Buying broken Macs on Ebay

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by lukenorris, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. lukenorris macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    I am considering buying broken macbook pro laptops to fix up and give away to underprivileged children and youth as apart of a charity. I have some mac knowledge and come from a technical background.

    I see many macbooks for sale on ebay. All price levels. Is there certain repairs I should stay away from? I see flashing hard drive I am sure is a easy fix, but spill damage is more complex and maybe not worth it. Let me know.

    I tried reaching out to some fix it yourself sites. But they seemed to be jerks about sharing their info, so I am reaching out here to the friendly people.
  2. kbfr08 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2007
    First off, I apologize for writing you an essay, but there's no short way to explain this.

    Ok, this is my huge secret to buying things: only idiots buy things on auction. Most repair shops & purchasing companies will scan (themselves, or sometimes use bots) the "Time: Newly Listed" section of eBay.

    Go to this page:

    That shows you all of the broken items listed on eBay right now, sorted by the most recent listing first. It also filters out all auctions, and only leaves buy it now items.

    That's the easy part. The hardest part is actually completing the purchase before anyone else. It's sort of a race, and sometimes if the price is low enough, you won't even be able to read the auction.

    To do this, you need to refresh the page as soon as you're done scanning the newest couple items (I do the first 10 usually). If you devote 2 hours to doing this, you can get a couple great deals.

    Let's say you see an iPhone 3Gs 32GB for $75 with a cracked screen. That's an awesome deal, and chances are there's a dozen other people clicking that item as you are. Don't read the auction at that price, you'll be able to recoup costs from it no matter what the issue is. Go right to the "Buy It Now" button, and then click "Commit to Buy". The whole process should take about 5-10 seconds, unless instant payment is required. For larger items, like MacBooks, you need to scan the description and quickly go back to the top of the page and commit to buy. Don't spend time hung up on reading the description, since chances are the seller will work with you to cancel the purchase if you just ask (avoid this though).

    I've purchased these items this week: 13" Macbook pro ($115), iPhone 4 16GB (Complete, but in pieces - $35), Powerbook G4 15" Newest Gen. ($19), Macbook air Display assembly ($35), macbook air complete logic board + bottom assembly (fully functional $200), and a few more things. I could keep going for a while with that list, but you get the point.

    Compared to the auction prices for these items, you're spending nearly 50-80% less. A broken iPhone 4 16GB was averaging $250 when I bought mine, a broken MBP 13" is $300-$400 depending on the issue, and a macbook air display assembly alone costs $200-$300.
  3. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    good idea , but there is a catch ,anything that goes beyond replacing the basic's (hardddrive , ram , battery,airport ) will get expensive and will
    exceed the value of the MacBook
    so your best bet are bulk buy's from corporate environments where you can get 50 for the price of 10 or so , then it doesn't matter if some are beyond economical repair , you can sell those beyond economical repair for spares and repair again and get all your invested money back
  4. kbfr08 macrumors 6502

    Mar 16, 2007
    Actually, thats a bit of a fallacy, board level repair can be cheap, if you have the time and experience. I reworked a liquid damaged MBP the other day, which involved replacing the LVDS receptacle (liquid ALWAYS pools under it) and running a couple jumper wires.

    Schematics are free (if you can get them), the parts cost was right around $10, and I spent an hour doing the replacement. With the schematics, and board view files, you could have some pretty bad corrosion (no pads left) and use jumpers to a replacement component to complete the circuit.

    I'll give you another example of a board level repair being dirt cheap. Last week, I was given an HP DV7 that didn't power on. The HP chargers are pieces of garbage, so the laptop's power regulators are constantly taxed. After a little while of diagnostics, I decided to replace the power controller, and the laptop booted on the first try. For $4 I fixed the board, while a replacement board costs $200+.

    If you need schematics, or advice on pricing, I could probably help you out with that.
  5. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States

    Spend less money buying cheap, brand new netbooks and save yourself the bother of fixing the computers.
  6. jljue macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Brandon, MS
    I've repaired a few MacBook Pro's for small profits, gifts, etc., so if you think that repairing a Mac for charity is right for you, then go for it. From whati remember, the pre-unibody MB and MBP are probably more cost effective, especially since the unibody computers and parts carry a nice premium. I remember buying an Early 2008 MBP to repair another early 2008 MBP to find out that both were working and only needed cleanup on one and a keyboard on another. The logic board eventually did die on the 2nd, but I got a good deal on a logic board repair for a little less than $200 on eBay. My mom is still using the 1st early 2008, and I sold the other to buy a Mac Mini. I got lucky on the costs for my late 2008 MBP 15" and it's screen for what would be a $300 net savings, and I love using this Mac, although I am typing this reply from the iPad at the moment.
  7. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    a brand new netbook costs less than these repaired macs. do the underprivileged really need macs, or computers?
  8. wrinkster22, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011

    wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    nice idea. Good to hear you are involved with charity, good luck!
    I found a 16gb iPhone 4 that does not power on and missing a swim tray for 130$ Should I get it?
    iPod classic 50$.. it works but the enclosure is in "poor cosmetic condition" this just what i wanted!
    BTW you can get iPods for much less and I am sure the kids would like them just as much. 20$ for iPod photo 30gb with 2 chargers and ac adapters!
  9. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    In today's [western] society, kids not having access to a computer in the home are by definition underprivileged...

    But I don't really see the point in getting them macs. It's kind of like saying you'd want to start a soup kitchen that serves steaks.
  10. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    right. fixing up broken stuff is cool and all, but in terms of money, doing it for the underprivileged doesn't make much sense to me. brand new netbooks and other computers, not to mention smart phones, have become so cheap now. Heck, a smart phone hooked up to a bluetooth keyboard is basically a computer nowadays.
  11. lukenorris thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2007
    People are getting off topic. It doesn't matter to me what anyone thinks. If I wanted option if I should do it or not I would have asked that.

    Obviously the best deals are the computers that don't work. How do you know which to bid can be fixed and ones that don't? Is there apple troubleshooting flow chart?
  12. palpatine, Oct 16, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011

    palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    responding to the content of your original post dude. if you don't want us to talk about it, then don't post it.

    obviously the best deals are NOT computers that don't work. i don't think you have read my posts. time + effort + parts + broken apple computer is not going to be cheaper than a nice, new netbook, not to mention a broken netbook!

    as for the answers you are looking for about the flow chart and so forth, i don't know of one, but computer repair shops may be happy to provide you with advice, especially potential deals in your local area.

    i want to stress that i think it is cool you want to do this kind of activity to benefit others. i just don't think your methods (buying broken apple computers) make sense given your goals. i wish you luck, but i hope you will at least reconsider the justifications you have given so far for your approach to supplying the underprivileged with computers.
  13. RayK macrumors 6502

    Oct 13, 2005
  14. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    Nobody is off topic. We're pointing out the inefficiency of your idea.

    If you want to buy them Apple computers just so you can feel good about yourself or something selfish like that, than fine. But otherwise buying broken computers, investing money and a lot of time into fixing them is inherently more expensive than buying brand new, or even second hand netbooks. If you really want to maximize your help than get netbooks. If you want to just look like the cool guy giving people macs than lol@u.
  15. hafr macrumors 68030

    Sep 21, 2011
    Yes. Busted up windows PC's is cheaper than busted up macs, and the question is if you'd rather help ten kids get a mac than 20 kids get a computer. What's the point in spending more money than necessary when trying to help people?

    If you'd go out and buy clothes for let's say earthquake victims, would you go out and buy second hand brand clothes instead of new, cheaper generic clothes?
  16. Tsuchiya macrumors 68020


    Jun 7, 2008
    Just keep in mind that logic board issues are a headache and buying replacement ones can be incredibly expensive.

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