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I'd like to purchase a used laptop. Considering that it will likely not have a warranty, I'd prefer it last as long as possible before dying.

Is there any place that I can find decent and trustworthy information about laptop reliability? I'm specifically looking at Dell and Lenovo, possibly Acer.

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closed as off topic by random Aug 26 '10 at 1:40

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Possibly the previous owner's care and usage of the laptop would be more significant. – Mike Fitzpatrick Aug 25 '10 at 23:25
Why was this closed as off-topic? Asking for reliability information seems perfectly on-topic to me. – sleske Aug 26 '10 at 2:14
@sleske: possibly because it's subjective? but there's a post down there about consumer reports, which is not subjective. it was closed by a mod so it's unlikely to come back. – jcollum Aug 26 '10 at 15:20
If it's subjective, it shouldn't be closed as "off-topic" :-). Besides, I don't find it too subjective. And even moderators can change their mind... – sleske Aug 26 '10 at 23:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Consumer Reports (it's a magazine, you should be able to get it at the library if you don't want to get a subscription) periodically rates computer manufacturers in terms of support and reliability. They publish a buying guide each year that should contain this info. Dell, Lenovo, and Acer all sell "consumer-grade" (read: disposable) laptops. Their laptops are not built to withstand the test of time, but if you buy from a gentle user and are a gentle user yourself, you shouldn't have many problems.

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Lenovo also still sell the Thinkpads, which are definitely not "disposable"... and I heard Dell also has some high-quality laptops (not all are, though). – sleske Aug 26 '10 at 2:16
True, the business oriented end of Lenovo (thinkpad) is built for reliability, but their reputation isn't quite as good as it was with IBM. Dell makes some higher-end laptops, but they still use cheap parts – Rafe Kettler Aug 26 '10 at 3:07
Thanks, totally forgot about CR. – jcollum Sep 7 '10 at 23:49

I would simply find a laptop that looks good, then look at the reviews for it. Don't just look at first time reviews, also look at user reviews. However if your going to be buying something new its going to be hard to judge reliability since nobody has had it for any significant amount of time.

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Here's some advice for buying use laptops:

  • Don't look at the specs individually. It'll do no more than try to subconsciously confuse you. Look at them in a grid format.
  • Generally, corporate laptops last longer because companies tend to buy laptops more objectively than general consumers and less often.
  • Possible the best way to find very short reviews is Twitter Search. What it lacks in quality and completeness, it makes up in quantity and brevity.
  • The manufacturer is often the best place to buy used, because of their rigorous inspections and all that. And they almost always come with a warranty that way.
  • The hard drive and batter degrade the fastest, so feel free to skimp on this field; you'll need to buy a new one much sooner than the other parts.
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