Take a look at our
ThinkPads.com HOME PAGE
For those who might want to contribute to the blog, start here: Editors Alley Topic
Then contact Bill with a Private Message

Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

Want to know HOW TO..? Have a FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION..?
If you can't find it here, tell us and we'll publish whatever you need
Post Reply
Message
Author
StarGehzer
Posts: 35
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto Ontario Canada

Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#1 Post by StarGehzer » Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:21 pm

I'm shopping for a used 12" laptop. I'm sure some of you have a methodology you follow when examining and testing a laptop you are considering buying.
Perhaps there is a program to run that checks battery condition? One that examines the hard drive?
Looking for physical damage is the easy part.. but it's what's inside that matters.
Can you tell me (us) how you go about examining & testing a used laptop before you spend $500.00 or more on it?

Thanks..

rkawakami
Admin
Admin
Posts: 10126
Joined: Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:26 am
Location: San Jose, CA 95120 USA
Contact:

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#2 Post by rkawakami » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:26 pm

Are you talking Thinkpads specifically? If so, then there was a program called PC Doctor for DOS which checks most of the major components of the laptop, without requiring any operating system or hard drive installed in the system. For the newer systems, you would use a bootable CD so that means an Ultrabay optical drive or an external USB drive is needed. Much older systems would use one to several floppies. PC Doctor contains tests to check the system board, CPU, memory, video, serial and parallel ports, hard drive, optical drive, modem, ethernet, wireless, keyboard, Trackpoint, speaker. What it lacks is any thorough testing of the USB port(s), PCMCIA, Bluetooth and also Firewire. I say there "was" a program, since recently, Lenovo has removed the diagnostic from their Support pages. I still have the installation programs for a couple of them so I'm planning to set up a web site so people can download them. Each version is specific to a group of Thinkpads.

When receiving a used system, I run most of the tests contained in PC Doctor. The only major tests that I don't use are the memory and hard drive ones. For those, I use memtest86+ for the memory modules and if available, the hard drive manufacturer's own disk utility program. If none is available, then I'll use the hard drive tests in PC Doctor. There is a way to specify the number of times to repeat the selected tests so I generally use 10 for the systemboard and CPU tests and 3 for most everything else. Some of the tests are "interactive" in that they require assistance from you. For example, the keyboard test is performed by you pressing every key and a keyboard map on the screen indicates if the press was detected. Same goes for the trackpoint/mouse/touchpad test; you move the cursor around the screen and besides seeing it move, the X and Y coordinate numbers are shown changing. Other tests require additional resources for complete testing. The serial and parallel port tests normally do not need anything special. However, they can optionally use what's known as a "loopback" plug or adapter. This is a special connector that plugs into the serial or parallel port and contains wiring that connects the input pins of the port to output pins. You can then enable the loopback test sections and PC Doctor will execute them. For the battery condition, I rely upon the Windows Battery Maximizer program that's available from the Lenovo Support site. It reads the information stored in the battery such as, date first used, remaining charge capacity, design capacity, serial number, etc.
Ray Kawakami
X22 X24 X31 X41 X41T X60 X60s X61 X61s X200 X200s X300 X301 Z60m Z61t Z61p 560 560Z 600 600E 600X T21 T22 T23 T41 T60p T410 T420 T520 W500 W520 R50 A21p A22p A31 A31p
NOTE: All links to PC-Doctor software hosted by me are dead. Files removed 8/28/12 by manufacturer's demand.

wfoster
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:32 pm
Location: Heiskell, TN

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#3 Post by wfoster » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:36 pm

Hi, I just bought a used T400 on ebay. It is in good physical condition, I am using it to type this message, but I am searching for good info on how to test it, and other general info regarding used laptops, thinkpads, etc.... this is the first used laptop, and first thinkpad i have bought.

Please feel free to drop any insights (beyond what is provided in the post above) or point me in the right direction if you are reading this.

Thanks.
wfoster

TonyJZX
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 452
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 12:33 am

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#4 Post by TonyJZX » Mon Jun 20, 2016 1:53 am

IMO $500 is too much to spend on a 2nd hand. But be that as it may, it depends on how much time the seller gives you to play around with the laptop.

I would use batterycare and crystal disc info to check the hdd.

But like the above person here, if you're buying a T400 you're talking about a $50 unit so I assume the battery and hdd is dead.

IMO the battery and the hdd arent really worth testing. Why you say? Because they are easy to replace.

Like right now I generally buy sub $100 units so I assume the battery and hdd are rubbish and just buy an ssd and replacement battery.

On a $500 laptop... most important is to make sure the thing has warranty. If it has a bad hdd or battery, you have support, so why bother testing?

wfoster
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 2:32 pm
Location: Heiskell, TN

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#5 Post by wfoster » Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:45 am

Hi again. Thanks Tony, for the reply. I'm still using the T400 mentioned above, and it's still doing everything I am asking it to do - which isn't much to be honest. But, for 70 bucks i ain't complaining. The only problem i have had is graphics-related - short, embedded videos take a couple of seconds to clear up...

Anyway, I am now looking for a used W520 to play around with. I may take your advice and go cheap, then add the battery, HDD, extra RAM, etc.

axur-delmeria
ThinkPadder
ThinkPadder
Posts: 1738
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#6 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Feb 11, 2018 11:54 am

If you're familiar with Linux, it's not that hard to test. I have a small SSD (32GB) on a USB enclosure with Debian 9 32-bit installed.

It already has tlp installed, which lets me check the battery status, psensor to monitor temps, 7zip as a basic CPU benchmark/stress test, and gsmartcontrol to check the HDD's condition. I even put get-edid so I can verify the brand and model of the installed LCD.

It still needs a bit of work though-- on some systems, X server doesn't load the correct graphics driver. I've managed to fix half the problem-- I can force X server to load the correct driver by copying the correct config file to a certain directory (different GPUs require a different config file), but I need to automate that process with a script that can detect the GPU on boot and copy the corresponding config file.

I've used that USB SSD earlier today, as I tested a barebones (no RAM & HDD) X220 before purchasing it. :D
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
Toy: X60/s Frankenpad Core Solo U1300
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E, X61 T7500
:cry:

Annecy
Sophomore Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#7 Post by Annecy » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:06 am

"If I may ..."
I'd (atm) like to ask/know ... about ...
something pertaining to ... evaluating/buying ... a used T61 ...
Specifically regarding: NVIDIA GPU MOTHEROBOARD ISSUES
i.e.,
Should 2ndHand T61 models/types with the NVIDIA (as opposed to the Intel) chips be avoided :?:
I suppose a 2ndHand T61 with the Intel as opposed to the NVIDIA would DEFINITELY be preferable ...
(in fact ... I already have just such a T61 8)
however, should one DEFINITELY avoid any 2ndHand NVIDIA T61s :??:

Also ~
are any 100%/pure Lenovo ThinkPads
(as opposed to the original/IBM machines ~
including the T61s
)
seriously stellar machines ...
and worth considering :eek:
Which one/s ... why :eek:

Are "newer"/Lenovo components (e.g., UltraBays) interchangeable ...
with older/original/IBM components :?:
(e.g., For sharing between my T43 & T61
I have four (4) UltraBays ~
two (2) P/ATA & two (2) SATA ...
)

Annecy
Sophomore Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#8 Post by Annecy » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:49 am

rkawakami wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:26 pm
"... there was a program called PC Doctor for DOS which checks most of the major components of the laptop,
without requiring any operating system or hard drive installed in the system.
For the newer systems, you would use a bootable CD so that means an Ultrabay optical drive or an external USB drive is needed.
Much older systems would use one to several floppies.
PC Doctor contains tests to check the system board, CPU, memory, video,
serial and parallel ports, hard drive, optical drive, modem, ethernet, wireless, keyboard, Trackpoint, speaker.
What it lacks is any thorough testing of the USB port(s), PCMCIA, Bluetooth and also Firewire.
I say there "was" a program, since recently, Lenovo has removed the diagnostic from their Support pages.
I still have the installation programs for a couple of them so I'm planning to set up a web site so people can download them.
Each version is specific to a group of Thinkpads.
"
btw/look ...
what I came across ... this (Saturday evening/night) ...
in my (own/personal) SoftwareArchive ...
Image
I remember about 10years ago ...
I wanted/tried to put them on a MultiBoot medium ...
I'd welcome any tips ...
on how to add my PC-Doctor (4DOS) ...
to my WinBuilderPE SE MultiBoot USB stick/s ...
or whatever ...
burn a CD ...
or ...
who kwnos :banana:

rkawakami wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:26 pm
"When receiving a used system, I run most of the tests contained in PC Doctor.
The only major tests that I don't use are the memory and hard drive ones.
For those, I use memtest86+ for the memory modules and
if available, the hard drive manufacturer's own disk utility program.
If none is available, then I'll use the hard drive tests in PC Doctor.

There is a way to specify the number of times to repeat the selected tests
so I generally use 10 for the systemboard and CPU tests and 3 for most everything else.
Some of the tests are "interactive" in that they require assistance from you.

For example, the keyboard test is performed by you pressing every key and
a keyboard map on the screen indicates if the press was detected.
Same goes for the trackpoint/mouse/touchpad test;
you move the cursor around the screen and besides seeing it move,
the X and Y coordinate numbers are shown changing.

Other tests require additional resources for complete testing.
The serial and parallel port tests normally do not need anything special.
However, they can optionally use what's known as a "loopback" plug or adapter.
This is a special connector that plugs into the serial or parallel port and
contains wiring that connects the input pins of the port to output pins.
You can then enable the loopback test sections and PC Doctor will execute them.

For the battery condition, I rely upon the Windows Battery Maximizer program that's available from the Lenovo Support site.
It reads the information stored in the battery such as, date first used,
remaining charge capacity, design capacity, serial number, etc.
"
2005 T30 2366-85U (XP)
2015 T43 2686-M7U
2017 T61 14.1"ws
2018 T61p 6457-V9K
2018 T60 2008-4AU
2017 2 OtC MS-W7s

(Project/s: :help:
~revive T30 XP-install
~T43 SATA-MOD
~"retire" T61ws
~Max'ing T61p & T60 :!:
~LF: "Ultimate" "ClassicTP"
)

Hans Gruber
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 6:18 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#9 Post by Hans Gruber » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:40 am

Annecy wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:06 am
"If I may ..."
I'd (atm) like to ask/know ... about ...
something pertaining to ... evaluating/buying ... a used T61 ...
Specifically regarding: NVIDIA GPU MOTHEROBOARD ISSUES
i.e.,
Should 2ndHand T61 models/types with the NVIDIA (as opposed to the Intel) chips be avoided :?:
I suppose a 2ndHand T61 with the Intel as opposed to the NVIDIA would DEFINITELY be preferable ...
(in fact ... I already have just such a T61 8)
however, should one DEFINITELY avoid any 2ndHand NVIDIA T61s :??:

Also ~
are any 100%/pure Lenovo ThinkPads
(as opposed to the original/IBM machines ~
including the T61s
)
seriously stellar machines ...
and worth considering :eek:
Which one/s ... why :eek:

Are "newer"/Lenovo components (e.g., UltraBays) interchangeable ...
with older/original/IBM components :?:
(e.g., For sharing between my T43 & T61
I have four (4) UltraBays ~
two (2) P/ATA & two (2) SATA ...
)
For whatever reason there are not many T61P models still living. If you look on ebay most are dead or do not boot which means the Nvidia graphics card failed. The good cards they say have a Thinkpad manufacture date of 08/08 if memory serves me correct. With that said and for whatever reason the mortality rate of the T61 thinkpads with nvidia graphics is much better. This is just my observation over several years watching the T61/T61P market.

With that said I have probably 6 or 7 T61 machines. Several have nvidia graphics and there is a noticeable difference in performance in anything multimedia with nvidia vs. integrated graphics. I think it's well worth the risk of buying a T61 with discrete graphics. Ask the experts here who have T61P's if they think that route is better than a T61 with Nvidia graphics. Just looking on ebay most T61P models are dead units and for parts only.
:beer: T43p,T61,X200,X200s,x201,T500,W500,T510,T410,T410s,T420s,T430,T430s :parrot:

axur-delmeria
ThinkPadder
ThinkPadder
Posts: 1738
Joined: Mon May 28, 2012 5:49 am
Location: Metro Manila, Philippines

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#10 Post by axur-delmeria » Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:48 am

I'm not surprised that many T61p's are dead or dying. The Quadro FX 570M with 45w TDP (compared to the NVS 140M with 10w) puts a strain on the cooling system, resulting in high operating temps. Higher temps --> shorter component life. The NVS 140M, while rather pitiful as a discrete GPU, is still leagues ahead of the Intel GMA X3100.
Daily driver: X220 4291-C91 i7-2620M

Backup: X220 4291-P79 i5-2520M
Toy: X60/s Frankenpad Core Solo U1300
In pieces: two retired but working X61Ts
RIP: 760XD 9546-U9E, X61 T7500
:cry:

Hans Gruber
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 802
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2005 6:18 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#11 Post by Hans Gruber » Sun Mar 04, 2018 3:29 am

axur-delmeria wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:48 am
I'm not surprised that many T61p's are dead or dying. The Quadro FX 570M with 45w TDP (compared to the NVS 140M with 10w) puts a strain on the cooling system, resulting in high operating temps. Higher temps --> shorter component life. The NVS 140M, while rather pitiful as a discrete GPU, is still leagues ahead of the Intel GMA X3100.
You have a very valid point withe regards to power consumption between the two Nvidia discrete graphics options. That seems logical as to why so many T61P have died. I would add that both (graphics cards) in 2018 both Nvidia graphics are equally pathetic. Throughout the modern thinkpad history the nvidia graphics have been largely marginally at best better than intel integrated graphics. Starting with the T400/T500 series and newer. I do not think it really matters if you have integrated graphics or nvidia graphics. On the T61 I would suggest a standard T61 with nvidia graphics and a backup unit in case the nvidia graphics fails. The T61 is 10 years old and figure if they have worked for 10 years they are unlikely to fail.

Consider the T410/T510 nvidia graphics vs. integreated graphics, no difference at all. With the T500 series the difference between the ATI graphics and integreated graphics is noticeable but the integrated on the T500 are much better than the T61.
:beer: T43p,T61,X200,X200s,x201,T500,W500,T510,T410,T410s,T420s,T430,T430s :parrot:

Annecy
Sophomore Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#12 Post by Annecy » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:23 am

Annecy wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:49 am
"I remember about 10years ago ...
I wanted/tried to put them on a MultiBoot medium ...
I'd welcome any tips ...
on how to add my PC-Doctor (4DOS) ...
to my WinBuilderPE SE MultiBoot USB stick/s ...
or whatever ...
burn a CD ...
or ...
who kwnos :banana:
"
In this/the (NOW) LOCKED TPF: "Running PC-Doctor DOS from USB drive: Solution" ForumThread
a few hours ago ...
I posted the following:
Annecy wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:56 am
twistero wrote:
Mon May 28, 2012 5:34 am
"I want to boot the PC-Doctor DOS CD (1ety48ww, for T3x/T4x/T6x/R4x/R5x/R6x/X3x/X4x/X6x/A3x/G4x/G5x/Z6x) from a USB drive."
"As I've recently posted
SO DO I :!: :wink:
"
twistero wrote:
Mon May 28, 2012 5:34 am
"Hope this helps someone. :mrgreen:"
"SO DO I :!: :thumbs-UP:

I'll be trying to add my PCDoctor4DOS iso ...
to my WinBuildPE SE MulitBoot USB stick ...
(I hope ...) sometime this ... month ...
maybe even this (coming) WeekEnd :bow: :thumbs-UP: 8)


I don't know if ... the WBPESE forum ...
will be of any use/help ... or not ...
"
ps: I (for various reasons) ALWAYS keep backup copies of my posts ...
and print (to pdf) the threads where I post them ...

Annecy
Sophomore Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#13 Post by Annecy » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:34 pm

Annecy wrote:
Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:06 am
""If I may ..."
I'd (atm) like to ask/know ...
~~~
are any 100%/pure Lenovo ThinkPads
(as opposed to the original/IBM machines ~
including the T61s)
seriously stellar machines ...
and worth considering :eek:
Which one/s ... why :eek:

Are "newer"/Lenovo components (e.g., UltraBays) interchangeable ...
with older/original/IBM components :?:
(e.g., For sharing between my T43 & T61
I have four (4) UltraBays ~
two (2) P/ATA & two (2) SATA ...)
"
I (still) have not found any definitive
resolution to my above question/s ...

I am (somewhat) familiar with the original/classic IBM ThinkPads ...
I have been pondering if/how to proceed regarding the Lenovo ThinkPads ...
Thank you &regards ...
2005 T30 2366-85U (XP)
2015 T43 2686-M7U
2017 T61 14.1"ws
2018 T61p 6457-V9K
2018 T60 2008-4AU
2017 2 OtC MS-W7s

(Project/s: :help:
~revive T30 XP-install
~T43 SATA-MOD
~"retire" T61ws
~Max'ing T61p & T60 :!:
~LF: "Ultimate" "ClassicTP"
)

Annecy
Sophomore Member
Posts: 163
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:57 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Buying a used Laptop? What to look for, how to test it, etc.

#14 Post by Annecy » Sun Mar 18, 2018 10:40 am

Annecy wrote:
Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:49 am
"I remember about 10years ago ...
I wanted/tried to put them on a MultiBoot medium ...
"
Annecy wrote:
Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:23 am
I'll be trying to add my PCDoctor4DOS iso ...
to my WinBuildPE SE MulitBoot USB stick ...
(I hope ...) sometime this ... month ...
maybe even this (coming) WeekEnd :bow: :thumbs-UP: 8)
"
I am very (VERY) happy :D to say that ...
I have now/finally added PC Dr4DOS to a MultiBoot USB stick :thumbs-UP:

Doing so (at this point in history/time) could not have been simpler ...
The WinBuilderPE SE application has a module for adding boot images to your build ...
I simply referenced in the PCDr4DOS iso
(which I had (already) extracted from the installable) ... et voila :!: 8) :!:

Post Reply
  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “** HOW TOs & FAQs **”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests