How to get a cheap laptop in a bind

by Jason Davies on January 1, 2011

There are times when budget will not allow you to purchase a quality computer system. It could be a job loss, accident, or simply unexpected repairs. You need something quick and you need to make sure you are not throwing your money away.

What Do I need to look for?

You need to look for a laptop that will do the job without causing you undue expense. To keep things on the cheap side, you should consider a used laptop. There are good options in used laptops; here are some examples:

  • Refurbished Laptops
  • Trades

Many businesses have a specified replacement cycle for their laptops. This is a great benefit for you because you can get a great system for next to nothing. After a business has depreciated the value of a laptop on a lease, they typically return them to the leasing company. Leasing companies are in the business to make money and not the computer business. This means they want to get rid of their inventory quickly. This can be a tremendous benefit to your pocket book!

Another option would be to buy a trade. An example of a trade would be a local listing on If someone posts they are willing to trade a computer for something you have, you could make a great upgrade at a low price. Of course, this is a risky option because you don’t know what you may end up with; but, if you follow these two rules of mine, you may be able to expect good results.

My laptop Two Cents

STOP: Check for a COA (Certificate of authenticity). Computers should have a sticker firmly attached to the side that shows the genuineness of the license. This sticker should look similar to the photo seen here. Professionally refurbished systems may have a slightly different authenticity sticker. 

Certificate of Authenticity

o Does the version of Windows on the system match the COA
  Here’s How:  Right click “my computer” and choose   properties. This window will tell you what version of Windows is running.

Refurbished OEM

Make sure there is a place for everything and everything works

  • Can you read a CD or DVD in the machine?
  • Do you see any weird lines on the screen?
  • Are all the screws in place?
  • Can you hear sound from the speakers?
  • Does it make any abnormal sounds (grinding, whining, clicking, etc?)
  • Does it stay running on the battery only?

The importance of the authenticity of the operating system prevents you from committing a crime. It is illegal to use an operating system that lacks proper licensing. The other reason to remember is that pirated copies of software may not allow you to make necessary security or software updates to the computer. This can result in virus problems and other system trouble down the line.

The above mentioned miniature inspection is something you should be familiar with when looking at a used laptop. One of the biggest issues with laptops is over-heating due to dust or bad design.  So, if the laptop abruptly shuts off while you are looking at it; do not spend money on it. It could be dust; it could be a bad fan.  Another common issue laptops have is that the CD/DVD drive may not eject, or read your disc.  

I want you to make sure all the screws are in place on the system to determine if it was ever opened. This can be a sign that the system was tampered with or ever opened. Sometimes people want to sell you a computer that may have had parts removed. It is often overlooked but missing screws are usually a sign of tampering.

How does it sound? Most laptops have fans that make a minimal amount of noise. Weird sounds are a sign of trouble. Check for whining, whirring, or clicking. As hard age, they tend to click or might even go clunk days prior to crashing.

The purpose of this article is to provide you a basic outline of how to purchase a used or refurbished system.  There are numerous factors involved in purchasing a used laptop. When you are in a pinch, this could be the best option. What types of questions do you have about your next purchase?  Did you find this article useful? Please check out TechRx on facebook.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Arsalan Siddiqui December 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Thank for Sharing this. There is only one way to get a cheap laptop, and that is refurbished laptops. The best choice for cheap is refurbished and a good place to find cheap refurbished computers is online. A few months ago I also bought a cheap refurbished Lenovo IdeaPad S9 from “Electro Computer Warehouse” Product ID is “lenovo_ideapad_s9”. Its so cheap and working very well. I really like it. Try this also may be its help some one. 🙂

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