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Ultimate Buying Guide for Used Macs

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Durability, reputation, simplicity, integration, sustainability, ease-of-use.

It doesn’t matter if the computer you purchase is new out-of-the-box or has been previously owned – if it’s made by Apple it will likely meet these expectations and more. Apple views its product holistically, not only concentrating on design and durability, but user experience, as well.

This attention to detail, which include screens that can be enjoyed from any angle and a processor that ramps up speed only when it’s needed, have helped build Apple’s stellar reputation for quality and innovation. Despite Mac computers being a bit more expensive upfront, their longevity, user-friendly operating system and energy-efficient processors make them more cost effective over time than other options on the market. Apple computers are engineered to last.

Like Apple, PowerMax is dedicated to offering excellent customer service and ensuring the computer you purchase meets your specific needs. Each used PowerMax computer goes through a comprehensive check by Apple certified specialists who ensure it works as it should.

So how do you find the perfect Apple computer? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
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Should I purchase used?

There are dozens of reasons to purchase a pre-owned computer. You may be replacing a computer you know and love that is beyond fixing. Perhaps you have software that works well with your current project and you want to stay with what works. Maybe it’s a second computer that will be used primarily for homework and checking your emails. Alternatively, your student might need something to take to college and a new computer isn’t in the budget. Or, you could be a business that wants continuity in the computers your employees use.

If you’re considering purchasing a Mac through CraigsList or eBay, keep in mind these computers generally do not carry any warranty. This means you’ll be rolling the proverbial device that these units works as promised.

If that’s not your cup of tea, a PowerMax certified refurbished Apple computer might be. Our certified technicians painstakingly test and retest our Macs. These thorough processes include: inspection, testing components, making necessary repairs, cleaning, detailing and safe, secure packaging. Additionally, we offer a 120-day warranty right out of the box and a 1-year extended warranty for just $100.

Moreover, our Mac experts in sales are incredibly knowledgeable about Macs. They love to talk to you about what you’re looking for in a Mac and how you’ll use it to achieve your specific objectives. Then, we’ll provide a wide variety of models to choose from that fit in your price range. Our experts can offer the advice and guidance crucial to finding the best Mac for you.
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Where do I start?

Whether you want your computer to be energy efficient or a lovely addition to your desktop, the first place to go are the system requirements.

Are you a writer who spends time on the internet on research, needs to read emails from a publisher and save the prose to a document? Perhaps you are designing the next generation energy efficient car and the software pushes the computer to the limits.

Regardless whether the software is Appleworks or Protools, you’ll need basic information to be sure the computer chosen is the right fit, such as the required operating system – older software may require an older OS. Once you have that set, you can begin looking for the computer that best meets your needs.

Which should I choose, laptop or desktop?

This decision comes down to preference. Do you prefer something portable or would you like a static workstation?

Apple offers a variety of laptops, and with the new release of the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar, it’s taken usability to the next level. Apple’s newest release, like it’s recently re-released super-slim 12-inch MacBook, sports fewer Thunderbolt 3 and/or USB-C ports. Thus used laptops with more port variety will remain viable for some time. Apple will continue to stock the 13-inch MacBook Air for now, but the tiny 11-inch MacBook Air has been shelved, and will soon only be available for purchase used.

Apple’s desktop line offers a wide variety of uses starting with Apple’s flagship computer, the Mac Pro, with the newer cylindrical tower with multiple ports and a single, silent fan. The all-in-one convenience of the iMacs have become the go-to for everything from office use to video production, while the entry level Mac Mini is popular for music production, home theater systems and home office computers. With a wide variety still in service, refurbished desktops are terrific for stretching your technology budget.

Your computer selection can be limited depending on the software you are using. If your plan is to surf the web, check your emails and create a few documents, all newer computers with Intel processors and after 2008, will work for you. However, if the software calls for a more powerful processor, more RAM or VRAM you’ll be limited to the 15-inch MacBook Pro, 27-inch iMacs and the Apple powerhouse, the Mac Pro.

How old is the computer?

The age of the computer can affect the amount of RAM you can install, which OS can be installed, storage capacity and available graphics cards. Typically the older the computer the easier on your pocketbook, but a quick check of the specs will help determine whether the hardware and the software will work together.

Available repairs can also be affected. There are consumers and businesses who continue to run software in Classic, which is an OS only available on PowerPCs built more than a decade ago. Though there are many of these computers in use, parts are scarce, so an upgrade, no matter how painful, may be needed.

If your plan is to upgrade to Sierra, be sure to upgrade the RAM to at least 8GB and depending on the age of the computer will have some limitations.

• MacBook – Late 2009 and beyond
• MacBook Pro – Late 2010 and beyond
• MacBook Air – Late 2010 and beyond
• iMac – Late 2009 and beyond
• Mac Pro – Late 2010 and beyond
• Mac Mini – Late 2010 and beyond

How does it look?

Another good idea is to check the cosmetic appearance of the computer. Purchasing a computer that’s in pristine condition is always preferable to one with more wear and tear. Scratches and dents, white spots on the display, can give an indication as to how well the computer was cared for by its last owner. Our used Macs are in good working condition and appearance unless otherwise noted in the product description below.

Do the ports work?

From Firewire to Thunderbolt, when you are unable to back up your computer to a hard drive or plug into your epic HDMI display, having a non functioning port can be frustrating. Also important, PowerMax checks that the iSight camera, Superdrive and ports function before we place the computer on the shelf and put it back on the bench for a final check before we ship.

How about peripherals?

Keyboards and trackpads, whether included with a desktop or part of a laptop, and the mouse should also function well and work with the computer. Apple’s newest Magic keyboard and Magic mouse are rechargeable with a lightning cable. Be sure you have the cable. These new peripherals will also only work with OS 10.11 El Capitan.

Charging cables and Power Adapters should also be included with any used Mac you purchase.

Who to call?

Need help finding the best Apple computer for you? Call PowerMax at 888-769-7629 and talk to one of our experts.
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All our refurbished equipment comes to you after this extensive 20-point process.


1. Model ID and configuration:
The type and generation of Mac is noted and a diagnostic performed. Diagnostics detect which internal hardware components are functioning properly.

2. Keyboard condition:
Backlighting and keys are checked for functionality and wear, and replaced when needed.

3. Ports are functioning:
Drives appropriate to the USB, Thunderbolt and Firewire, HDMI ports etc., used to test that these ports are in working order.

4. Audio and speakers working:
A set of headphones and external speakers are plugged into the audio ports to test for sound. Speakers are also checked for sound and functionality.

5.  Bluetooth included:
The service team connects to Bluetooth – usually with a wireless mouse – to ensure it’s operational.

6. Mics and audio function:
We verify internal mics pick up sound and are working properly.

7. Webcam:
We verify the iSight camera functions on laptops and iMacs.

8. RAM operating at optimal efficiency:
We verify RAM is connected and working properly as part of the diagnostic run on each computer.

9. Ethernet works:
Ethernet ports are connected to PowerMax servers to ensure data can be transferred and computer can be hardwired for internet access.

10. Processor and Logic Board:
Tested during the diagnostic check to verify processor and logic board is in good working order.

11. PRAM and SMC:
These store your system settings, such as volume selection, clock settings and mouse scaling among other things and are checked to verify they are performing as they should and are checked both at the beginning and end of the process.

12. Storage tested and formatted: 
Hard drives are tested for proper functioning then erased to DOE compliant – 3-pass secure erase. Depending on the size of the drive, this can take as much as a week or more.

13. Video card functioning 
Functionality is checked to ensure they work as normal. Some computers, such as MacBook Pros and iMacs, also include a video systems test to see if they have been part of an Apple recall/repair.

14. External memory functioning:
eSATA or other non-standard memory cards installed in some MacPros are removed prior to testing and not replaced.

15. Functioning laptop battery:
Magnetic Resonance Testing, is used to check battery health, then the battery must power the computer through at least a 2-hour long movie.

16. Functioning optical drive (CD/DVDROM drive)
A DVD is played to test for functionality and sound.

17. A/C adapter inspected:
We verify all power adapters are in good running order. Cables are inspected for cracks, splits or wear and bricks for excessive scratches.

18. All applicable peripherals are tested and included:
Power cords and adapters are included with the computer. We do not include disks, books or stickers originally included with shipments. Digital versions of Apple support manuals can be found here.

19. Cleaned inside and out:
Each computer is professionally cleaned. Defects such as dents, or scratches are photographed and included with the product description on the PowerMax.com website.

20. Enjoy!
Call us with any questions or comments! 888-769-7629