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I want to buy an HP laptop and I heard there are sort of ways you can find out if your laptop is genuine, any help is appreciated.

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Can you clarify what you mean by "Genuine"? As in made by HP's OEMs or that it's not just some other laptop re-branded as HP or something else? Also how smart do you expect the counterfeiter to be? – AndrejaKo Apr 7 '11 at 14:15
tbh, if it falls apart after 6 months, it was genuine. – Sirex Apr 7 '11 at 14:26
I'm worried about this laptop's being re-branded, how should I check that? – Nobody Apr 7 '11 at 14:47
It mainly depends on how thorough the re-brander was. Take a look at my answer. If it is just simple re-branding, it should be detected at BIOS or CPU-Z stage. Also is only the external branding was changed, check if the model number of the laptop exists and if it does, does it look like the one you're thinking about buying. – AndrejaKo Apr 7 '11 at 14:58
I you distrust the retailer to this extent, I'd say don't buy from them. – evilsoup May 22 '13 at 10:08
up vote 4 down vote accepted

This issue is very wide and complicated and there isn't a simple answer.

An easy and safe way would be to get the laptop's serial number and check it with HP's customer support to see if the serial number is valid. On the other hand there could be problems with that. Serial number sticker could have been removed or there could be problems with HP's databases. I've heard cases where people called support and were told that their warranty expired several years before the product was even manufactured, so that could happen with the uncertain laptop too.

Next step would be to boot the computer and enter BIOS. From there is may be possible to see if HP is mentioned anywhere. If it is, then the computer is either genuine or a very good fake.

If there are no mentions of HP in BIOS, next step would be to boot Windows and check the computer using CPU-Z. Laptops usually have custom made motherboards and you should see HP mentioned somewhere in CPU-Z. A good place to start would be mainboard tab.

On Unix-like systems you could try with lspci. There may be some proprietary components listed which mention HP.

If that doesn't work, you'll need to go to hardware side. Check the battery if it's original. It may mention HP. After that you may have to disassemble laptop and check internal components. You may be able to find HP mentioned somewhere on printed circuit boards, but again there's a chance you won't see it mentioned because manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard and others outsource production to other factories and you may see their logos instead.

Finally you could try searching the Internet for a model with exact same configuration, but that also isn't 100% safe, because the model you're inspecting could be very rare. Also the previous owner could just claim that he upgraded component X and doesn't remember the specifications of original component.

In the end the laptop may have been assembled from original spare parts. In that case, it could be difficult to determine if its fake. It would be missing its serial number or the serial number could be invalid, but that as I've mentioned before isn't 100% sure way to find out. This option also is very improbable because spare parts kit for a laptop would be several times more expensive than a real fully assembled laptop. Still, they could be obtained from say a bankrupt service center or corrupt factory or similar.

Another thing you could look for is branding in operating system. If the operating system is still same as one which shipped with laptop, it could have HP branding. For example in windows XP you'll find it if you go to my computer, right click on empty space and go to properties. There look for general tab. It will contain system manufacturer, support phone numbers and similar information. On Vista and 7, just right click and go to properties. On the screen which appears, you'll find it right on the center. Still, the OS may have been reinstalled and the branding information lost.

So there is no 100% safe way to see if a laptop is genuine, and there is always some uncertainty.

Another thin which could help is understanding how laptops are made.

Basically HP may not always make HP laptops. Usually laptops are designed by companies which are called Original Design Manufacturer. They create the concept and basic configuration of the laptop. After that they try to sell the design to brand name manufacturers. The branding firm purchases partially assembled laptops and finishes the small things such as external color, chooses exact screen, keyboard, processor, hard drive, graphics card and RAM for the computer.

Sometimes ODMs sell one design to multiple manufacturers who then make almost identical laptops. In that case, it could be difficult to detect re-branding, because the laptop of one manufacturer may look and may have almost same components as laptop of another manufacturer. In some cases different laptops may even have BIOSes which could be compatible across brands!

Another thing to consider are brand gradings of equipment. Some companies may sell computers under several different brands and they may divide their brands by quality. It sometimes happen that a company may have a brand for cheaper products which are same as products of their more expensive brand, but didn't pass quality testing for the more expensive brand. In such cases, it may be difficult to detect re-branding. I'm not aware that HP is doing something like that, but it's an interesting fact to know.

Another point worth mentioning is local factor. Be sure to do research for local counterfeiting practices. Using such information, you can narrow down areas which need checking.

Yet another point worth mentioning is re-branding within a single model. Laptop manufacturers usually have several versions of each model with different processors, hard disks, screens, graphic cards and so on. Those things may have a great effect on the value of a single laptop. For example when I was purchasing my laptop, same model was available from 600€ to 1200€ and the only external difference between them were 3 stickers. So be sure to check exact configuration of the computer you're purchasing.

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Thanks for the comprehensive answer! – Nobody Apr 7 '11 at 14:56

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