How to I check a used iMac before buying?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mac121269, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2013
    I have been looking to buy a used iMac, for I can not afford a new one right now. I want something reliable, that is why I am looking at iMacs. I have been looking at the 21.5" screens and want at least 500G HD. Other than that, I do not know what I want. It is for home use; mainly email, internet, and photo. Maybe watch movie here and there.

    I plan to look at one I found on craig's list this weekend, yet I don't know what to look for when inspecting it.

    Here is what is advertised:
    late 09 imac. It is perfect in every way. Condition is excellent and functionally perfect as well. Currently running OSX Mountain Lion.

    Here are some specs:
    Intel Core 2 Duo
    500GB HDD
    Upgraded to 12GB ram using Crucial Memory
    Apple wireless keyboard
    Apple Mighty Mouse

    price is $600

    Any suggestions and/or advise?

  2. macrumors 68020


    Aug 13, 2011
    1. Bring a DVD with you. The first thing to fail on a superdrive(in my experience) is the laser that reads DVDs. the CD-ROM part of the drive will still work but your ability to watch/burn movies will rely on you buying and installing a new superdrive.

    2. Open System profiler and check the items that are included in the system for status.

    3. Be sure to unplug the machine and then plug it back in before starting it up yourself. This way any possible errors or dialog boxes that pop up upon startup will be noticed and you can question it properly.

    4. Open Disk Utility to check the status of the HDD

    5. check the WiFi strength and capability. If possible connect ethernet as well to make sure it works.

    6. bring usb cable to check each port

    7. headphones for the audio out

    8. The max RAM for that machine is 16GB, so I am wondering why the seller stuck with only 12.

    9. See if they are running any kind of virtualization software, and if so, which OSes were they virtualizing.

    10. bring SD card and make sure SD card slot is working properly.

    Is the seller including the original box/accessories/installation discs? My wife has that same machine and it seems to be priced appropriately. The issue here is that Mountain Lion is linked to an Apple ID and you will need the Snow Leopard disc before you can purchase and install Mountain Lion yourself.
  3. macrumors 68030


    Jul 17, 2002
    Corvallis, OR
    Excellent advice, all the way around. Basically, it comes down to a thorough evaluation of what you can evaluate. There are some things that can be wrong that you won't be able to detect very easily, but the good news is that such things are pretty rare.

    This would be One point where I'd disagee. I believe that it is the Mountain Lion install software that is connected to an iTunes account. In other words, you'll be fine until such time as you want to reinstall the operating system (which, honestly isn't a bad idea as a very first thing when you buy a used computer), and then you'll need to go and buy, in the Mac App Store, your own copy of Mountain Lion.

    I highly recommend creating an install SD card from your download. It makes things a lot easier to deal with, in those instances when you do feel the need to reinstall the operating system. There are various guides available online about how to create an install SD card (needs to be at least an 8GB card) from the download.

    In any event, best of luck. When you find a good machine, Macs can last a long time...
  4. macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    Seems like a pretty good deal. I would say steer clear of eBay. Too much hassle involved with shipping back if the machine is a dud. Is this a Craigslist offering?

    If so, meet the seller in a Apple store -- a nice public place. Set up an appointment for the Genius bar folks to check out the machine. They did this for me recently free of charge when I bought a 4S.
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2013
    Great info

    Thanx everybody. This is great info. I am feeling a bit more prepared and comfortable now.
  6. macrumors 6502

    May 2, 2009
    Great advice there from RedCroissant. I would also add checking that all of the keys on the keyboard worked as well.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2006
    Kent, UK
    I've had really bad luck with superdrives an all the Macs I've owned. I would recommend taking several DVD's to check the superdrive. I would take shop bought movies, burn't homemade DVD's, some music CD's and home burnt Cd's also. I would also try to burn a folder as part of the test too.
  8. macrumors member

    Nov 14, 2013
  9. macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007

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