How to find and buy an inexpensive Macbook Pro

Something I am finding more and more with my friends when we talk about computers, is most want a mac, but say they can’t afford it.

Macintosh products are indeed expensive, but worth every penny. Since most of us don’t have an extra 2 grand laying around to spend on a Mac, here are a few things I learned when I went mac hunting…

Buy Used.
Macbooks are known for their incredibly long operating life and hardy construction. Buying a older macbook model doesn’t mean you will get an outdated computer, but rather one that is cheaper. You can find used 2010 Macbook Pro 13″ models on average from $500-$800. The price depends on the condition, software included, Operating system, Hard Drive, Ram, and more….
Craigslist is your best bet to snag a great deal. Professionals often dump the “old” models for a new one,  and don’t want the hassle of ebay. Also, since mac is a “high-end” product, you will often be dealing with people who are… better off, which is safer both for you as a buyer and them as a seller. You will often find macs there $500-$800. you can bargain down $50-$100 depending on the person and the condition of the computer.
Another option you have is ebay. This will cost a bit more, but is a fine place to get a macbook. I will say, you won’t find one closing less than $750, so keep that in mind.
The last, and most expensive option, is to buy refurbished from apple.com. This is the safest option of the three, but will cost you $800+.

Once you have decided to buy used, there are a few things to look for, and things to avoid in a used macbook pro. I will be talking about the 2010 13.3″ Model, as that one gives you the most bang for your buck. :)
Things to look for:
1. Extended Applecare warranty. If a mac has the extended applecare warranty, the computer will be covered and repaired at the cost of the store until 2013. This is a huge plus, because if something goes wrong, you won’t have to pay to fix it. This should be a big priority when looking for a used mac.

2. Stock Specifications. This will take a little research, but you need to know what your model standard features were, and the upgrades Apple offered to each of those models. Look for stock specification macs, I will tell you why in a bit.

3. Included Software. A big hindrance to getting a mac not only is the cost of the computer itself, but the programs you have to purchase afterwards. Many sellers include iLife, Microsoft Office, photoshop, and even complete CS4 packages with the computer. These are incredible deals, and should be taken into account when looking at a computer.

4. This may seem petty, but the box, install disk, and all the standard components should be included with the mac. This shows the person takes care of their stuff, and allows you to reinstall the OS should the need arise.

Things to avoid.
1. Physical damage. If there is a dent, bump, or even rather large scratch on the mac. Don’t buy it. That means the computer has been in some sort of drop or rough event, and could have a damaged component, there are plenty computers out there. Don’t get one that has surface mars or has been dropped.

2. Software and Hardware modifications. Many users, after purchasing their computers, will install an upgraded Hard Drive, Ram, and more. This is fine, but know the computer has been opened, and there is a chance they forgot to add a screw, plug in a cable, etc. There is risk involved when aftermarket upgrades have been installed.

3. Minimal information. A standard seller post should include a detailed description of the condition of the computer, specifications (HD, RAM, Processor), software it comes with, price, and if it has applecare included. If they leave a phone number, that is also a huge plus, because they stand behind what they are selling, and want to move it quickly.

I hope that information helps you in your quest for one of the best computers out there. It will be tricky to find the one for you, but with patience, one will come along where the price is right, and the criteria met, and you will own one great computer that will last you for years to come.

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One thought on “How to find and buy an inexpensive Macbook Pro

  1. I wouldn't be too worried with aftermarket upgrades, especially with newer MBPs. IIRC, the newer ones are pretty easy to modify, and if you leave a cable unplugged on an old one, it will cease to function. Try before you buy, of course.Upgrades also mean the owner is aware of Apple's ludicrous RAM prices and stone-age 5400RPM stock HDDs, and thus is 1) tech-savvy and 2) more likely to take care of the machine.

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