Taking the titular question at face value, the answer would have to be a yes, used computers can potentially be a good buy. If we delve a bit deeper into the question, though, the answer is a highly variable one. Whether a used computer is or isn’t a good buy depends on multiple factors which are themselves variables.
This means there is no universal answer and whether a used computer is a bargain or not depends entirely on the particular deal we are discussing. As to what those factors might be, we will start off with some of the most critical ones next.
Usage: Why are You Buying the Computer?
There should ideally be one or more reasons behind every major purchase. Since computers can be quite costly, it is important that the potential buyer first identifies why they are looking to buy one in the first place. The cause(s) should not have anything to do with whether the computer is new or used, but the user’s personal/professional needs. Some of the common reasons why people buy computers can include one/several/all of the following:
- Online classes, school, office, meetings, etc.
- Photo and/or video editing (professional/hobby)
- Regular use such as casual gaming, browsing, media consumption, online shopping, writing, etc.
- As a secondary computer to separate professional life from personal life.
Budget: How Much are You Willing to Spend?
There are gaming desktops that sell for as high as $40,000+, but there are also excellent regular use laptops that sell for less than $500! Suffice to say, the budget range is extremely wide when it comes to buying a new computer. Therefore, we should have an estimated budget set before looking to buy any computer, whether it’s used or new. It is advised that you set your budget after doing a bit of research of your own, rather than just setting it based on what you believe should be an ideal budget. Market prices change and computers are far more expensive nowadays than they were five years ago.
Reliability: How Reliable is Your Seller?
Reliability is one of the main reasons why new computers from trusted brands and resellers will always be a better buy than any used computer. For example, these brand new Lenovo photo editing desktop PCs offer a good bargain for the price, come with bonus rewards, and the manufacturer’s own financing options. More importantly, Lenovo is a multibillion-dollar MNC, so you have the assurance of quality and the reliability that comes with the manufacturer’s warranty.
A used computer cannot possibly match that degree of reliability, even if the seller is genuine. The seller is just the current owner of the listed computer and thus, they cannot provide any true assurance beyond the manufacturer’s original warranty. Keep in mind that even this fact is a huge leap of faith because how can you possibly know whether the listing you found is indeed genuine?
Nevertheless, if you know the person and/or have checked the computer out personally, it is not impossible to find a good deal. This leads us to the main question; what can be defined as a good deal when you are looking to buy a used computer?
Used Computers: What Qualifies as a Good Buy?
Although the reliability factor is a lost cause, used computers can on rare occasions, turn out to be a good deal. Even though it is difficult to define what a good buy might be without knowing one’s budget or requirements, the following suggestions should prove to be helpful in general.
- The CPU and the GPU should not be older than one or two generations in comparison to the latest generation.
- The computer should not be older than 1.5-years from the date of purchase.
- It should preferably be within the manufacturer’s warranty period.
- The seller should be able to provide the original warranty and bill.
- The seller should allow you to check the computer thoroughly for problems not listed.
- Depending on how old or new the product is, it should not cost more than 50% – 70% of its current market price.
- The buyer should not exceed their budget or overspend on hardware they do not need, even if it feels like a good deal.
Now that we have cleared up all the basics, there’s an additional piece of advice which may only have temporal relevance. Thanks to crypto mining, the price of GPUs has gone through the roof. If gaming is your primary goal and you manage to find a verifiable used PC which has one of the elusive GPUs inside it, do check the GPU’s concurrent price online. Depending on when you check and the contemporary market conditions, you might be able to score a deal, but be careful and remember the old warning about things being too good to be true!