[SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

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[SUCCEEDED] I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:05 am

Tommorow I will test a second hand Thinkpad T430, but other than confirming that it is really a thinkpad with a Core I5 processor I dont really know if I have to look out for certain pittfalls or snags?

I have heard so many good things about the Linux compatibility of the Lenovo Thinkpad that I am wondering IF I am overlooking something that might cause problems?

Advice would be welcomed on HOW to inspect or judge a second hand Thinkpad...
Last edited by carum carvi on Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Moem » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:52 am

If they say it's 'barely used', look at the shininess of the keys. If the keys are not at all shiny (worn), then compare that to the shininess of the bezel (palm rest). After all the keyboard is easily replaced.

If the seller is untruthful about that, they may be untruthful about other things.

And why not just boot it into Mint from a USB stick and see whether you like what you see?
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by vansloneker » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:55 am

In general, look for things that are worn or broken.
Look careful at the plastic near and on the hinges. Any sign of cracks?
Set the display brightness to the max. Is it bright enough, even in bright daylight? Do you like the display?
Does the wifi work? Do the speakers work? Headphone connector? USB and memory card slots?
Listen for fan noise. Excessive noise particularly shortly after booting indicates a worn or dirty fan.
Check the power cable connector, is it still solid?
Screws on the bottom, are they worn? If they are damaged a lot it could indicate the laptop has been frequently opened.
What disk is in it? Under Windows Crystal Disk Info can give an indication of the condition of the disk, power on hours and number of power on's.
You may want to replace a 'legacy' hard drive for a SSD.
Read here how to access the internal hard drive. I suppose the center square lid gives access to the memory but sometimes things are different.
Is the battery the original or an original replacement? Any indication of remaining capacity? (my experience is the indication on Mint can not be trusted, real remaining time is at best half of indicated) How much does a new battery cost?
Is the asking price reasonable for the age and condition of the laptop?
Is the bios unlocked? It's hard to get rid of a set bios password!
Is it clean? Dirt under the keyboard keys?
If you can boot from a Linux Mint stick, enter

Code: Select all

inxi -Fxz
in the terminal for a hardware specs list.
If you have an USB3 Mint boot stick put it in a USB3 connector (blue) and measure the boot time.
If it is of any importance for you check the optical drive. Does it boot from a CD and from DVD? If you enter a movie DVD does it work ok? On a home burned audio CD does it play the last track ok?

Tell us if you bought it or not!
Last edited by vansloneker on Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Shiratori » Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:25 am

If it does turn out to be OK you'll love the T430. It's built like a tank and runs Mint Cinnamon very nicely.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Pjotr » Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:52 am

Personally, I'd never buy a second-hand laptop. Laptop parts are flimsy and easily damaged, compared to desktop parts. Plus a laptop gets typically dragged along everywhere, which increases the chance that it has been dropped one time too many by its current owner.

Buying a desktop second-hand, is much less risky.

Final consideration: prices of new laptops have plummeted so much, that it's hard to see even a real price advantage in second-hand laptops (taking into account their older and weaker hardware).
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Pierre » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:02 am

yet, some years ago - - I'd bought about Ten Laptops at an Local Auction House,,
& all were Lenovo's of some sort - - the main mistake, was *not* to check that they *all* had DVD drives. . .

& a few were giving away, some were sold-on, one had a Video Card crash,
&& the last four are still being used, by myself - - this Laptop is an X200s BTW
&&& they all were Ex Vista Business Edition.
8)
and today,, I'd suggest any Laptop that still comes with win-7 - - as that will expire soon.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by carum carvi » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:14 am

Vansloneker, those are all helpful tips, I wouldnt have thought of myself.
I am gonna write it all down on a list so I can quickly scan the notebook for all these possible faults.

Moem I dont know if the seller will be happy with me plugging in MY usb stick into HIS computer. If he refuses I can ask him to put one of his own sticks in, to check if the usb connection is working properly. That usb conncetion is crucial for my needs. I hadnt thought of that at all.

Pjotr, that's a good argument I hadnt thought of before. Secondhand notebooks are ofcourse much more fragile compared to desktops. But I need a notebook and I do want to run Linux smoothly on it and those new Lenovo Ideapad notebooks in store cost about 500 euro's or more. The secondhand T430 costs 130 euros. If that T430 works for another 5 years I am content.

Pierre your experience does give me hope it is possible to buy an old, yet still good working notebook. Fingers crossed.

I'll certainly let you guys know how it went... Thanks for the tips.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by iironjade » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:20 am

Always check the optical drive. I had to return three secondhand laptops to my local shop on the same day as none of them worked.
That aside, I've always done OK with secondhand machines.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:54 am

The T430 is built like a tank, I have two both running LM19.0 cinnamon, and bought another for the better half (she's running win 7 :( ). Highly recommended and easy to fix if something breaks - good spares availability on the likes of ebay. All mine are second-hand ex corporate, probably had the main one for three years. Thinks to look out for:
  • Screen resolution - most are 1366x768, some are 1600x900. Get 1600x900 if you can. You can upgrade the screen, just replaced the 1366x768 screen in one of mine with a gloss 1600x900 - so much better (you have to replace the cable to the screen as well).
  • CPU - the most common processor is the i5-3320M, there are a few with an i7. The cpu is socketed and you can upgrade it. I replaced the i5-3320 with an i7-3632QM in my main T430. The others are 3320M's - plenty fast enough for cinnamon.
  • Graphics - most are integrated intel graphics but there are a few with a separate nvidia GPU. Expect to pay more for that, all mine are integrated graphics.
  • Bluetooth - is an option, is it fitted? You can always use a bluetooth dongle.
  • DVD drive - another option, does it have one. You can always use an external USB DVD drive. Mine had DVD drives but I thought the space was too valuable and replaced them with a caddy and a TB HDD (for backup).
  • Storage - space for one 2.5" drive, first upgrade if not already there is to replace an HDD with an SSD, note they can only take 7mm thick drives. Replacement is easy. There is a PCIe slot that will take an M2 sata drive or a WAN card (mobile internet). In one I have a WAN card, the other a 120G M2 SSD. Note, there is a whitelist in the bios (you can't change it) that limits the choice of WAN cards, think it is only 2G. Also note the slot is SATA2 so slower than the main drive slot which is SATA3.
  • Webcam - I thought they all had one, but my second T430 says (lsusb) it doesn't have one - maybe I dislodged the cable when I replaced the screen.
  • Memory - max is 16G, there are two slots, one underneath (easy) and one under the keyboard (not difficult but not as easy). If you buy one with 4G RAM and then find out it is 2x2G an upgrade to 8G will mean replacing both. I have 16G in my main T430 and 8G in the second.
  • Connections - there is a built in SD card reader, a slot for a 34mm express card and 2xUSB3 and 2xUSB2. Video - VGA and mini displayport. My main T430 is permanently plugged into an external monitor (2560x1080) via displayport to HDMI cable. Note you can pick up a docking station on ebay for about £10.
Support is good - you can download all the tech manuals from lenovo, there is a thinkpad forum (not as active or friendly as mint) and https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki.

Buy one - you won't regret it, high quality at a cheap price.

Any questions, ask...

Edit - mint installs 'out of the box' with no problems. All mine are legacy install, you could use UEFI if you wanted.

Edit2 - I am biased, I've been using thinkpads for the best part of twenty years and wouldn't consider buying anything else. Every one has been second-hand.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by majpooper » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:36 pm

AndyMH wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:54 am
The T430 is built like a tank, I have two both running LM19.0 cinnamon, and bought another for the better half (she's running win 7 :( ). Highly recommended and easy to fix if something breaks - good spares availability on the likes of ebay. All mine are second-hand ex corporate, probably had the main one for three years. Thinks to look out for:
  • Screen resolution - most are 1366x768, some are 1600x900. Get 1600x900 if you can. You can upgrade the screen, just replaced the 1366x768 screen in one of mine with a gloss 1600x900 - so much better (you have to replace the cable to the screen as well).
  • CPU - the most common processor is the i5-3320M, there are a few with an i7. The cpu is socketed and you can upgrade it. I replaced the i5-3320 with an i7-3632QM in my main T430. The others are 3320M's - plenty fast enough for cinnamon.
  • Graphics - most are integrated intel graphics but there are a few with a separate nvidia GPU. Expect to pay more for that, all mine are integrated graphics.
  • Bluetooth - is an option, is it fitted? You can always use a bluetooth dongle.
  • DVD drive - another option, does it have one. You can always use an external USB DVD drive. Mine had DVD drives but I thought the space was too valuable and replaced them with a caddy and a TB HDD (for backup).
  • Storage - space for one 2.5" drive, first upgrade if not already there is to replace an HDD with an SSD, note they can only take 7mm thick drives. Replacement is easy. There is a PCIe slot that will take an M2 sata drive or a WAN card (mobile internet). In one I have a WAN card, the other a 120G M2 SSD. Note, there is a whitelist in the bios (you can't change it) that limits the choice of WAN cards, think it is only 2G. Also note the slot is SATA2 so slower than the main drive slot which is SATA3.
  • Webcam - I thought they all had one, but my second T430 says (lsusb) it doesn't have one - maybe I dislodged the cable when I replaced the screen.
  • Memory - max is 16G, there are two slots, one underneath (easy) and one under the keyboard (not difficult but not as easy). If you buy one with 4G RAM and then find out it is 2x2G an upgrade to 8G will mean replacing both. I have 16G in my main T430 and 8G in the second.
  • Connections - there is a built in SD card reader, a slot for a 34mm express card and 2xUSB3 and 2xUSB2. Video - VGA and mini displayport. My main T430 is permanently plugged into an external monitor (2560x1080) via displayport to HDMI cable. Note you can pick up a docking station on ebay for about £10.
Support is good - you can download all the tech manuals from lenovo, there is a thinkpad forum (not as active or friendly as mint) and https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki.

Buy one - you won't regret it, high quality at a cheap price.

Any questions, ask...

Edit - mint installs 'out of the box' with no problems. All mine are legacy install, you could use UEFI if you wanted.

Edit2 - I am biased, I've been using thinkpads for the best part of twenty years and wouldn't consider buying anything else. Every one has been second-hand.
+1
Absolutely the best advice so far - I would never spend the $$$ on a new laptop when I can get much much more for my $$$ with a "refurbished" (they wipe the HD, clean it up and replace worn and defective parts) laptop I have bought all mine from NewEgg my vender of choice. The price is low and I have dealt with NewEgg for years and know I can always return defective products without a hassle - that said I have never had a problems with any of the Lenovo refurbished laptops I have purchased from them (three so far). I also recommended buying a refurbished T430 from NewEgg to a close friend and installed mint on it for them and they have been very pleased.

I would be reluctant to buy a used laptop from anyone, especially someone I did not know well - "what could go wrong?" as they - lots !

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Moem » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:25 pm

carum carvi wrote:
Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:14 am
those new Lenovo Ideapad notebooks in store cost about 500 euro's or more. The secondhand T430 costs 130 euros. If that T430 works for another 5 years I am content.
The new Lenovos that you can buy for 500 euros are consumer line machines. They are rather flimsy. Thinkpads, on the other hand, are business line machines and were a lot more expensive when they were new. You'll get a lot more bang for your bucks, speaking in terms of build quality.
Thinkpads are also relatively easy to repair. I swapped out the fan on mine, as the bearing was getting noisy. Cost me all of €3,50 and a pleasant, relaxed evening of tinkering.
I have bought second hand Thinkpads ever since my first (an A20M) and never any other brand of laptops. They have served me well.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Thu Mar 07, 2019 4:27 pm

I would be reluctant to buy a used laptop from anyone
I bought nearly all my thinkpads from a uk outfit - tieroneonline for exactly the same reason. But got the most recent off ebay, said to be grade B and w/o HDD, i5-3320, 1366x768 = £125, think it was 4G RAM. When it arrived it looked like grade A to me. A real bargain.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by ganamant » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:43 am

I have used a Thinkpad X220 and it's built like a tank. The matte finish is very pleasant to use and look at. The monitor is a bit tiring to look at and it definitely needs a lowering of the colour's temperature (blue light reduction, if you will).

I disagree with Pjotr's suggestion of never buying a used laptop. To each one his own, I suppose, but for me it's the exact opposite. I would never buy a new laptop actually. Just like cars, computer gear tends to lose it's value very quickly, and a reputable dealer of refurbished computers should give you a few months of warranty and therefore some peace of mind. And if you are really unlucky, you can still easily go through 3 or 4 used laptops before you spend what a new one would have cost you. Hard disks, especially magnetic ones, tend to be a weak point, but good and diligent backups are what will put you on the safe side, as opposed to buying new and hoping for the best. No warranty on earth will cover loss of data, by the way, just the actual hardware, so, when it comes to the most valuable thing that's inside your computer (i.e. your data) there's no big difference between used and new, is there?

P.S. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't bashing HDDs in favour of SDDs. The latter too can fail, sometimes catastrophically and with no warning sign at all, as opposed to HDDs that often begin with weird clicking noises that may give you the time to react and save your data. It's just that a drive with no moving parts is less prone to mechanical failure in the first place, especially on a machine that gets carried around a lot.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by lsemmens » Fri Mar 08, 2019 6:10 am

If you don't know what you are doing, then Pjtor's suggestion is worth considering, for the rest of us. I'll not purchase another new laptop again. My last two I purchased at govt auction. One for the missus, and it works perfectly. Mine has a couple of dodgy keys, neither of which were critical, however, make sure that all the keys on the keyboard work to your satisfaction. Most Auction houses will allow you to inspect the goods beforehand and will list any known defects. For the price of a new SSD I purchased wife's (lower spec) lappy and for the price of a new SSD and a stick of RAM I got mine. Which included an SSD and Additional RAM anyway. Both of my machines were HP, BTW, but there certainly were enough Thinkpads available, too.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by AndyMH » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:03 am

One final thought on the T430, it comes in two versions the T430 and the T430S, The T430S is a slimline version, can't tell you too much about it as I don't have one. I think the cpu is soldered not socketed. I'd go for a T430.
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by bjmh46 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:13 am

Pjotr's advice is usually spot-on, but in this case I have to disagree. Like some others here, I will never buy a new laptop again. Used Thinkpads, and Latitudes represent the best of durability, are easy to work on, and have near-perfect Linux compatibility. I am running all Mint, on 5 thinkpads and one latitude in our house, and the experience has been great (since Mint 13). Obviously you need to do your homework before purchasing, but you've made a great start by asking here!

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by majpooper » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:12 am

There is a BIG difference between "used" and "refurbished" - Pjotr is spot on to never buy a used laptop especially from someone you don't know - it's like buying a Rolex from a guy hanging around at the railway station - don't do it. Used means "as is" maybe the HD has been wiped on the other hand refurbished means it has been cleaned up, defective and worn out parts replaced and most important chaecked to make sure everything works and in some cases for a few $$$ more your can purchase an extended warranty, again NewEgg. There is no need to spend lots of $$$$ on a new laptop when a refurbished one from a reputable source is much much cheaper and will last several years. AndyMH mentions tieroneonline in the UK and there is NewEgg in the US, with a little research you can find others.

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by ganamant » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:50 am

There is some difference between buying refurbished from a company and buying used from an individual, but I don't think it's a huge difference after all. I've had good experiences buying from private individuals on eBay: you just have to be more careful, but if you know how to bid, you can take home great deal from time to time. With Rolex it's a different story: a Rolex costs much more than a laptop and, as far as I know, there are no such things as fake laptops. For me, I'd rather risk throwing away 150 bucks on a defective laptop that I can claim no warranty rights upon than paying 400 for about the same machine, give or take a few specs, and throwing away the 250 bucks difference. Not to mention, of course, the issue of buying OEM Windoze just to wipe it off the hard disk (Linux laptops do exist but they are few and far between, we all know that).

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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by Moem » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:54 am

majpooper wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:12 am
There is a BIG difference between "used" and "refurbished" - Pjotr is spot on to never buy a used laptop especially from someone you don't know - it's like buying a Rolex from a guy hanging around at the railway station - don't do it.
Maybe I've just been lucky. *shrug* Or possibly your advice is way too absolute. Either way, I'm going to continue buying second hand from private sellers if I trust them enough. 8)
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Re: I wanna buy a second hand Thinkpad. Any snags I might wanna look out for?

Post by majpooper » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:35 pm

Moem wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:54 am
majpooper wrote:
Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:12 am
There is a BIG difference between "used" and "refurbished" - Pjotr is spot on to never buy a used laptop especially from someone you don't know - it's like buying a Rolex from a guy hanging around at the railway station - don't do it.
Maybe I've just been lucky. *shrug* Or possibly your advice is way too absolute. Either way, I'm going to continue buying second hand from private sellers if I trust them enough. 8)
Sure there are lots of risks you can take, in all of life for that matter, and come out ahead that does not mean that they are prudent. And I agree with the big caveat you mention is "if I trust them enough." But in general terms it would seem one would be taking minimal risk in purchasing a defective laptop that may be fraught with problems if one were to buy a refurbished laptop from a "trusted" source which is essentially what you yourself are in the habit of doing except you don't get the added benefit of the refurbishing process which I suppose lowers the price even more. So I guess we agree.

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