If we decide to buy a laptop from a private citizen, through Craigslist or any other manner of classified ads, then we are getting a used laptop.
The best-case scenario is that the seller offers a laptop in perfect condition, just because they need the money or got themselves an upgrade.
However, since no authorized service company has checked the system, as they do with refurbished laptops, it is our responsibility to check it thoroughly, and not be satisfied with any of the seller's claims of "hardly used".
When looking for a pre-owned laptop, we can potentially discover huge deals, depending on the age of the laptop and the reason its owner is selling it.
We might buy a last-year high-end model with less money than we would give for a brand-new budget laptop, and get significantly better performance.
What to be careful about
To make a used laptop purchase worth it, the price would definitely have to be quite tempting. But if it is too low, it should make us suspicious.
If we are interested in a second-hand laptop, we first have to see the product up close. This is a no-brainer. Never, buy a used laptop you never saw up close and personal. If this disqualifies any sellers from across the country or international sellers, so be it.
Upon meeting, we ought to examine the laptop as thoroughly as we can for as long as we need:
Test the network capabilities: WiFi , Ethernet, Bluetooth, if available
Run a hard disk drive check
Check the optical drive, if available.
Run a variety of programs, depending on the use we want it for.
Play music to check the soundcard and loudspeakers, and also test the microphone with Skype or a Skype alternative.
Run a stress test application for the CPU and GPU, such as Prime95 and FurMark
Check the computer temperature with an app such as HWinfo, especially during stress testing. Also, do a by-ear sound test for the laptop fan.
Run the laptop both on battery and with the charger connected. Make sure the battery charges to 100%.