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Which Used or Refurbished MacBook Should I Buy

Apple products can be expensive. It is not surprising that many people want to save money by looking at used and refurbished MacBook options.

How do you know which MacBook is right for you? How to avoid making a mistake while selecting a MacBook. How can you make sure your used MacBook is still good in three or five years?

Here’s what I discovered after extensive research.

Which MacBook should you purchase? Mid 2013 is the best time to buy a 13-inch MacBook Air (i7-4650U @ 1.75 GHz). Mid 2012 is the best time to use a 11inch MacBook Air (i7-36667U @ 2.0GHz). Early 2015 is the best time to use a 13 inch MacBook Pro (i7-5555U @ 3.1GHz). Mid 2014 is the best time to use a 15-inch MacBook Pro (i7-5555U @ 3.1 GHz strong>

These claims are based upon tons of research that I did. Before I share my findings, let me answer some questions about buying used MacBooks.

There are many tables in this post. If you’re reading this from a smartphone, it is better to flip it 90 degrees (landscape orientation)

Used vs. Refurbished vs. New

A used MacBook is one that has been used previously. A refurbished MacBook is one that has been tested and cleaned by the seller or manufacturer. Refurbished MacBooks usually come with a 30-day limited warranty. The seller will replace or refund any problems that are discovered during this time. Reused products can be sold as-is.

In theory, buyers will prefer to buy refurbished products over the originals. Refurbished products can be more expensive than the used ones.

What is the lifespan of a MacBook?

There have been many instances where people who used MacBooks for more than ten years were satisfied with their MacBooks. You can choose which used MacBook is best for you if you assume an Air or Pro MacBook can last for 10 years.

If you intend to use the vehicle for five years or more, then it is a good idea to consider 5-year-old models.

Do MacBook Pros last longer than Airs?

This is a fascinating question. My experience shows that hardware failures are almost the same for Airs and Pros. MBPs are more efficient than MBAs due to their better CPUs. A better CPU means an older laptop can still run new or updated apps.

Do Macs last longer than PCS?

Definitely. I don’t know of any laptop maker that produces laptops with longer-lasting values than Apple.

Do Macs slow down over time?

As fans and HDDs wear down, mechanical parts can become disintegrated. Things like SSD, RAM and CPU should still perform as well today as they did 10 years ago. The latest MacBooks are very simple to use, and they should work well.

Software is the problem. You should be fine if you continue to use the same software without updating it. However, the software might not work as well if it is updated with a newer version of Microsoft Office or a game.

Can I speed up my old MacBook Pro?

Yes, you can. This article is about optimizing MacBook performance.

What to do if your MacBook is slow and freezing

I had already named the top MacBooks in each category. How did I arrive at such conclusions? Let me give you an example: MacBook Air.

MacBook Air

What are the most important factors when purchasing a laptop? Performance, expandability, upgradeability.

Performance

The GeekBench CPU benchmarks for MacBook Air 13 inch models look like this:

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Late 2018i5-8210Y @ 1.6 GHz40067392
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz36216914
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz33856261
Mid 2017i5-5350U @ 1.8 GHz33416098
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz30595570
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz30255823
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz27715160
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz26784979

This table has two columns that are benchmarked: Multi Core and Single Core. The single-core benchmark measures how fast a single core runs. This is an important metric, as most applications depend on the speed one core.

The single-core benchmark is linear. This means that a MacBook with score 4000 runs twice as fast as a MacBook with score 2000.

Multi Core benchmarks show how applications that take advantage of multiple processors are able to run. If you don’t have these applications, having more cores allows you to run more applications simultaneously.

Choose the MacBooks with the highest Single Core scores first, then choose the MacBook with the highest Multi Core score.

It is possible to wonder how the Mid 2013 model scored higher than the Mid 2017 model (3341). The 2013 model uses a Core i7 processor, while the 2017 model uses a Core i5 CPU. Core i7 has more onboard cache and power than the i5. It is also more advanced than the i5. In most cases, older i7s are faster than the newer i5.

The picture is clearer when you compare Apples with Apples (pun intended). The score for a 2013 model with an i5 processor is 2678, which is lower than the 3341 score for a 2017 model with an additional i5 CPU.

It’s also fascinating to compare the 2011 models with the 13inch ones. The following table shows that the 11-inch MBAs use the same CPU patterns as the 13-inch models (older i7 CPUs run faster than the newer i5).

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz35796809
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz34036315
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz30755951
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz30405542
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz27595145
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz26895018

Now, let’s compare prices for each MacBook in the following table. The prices in the table are average prices from eBay. You may find cheaper or more expensive MacBooks on eBay because prices fluctuate daily.

YearProcessorPriceCPU /Price Ratio
Late 2018i5-8210Y @ 1.6 GHz$8354.8
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz$5426.68
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz$3998.48
Mid 2017i5-5350U @ 1.8 GHz$5735.83
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz$4466.86
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz$4596.59
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz$3957.02
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz$3268.21

The table below lists the models as well as two columns: the average price and the CPU/price ratio. In the ratio calculation, I used Single Core score to calculate CPU values. The better deal is the one with the highest ratio.

According to my calculations, the best models are: Mid 2013 and Early 2014 These models give you the most CPU for your buck.

Expandability and display

Only 2 USB-C ports are available on the newest MacBook Air. This may seem like a good thing, but it will mean that the MBA can only be charged through one of its USB-C ports. If you have two devices connected and the MBA needs to charge, one must be removed (which may not always be possible).

The MacBook is more useful if it has more ports.

The expansion characteristics and screen resolutions of the MacBooks we compared earlier I put in the table below:

YearExpansionDisplay
Late 2018Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2560×1600
Mid 2017Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Early 2015Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Early 2014Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Mid 2013Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Mid 2012Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SD card slot
1440×900

According to the table, all 13inch MBAs before 2018 had:

  • Two USB ports
  • Thunderbolt port (various speeds)
  • MagSafe power port
  • SDXC card slot

In theory, you could have two USB and one Thunderbolt devices connected to a pre-2018 MBA. Expandability is the most problematic option for a 2018 MBA.

All MBAs had the same screen resolution between 2012 and 2017. MBAs got Retina displays in 2018 only. The display of MBA is not the deciding factor in‘s case.

Upgradeability

Apple’s obsession with making the thinnest MacBooks meant that upgrades to the latest MacBooks were impossible. It was easy to swap out RAM in the days gone by. Simply remove the cover from the laptop’s bottom and unplug the RAM. Then, plug in the new RAM.

The RAM in MacBook Air is soldered. This means that you will need special skills and a lot of experience to replace the RAM in MBA.

Even those with limited technical skills can replace SSD. OWC (Amazon) offers a high-performance SSD upgrade. There are options from 480GB up to 2TB. They also offer expert installation if you’re unsure how to upgrade your computer.

An alternative SSD upgrade is available from Feather (Amazon), which might be less expensive than OWC.

What does this mean for the models that we reviewed? All MacBook models cannot be upgraded RAM, but SSD upgrades are available for all MBAs with the exception of 2018.

What is the conclusion? The MacBook Air 13-inch Mid 2013 (i7-4650U @1.7GHz) is a winner if we consider all three factors: price, expandability and upgradeability.

Next, I will give similar information about MacBook Pro 13-inch and 15-inch with the exception of the price. You will be better equipped to make informed decisions.

Which Used or Refurbished MacBook Should I Buy

Written by Al in macbook

Apple products aren’t cheap. It’s not surprising that people are trying to save money by exploring used and refurbished MacBook options.

But how to know which MacBook to buy? How to avoid a mistake when making a selection. How to make sure that the used MacBook will still be good enough in 3 or 5 years?

I conducted extensive research, and here’s what I found.

So, which MacBook should you buy? The best used 13inch MacBook Air is Mid 2013 (i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz). The best used 11inch MacBook Air is Mid 2012 (i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz). The best used 13inch MacBook Pro is Early 2015 (i7-5557U @ 3.1 GHz). The best used 15inch MacBook Pro is Mid 2014 (i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz).

My claims are based on tons of research I made. But before I present my findings, let’s answer some common questions related to buying used MacBooks.

I have a lot of tables in the post. So, if you are reading this on a smartphone, it’s better to turn it 90 degrees (landscape orientation).

Used vs. refurbished vs. new

Used MacBook is the one that was used by someone earlier. The refurbished MacBook is a used MacBook which was tested and cleaned by a seller (or a manufacturer). Usually, refurbished MacBooks come with a limited 30-day warranty, and the seller agrees to replace or refund in case problems were found during that period. Used products are sold as-is.

So, in theory, buyers prefer refurbished products to the used ones. However, refurbished products are usually more expensive than used.

What is the lifespan of a MacBook?

I know a lot of examples when people used MacBooks for longer than ten years and were happy with their laptops. And if it is reasonable to assume that an average MacBook (Air or Pro) can last for ten years, you can decide which used laptop is right for you.

For instance, if you plan to use it for the next five years, it makes sense to look for 5-year old or newer models.

Do MacBook Pros last longer than Airs?

This is an interesting question. Empirically, I believe that the chances that the hardware breaks are the same in case of Airs and Pros. However, since MBPs have better CPUs, it makes more sense to invest in MBPs than in MBAs. Better CPU means that old laptop still can run new or updated applications.

Do Macs last longer than PCS?

Definitely. I don’t know a computer laptop manufacturer which produces laptops that hold values longer than Apple.

Do Macs slow down over time?

Mechanical parts tend sich as fans or HDDs tend to break down over time. However, things like SSD, RAM, and CPU should perform as well as they used to 10 years ago. Fortunately, the latest MacBooks have minimal mechanical parts, so in theory, they should be fine.

The problem is as always with the software. If you keep using the same software and never update it, then you should be ok. But, if you install a new version of the game or Microsoft Office, then the new software may work slower.

Can I speed up my old MacBook Pro?

Yes, you can. I wrote an article about improving MacBook performance:

What To Do If MacBook Running Slow And Freezing

Earlier I named the best MacBooks in each category. How did I come to such conclusions? Let me show it on an example of MacBook Air.

MacBook Air

What is most important when buying any laptop? Performance, expandability, upgradeability.

Performance

According to the GeekBench the CPU benchmarks for MacBook Air 13inch models looks like the following:

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Late 2018i5-8210Y @ 1.6 GHz40067392
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz36216914
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz33856261
Mid 2017i5-5350U @ 1.8 GHz33416098
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz30595570
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz30255823
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz27715160
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz26784979

In this table, there are two benchmark columns: Single Core and Multi Core. The single-core benchmark shows how fast a single core is. It is a very important metric because the speed of most applications depends on the speed of one core.

Single-core benchmark is linear, i.e., if the MacBook with score 4000 is twice faster than MacBook with a score of 2000.

A Multi Core benchmark shows how the applications that use advantages of multiple processors can run. If you don’t have such applications having more core allows running more applications at the same time.

When choosing a MacBook, chose the ones with better Single Core score and then select the one with the best Multi Core score.

You may be wondering how it happened that the Mid 2013 model has a better score (3385) than Mid 2017 model (3341)? The 2013 model has a more powerful Core i7 processor when the 2017 model has Core i5 CPU. Core i7 is more advanced than i5; it has more on-board cache and more power. And in most cases, the older i7 is faster than newer i5.https://472bda795d4542a0abc5ac99dd1d89dd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

But, when you compare Apples to Apples (pun intended), the picture makes more sense. A 2013 model with i5 processor has a score of 2678 which is way lower than 3341 of 2017 model with another i5 CPU.

It is also interesting to compare 2011 models along with the 13inch models. As you can see from the following table, the 11inch MBAs follow the same CPU pattern as 13inch ones (older i7 CPUs are faster than newer i5).

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz35796809
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz34036315
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz30755951
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz30405542
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz27595145
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz26895018

Now, let’s compare prices for each MacBook in the following table. The prices in the table are average prices from eBay. You may find cheaper or more expensive MacBooks on eBay because prices fluctuate daily.

YearProcessorPriceCPU /Price Ratio
Late 2018i5-8210Y @ 1.6 GHz$8354.8
Early 2015i7-5650U @ 2.2 GHz$5426.68
Mid 2013i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz$3998.48
Mid 2017i5-5350U @ 1.8 GHz$5735.83
Early 2015i5-5250U @ 1.6 GHz$4466.86
Mid 2012i7-3667U @ 2.0 GHz$4596.59
Early 2014i5-4260U @ 1.4 GHz$3957.02
Mid 2013i5-4250U @ 1.3 GHz$3268.21

In the table above, I listed the models and two columns: average price and CPU/price ratio. I used Single Core score as a CPU value in ratio calculations. The higher the ratio, the better the deal.https://472bda795d4542a0abc5ac99dd1d89dd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Based on my calculations, the best models were: Mid 2013 and Early 2014. With those models, you get most CPU for the buck.

Expandability and display

The newest MacBook Air has only 2 USB-C ports. It may sound not bad until you realize that when charging an MBA, one of the ports will be taken. So, if you have two devices connected to the new MBA and it needs charging, then one of the devices have to be disconnected (which may or may not be possible).

So, more ports the MacBook more usable it is.

The expansion characteristics and screen resolutions of the MacBooks we compared earlier I put in the table below:

YearExpansionDisplay
Late 2018Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2560×1600
Mid 2017Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Early 2015Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 20 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Early 2014Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Mid 2013Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt 2 port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SDXC card slot
1440×900
Mid 2012Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
MagSafe 2 power port
SD card slot
1440×900

According to the table, all 13inch MBAs before 2018 had:https://472bda795d4542a0abc5ac99dd1d89dd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

  • Two USB ports
  • Thunderbolt port (various speeds)
  • MagSafe power port
  • SDXC card slot

So, in theory, you can have 2 USB and 1 Thunderbolt devices and a memory card connected while powering a pre-2018 MBA. A 2018 MBA is the worst option when it comes to expandability.https://472bda795d4542a0abc5ac99dd1d89dd.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

The screen resolution was the same for all MBAs between 2012 and 2017. Only in 2018, MBA got a Retina display. So in case of MBA display is not a deciding factor.

Upgradeability

Besides limiting the number of ports Apple in its obsession of making thinnest laptops made upgrades of the newest MacBooks impossible. I remember days when it was straightforward to change the RAM. Just pop up the cover at the bottom of the laptop, unplug old RAM, and plug in new.

Unfortunately, in MacBook Air, the RAM is soldered, so if you want to replace memory in MBA, you need to have special skills and tons of experience.

However, replacing SSD is something that anyone with little technical abilities can do. There is a well-known high-performance SSD upgrade from OWC (Amazon). They have options from 480GB to 2TB. If you are afraid to perform upgrade yourself, they offer expert installation as well for an additional charge.

There is also an alternative SSD upgrade from Feather (Amazon) which may be cheaper than OWC.

How do all above apply to the models we were reviewing? It is not possible to upgrade RAM on any MacBook models, but SSD upgrade is available for all MBAs except 2018.

So, what the conclusion? If we take into account all three factors: CPU/price ratio, expandability, and upgradeability, then MacBook Air 13-inch Mid 2013 (i7-4650U @ 1.7 GHz) is a winner.

Next, I will provide similar information for MacBook Pro 13 and 15-inch except for the price. Armed with the information, you will be able to make better decisions.

MacBook 13 inch

Performance

CPU benchmark table

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Mid 2018i7-8559U @ 2.7 GHz514217789
Mid 2017i7-7567U @ 3.5 GHz46359547
Mid 2018i5-8259U @ 2.3 GHz452816637
Mid 2017i5-7360U @ 2.3 GHz43429082
Mid 2017i5-7267U @ 3.1 GHz42218831
Late 2016i7-6567U @ 3.3 GHz40438129
Late 2016i5-6287U @ 3.1 GHz39717971
Late 2016i7-6660U @ 2.4 GHz39257834
Early 2015i7-5557U @ 3.1 GHz38587354
Late 2016i5-6267U @ 2.9 GHz38297665
Mid 2014i7-4578U @ 3.0 GHz37667171
Early 2015i5-5287U @ 2.9 GHz37447090
Late 2016i5-6360U @ 2.0 GHz36637223
Late 2013i7-4558U @ 2.8 GHz36086887
Mid 2014i5-4308U @ 2.8 GHz35726828
Early 2015i5-5257U @ 2.7 GHz35686769
Early 2013i7-3540M @ 3.0 GHz34016593
Mid 2012i7-3520M @ 2.9 GHz33826606
Mid 2014i5-4278U @ 2.6 GHz33826490
Late 2013i5-4288U @ 2.6 GHz33726471

Expandability and display

YearExpansionDisplay
Mid 2018Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2560×1600
Mid 2017Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2560×1600
Late 2016Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2560×1600
Mid 2014MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2560×1600
Late 2013MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2560×1600
Early 2013MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt ports (up to 10 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2560×1600
Mid 2012MagSafe power port
Gigabit Ethernet port
FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
Thunderbolt port (up to 10 Gbps)
SDXC card slot
Kensington lock slot
8x SuperDrive
1280×800

Upgradeability

None of the MacBook Pros listed in these tables have an upgradeable RAM. MBP 2013-2015 can also be upgraded with SSD upgrades as described in the MBA section. OWC offers another SSD upgrade that works with 2012-2013 models. You can find a table that explains the upgrade paths on Amazon.

Conclusion

The 13-inch MacBook Pro (i7-5555U @ 3.1GHz) is the first item on my list. It features a Retina display and a large number of expansion slots. It can also be upgraded with its SSD. Mid 2012 (i7-3520M@ 2.9GHz) is second because it had SuperDrive.

MacBook 15 inch

Performance

CPU benchmark table

YearProcessorSingle CoreMulti Core
Mid 2018i9-8950HK @ 2.9 GHz535222638
Mid 2018i7-8850H @ 2.6 GHz505721471
Mid 2018i7-8750H @ 2.2 GHz491121142
Mid 2017i7-7920HQ @ 3.1 GHz464015530
Mid 2017i7-7820HQ @ 2.9 GHz449115261
Mid 2014i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz442414594
Mid 2015i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz440714734
Mid 2015i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz439714664
Mid 2017i7-7700HQ @ 2.8 GHz435414393
Late 2016i7-6920HQ @ 2.9 GHz432314319
Late 2013i7-4960HQ @ 2.6 GHz421614222
Late 2016i7-6820HQ @ 2.7 GHz416013910
Mid 2014i7-4870HQ @ 2.5 GHz412713919
Mid 2015i7-4870HQ @ 2.5 GHz412114085
Mid 2015i7-4870HQ @ 2.5 GHz410913992
Late 2016i7-6700HQ @ 2.6 GHz402013167
Late 2013i7-4850HQ @ 2.3 GHz391913327
Mid 2015i7-4770HQ @ 2.2 GHz380913098

Expandability and display

YearExpansionDisplay
Mid 2018Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2880×1800
Mid 2017Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2880×1800
Late 2016Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports2880×1800
Mid 2015MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2880×1800
Mid 2014MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2880×1800
Late 2013MagSafe 2 power port
Two Thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)
HDMI port
SDXC card slot
2880×1800

Upgradeability

Similar to MBP 13inch, 15inch models do not allow changing RAM, but SSD upgrades are available for 2012-2015 models.

Conclusion

I would rank Mid 2014 (i7-4980HQ @ 2.8 GHz) first in the list of 15inch MacBook Pros. It has all the same parameters as 2015 but it’s cheaper. While 2016 comes with a TouchBar, the butterfly keyboard had a lot of issues (I have them too).

Where to buy used MacBooks?

Apple Web Site

The Apple web page is the best place to start when looking for a used Mac. Apple certifies all products and offers a 1-year warranty. All accessories and cables are included and they come in a new box.

Even refurbished products purchased directly from Apple are expensive. Apple has only models that were made in the past 2 years. Apple.com does not sell a MacBook 5 years old.

Specialized stores

Many stores specialize in selling Apple products used. Mac Of All Trades is one of them. PowerMax, MacMall, Gazelle and MacMall are others.

They have limited quantities of MacBooks from all years. It makes sense to look at what these stores have to offer if you’re looking for reliable refurbished MacBook shops. Their prices, however, are way too high for me.

I recommend them only if you want to feel confident when purchasing a used laptop.

These three options might offer the best buying opportunities but come with some risks.

eBay

My friend bought a MacBook Air 13-inch Early 2014 for $276 from eBay. It has 8GB RAM, 256GB storage, and was branded as MacBook Air 13″ (early 2014).

Although I was skeptical at first, he eventually showed me the receipt. I asked him how he was able to negotiate the best deal and he shared his secrets with me. I’m happy to share them with you.

  1. Don’t rush. After spending two months searching eBay for the best deals, he finally found one. This doesn’t mean you should wait two months before purchasing a MacBook. Avoid buying the first MacBook that looks good.
  2. Spend at least 10-15 minutes a week on eBay. You need to be consistent. Good deals don’t last very long so make sure you check back often.
  3. Decide what you want and how much money you can spend. Make a list of at least two MacBook configurations to determine their potential costs.
  4. Flexibility is key. My friend purchased a MacBook without a charger. The seller reduced the price. To save hundreds, my friend paid $20 more for a charger.

How can you tell if a MacBook’s price is fair? You can use the Price Check thread on Reddit to ask other people to price the MacBook based on a particular configuration. Anything below the price check value will be considered a good deal.

Craiglist

This is not the safest place to search for deals. Everyone should adhere to the safety guidelines posted by Craiglist. These guidelines include tips like meeting in public places, not inviting strangers to your home, and having a friend accompanying you.

Unfortunately, the Craiglist has many bad people and they know multiple ways of stealing your money.

For example, I found a great deal on a MacBook Air yesterday. Craiglist also indicated that the seller was located in my area. I asked him to send me additional screenshots so that I could determine if the MacBook fit the description. He responded with pictures and an email.

“I have bad news. I am now in Edmonton Canada. I hope that we can still make the sale .”

When the images were slightly different from the originals, I knew it was a scam.

The next email he sent out contained a method to do a deal. He suggested a service that was legitimate, but required payments by Western Union or money orders. Here is his email:

Fast Way Direct is a delivery company that will deliver my Mac and let you test it before you send me the money. I’m able to pay for a 2-day delivery. Please read their procedure so we can be on the same page: https://fastwaydirect.com/how-does-third-party-works”

I began to search for fastwaydirect, but all I found was a Reddit message:

Thread of Reddit 10 Days Ago

The exact same sentence and words!

It’s easy to believe that something is too good to be true.

Swappa.com

Swappa.com is another service that I discovered after looking through Reddit suggestions. It’s similar to eBay, but it works a bit differently.

A unique code is given to a seller when she initiates a listing. The seller must write down the code on a piece of paper, then take pictures of the device with the paper. You now know the device is yours and that it has been sold.

You don’t have that assurance with eBay or Craiglist. Craiglist seller of MacBooks probably copied photos from other posts.

The buyer can then communicate with the seller to ask for a reduction in price. If the seller lowers its price, the MacBook is still available to everyone. If you don’t act quickly, someone else can purchase the MacBook at the new price.

Listings are not paid by sellers, but Swappa fees are charged to buyers. The price of the product determines the fee.

Swappa sells smartphones, smartwatches and other devices, in addition to MacBooks.

Amazon

Amazon is the king of retail.

The so-called “renewal MacBooks” can be found here. If you are unsure what the difference is between refurbished MacBooks and renewed MacBooks, renew is a new term for certified refurbished.

Renew MacBooks have the advantage of being backed by Amazon. They ship free with Prime membership and can be returned as easily as any other Amazon product.

Amazon places strict restrictions on companies selling new products on its platform. Don’t expect to pay low prices. But expect better customer service.

Useful vs. New

Although it may not seem obvious, sometimes a new MacBook is cheaper than a refurbished model. In my previous post, I shared some tips for saving money on MacBooks.

The Best Time to Buy A MacBook

Good luck with your MacBook shopping! It’s worth it.

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