Forget budget computers, second-hand is the safest way to save

When buying a second-hand computer, you should look for one with at least 4GB of RAM – better still, 8GB. — dpa

Electronic stores or discounters often advertise cheap notebooks and PCs. But even this cheap hardware can still cost a pretty penny. If you want to make a decent saving (and do the environment a favour), you should know how to find a good second-hand model.

Many people wouldn't consider buying a used computer, but in reality they can have a lot to recommend them. Decommissioned office computers in particular offer good performance at a manageable cost, experts say.

There's also the ecological aspect to consider. "When producing a notebook, at least 250kg of CO2 are emitted. For a desktop PC it's over 300kg. Added to that are the raw materials," environmental specialist Jens Groeger says.

Even an energy-saving computer would need decades to compensate for that, he says.

Where's the best place to buy a second-hand device? "I would buy used PCs or laptops from a retailer and not from private users," advises tech reporter Christof Windeck. If you buy privately, there's unlikely to be a warranty.

The computer should have Windows 10 onboard as Microsoft will no longer provide security updates for Windows 7 from 2020. You should also make sure you get a Windows license key with the computer.

Used laptops and PCs are suitable for users who need solid workstations and do not expect top performance when it comes to graphics. Computers that were formerly used in offices are usually adequate for everyday tasks in the home or for studying.

"He who knows what his computer should be able to do, saves twice: A modest computer costs less and uses less power than an oversized device," Groeger says.

Particularly suitable are business laptops that were used for three years and then exchanged, Windeck says. Ideally the dealer will install a new hard drive or SSD and, if necessary, a new battery and keyboard.

The dealer should also take care of installing Windows and the computer should come with a warranty of at least one year.

For a used device that doesn't have the latest technology but is fully functioning, one can expect to pay up to around US$350 (RM1,448).

"Buyers should pay attention to SSDs for mass storage because they bring a speed boost over hard drives," advises Windeck. The screen is also important – it should be an IPS panel with a minimum resolution of 1368 x 720 pixels.

You should look for at least 4GB of RAM – better still, 8GB, Windeck says. Don't expect miracles from processors in an older device, but they still should be able to cope with most applications without problems.

Buyers should consider the old device's battery before purchasing, as replacement batteries are often expensive or even impossible to get. Laptop hinges are also a potential problem area.

If you never take your computer with you, a used desktop PC could suffice. A three to four-year-old everyday desktop PC with a Windows 10 license shouldn't cost more than US$230 (RM952), Windeck says. That's excluding the monitor, keyboard and mouse.

The minimum requirements for modest users on a tight budget would be a dual-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and at least 200GB of storage space. That would be adequate for basic applications but wouldn't be suitable for 3D games or video editing. – dpa
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