Buy computor for avoidant middle aged person
May 4, 2021 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Please tell me what (rebuilt or used) laptop to buy for my simple purposes.

I like privacy, but may not care enough to make this my top priority.
I've always had a mac but use windows at work and I guess I don't care that much anymore
I enjoy having ports to plug my older equipment (printer, keyboard) into.
I mostly, when I'm honest, use google docs and zoom these days. Watching a movie or playing music could also happen. Unlikely to do heavy computing.
I have gone through periods of playing games on Steam. Perhaps I will again.
I prefer used or rebuilt for environmental reasons.
Money is not a big concern but I feel no need to spend more than I need to for my admittedly simple needs.
I get really overwhelmed when I start looking into this - in fact - I think I even asked this basic question before and then shut down. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.
posted by latkes to Shopping (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
the new Macbook Airs cose $999 and work really, really well. fast, smooth, etc. they're getting very good reviews.

i've always been frustrated by the prospect of looking for PCs and the all-over-the-place quality:money ratio in the marketplace, so there's something a bit reassuring about the "they just work" nature of macs, even if they're a little more than i'd love to spend.

you'd need to buy port adaptors for a mac (it only has 2 small usb-c holes, but there are lots of 12-in-1 adaptors out there for them these days). and you can buy a refurbished one for a few hundred bucks less than retail.

for your admittedly simple needs, it'll probably just work, really well, for a long time without you having to think too much about it.
posted by entropone at 12:47 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]


Used Gaming PC's on Craigslist are really cheap with way more performance than you need.
posted by Ferrari328 at 12:54 PM on May 4


I prefer used or rebuilt for environmental reasons.

You can get a refurbished M1 MacBook Air for $849. There are some Intel models on there, too, in case you want to run Intel games via Steam/Boot Camp.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:55 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


Those new Macbook Airs have no USB ports whatsoever and have inexplicably TERRIBLE cameras.

Would not recommend for someone who wants to use their old peripherals and Zoom often. Source: was just obligated to begin using one for work and have had to replace ALL of my peripheral equipment--most of which was purchased within the last year so it's not even that out-of-date.

Would suggest instead a refurb earlier-model Macbook Air. I think the 2018 ones should have the ports one expects and will be plenty fast for your needs.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:10 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: If I buy a refurbished or used Macbook Air, do I have to worry about what kind of "Core"? I have no idea what that means...?? In the old days I would worry about not having enough... memory? To do stuff? I know I sound very dumb but do I have to worry about anything like that?
posted by latkes at 1:17 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


"Those new Macbook Airs have no USB ports whatsoever "

They have two USB-C ports.
posted by jonathanhughes at 1:18 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]


"If I buy a refurbished or used Macbook Air, do I have to worry about what kind of "Core"?"

Not really. Your needs are super basic. If you want to play games, then that stuff could come into play.
posted by jonathanhughes at 1:19 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Buy a Thinkpad—T, X, or P series. They are indestructible.
posted by matkline at 1:21 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]


I'll second the recommendation for ThinkPads. My last ThinkPad lasted forever.
posted by metabaroque at 1:37 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


I bought a refurbished Dell Optiplex 7010 desktop for like $250 from Amazon. It has windows 10, is plenty fast, and has plenty of ports, DVD drive etc. It has 16 gigs of ram, more than my brand new work laptop. If you need a laptop, I just got a Lenovo at Best Buy with 8 gigs of ram for about $350. It's fine too, but doesn't have a CD drive so it's low on total ports. Camera is great, though I don't use it often for zoom meetings.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:41 PM on May 4


Here is a Dell Outlet search that has the specs I would use if I needed to buy a laptop right this second for my general use or a family member. (I'm 90% sure it will open with my filters already set if you click on that.)

My personal priority is on a non-miniature display (middle-aged eyes, I want a 15" ish for the balance of size and weight, plus the really small ones often sacrifice ports), good enough processor ("core"), sufficient RAM, enough hard drive to not have to worry about it.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:54 PM on May 4


What kinds of games do you like playing?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 2:10 PM on May 4


Response by poster: Ones where you don't shoot people? The last one I spent a lot of time on on my computer was Portal II
posted by latkes at 2:20 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: LOL
posted by latkes at 2:20 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


I get really overwhelmed when I start looking into this - in fact - I think I even asked this basic question before and then shut down. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it.

One benefit of getting another MacBook is that there are fewer Apple laptop models to choose from. A new/used MacBook Air M1 would work great for your use case. Windows computers can be okay but the dozens and dozens of laptop options can be overwhelming for many people. If you buy a Windows computer you would also have to add the task of transitioning from an Apple ecosystem to a Windows one. That's not super difficult but it can be a little bit of a hassle.
posted by mundo at 2:22 PM on May 4


Some people use Crossover to run compatible games on so-called "Apple Silicon", or the M1 machines that they now sell. The Apple Silicon Games site might be of use to look at compatibility.

Otherwise, getting any recent Intel MacBook will let you play games, but an M1 will run much longer between charges and generally be a more pleasant experience for general computing of the kind you'd be doing, outside of gaming.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:30 PM on May 4


The main disadvantage I see from your end of getting a Mac, assuming you already use one at home which is what I gleaned from your question, is cost (though not by as much these days) and potentially incompatibility with older hardware and software (which is sometimes also an issue on Windows too, tbh). Given that and your choice paralysis, a cheap refurb/used Mac seems like the right path for you.
posted by Aleyn at 3:43 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Seconding refurbished T-series Thinkpads, they're all I've bought, for many years.

do I have to worry about what kind of "Core"?

Nah. The term confused me too, until I asked about it here (previously).
posted by Rash at 4:08 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


They have two USB-C ports.

Yeah I should have been more specific; they do have USB-C ports. What they do not have is any "traditional" USB 2 or 3 ports, which I would bet good money the OP's older peripherals use. (Like I said, my "older" peripherals from...January 2020...all needed to be adapted or replaced.)

Of course the OP can get docks or dongles or adaptors for all of their peripherals but 1) that sounded like more than they want to get involved with and 2) they expressed a strong preference for rebuilt or used anyhow.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:17 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


USB-C-to-whatever cables are available from places like Monoprice or Amazon for a few dollars. No one needs to replace peripherals or buy a dongle.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:40 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]


I love Thinkpads and they’re all I buy (because I like the keyboards and I like that it’s easy to upgrade and repair them myself) but the display quality tends to suck compared to something like a Mac or even many other laptops, at least on the T-series and X-series that I’ve had (even with IPS displays.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:54 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


What type of game? That will dictate how hefty of a PC you need.
posted by kschang at 5:18 PM on May 4


I'll nth used ThinkPad. I have a T440p and I love it.
posted by kathrynm at 6:06 PM on May 4


I'm part of the ThinkPad T-series chorus here. Ex-lease and refurbished delivers a lot of computer for not a huge amount of money.
posted by holgate at 6:31 PM on May 4


Another vote for a thinkpad. Buy from someone who buys enormous lots of them from offices and what not, to avoid bloat ware
posted by elgee at 6:51 PM on May 4


I've got a stack of Thinkpads (t450 and x250) and a MacBook (latest in a long line) and... on one hand the Mac displays and sound are way better. And on the other the Thinkpad keyboard is way more reliable, windows is more gaming friendly, and old Thinkpads are cheap. Shrug...
posted by wotsac at 8:45 PM on May 4


A Chromebook ticks all your boxes except Portal II.
posted by bendy at 10:20 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]


Oops. I don’t know about the ports on a Chromebook but these days there’s a dongle for everything.
posted by bendy at 10:22 PM on May 4


Response by poster: OK so I'm hearing a strong preference for Macbook or Thinkpad.... That at least greatly narrows my parameters (which is super helpful). I'll try to bite the bullet and decide this weekend.
posted by latkes at 7:21 PM on May 5


I would just like to express my appreciation for this question - I bought a Thinkpad this weekend as a result! (If it helps you, latkes, I decided on that vs MacBook to facilitate Steam game playing and because I have been using Windows machines for the last few years anyway.)
posted by Paper rabies at 12:13 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


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