throwing out the old, bringing in the new[ish]
June 13, 2010 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Help me with all these questions about buying a used/refurbished laptop, plz.

My laptop recently crapped out. Like, totally and utterly. No big surprise, it was 7 years old. It worked great up until the end. *sigh*.

So, I want to get a new[ish] one. I basically wan to use it to mess around on the internet, watch tv, and some light graphics. I have a few inquiries surrounding this quest.

1)Name me some legit websites that sell pre-owned laptops. [I've seen dvwarehouse, i want more options]

2)Or, name me some legit brick-and-mortar stores in the chicago area that do the same.

I ran linux, and don't mind running a mac operating system. So, any kind of computer flies-if it isn'tmac, i can just put linux on it. But recently I've been toying with the idea to partition my laptop so it runs both linux and a mac OS. So, third and final question:

3)What kind of specs should my laptop have to support having a partitioned hard drive like that? I have an external hard drive, so i wouldn't be storing pictures or anything on it, though probably a bit of music, but not anything excessive. What, in terms of ram or memory or whatever, would i need to make sure the computer would run properly?

Any other, candid suggestions surrounding this subject are welcome!
posted by shesaysgo to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Apple sells refurbished Macbooks and Macbook Pros.
posted by zippy at 6:50 PM on June 13, 2010

eBay has a lot of hardware resellers that sell refurbs or end of lease computers, anecdotally my wife has been using the same Thinkpad x31 refurb for six years.
posted by furtive at 6:55 PM on June 13, 2010

I bought a Latitude d410 from Dell Financial Services. Its been rock solid.
posted by JohnR at 7:10 PM on June 13, 2010

You can pick up an older MacBook with a 2 GHz CPU and a GB of RAM (though I'd bump that up) and it will be OK, plus you can run linux and mac on it, no problem. At the low end, it will cost you about $500 (don't forget the bing cash back).

You can go even more light weight than that if you run a slim desktop manager such as XFCE. But I wouldn't want to run OS X anything less than an old MacBook. Even then, depending on what you want to do, that might be pushing it.

I'm not up to date on what OSes can read/write what filesystems, but you're going to want to have one partition that can be read by and written to by both OSes to keep a lot of your data. Back in the day, a FAT32 filesystem was the lowest common denominator, so to speak.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:19 PM on June 13, 2010

Dell outlet sells refurbs, open box- stock is always changing, you can find some great deals.
posted by wongcorgi at 8:33 PM on June 13, 2010

I'd say you want at least 2 GB of RAM, ideally 3 or 4. RAM is just too cheap these days to go with less; from that point of view, early Macbooks, which maxed out at 2 GB, may be a bit marginal. You'll also want a Core 2 Duo processor, or possibly a recent AMD Turion dual core.

You might find computers with "CULV" processors; these will give you great battery life and portability, but they won't be as fast as their regular counterparts (though they'll leave the Atoms you find in netbooks in the dust).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:54 PM on June 13, 2010

Partitioning doesn't affect anything other than the fact that you need enough hard drive space to store both operating systems. Other than that, once you boot into one OS the other is just sitting there on the drive not doing anything so it's not like it has any effect on memory or CPU.

Now, maybe you were referring to virtualization which is very different from simple dual-booting. In that case you do need more memory than you would otherwise. The details depend on how you create the VM image and what OS you're running in that VM. You can choose how much memory to give the virtual guest, and how much of that it will use will depend on what that OS would use. For example on my 7 year old x86 system with only 1 GB ram, it was quite trivial to run a Win95 or Win2k VM for software testing purposes without much drag on the host, but a Vista VM started to cause problems.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:16 AM on June 14, 2010

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