How to "test" a used Mac before purchasing?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by mark246, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. mark246 macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2011
    Hi, Mac people.

    I'm a PC person, but that's irrelevant.
    My son (in high school) wants a Mac.
    I'd like to get him a Used one for an XMAS present.
    I know nothing about them... he knows very little about them.
    Says he wants a Macbook or Macbook Pro, preferably 15".

    What program(s) can I run to verify that a Used laptop is OK?
    Or, is there a website to visit that will "test" all of it's functions?

    Thanks very much for some advice.

  2. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030


    Jun 11, 2011
    I am not aware of any test websites but if you want to test the computer in person this is what I would do:
    check the Usb ports
    check firewire, headphone, speakers, etc
    check the display for dead pixels or lines
    -check for dents
    -download cocanut battery or Istat so you can check the batteries health
  3. ezramoore macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    Take it to an AASP for a full diagnostic, shouldn't run you much more than $45.
  4. mark246 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2011
    Wow. FAST replies. THANKS very much, people.

    Can I download that Coconut battery tester onto a flashdisk with my PC and take it to the Mac?
    That is... will the Mac be able to read a flashdisk that the PC made?
    (or are they different file systems?)

    HOW would I test the Firewire?

    Ezramoore: I'll be at a guy's house, viewing what he's selling.
    1. He probably won't let me take it anywhere.
    2. I can't afford $45 just for a test.
    I Am quite good with PCs... just never worked with a Mac before.

  5. McGiord, Dec 8, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2011

    McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Run the apple Hardware test.


    To test the FireWire you will need to connect something to it.
    A hard drive or a camera will be fine.

    Then in the Apple Menu select About this Mac and check all the connections and 'devices'


    Do intensive tasks so the Temperature goes up and see and hear how it handles it.E

    For testing the RAM check here:

    Mac OS X can read and write to FAT32 but only read to NTFS.
    There are some apps out there that help you to work around this.

    Another interesting test could be booting the Mac with a Ubuntu bootable disc.
  6. thundersteele macrumors 68030

    Oct 19, 2011
    did you look at the apple refurbished store?
    A refurb 2010 Macbook is $850, a refurb 2011 13'' Pro starts at $929. The 15'' are more expensive.

    I don't know what to check on a used MBP. Running the hardware test sounds like a good idea, also checking the battery is important. This is easiest done by clicking on the battery icon, if it says "service battery" or "replace battery" then you can expect that it won't last very long.
    If it's a model with the 8600 GT graphics card, don't buy it. They have a very large failure rate, and the extended warranty apple provides for those is running out.
  7. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    It should read it just fine, so that would work. You might have to copy it over in order to run it, so hopefully he's ok with that (it'll be a further test of the USB port and the hard drive).

  8. mofunk macrumors 68020


    Aug 26, 2009
  9. ezramoore macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    See if you can find someone with a copy of TechTool Deluxe that you can borrow. That will also allow you read out the SMART parameters of the HDD, etc.
  10. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    If you have the machine in your possession there are stress tests that can be run to look for problems. If it kernel panics during a few hours of stress testing, you don't want it :D.
  11. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Lol at the notion of websites testing hardware.
  12. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    What's so funny???

    From Apple's website regarding AHT:

    To run Apple Hardware Test from Lion Internet Recovery on a MacBook Air (Mid 2011)

    Beginning with the MacBook Air (Mid 2011) you can remotely start up your computer from an Internet-based Apple Hardware Test. If the copy of Apple Hardware Test on your hard drive does not start, your computer will look for AHT on the Internet. This feature requires a DHCP Internet connection, either wired (using the USB to Ethernet adapter, sold separately) or wireless:

    Press and hold the D keys while the computer starts up.
    Release the keys when the Apple logo appears.
    If you are using a Wi-Fi connection, select a wireless network from the menu that appears.
    Follow the onscreen instructions to test built-in hardware.
    If Apple Hardware Test detects an issue, it displays an error code. Make a note of the code before pursuing support options. If Apple Hardware Test doesn't detect a hardware issue, the issue may be software related.
  13. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    It just introduces a couple more failure modes to filter to arrive at root cause of a problem.

    It's convenient, but in no way ideal. Use the version of AHT that's on your HDD/SSD.
  14. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    You missed the point. It answers the OPs question, but it also is web-based so it's possible for websites to test hardware (and in the future I bet we will see more of this as the cloud comes into play). I am in QA and my company is working on the cloud for testing currently (we will test hardware and software through the cloud).
  15. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

    Aug 1, 2011
    Every working engineer (myself included) is in some form of Quality Control or V&V.

    It's a convenient solution but it's not an ideal one when it comes to hardware validation, but I guess all that matters is OP's question has been answered.
  16. Snowbound macrumors regular

    May 19, 2008

    I've always run this off the DVD's if the person still has them. Seems to me to be the quickest/easiest free way to get some piece of mind about the used hardware you're buying.

Share This Page