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How to buy used PC?

Even in the best of circumstances, finding an inexpensive computer with a nice-looking screen, a comfortable keyboard and touchpad, and fast enough performance to prevent you from having to wait for apps and tabs to open is difficult. The endeavor is nearly difficult given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a global silicon chip shortage. Although purchasing a used computer is a terrific way to save money, doing so comes with a lot of dangers. Here’s how to purchase a quality used computer without being ripped off.

However, a laptop or desktop from a few years ago should still be adequate for you to browse the internet, participate in video conferences, edit documents and other school projects, and talk with professors and friends. Purchasing a good secondhand PC requires a bit more work than purchasing anything new. Additionally, a variety of secondhand PCs are available from retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Newegg, and others, saving you from using risky websites like Craigslist and eBay. Buying a secondhand PC can be an affordable option to get a computer you don’t despise, whether you’re getting ready for another semester of online learning or are still getting acclimated to working from home.

When should I buy a used PC?

You can save a few hundred bucks by purchasing a used computer that is capable of performing most of the same tasks as a new one. A new computer and one from a few years ago don’t perform that differently from one another for the activities most people do on their computers—browsing the web, editing documents and spreadsheets, or looking at and editing photographs and videos from your phone.

If you’re on a tight budget, purchasing used items could enable you to spend the same amount of money on something nicer than a contemporary budget laptop. For instance, a high-end Lenovo ThinkPad that cost $1,400 two or three years ago would have a quicker processor, a better screen, and be constructed of nicer materials than a new laptop that is going for $500.

A used PC purchase also reduces electronic waste. You prevent a cheap PC that will break down and need to be thrown out in a few years from being purchased and you save an old but usable computer from being dumped in the garbage.

When should I buy a new PC?

A secondhand PC might not be the ideal option for you if you want to play high-end games or perform professional 3D drafting work. Higher system requirements for PC games will result from the new game consoles that will be released in the fall, and graphics processors will continue to advance more swiftly than other computer components. For photo and video editing, though, a secondhand laptop might still be a decent choice because such programs don’t require as much visual processing power.

The kind of top-notch customer service and warranty support you can get with an AppleCare Protection Plan or an extended manufacturer warranty typically aren’t included with a used laptop. There are used PCs available with one or two years remaining on their original warranties, and these warranties typically transfer smoothly to new owners. However, it’s more typical to discover restricted 30- or 90-day warranties that only protect you if the computer is completely unusable when it arrives.

Although the customer support offered by these businesses can be hit or miss, third-party extended warranties can provide some piece of mind. However, you should read the fine print carefully to determine what is and is not covered. A PC that has been manufacturer refurbished offers the greatest support and comes with a like-new warranty from the computer’s maker.

What to look for

The physical condition, brand and model number, and specifications of a used PC are the three most crucial items to check for (particularly with laptops, which are more mobile and subject to more abuse).

It’s simpler for you to evaluate a computer’s condition because some used-PC vendors include images of the real computers they’re selling. Others may grade it with a letter; to lower the possibility of obvious wear or damage, stick with systems rated A or B. Purchasing a manufacturer-refurbished system is the only way to ensure you’ll receive something that seems to be brand new.

In general, we advise sticking with computers and laptops from Dell, HP, Lenovo, or Apple (or Apple if you’re purchasing a Mac). It’s acceptable to purchase pre-owned machines built by smaller companies like Acer or Asus, but it’s typically simpler to locate components and assistance for machines made by the larger firms. We particularly enjoy business-oriented desktops and laptops from manufacturers like Dell (Optiplex and Latitude), Lenovo (ThinkCentre and ThinkPad), and HP (Pro and Elite). These PCs are heavier than contemporary ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 or the Apple MacBook Air, but they can be upgraded and repaired more easily, and they’re made of stronger materials that will stand up better under pressure.

Minimum requirements

With a computer that satisfies our minimum standards, the majority of individuals can function. Here are some things to check for if you only need to perform simple tasks like web browsing, document editing, and video chatting:

Select an Intel Core processor from the seventh generation or more recent (look for a model number that starts with Core i3, i5, or i7, followed by a number in the 7000s or higher).

Memory: 4 GB is the bare minimum for use with apps and basic web browsing. However, if you get a computer with 4 GB, make sure you can update the memory yourself. While many laptops don’t support it, you can nearly always do so with a desktop.

Storage: In terms of dependability and responsiveness, a solid-state drive with a capacity of 128 GB or more is preferred over a larger but slower mechanical hard disk drive. However, you can save some money by purchasing a computer with a hard drive and replacing it yourself with an SSD.

Screen type: IPS displays are preferable to inexpensive TN panels for notebooks because they offer better color reproduction and viewing angles (WVA displays, although rarer and not as good as IPS, also usually look okay). While the display technology may not always be mentioned in listings for used computers, 1080p panels are more likely to have IPS, though this is not a guarantee.

Screen resolution: Full HD, commonly known as 1920 by 1080 pixels, is preferred for laptop displays, while some older models may be able to get away with panels that are 1440 by 900 or 1600 by 900 pixels in resolution. Avoid 1366768 (also known as HD) screens since they have a worse appearance and frequently employ subpar TN technology.

Things to avoid with used PCs

These include AMD A-series processors, Intel Celeron and Pentium processors, Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, and first through sixth-generation Intel Core processors. When used, these older or slower processors will all start to show their age. Some may even experience difficulties operating current versions of macOS or supporting Windows 10’s fundamental features.
1366 x 768 monitors These panels with low resolution, also known as HD or WXGA displays, can’t fit as much information and don’t have the same sharpness as those with higher resolutions. Additionally, they are more likely to use subpar, faded TN display panels.

Hard disk drives (HDD) in motion: Any older or less expensive computer’s standard hard disk is its slowest component. If you purchase a computer with an HDD, think about switching it out for an SSD.

Less than 64 GB of storage: You won’t have enough room to comfortably install Windows and your most crucial apps while still giving Windows Update enough area to function. A less expensive form of storage known as eMMC, which is slower than a standard SSD and not upgradeable, is also frequently used in computers with such tiny SSDs.

802.11n Wi-Fi (also known as Wi-Fi 4): If a computer’s main flaw is an 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker since computers with older Wi-Fi adapters can still connect to Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 networks. However, over the past five or six years, Wi-Fi 5 (or 802.11ac) has been the industry standard in most laptops, so if at all possible, stay away from Wi-Fi 4.