How are these tricked out Thinkpads selling so cheaply on Ebay?
October 18, 2013 1:14 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of getting a Lenovo Thinkpad x230 to replace my aging laptop and noticed that Ebay had sellers with seemingly good ratings offering machines with higher specs than you can get in the Lenovo store for much cheaper. Is this too good to be true?

e.g. machines with top-of-the line processors, 16GB RAM and 256GB SSDs for $1400 or under.

I gather they open up machines they buy and replace HDDs with SSDs and upgrade RAM from third party suppliers. Sounds fine to me in principle. I contacted one seller and they said they use Crucial RAM and Samsung SSDs, which are, to my knowledge, good suppliers.

But should I be running away screaming from the prospect of a $1000+ purchase from Ebay? Would I be to likely to get a box of rocks--or do the 1000s of good ratings these sellers have actually suggest that a purchase would likely be kosher? I mean, they claim the 1-year warranty would still be good and everything.

(I am an Ebay novice, so don't assume much knowledge on my part.)

(I am also open to suggestions that I should wait for Lenovo to have a final firesale on these after the release of their new x240s--which are way out of my price range at the moment, and seem to have come with some compromises, like non-upgradeability of RAM, that the current models don't have. If you have any other good Lenovo purchasing tips, please weigh in.)
posted by col_pogo to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: These are often overstock or returned (but fairly new) units. And if they were built to order, it's not cost-effective to disassemble them and restock the parts, especially because there's a non-negligible chance that parts get damaged in the process. These are then unloaded via unofficial channels such as eBay or other auctioneers. Most likely legit.
posted by wutangclan at 2:37 AM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: I am a constant buyer of thinkpads on eBay. most are ex-office with a low use history. I have not encountered any problems with any laptop I bought from eBay.
posted by parmanparman at 3:45 AM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: Something to consider if a warranty is worth it for you. If you want a warranty, then you should be directly from Lenovo.

One of the reasons I love thinkpads is the amazing tech support. According to some tech support people I've worked with, laptops these days are often built with a higher rate of parts failure. Usually small things - a microphone that dies, shorter lifespan of various parts.

Then again, thinkpads probably among the easiest to self repair, if you have a little confidence/google instructions, and are willing to pay for parts.

If you do buy from Lenovo, check out additional discounts through your company/university, or with your credit card. Visa offers a discount, for instance. Plus, your credit card may offer extended warranty.
posted by troytroy at 5:24 AM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: Ebay seller ratings are a scam. I know for a fact (because it happened to me personally) that Ebay removes negative seller ratings. For example, Ebay removed my negative feedback of sellers that sold me (1) an obviously used item as new, (2) a different-than-advertised, less desirable model of an electronic item, (3) a different color than in the photo of a fashion item. For this reason, I avoid Ebay like the plaque. You just don't know what you'll get and there is no recourse.
posted by rada at 10:56 AM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: I don't know about ordering from ebay, but I love the x230 I'm typing this on. Which I ordered directly from Lenovo. And it is dead easy to upgrade the RAM and to swap out the HDD (buying better RAM and a SSD elsewhere saved me about $500, and I got the SSD I wanted, not whatever they happened to have on hand). With the best i5 chip and wireless card, it was about $1200, about a year ago with a few years extended warranty. I decided against the i7 chip because reports from people who had done tests showed that it didn't give enough of a performance boost to justify the cost for my needs.

I'd totally buy another one from the Lenovo Outlet. I've had good luck with outlet stuff in general. Wouldn't buy from ebay. Ever.
posted by monopas at 2:59 PM on October 18, 2013

Best answer: Lenovo offers an international warranty that is tied to the machine not the owner, so you don't need to buy direct from them in order to benefit from this. You can verify warranty status online so this is something you could do first to reassure yourself before buying a particular machine.
posted by JonB at 1:07 AM on October 19, 2013

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