When it came time for me to begin looking for a newer laptop computer, I had been keeping an eye on buying a used macbook from eBay or Craigslist for sometime. I began the journey, probably just like you are, by searching for tips on buying a used Macbook computer. The issue I was facing was that I had never owned a Mac before, so some of the information that I was reading and seeing was foreign to me. I would like to share some of the tips and things I wish I had known to look for when I began looking to buy a used Macbook computer. I hope you find them helpful!
One of the first things I did was to look at how the Macs are made. One of the things I started noticing was that the older style Macbooks had a design issue where the case would show cracks or breaks around the area of the lid support when you would close the lid on it. I kept this in mind and while searching online, in particular eBay where you could see the photos, I would see several good closeup photos of the cracks that were found like this. While this wasn’t a huge concern for me, it was nice to know that this wasn’t a true sign of abuse.
So, on to the technical aspects of the Macbook. Like a PC, they have hard drives, memory and processor speeds that are different based on age. So, when I was looking at the age issue of how old a system was, one of the places I found online to check the “serial” number of the computer was through the Apple website. I did a quick search for “how to identify macbook models” and found the site on Apple support that helps you tofind a macbook serial number. Another nice aspect of this page was that it gave you some basic information for the computer if you have the serial number, such as basic memory, hard drive and other technical information. Another nice reference was the ability to be able to check the warranty information on a macbook. The nice aspect of this part was it gave you a timeframe of when the system was built. All of that information is included in the system profiler of a Macbook that any seller should be able to provide to you if the system is in working condition.
So, armed with some information about the chassis cracking issue and how to determine the age and technical specs of the systems, I began checking Craigslist for my city and also eBay. While I found several advertised on Craigslist, they mostly seemed to be from the same person, not that it is bad, but they all had the same basic software already on the system. I was wanting to see what else is out there on the market, so I began browsing and checking eBay.
The nice thing about eBay is that you can narrow it down quite specifically to size (13 inch, 15 inch, 17 inch), hard drive size, minimum memory, processor speed, operating system, location, price range and more. The one thing I wasn’t real sure on was what the operating system “names” meant. I knew that the newest one was called Snow Leopard, but I didn’t really know what that meant. I knew that the computer I ended up buying came with the OS 10.5 discs, which is called Leopard, but had 10.6 Snow Leopard installed on it. With each upgrade of the OS, it was just a features/bugs/upgrading issue that came about. Sort of like going from Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7 (only without the blue screen of death). If you are inclined, you can read more about the Mac OS Versions on Wikipedia, which has a good breakdown of them.
After a few days of messing around and putting things on the watch list, I felt I had a pretty good idea of what the prices were going for. Mostly, the macbooks that I was looking at were going for around half the cost of a basic new macbook that I could buy from Apple or BestBuy, so it came down to age, condition and software that was included with it. Now, when it came down to what I was buying, most, if not all of the systems were the same based on the specs that I put into the eBay search fields. I wanted something with at least 2GB RAM, 250 GB hard drive and a 2GHz processor. The rest was extra at that point.
So I began checking out the systems. Most were around the same age range that were coming up in the price ranges, which were late 2006 to early 2007 systems. Not bad. Next was the accessories and included software. This is where you need to really pay attention to details. Since this post is running so long and there is so much to cover with just the accessories and software for a Macbook, I will write that one up in a separate post for you to read, it will be long as well. You can see the current Macbook auctions on eBay also.
I hope you found this information useful. Have you bought a used Macbook before? What was your experience? Any questions?