Many shoppers who are in the market for a laptop or desktop computer choose to buy a refurbished or used model online. This can be a great way to save a significant chunk of money on a relatively recent system, but if you decide to buy a used computer or computer parts online, you will need to be careful.
Here’s what you should do to ensure you’re actually getting a good deal when you’re buying used computers and computer parts through an internet marketplace.
Figure out what you need the computer for. Are you a writer who needs a computer to lug around to your co-working space? Then you’ll probably want a fairly light laptop. Are you planning to play lots of video games or edit your new film on your computer? Then you’ll want to get a computer with plenty of memory and storage space. You’ll need to have a good sense of the type of computer you’re looking for before you start shopping online.
Compare prices with other sellers. If you find the computer or computer part that you’re looking for and it seems to be a good price, take the time to check its retail value and also the prices that other sellers are asking for the same model or part. This will help you make sure that a.) you’re not actually paying more than you would for a new part and b.) you’re not going to fall for an unusually cheap offer, which may signal there’s something wrong with the product.
Contact the seller and arrange to meet in person if possible. When you find a computer or computer part that you’d like to buy, contact the seller and ask them any questions that might not have been covered in their product description. For example, you might want to ask if it already has a license for Windows 8, or if it includes any software like the Microsoft Office Suite, and, if it does, whether you need a password to access it. If the seller is local, you should also see if you can meet in person to look at the computer or parts, and if they’re not local, you should ask them about their return policy just in case the computer isn’t as-advertised.
Buy computer parts under warranty if possible. When it comes to buying computer parts, you’ll want to be especially careful that the seller has a good reputation. If you can’t find out a lot about the seller, try to only buy products that are still under warranty so you can get a replacement if the used part doesn’t work.
Test your new (used) computer. Start by looking for obvious physical problems, like cracks or a discolored screen. Check the keyboard to ensure none of the keys stick or are too worn down. You’ll also want to test all ports and other inputs, like the headphone jack, to make sure they work. After running these basic tests, you should also do a software diagnostic test to verify the hard drive isn’t months or weeks away from dying.
Take some precautions, and buying a used computer online can work out quite nicely. If you keep your eye out for good deals, you can get a relatively new model at a much better price than you would normally pay.