Why I believe buying used is (usually) a bad deal.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by squarebreathing, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. squarebreathing macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2016
    Hey there!

    Recently, there have been a number of threads asking whether or not to buy a used MacBook. They usually are along the lines of "Should I spend $$$ on this used MacBook Pro". I've spent years working with MacBooks and have done a good amount of research recently on used MacBooks and their pricing.

    In my opinion, I would not recommend buying a used MacBook or any used Laptop for that matter.

    There are numerous reasons why buying a used MacBook is often pennywise but pound foolish.

    1. Any current used Macbook on the market that was made in the past three years are usually overpriced.

    It can be very difficult to buy a 13inch MacBook Pro or Air made in the past three years for less than $600. Yes you might be able to find deals here and there, but the best you can hope for is $500 - and that would be for a used cMBP or very old Air model. Anything less than $500 is usually either 4+ years old or has some form of damage/excessive wear and tear.

    2. Consumer reports and other tech consumer guides recommend against buying any used technology that is over two years old.

    Buying used is a gamble, especially if the item has been used for over two years and is a piece of equipment such as a laptop that is prone to extra wear and tear. Even with the best handling and cases, laptops are prone to accidents and there could easily be internal damage that is not able to be seen when buying a used laptop.

    3. You can buy a new, closeout 13inch Macbook cMacbook pro or 13inch Macbook Air from 2015 for $799 and no tax on Ebay and other tech sales sites.

    These computers have never been used, are usually factory sealed, and are on closeout due to being older models. It would make more sense to buy one of these since they have no wear and tear, can have Apple Care added to them, and should last you much longer than a used model would. However, many of these have non-upgradeable Ram at 4GB (rMBP or Air models). You can find models with 8GB, but it would be more at the $900 range.

    4. There are issues with older models that can't be fixed.

    There are some old models with graphics card issues. There are cMBP's that, after 3 years of use, begin to have screen burn in issues by the apple logo (I've seen it happen to dozens of cMBP's when I worked in a school that used them, even with cases that prevented pressure on the screen). Macbook Airs and rMacBook Pros with 4GB of RAM can never be upgraded and 4GB of RAM is terrible by 2016 standards. The chargers are often in either fair or poor condition and must be replaced ($80 for a Apple Brand, or gamble with a knock-off brand).

    Also, while you can use Coconut Battery to check the Battery cycles, it is difficult (if not almost impossible) to replace the battery on some models. The third-party batteries online are hit or miss as well with many reviews saying they stopped working after less than a year of being installed.

    5. Craigslist deals can be cheap scams and PayPal online purchases are only covered for the first 6 months after purchase.

    While you can save big money by buying used laptops on craigslist, these cash-only purchases are a huge gamble. The computer could be stolen, could have internal water damage, etc. While buying on Ebay or other sites with Paypal does offer 6 months of protection, if the computer breaks down after that then you have lost any money you put into it.

    There ARE good deals for used MacBooks, but I think that the gamble associated with buying used is too high to justify it.
  2. kevinkyoo macrumors 6502a


    Feb 5, 2016
    1. There will always be overpriced used tech on the market, and this is especially true for Apple products. However, I do not think that this omnipotence should discourage anyone from trying to get a deal. There are Macbook's listed on Craigslist where the seller has virtually never used the computer, and is willing to sell the computer for $200-400 off the price, and this is without tax. If there's the added bonus of Apple Care, you'r golden.

    2. Just because consumer reports and other guides recommend buying any used technology doesn't mean you should follow what they say. Do enough research to see the common pitfalls of buying a used MacBook, try it out yourself, and ask the right questions. Also, you can call Apple with the serial number to see the past repairs to determine if this really is "barely used" or has been brought into the store 10 times.

    3. I firmly believe that buying a cMBP new is a waste. You are better off buying this for $200-400 depending on the condition. You can throw in an SSD, battery, and you're set to go with a low priced but adequate MacBook computer. However, I will agree with the MacBook Air. I was able to purchase the new one with 128GB and 8GB of RAM for $800.

    4. Again, this goes along with #2. Do your research. And I don't understand your point about Coconut battery - this tool can be used either way; you either determine that the computer has low enough cycle to purchase the item, or it's way too high and it's not worth buying it.

    5. If the item is stolen, you can find out easily through some online research before even purchasing it in the first place. Water damage can be remedied by a clear patdown and inspection, as well as bringing it into the Apple store with the owner present. New computers also break down after 6 months, so while the used computers may be more prone, I don't see why this should deter anyone from going into the used market.

    Overall, I think your points, while some are good, are somewhat moot. Buyers should just be extremely cautious as always when it comes to buying used tech items, and there ARE deals to be found out there. More often than you think.
  3. squarebreathing thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2016
    1. You are mostly taking the seller's word for the condition of the computer.
    If you can find a deal for under $400, and believe that the computer has been lightly used and the seller is reputable, then yes that is awesome! I've personally seen people buy lemons though and it really sucks.

    3. I also don't really recommend the 4 year old cMBP, however I think it is better to buy it new and upgrade it to 8GB than to buy a used computer.

    5. If you buy it new and get apple care, you are covered for three years. Even the standard warranty covers a year.

    What I meant by coconut battery was that it's a tool that can be used to check the battery before buying a used Macbook. Due to the fact that it is around $200 to replace a battery with an official Apple Brand, if the battery is suspect then the only other option is to buy a 3rd party battery.

    I hear you on your counter-points, I just don't think the risk is worth it unless it is an extremely good deal.
  4. zmunkz macrumors 6502a


    Nov 4, 2007
    I agree with you. If it is a pure price-point problem, then fine, used is better than nothing. If you can afford the new but you start trying to save a few hundred dollars by going used, I suspect more often than not you'll end up spending more on your next one way sooner, negating any short-term savings.
  5. MacInTO macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2005
    Canada, eh!
    Everyone has a tolerance for risk. You tolerance is lower than mine. I've only ever bought two new MBP (and the predecessors) in the last 15 years. I've owned most of the models because I switch up every 12-18 months or so. I've never had one die on me. Well, maybe the 2011 MBP did. :p

    I generally look for machines that are in mint condition, have Applecare and the original box etc. If you find one with all of these, it will be a good machine because the owner took care of their stuff. Doesn't mean that it didn't have water damage though - that's probably the biggest risk.

    If you know what you're looking for and are disciplined to find the right deal, it will save you money. Most people don't need the latest gear because they're usually only going to surf the web with it. I have three different MBPs that I currently use, a 2009, 2011 (13") and 2012 (15"). They were all bought used and are all mint and work perfectly. The 2012 even has Applecare until the end of this year! You might have to switch up the HD for a SSD or upgrade RAM but it's the right thing to do for older machines with hard drives.

    To me, it's like buying a used car. If you buy it from someone that took good care of their car, if will last a very long time. If you don't know what to look for or have a low tolerance for risk, I agree, you should buy new.
  6. tubeexperience, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2016

    tubeexperience macrumors 68040

    Feb 17, 2016

    I bought a used MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) for $400 over two months ago.

    It came with the receipt, original box, and accessories.

    ..works great!


    A while ago, I bought a brand new MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011) then the dGPU failed.
  7. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    First, I buy used almost as much as a hobby as well as a way to save some cash. I derive enjoyment out of the hunt, the research, the risk, and the repairs should any be needed.

    Second, I think that unless you are in a job where having a faster CPU can significantly impact your work (e.g., 3D rendering, simulation of circuits or something, big calculation), I don't think anything from the past 2 or 3 years is worth the high cost.

    For most folks, I think a 2013 Macbook Air is about the optimal computer when balancing age vs price vs performance. And it's not the CPU, but rather because it has USB 3.0 and 802.11AC wifi. I think the 2011 Sandy Bridge CPUs are probably more than enough for most people. The 2013 model is nearly perfect though, and none of the improvements since are worth the hundreds of extra dollars.

    I picked up a 2013 11" MBA i7 512GB 8GB for $600 a few months back. They regularly go on ebay for between $600 and $700. Compared to the $1600+ a new equivalent one costs, it's no contest.

    Also, the battery is super easy to replace.
  8. thewap macrumors 6502a


    Jun 19, 2012
    I suppose it depends on the person whether used is a good deal or not.

    If you are tech inclined to repair the classics yourself, have the tools and the knowhow or will, then the used marketplace is brilliant.

    If you are not tech inclined and depend solely on Applecare, then the used market is probably not for you.
  9. squarebreathing thread starter macrumors member


    Feb 16, 2016
    I appreciate the replies! I think thewap put it best with someone's personal tech skill level being a deciding factor on this. Also, some really good deals in this thread!!!

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