image by: Alejandro Escamilla (http://alejandroescamilla.com)

5 Things to check before buying second hand Macbook

  • Do all keys on keyboard work
  • Is everything in the box present
  • Do they have the original box
  • Does it look used/abused

I bought a dud!

1: Check actual age of the machine

The age of the machine is not when the seller bought it. It is whatever Apple say it is. Macbooks are built in generations, usually twice per year. Even though there is no new announcement or changes of price, you and your friend who bought the exact same Macbook only 10 months apart can have quite different machines.

2: Require proof of purchase

This goes without saying but if you have bought something as pricey as a new computer you tend to know where the receipt is. If bought online there is a digital copy stored on your account. When the seller “have lost it” you know something is up.

3: Check how much is left of battery

Now this is a important one. No battery lasts forever and as a matter of fact laptop batteries in general is not very long-lasting. Specially not considering the latest trend of not making them replaceable without serious breach of warranty. It is not impossible, you can still get the battery replaced by authorized Apple stores for a cost of around $200 (excluding taxes) but this is an extra cost to factor in.

4: Confirm all keys are functional

Open the lid and find anywhere you can type, like the password box or so but even better a box where you can see the letters printed. Then progressively press each key on the keyboard and make sure something comes up on the screen at the same time you press the key. Also make sure it has a solid “bump” as you press the key down since dirt under the keys can be very expensive to get out and shows extreme wear from previous owner.

5: Run Apples built-in hardware test “AHT”

This is by far the most important thing. Built in to every Macbook there is a stand-alone hardware testing application that is very advanced, yet simple to run. It doesn't care what the shady seller is saying, nor does it try to pretend being better than what it is. It will take a long (anywhere between 15 mintues to upper extremes of an hour), hard look at itself and tell you exactly how it is feeling and if anything is bad or broken.

  1. Press and hold the D key before the gray startup screen appears.
  2. It takes a minute or so for AHT to start up and inspect your hardware configuration. When finished loading select language and then click the “Test”-button.

Bonus: Check for dead pixels

This is the most common thing people mention when you ask for advice but honestly not very important. The idea is that all thin monitors well wear out and this happens pixel by pixel. The higher quality of screen, the longer it will last but there are lemons everywhere. A dead pixel is not always a black dot on the screen which is what you might think. Instead it can also be a shining bright pixel which is how a pixel “dies”. It is not always easy to spot and most screens have somewhere between zer0 and ten of them randomly placed on the screen somewhere.


The Brave New World

A collection of great writing where context plays second fiddle to content

Christian Kanzie Nilsson

Written by

Christian is a tech trend scout, a passionate software architect & wannabe author.

The Brave New World

A collection of great writing where context plays second fiddle to content