8 Things to Remember When Buying a Used Windows Laptop

In Short
  • Buying a used laptop has its rewards but it's risky because you could be dealing with bad actors.
  • Some of the main things you should be aware of are the overall condition of the device and if the laptop actually belong to the seller.
  • Other things you should check include the display, keyboard, camera, and benchmarks.

Buying a good Windows laptop for your use case could be challenging, especially if you have less budget to work with. Good Windows laptops are expensive and if your work demands good specifications like an excellent display or powerful processor, expect to shell out thousands of bucks. However, you can sometimes find exceptional deals in the used laptop market and save a lot of money, but buying a used laptop could be risky. If you are looking to buy a used Windows laptop, here are the things to look for to ensure you’re not getting scammed or a bad laptop.

1. Ask for a Valid Invoice and Check Warranty

One of the first things you should check when buying a used Windows laptop is its valid purchase invoice and if the serial number matches the one below the laptop. This is to ensure you’re not buying a stolen laptop. An invoice can also help determine how old the machine is, and if it’s still under warranty. If the seller falsely claims it’s under warranty, a valid invoice can easily help you counter their claims.

Ask for an invoice
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Most laptop manufacturers provide a year of warranty, which could extend to two or three years in rare cases. If the seller doesn’t have a valid purchase receipt, ask for purchase proof. This could be the credit card statement for the month they bought the device. If the seller is missing that, we’d advise you to refrain from that deal. If you trust the seller and the deal is too good to miss out on, check the warranty on the manufacturer’s website by entering the laptop’s serial number. It’s usually found on the back cover.

2. Inspect the Laptop Thoroughly

A close inspection of the outer chassis of the laptop should help you determine how well or harshly it was used. Used laptops tend to have minor scuffs and scratches which can generally be ignored, however, if you see a big dent or crack around the chassis, it’s a sign that that machine dropped to the ground at some point and wasn’t used as delicately. We’d advise you to stay away from it.

inspect the laptop
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However, if the overall condition is great from above, flip the laptop and check if it’s missing a screw or two, or if the rubber pads covering the screws are missing. These things indicate that someone has been inside the laptop, and it has undergone repairs in its lifetime. Do ask the seller these questions. Speaking of asking questions.

3. Ask Questions

Ask questions
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It’s important to ask questions, regardless of which gadget or electronic item you’re shelling your hard-earned money on. Asking questions such as “What was your use case?”, “How long does it last on a full charge”, and “May I know the reason you’re selling it?” can unearth a few details that can help you determine if the used Windows laptop deal is worth considering.

4. Run Benchmarks

Running benchmarks is a quintessential step that many buyers don’t consider. It helps you evaluate a machine’s performance and check if it’s thermal throttling. UserBenchmark used to be a great tool but is now riddled with unnecessary captchas and paywalls. Cinebench and 3DMark are great tools to benchmark your PC’s CPU and GPU performance. You can also use Geekbench as it is one of the widely used benchmarking tools in the industry.

run benchmarks

If the laptop doesn’t perform on par with other laptops with similar specifications, it might be possible that there’s dust stuck in the heat sink and the processor requires re-pasting. In any case, these aren’t easy tasks

5. Used Windows Laptop: Check I/O Ports

Chromebook Type-C port

I/O ports are important to interface devices with your laptop. So you must check if they’re working correctly when buying a new laptop. To check the ports, take a Type-C OTG and a USB drive when meeting the seller. That’s because, they’re the two most prominent ports on laptops. You could also ask the seller if he has an external monitor to connect to. This way, you can check if the HDMI port is working. Lastly, check the charging connector to see if there’s any play in it.

6. Check the Keyboard and Camera

8 Things to Remember When Buying a Used Windows Laptop

The keyboard and camera are important components of a laptop. So, you must check if they work properly before purchasing a used Windows laptop. You can check the camera by opening the camera app on Windows; however, one of the websites we recommend for checking the keyboard is keyboardchecker.com. All you need to do is visit the website and press all the keys. If all keys light up green, the keyboard is good to go.

7. Used Windows Laptop: Inspect the Display

There are two important things to check with the display when buying a used Windows laptop – Backlight bleed and Dead pixels. The easiest way to check for backlight bleed is by restarting the laptop and examining the edges of the screen when it boots up, with the manufacturer’s logo.

Used laptop display

Similarly, you can check for dead pixels on the screen by pixel peeping and closely examining the display. Oftentimes, when dead pixels are left unnoticed, they can spread and a large part of the laptop screen may stop functioning. If you find even one dead pixel, stay away from that device.

8. Closely Check the Battery Percentage

Battery Windows
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While you check the other parts of the laptop, keep an eye on the dropping battery percentage. Abnormal drops in battery percentage might indicate a faulty battery. Check the battery health using Windows’ built-in tool, and if it’s below 80%, refrain from the deal. If the laptop is in excellent shape but the battery is the only thing that needs replacement, negotiate to cover the replacement cost.

Used Windows Laptop: Other Things to Remember

It’s important to check online reviews of that particular laptop before buying the used one. This will give you an idea about the price of the new unit when it first came out, specifications and how it performs (to compare it with your benchmark results), and if it’s worth buying. We recommend watching not just one but multiple reviews, both written and videos, to get an idea about what to expect and things to watch out for.

The consensus is to refrain from buying a Windows laptop that is more than two years old. If you’re reading this not too long after publishing, we suggest you don’t settle for anything below Intel Core 11th Gen or AMD Ryzen 5th Gen. The exact SKU will depend on your exact use case but don’t settle for anything below the mentioned processor generations.

Additionally, ensure the Windows laptop has at least 16 GB of RAM and an NVMe or a SATA SSD. The “8 GB RAM is enough” theory is dead and having 16 gigs will ensure your laptop never runs out of breath when running heavy applications or games.

Lastly, ask your tech friends what’s a good price for a particular laptop. Windows laptops lose at least 40% of their market value in the first year. Ask around in online forums on Reddit and Facebook, and only then make a decision. Take it slow, do not rush the deal.

What are your thoughts on buying a used Windows laptop? Let us know in the comments below.

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