Buying a Used MacBook? Essential Tips to Consider

Buying a Used Macbook: Hardware

Although many of us are trying to secure a deal via the usual suspects such as your local craigslist or eBay, it is important to be able to examine the physical condition of the Macbook. Certain aspects are not quite apparent from pictures or videos. If you can examine the device carefully, try closing the Macbook and then opening it to make sure that the hinges are not loose on the Macbook. That could cost you some dime if you had to take it to a repair center to replace the faulty hinges.

The other important aspect from a hardware perspective is to examine all the external ports of the MacBook. Make sure that these ports are in a working condition and are clean. Also look for any big dents on the surface of the machine. Small dents due to routine wear and tear are okay, but if you see a larger dent on the body, that might point to serious internal problems.

Serial Number

This number is another important aspect of the machine that is often overlooked by the buyer. It is important that you examine the serial number of the Macbook. This number is found on the bottom of the Macbook towards the hinge. Compare the serial number that you see on the machine’s surface with that in the software. Click on  > About this Mac. The last field shows the serial number. Please make sure that the serial number shown here is the same as the one that is printed on the surface of the machine.

The serial number is also a critical asset when it comes to tracking the service and warranty information of the Macbook that you are trying to purchase. If the laptop is a few years old, the chances are that it may be covered under warranty or an Apple care agreement. To find this information, click on check coverage at the Apple site. Enter the serial number in the input box verify the current owner purchased the Mac via Apple. If there is any warranty remaining on the machine, it displays that information here.

Hardware Test

The next step is to conduct a hardware test on the computer. Apple Hardware Test (AHT) contains a suite of diagnostics that verify the hardware of your computer. It’s a great way to rule out a hardware issue when troubleshooting your computer. Make sure that you connect to AC Power when running the Apple Hardware Test on a Mac notebook. Remove any external devices such as USB drives etc. connected to MacBook before conducting the hardware test. If you can, please make sure that you perform Extended Testing as opposed to the Necessary Testing when trying the AHT.

Battery Condition

This is another important aspect that one should dig in a little before taking on that sweet deal. Replacing batteries can be an expensive affair. To evaluate the battery condition of the machine, you can Click on Applications > Utilities > System Information. On the System information screen, click on “Power” and look for the condition and cycle count under the Health Information. Please make sure that status says Normal, and there is ample count remaining on the device. For example, in this case, the battery is half way through its life. You can click on the following Apple link that shows you the maximum battery cycle counts based on different Macbook models. In this 2010 Macbook Pro model, the max count is 1000 cycles, and we are 429 cycles in.

A good replacement battery would run you $50 easily plus labor costs of replacing it if you are not careful. Since we are talking hardware, it is also a good idea to make sure that the computer has at least 8GB of RAM for a decent user experience.

Macbook Camera

The best way to check if the camera on Macbook is working is to open the Photo booth on the computer. You can also use the Facetime app to see if the camera is in a working condition. If you see a message that says “There is no connected Camera,” it might indicate issues with the camera unit and might need some exploration.

Sound /Audio 

A Mac’s audio is another aspect of the device hardware that you should definitely check out. Make sure that not only the internal speakers of the device are functioning, but the headphone port is working as well. Plug in a set of headphones and test out the port to be sure.

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