If your budget is tight and you want to make the most of it or you just want to keep something out of the landfill, consider the used or refurbished laptop market. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to buy used laptops on eBay from all sorts of sellers (both professionals and casuals).
To get the best deal, make sure you know the market. Do some research to find out which machine will suit your needs. The easiest to achieve, and therefore (usually) the best deals, tend to be more boring, business-oriented models. I happen to like ThinkPads, which are used by — and then dumped at the same time by — major corporations, which means there’s a lot to choose from and they’re cheap.
Aim for the specifications: Try to buy a laptop with at least 11th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage (solid state drive preferably) and at least 13 inch screen close to FHD (1080p resolution).
Find used laptops on eBay: When you know what you want, search for it on eBay. Scroll down and select the option to show only “Sold listings”. Now take the 10 most recent discounts, add the price and divide it by 10. That’s the average price; don’t pay more than that. Keep the lowest price in mind—it’s a great price. Now uncheck the Sold List option. See what’s between the lowest price and the average price. Those are the deals you can consider. I suggest watching a few. Do not bid or participate at all. Just watch them until the end and see how high the auctions end.
Once you have a feel for the market and how much you should pay, you’ll know when you’ve found a deal. When you find it, wait. Don’t bid until the last few minutes of the auction. You don’t want other contractors to have a chance to react. Remember that if you miss something, it’s not the end of the world. There is always something new listed on eBay.