Should You Buy a Used MacBook to Save Money?

Key Takeaways

  • A used MacBook provides considerable cost savings, making it a great option for people on a tight budget.
  • Purchasing used MacBooks also helps reduce e-waste and supports sustainable practices.
  • That said, older MacBooks may face hardware challenges and there’s always the risk of encountering scammers on online marketplaces.

While MacBooks offer great reliability and performance, their high price can often be a deterrent for people on a budget. Fortunately, used and refurbished Macs exist as alternatives. That said, this is not a purchase decision you should take lightly.

Advantages of Buying a Used MacBook

Purchasing a used Mac is a viable option for many. Here are a few reasons why they’re a sensible choice:

1. Cost Savings

Purchasing a used Mac, whether it’s a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air can offer you significant cost savings versus buying new. There’s a huge market for previously owned Macs, and doing your due diligence and purchasing a clean and well-maintained laptop can help you save a lot of money in the process. Also, when you purchase a used Mac, you avoid being hit by the initial depreciation that drastically cuts the value of new gadgets.

By opting for a used but relatively well-maintained Mac, you’re essentially making a pretty smart investment. This cost savings can be especially helpful if you’re a student on a tight budget.

2. Environmental Benefits

Tech companies constantly release updated devices with new features. Users are usually keen to upgrade to these models quickly to keep up with the latest technological improvements. This causes an accelerated production of electronic waste (also known as e-waste).

Gadgets, like laptops and computers, contain toxic components and chemicals, which can cause serious damage to the environment if they’re not disposed of properly. When you purchase a used Mac from a reputable seller, not only are you benefiting by paying a lower price, but you’re also reducing the number of gadgets that will end up in landfills.

3. Reliable Support for Older Models

Apple has always had a reputation for producing long-lasting, high-quality products. This applies to older models produced by the company as well. Used MacBooks typically deliver pretty reliable performance, and many of these models receive updates for several years, making them a great option if you’re looking to save money.

As long as you’re not working on tasks that require the latest hardware and software specifications, you’re unlikely to need a brand-new Mac. And even if an older Mac you purchase is slowing down, there are things you can do to speed your Mac up.

Risks to Consider When Buying a Used MacBook

While buying a used MacBook can be great for your wallet, it isn’t without risks. Some downsides to consider if you’re looking to buy a used Mac are as follows:

1. Hardware Issues

If you buy an outdated Mac and start experiencing hardware issues, you may find it difficult to repair the device with genuine Apple parts. Keep in mind that older models may have components that are no longer manufactured by Apple.

Apple considers a Mac model vintage if it has been seven years since it was sold. After 10 years, the model is considered obsolete. In the case of vintage models, Apple might be able to provide components needed for repairs and servicing, but that’s not a guarantee. For obsolete models, getting the parts from Apple is practically non-existent.

Even if you do find someone selling outdated components, procuring them will be costly. So, although you may have saved a significant amount of money by buying used, those savings can potentially be negated in the event of hardware issues.

2. Outdated Technology

Macs can last a long time. And if you’re using your laptop to only check emails and scroll through social media, a MacBook from several generations ago will do the job. That said, if you’re buying a Mac that’s many years old, you should keep in mind that the device may not be eligible for software updates, which, in turn, can make it vulnerable to security risks. Even if the device still gets security updates, these might only be partial patches that address select vulnerabilities.

You may also find that older Macs—even ones that were considered powerful in their day—are incapable of performing advanced tasks, like video rendering or gaming, with ease.

Of course, you may be able to upgrade the RAM of an older Mac to improve its performance, but this will reduce the device’s cost-effectiveness. In this case, you may be better off purchasing a more affordable MacBook Air, rather than one of the more expensive Pro models.

Apple 13-inch MacBook Air (M2)
Apple MacBook Air M2 13-Inch

The Apple MacBook Air M2 13-inch is a perfect combination of elegance, portability, and power, making it a perfect option for students to get things done anywhere.

3. Scammers Posing as Legit Sellers

Purchasing any electronics used can be risky, thanks to the number of scammers offering faulty devices on online marketplaces. Buying a used Mac through these channels isn’t always the best choice, given that there’s a chance you won’t end up getting what you expected.

A great way to negate this risk is by purchasing a refurbished Mac straight from Apple. All refurbished Mac devices sold by Apple come with a one-year warranty and are fully tested. What’s more, all replacements are made with genuine Apple parts, and the device goes through a thorough cleaning.

Is Purchasing a Used Mac Right for You?

Purchasing a used Mac can be a great idea if you’re on a tight budget, since these devices often offer solid performance and quality. They’re also a good choice if you have basic computing needs, such as checking your emails or browsing the internet.

However, if you require a Mac with the latest features for more intensive tasks, like gaming or video editing, a used model (especially if it’s several years old) might not be a good idea. So, if you’re considering purchasing a used Mac, make sure to evaluate your individual needs and circumstances and make a decision accordingly.


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