What should one look out for when purchasing used Macs?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by tray, Nov 26, 2006.

  1. tray macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    #1
    Hi all, i hope i have posted in the correct sub-forum.

    Having read many threads here, i am convinced that the Mac is the only route out of Windows wasteland.

    My friend has advised it would be good to start with an iMac, (i don't need portability, yet). I don't have much money and figured that its much cheaper to get a 2nd hand Mac. However, as i have never purchased 2nd hand computers or Macs for that matter, i have some enquiries.

    1. What should i look out for when i have am purchasing/have purchased the Mac? Honestly, i have no idea. Moreover, i would not know what is normal on a Mac, since i have never used one consistently before.
    2. At the risk of sounding paranoid, how do i ensure that the machine i have purchased is functional? I mean, what happens if it is spoilt, what do i do? Do i return it to the seller? What if he/she refuses? Actually, i might not know its spoilt, hah.
    3. As for items that should be included, it is listed in the Apple store. Are there any other things that one receives when purchasing? For example, i should ask for the receipt of purchase from the seller?
    4. Lastly, as long as the Mac is within warranty, i can get APP. I believe that from most threads here, the main consensus is 'Go for APP'


    Thanks! I'm sure many of you are experienced in this field, seeing the flurry of activity @ eBay.
     
  2. Foxglove9 macrumors 65816

    Foxglove9

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Location:
    New York City
    #2
    I've bought a few used macs and never had a problem. These are some things to look out for.

    -Hard Drive damage, whether the owner knows it or not. Run disk check.

    -Ram issues. Do some sort of Memory Test on the ram

    -Video Ram. Either on the board or on a card. Bad video ram usually results in pixels/artifacts randomly showing up

    -Ask if it's kernal panicking a lot

    -Check the serial number on this website:
    http://www.chipmunk.nl/klantenservice/applemodel.html

    -If it's a laptop, check the screen carefully, all the keys, CD-drives (rip a long audio cd to the hard drive as a test).

    -Ask them if they had any logic board/power problems.

    Generally people are pretty honest, and some of those scenarios aren't necessary. Because I know how to fix most mac problems, I just check major issues like logic board problems or ask them what problems it might had. Usually they'll tell you. I always wipe the drive and do a clean OS install when I buy used.
     
  3. tray thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for the reply. You covered most bases.

    What's kernel panicking?

    Do you have s/w for the stuff that you use to test with? Perhaps you could 'yousendit' or smth?

    Thanks!
     
  4. Foxglove9 macrumors 65816

    Foxglove9

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2006
    Location:
    New York City
    #4
    Kernal panic is when OS X crashes. Sometimes line of wierd text will just appear over the screen, or the screen will go black or most likely a message will appear asking you to restart the machine.

    I usually bring an OS X disc with me if they don't have it (Panther or Tiger) so you can boot up from it and check the drive, and Tech Tool Pro which will perform other diagnostic tests. You could bring a copy of MemTest too if you want to really check the Ram but that takes a while to do and most people might not want to wait for that to finish.
     
  5. Case-sensitive macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    #5
    Ideally even a second hand purchase will have accompanying original installation/boot up disks, even if they're not the latest version.

    Under the blue mac icon top left of finder window is 'about this mac' menu which will give you in-depth details about the spec and set-up of the machine - check to see if what you're being told corresponds to the info you find here.

    Good luck :)
     
  6. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    An octopus's garden
    #6
    If you are buying on ebay, I'd say watch out for sellers offering to leave programs on the hd without any backup disks. Aside from being illegal, it leaves you with the risk that if something happens to your computer and you need to wipe the disk, you won't get those programs back. I mention this because I've noticed that buyers on ebay are paying extra for software without disks. Don't make that mistake.

    If you buy a machine within the first year of being purchased, you don't really need the receipt.

    Other things to look for: RAM: either get a machine with 1GB or more, or work out how much 1GB will cost you (remember that in some models you need to buy the RAM in pairs).

    Price on Apple Refurb. It astounds me to see ebayers paying more for a used machine than for an Apple Refurb. Do the math. When you buy a refurb, you don't pay shipping but you do pay tax. When you buy on ebay, you might pay shipping, but are not immediately charged tax (though one MR member informed me that purchases over x amount are supposed to be taxed). My rule of thumb is that the price has to be at least $150 less than Apple refurb. no matter what the seller's story is.
     
  7. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2005
    Location:
    An octopus's garden
    #7
    Missed this... You don't need your install disks unless you want to do a full hardware check (anyway the seller should have those on hand). You can check the HD by: applications->utilities->disk utility and verify the HD
     
  8. tray thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    #8
    How many discs does a standard Mac come with? 1 Tiger DVD + 1 Hardware Diagnostics DVD?

    Thanks!
     
  9. tray thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    #9
    I plan to replace my current desktop with an intention to

    1. Surf
    2. Music/Videos/Movies
    3. Content creation (minimal) - Photoshop/Flash/Site Creation
    4. Games - WOW/WC3TFT which i know the iMac can support well
    5. Work, obviously w/ Mac Office 2004 (any idea whena new version is coming out?)


    Initially, i was advised by some to get a Rev. B G5 iMac w/ iSight. However, that was a while ago and prices have dropped. Seeing how well the Intel transition has been, and to have the ability to run windows-specific programs, i think an Intel iMac is the way to go.

    I have managed to find an 20' 2.16Ghz C2D iMac that's 20% cheaper than the retail price - used for 2 months. Is that good? I honestly have no clue how to gauge the viability of the purchase except with reference to price @ Apple Store and/or Refurb Macs.
     
  10. FFTT macrumors 68030

    FFTT

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2004
    Location:
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    #10
    The most important thing to do is check here before you commit to any particular machine.

    There are great Macs and a few real stinkers depending on what revision.

    I know it costs a bit more, but your safest move is to buy a refurb of the latest model directly from Apple with the full factory warranty and available Apple Care.

    eBay is infested with scammers who take full advantage of those who do not know what they are doing.
     

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