 Series. For MacOS - Minimum M1 or M2 chipset. (Higher series are better, but depends on affordability and preferability).
Graphics Card: If feasible, Intel Iris XE or Nvidia 30-series cards such as 3060 or over. Otherwise, AMD Radeon 5000 series graphics cards or over. (Higher series are better, but depends on affordability and preferability).
Random Access Memory (RAM): Minimum 8 GB or more. (If needed).
Storage: Solid State Drive (SSD) - Minimum 256 GB or more. (If needed). Hard Disk Drive (HDD) if needed.
Memory Card Reader: Yes. (If needed).
Headphone Port: Yes.
HDMI Port: Yes.
USB Port: Yes. (The latest ones, such as USB Type C 3.2).
Operating System: Windows 10/11 Home for personal usage or Windows 10/11 Home in S mode or MacOS.
Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2.
Recommended Laptop Brands: Apple, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft.
Original post by Amin7
So, I have decided that I will be getting a used laptop to use at uni next year. But the thing is I kind of don't know what I am supposed to be looking for when buying a used laptop, so any advice would be appreciated. Thanks in advance


My biggest recommendation if you're shopping second hand is stick to either business lines like the Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell Precision/Lattitude or HP Elitebook since they're found pretty cheap on eBay, CeX or local classifieds, and are built to a better standard than consumer laptops. Alternatively, premium lineups like the Surface, Dell XPS or Apple MacBook range.

As for specs, the above poster is pretty on point, although I'd say for Windows machines, anything 8th gen CPU wise (really i5 at a minimum), or an AMD 4000 series or newer processor will be enough since the updates between that and the 11th gen are fairly iterative. At the same time, anything older than that won't support Windows 11, and even if you don't care for it, the newer processors are much better for longevity with more cores. It will still work for basic web browsing or office work, but there isn't much headroom for the future.

Additionally, pay close attention to the condition of the machine, or grading. Also avoid anything with a password BIOS lock, they're hard to remove and could mean the computer is stolen. Some may not have SSDs, this usually isn't a sign of theft since most thieves will sell the laptop as is and run, but it's not impossible and will add extra cost and effort. Additionally, you might want to consider reinstalling Windows (or Linux if you're into that), since it's hard to know what the seller installed. Battery health is the other main variable, if the laptop isn't lasting you long enough on battery, you might want to consider replacing the battery.

I'd say that's basically the main things to know. Classifieds (e.g. Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree) are the riskiest since you have little in the way of recourse if something goes wrong, but you can generally get the best deals there. CeX offers specific listings, and while they can be a little hit and miss, they do inspect everything to make sure it's clean and not stolen. eBay is somewhere in the middle, mostly because you can claim your money back if something goes wrong but it's still individual sellers. There's also manufacturer/big box retail refurbished offerings, which are generally the safest but the most expensive.

Hope this helps, this might be a little complicated but it's cheaper and better for the environment to go used.

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