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Used Notebook Buying Guide

1. Should You Buy a Used Notebook?

2. What price should you pay for a used notebook?

3. What type of notebook should you buy?

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Used Notebook Buying Guide - Page 2

What price should you pay for a used notebook?

A notebook has a useful life of about 3 years before it reaches its salvage value. After 3 years, the notebook will no longer run new software efficiently.
Also, a new notebook loses between 5-20% of its value as soon as it is sold. If you can buy a new notebook for the price someone wants to sell you a used one, wouldn't you buy the new notebook instead?

General Pricing Rule. A notebook loses about 20% to 30% of its value every year until it reaches its salvage value at the end of the 3rd year.

Example: You buy a new notebook for $2000. After 1 year the notebook is worth about $1400. After 2 years the notebook is worth $800 and after 3 years the notebook is worth only its salvage value of $400 depending on its condition.

What price should you pay for software that is included with the notebook? Software that is included on the notebook hard drive, without original installation disks, is worthless. The only exception is that on some older notebooks you can make backup installation disks of Windows.
Keep in mind that it is usually your responsibility to supply an operating system (Windows, Linux, etc.) unless you specifically purchase it with the notebook.

Used Software Rule: You should not pay additional money for a notebook with a hard drive full of software. If original installation disks are included or you can make backup system disks, then the software has at least some value.

Windows software drivers must be available. While applications and operating system software are worthless without backup disks, it is important to remember that without the appropriate Windows drivers your notebook will not run. At the very least you need a Windows video driver and you might need a sound, modem, SCSI, USB, or other drivers.
These drivers should either come with the notebook or ideally be available on the notebook manufacturer's Web site. Don't assume that you can obtain the driver from the component manufacturers or think you can locate drivers after the purchase.

Shopping Rule. Windows software drivers must be available when the notebook is purchased, otherwise shop somewhere else.

Hard Drive Formatting Rule. Never ever format a notebooks hard drive unless you are sure you have operating system software (Windows) and software drivers that can be used to restore the hard drive.
Formatting a hard drive is the absolute last thing you should ever do on a notebook or laptop computer.
If you need help restoring your laptop or notebooks operating system or drivers see our article Computer Problem Help.


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