What to check while buying a used MacBook?

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Guide to buy a used macbook

Buying a used MacBook could be much cheaper than a New one, but you need to check it properly before you buy. If you have never used a MacBook, you should be more careful. Depending on the model, even a used Macbook may cost more than a high-end brand new Windows laptop. Let’s know what we should check on a Macbook before we buy a used one.

You might have these questions in your mind that you would certainly love to make sure the MacBook has the right specs seller told you.

How old the MacBook is?

How to check if the MacBook is Still in Warranty?

How to check MacBook Specs?

If the MacBook’s battery is in good condition or you need to replace?

You can check the model year of the Macbook using Serial Key. A serial key consists of 12 unique alphanumeric digits that looks like C02NGGA2G3QH. It can be found at the back of the MacBook on its body, Or start the MacBook –> Click on Apple logo at the top left hand side –> Click About This Mac. “About this Mac” Should already show  the model year, but sometimes it doesn’t and then you need to copy the serial number from there and go to this URL https://checkcoverage.apple.com/

About MacAbout This Mac

Now Enter the Serial Key there and click on Continue

You will get the screen like the below image

MacBook warranty check screen

You can see that it shows the Model Year and the warranty. In this case, the Macbook’s warranty will end on September 26, 2015, but telephone support has already expired. This doesn’t tell you how old exactly the MacBook is, because all the MacBooks are not sold the same year they belong to. However, it gives you an idea how old it could be if the Purchase Receipt is missing. It also tells you if it is Retina Model or not. All retina models MacBooks come without a CD ROM and features a display with higher resolution. Resolution can be checked from “About This Mac” as well, by selecting Display Tab.

MacBook Display resolution how to check

If you check “About this Mac’s Screen” Properly, you will get more than a serial key. It tells you How many gigabytes of RAM the MacBook has, the Processor and its Speed.

If you want to know whether the laptop is dual-core or Quad core and its L3 and L2 Cache memory, click on System Report. You will get the screen like below image. If it doesn’t click on Hardware.

How to check if MacBook is dual core and Quad core

If it is dual-core, total number of core should show 2. In the above image it is Quad-core, so it’s showing total number of cores as 4.

Tip : 13-inch MacBooks are always dual core whether it’s retina or non-retina model.

Check Display for Shade, Dead Pixels and Scratch

Turn on Mac, and change its wallpaper to Solid background. Right-click on Desktop, select Change Desktop Background, and now select Solid Colors. You must apply White and Black color one by one, and check display. If there is any shade, dead-pixel or scratch on the screen, White/black background will make it visible to you.

Solid Background

How to check MacBook’s Battery Status?

You can also check the Battery status from System Report. Just click on Power, and you will get the battery information. The main thing to check is the battery cycle. A MacBook can have battery cycle from 300 to 1000 depending on the model. After the Maximum Battery cycle, it will require a replacement.

How to check MacBook's battery cycle

You can see that this MacBook has only 33 Battery cycle. There is one more way to check if battery is going to die soon or it’s already dead. Click on battery iCon at the top right hand side. If the battery is dead, it will show replace battery (where it’s showing remaining). If battery is going to die soon, it will show Service Battery.  How to check if MacBook battery is dead

Well, you must be thinking how to find out the maximum battery cycle of the MacBook you want to buy. Here is the chart from Apple that shows the MacBook’s maximum battery cycle of each model.

You may also Like; Why I chose Macbook Pro 15-inch Mid-2014 model over Mid-2015


Computer Maximum Cycle Count
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016)
MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook (13-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook (13-inch, Late 2009)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008) 500
MacBook (Mid 2009)
MacBook (Early 2009)
MacBook (Late 2008)
MacBook (Early 2008)
MacBook (Late 2007)
MacBook (Mid 2007)
MacBook (Late 2006)
MacBook (13-inch)
MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2011)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013)
MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.53 GHz, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2010)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Mid 2009)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2009)
MacBook Pro (15-inch Late 2008) 500
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2.4/2.2GHz)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Core 2 Duo)
MacBook Pro (15-inch Glossy)
MacBook Pro (15-inch)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2008)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2008)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, 2.4GHz)
MacBook Pro (17-inch Core 2 Duo)
MacBook Pro (17-inch)
MacBook Air
MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2014)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Late 2010)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2014)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Late 2010)
MacBook Air (Mid 2009) 500
MacBook Air (Late 2008)
MacBook Air

How to check if the MacBook has SSD drive or SATA Drive of storage?

It can also be checked from Under About this Mac option. Select Storage tab and you will have all the detail. In the image below you see the storage type as Flash Store. It means you have the faster flash storage, and it is available in Retina and Air models only. Instead of Flash Storage if you see Solid State Drive or SSD, that means the MacBook has faster SSD storage, and if you see SATA, then it’s general Storage that older Macs come with.

Mac Storage

What else you need to check before you buy a used MacBook?

  • Check the the body and the display properly in case you find any damage.
  • Bring a USB Stick and Microphone with you to check if those Ports are working fine.
  • Also bring a CD/DVD to check if the DVD Drive works well (if it features, because Retina model doesn’t have one).
  • Check if there is any password set. Sometimes, MacBook doesn’t ask to enter Password at login, but it does while installing the software. So change/set a password before paying.
  • Boot/reboot the MacBook a couple of times to make sure it doesn’t give any error.
  • Check the trackpad if it works well.
  • Check all the keys of the keyboard to make sure those work.
  • Connect the power cable to check if MacBook’s battery charges.
  • Don’t forget to check the camera using Photo Booth or Facetime app.
  • Try to open a couple of apps to make sure it has no issue.
  • Check sound, you can play video to check sound as well as display quality. Bring a video in USB stick in case seller doesn’t have one in computer.
  • Check WiFi. If you can’t connect to a WiFi network, you should at least check if it is showing WiFi networks or not.

WiFi Mac

Did I miss something? Please comment below if you want me to add something.