What to Look for When Buying a Used Computer

by | Feb 12, 2016 | Computers & Internet | 0 comments

Buying a used computer is an economic alternative to buying a brand new computer. Whilst you may not get the processing power and features of a spanking new computer, you can still get a well maintained machine with sufficient processing power and features for your needs.

Let’s examine how you ensure you get a good bargain.


Begin by asking yourself what you will use computer for. This will guide every other pre-purchase decision you make. Will your work require high processing power e.g. video editing, heavy use of desktop design applications or design applications such as Photoshop? If your business or work entails the use of applications that hog system memory and require lots of disk space, then the used computer you settle on must have sufficient specs. Visit the websites of each software manufacturer to find out how much system memory, processor speed and disk space the program(s) requires.


You also need to consider whether you need to move around with the computer. If that’s the case, then you should consider a laptop over a desktop. If you do settle on a laptop, then you also need to verify that the battery hasn’t exhausted its recharge cycles. Factor in the cost of  a new laptop battery just to be on the safe side.

Examining a Used Computer

Technical Specifications

Once you have decided on use and portability you can now start finding sellers on classified sites such as OLX and examine the merchandise.

Power-up the used computer and determine the operating system in use. If the operating system is too old e.g. Windows XP, you may want to factor in the cost of upgrading to a newer Windows version. Alternatively, you may decide to run with a free option such as Ubuntu.

Next, check the system memory, size of the hard disk and processor speed.

Physical State

Once you are satisfied the machine meets your desired technical specs, check the physical state of the used computer. Specifically look for signs of heavy use such as broken or worn keyboard keys. Check the ports at the back for any broken pins. Verify that the USB ports are functional by inserting a USB stick and try to access its data. If you are buying a laptop, ensure that the trackpad works. Check the monitor and ensure the image adjustment buttons work.

Why is the owner selling?

Finally, you want to find out why the owner is selling the computer. The answer may just reveal something else that you haven’t detected.

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