One of the many myths about Apple’s Macintosh computers is that they’re expensive. While going out and picking up your average Mac from the Apple store is probably more expensive than finding a bargain at Best Buy, that doesn’t mean there aren’t cheaper Apple computers to be found. I recently bought a Macbook for $450. After $100 worth of upgrades, it runs faster than anything I’ve ever used. I’m going to give you some tips for finding a quality Mac desktop or laptop for only a few hundred dollars.
Settle for less. If you’re coming form the PC world, you’re probably already under the assumption you need one of the latest Apple computers to keep up with the next few years worth of software. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A two or even three year old Mac can usually run today’s latest software. A good rule of thumb is if it can load the latest operating system, then it’s new enough. When I say settle for less, I don’t even really mean less. Unless you’re doing some really intense work – and I mean REALLY intense – then a cheaper model from two summers ago is still going to fly. You’ve got to remember that Macs don’t need to run Anti-Virus or Anti-Spy ware software, so they can do a lot more with the computer power they’re packing. In fact the entire architecture is built to do a lot with a little. People really don’t want to listen to this step, but it’ll save you more money than all the others combined.
Do your own upgrades. Whether you’re buying an older model or you’re in the 99% of people who refuse to trust “Settle for Less”, you can save so much from doing your own upgrades. Even when you buy an Apple computer new, getting the upgrade options cost a fortune. Depending on what you want to do, upgrades are usually pretty easy and way way cheaper to do your own. The simplest and most effective is to upgrade the RAM. After that, consider upgrading the hard drive to a Solid State Disk or a bigger hard drive with more memory. The right SSD will boost speed like you wouldn’t believe. If you’re really feeling up to it, you can even do something crazy like add a new Airport Card. I have Bukisa articles for a lot of these upgrades. The bottom line is this: buy a Mac slightly slower and less powerful than what you want, and upgrade it to save money.
Buy refurbished. You can still get a Mac from the official Apple Store for less money. Their online store has an entire refurbished page. Apple’s refurbished computers often come with additional support and warranty coverage you may not find on the used market. The Apple store isn’t the only place to buy refurbished, though; you can also find these deals from independent vendors (try a Google search for Apple refurbished) or in the same places you find used Macs.
Buy used. The used market isn’t nearly as scary as you think it is. I’ve bought every mac I’ve ever owned used. Macs don’t really go on sale, and you won’t find a lot of stores selling last years model new, so this is your number one place to get one. You can try Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, and anywhere else used computers are sold. I especially like Craigslist. It’s not as popular in some cities, but if you’ve got a good number of listings in your area this is your best bet. As you can see from some of these listings, you can get a Mac for a few hundred dollars! Try combining the tips in all these steps and see how cheap you can go.
- When you make starts getting a little old, sell it! The great thing about buying and selling on the used market is that you can usually have a computer for a year or so and resell it for nearly the same price you bought it for – sometimes even more. Don’t be afraid of putting your mac on Craigslist after a year or two so you can upgrade to the next best model.
- The usual rules apply to buying used. Check out your seller, read the item’s information carefully, and make sure everything looks alright.