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Used Mac FAQ

Used MacsAt PowerMax, we understand that buying a used Macintosh can be a little more uncertain than buying a brand new one. While we bring nearly two decades of experience to the equation, becoming the largest and most pre-eminent reseller in the country during that time, we know you would like assurances about the particular model you may be considering.

Accordingly, we’ve assembled this FAQ that covers the most common questions we hear. Many of the questions are best asked of one of our expert Mac specialists over the phone or e-mail, who will be happy to investigate specific issues on specific models at any time.

The OS CD (or DVD) is not included in most of your pre-owned Macs. Why is that?

The reason is a combination of our not getting them on a certain percentage of the Macs we obtain, as well as the fact that not everyone needs them. Accordingly, when we do get them, we pull them out and put them in inventory with a relative cost. So if you want or need OS CD’s with your used Mac, just ask one of our Macintosh specialists what the cost is for the specific OS you’d like.

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What is an OS CD (or DVD)?

OS is shorthand for Operating System. When Macs ship new, their drives are loaded with the operating software as well as other programs Apple is giving away at the time, and most of those are provided on a back-up CD or DVD. All of our used Macs come pre-loaded with the OS listed in the description, but we don’t automatically include the back-up media. The only time this might be an issue is if you have a problem whereby you need to reformat the drive. Since most people already have a copy of some sort of Mac OS on hand, that isn’t a problem for them, but, as we mentioned, these discs are available for sale with the used Macs for those who would prefer to have them.

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What condition is it in?

Of course, the answer to that will vary, but rest assured that we only sell used Macs that we can refurbish to acceptable standards. We run complete diagnostics, replace questionable components, and clean them as thoroughly as possible. Obviously the older the model, the more wear and tear that will generally be evident, and we try to make notes when a larger than average blemish is on the unit. But the most important factor when making this buying decision actually involves our next question, because unlike buying from individuals, you have complete peace of mind with a pre-owned Mac from PowerMax.

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What is your warranty on pre-owned Macs?

In addition to our 90 day warranty, when you buy a certified used Mac from PowerMax, you get two additional guarantees: First, if it arrives and isn't working as it should (within the first 72 hours), we'll send you a return shipping label and replace it at our expense (some conditions apply).

Secondly, If, at any time during the first 90 days of the purchase of a pre-owned Mac, you wish to trade it in, we will guarantee you the FULL purchase price value you paid toward the purchase of anything else we sell (Limit one exchange per customer)!

In addition, we also have two extended warranty programs. You can extend the warranty to a full year for only $149.95, or to six months for $69.95.

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What comes with your pre-owned Macs?

As mentioned above, no OS CDs are included. With the advent of the Internet, manuals have become a thing of the past as well. So generally you get what’s listed in the description, including a mouse on desktop systems. We do list whether desktop Macs have a keyboard or not, so if you don’t have one and it says “no keyboard,” we’ll be happy to add one to the package. Other than the OS, there is not much in the way of other software on the drive when you receive it.

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When you refurbish it, do you do that because there are problems with the Mac?

One of the great things about Macintosh is not only do they hold their value well because so much of the same software runs across most models, but the construction is about the best in the industry. As most people know, Apple prides itself on being a quality manufacturer, and that really shows when you’re looking at an older Mac. So while we’re diligent about fixing any problems or replacing any components that look problematic, the truth is that refurbishing usually entails drive formatting, testing, and cleaning.

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Can I find out how old a particular model is?

We can certainly pinpoint the timeframe that the model was produced, and in some cases we may even be able to look up a specific manufacture date. What’s actually more important, however, is finding out whether any given model of Mac will do the things you want it to, and be compatible with the software you want to run. If you have these types of questions, be sure to talk to one of our experts before buying.

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Where do you get your used Macs from?

We could tell you that, but then we’d have to kill you. Ha! Since we’ve been at this so long, we have a large number of sources, including trade-ins, corporate and education purchases off lease and more. The bottom line is that no pre-owned Mac makes it to our inventory without going through our refurbishing processes.

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How do older Macs compare to new models as far as speed, etc.?

One of the things we love about being PowerMax is that, unlike those companies who only sell the latest models, we can talk frankly about these kinds of issues. The computer industry understandably pushes the latest models because the manufacturers only really make money when you buy a new computer. But the truth is, there are plenty of happy G3, G4, G5 and older Intel-based Mac owners out there. We use hundreds of Macs in-house, and they’re all used (because of course the second you turn on any computer it becomes “used” in any case), and most of them are older models. There are times when buying a brand new Mac makes sense because you’re using cutting-edge software with large demands on the processor, or you’re just more comfortable with that, or it has a specific feature you need. But the improvements in speed as new models are introduced are only incremental. As an example, the writer of this FAQ has a G5 at home and works on a Mac Pro at work… and really sees no difference in speed with the vast majority of work done. In addition, most any computer produced in the last decade is fast enough to process the most time-consuming part of their function: accepting your input. We have yet to meet anyone who types faster on a MacBook Pro than a PowerBook, for instance :-). So again, this question is best answered by talking to one of our Mac experts who will discuss what you’re using it for, etc., and who will make sure you get the Mac that’s just right for you, whether new or used.

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What battery ships with the laptops?

Used laptops are sold with used batteries, but ones that we've tested to hold a charge during normal use for 60-90 minutes. The performance and longevity of batteries will vary significantly depending on what the computer is doing as well as a number of other factors, and cannot be determined or predicted solely by looking at charging cycles. We do recommend that you consider purchasing a new battery as a back-up if you're going to be using the laptop for extended periods without being plugged in.

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