Does It Have To Be New?

Every notebook that I've considered on this site so far has been a new machine with some of the fastest processors and storage devices available on the market. But is this an absolute necessity? Sure, having something close to top-of-the-line is a lot of fun and can open new doors when it comes to accomplishing more demanding tasks, but does it make sense to invest in something new for a "what if" that might happen just a handful of times per year?

My primary machine at the moment is a 2014-era 13" MacBook Air. Its processor has been able to keep up with 95% of my demands thus far, and the storage is certainly fast enough to handle a lot of what I throw at it. Perhaps something a year or two older would work just as well for me. One benefit of going with an older unit is the instant cost savings, as used machines typically sell for a lot less than a new unit.

I've had my eye on a few used machines at the local Sofmap, a retail store that sells used machines. As one would expect, the machines do show some signs of wear on the keyboard and the screens might even be a little less clean due to their contact with the keyboard when closed. There are some store display model notebooks available, though, which have never actually left a retail store and are in immaculate condition. This may be the better way to go.

My first MacBook was bought like this. It was a store display model that had been touched and played with by thousands of people over a few months. The machine was never asked to do anything even remotely taxing, and it was given a thorough cleaning afterwards before being put back into its box for sale at the other end of the store. I saved 40% off the price of a new unit by going this route and was quite satisfied with the decision. What sort of advantages would I have by buying new?

The pros that immediately come to mind are:

  • longer warranty period
  • fewer fingerprints on the device
  • that "new computer smell"

Are these three things really worth the extra money that would be spent to acquire a brand new machine?