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Laptop refurb experiment


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Edit: Figured I'd update the OP since I've already gotten the ball rolling here. 

 

 

 

 

Experiment:

Buy laptops in bulk on ebay and try to turn them around for a profit. 

 

I decided I would only go with 8th gen or newer CPUs for two reasons:

  • Double the threads of all previous gens
  • Support for Windows 11

 

Step one: Buy laptops

Right now I have purchased 6 laptops from two different sellers for a total of about $850. I expect to pay about $50 in parts for two of them that need the palm-rest section of casing replaced. All 8th gen i5 8GB RAM 256GB SSD 1080p laptops that come with everything, batteries and chargers included. 

 

Step two: Refurbishment

  • The two that need the palm-rests sections replaced will be kind of a pain because that's the section the motherboard, battery, hingers, and basically everything else is attached to but it shouldn't take too long. Maybe an hour for each one at the most.
  • I expect these all have windows 10 keys tied to them already so there shouldn't be any cost for the OS. I will probably install windows 11 on them or some of them because it's a newer OS and looks good for a listing.
  • Possibly add more ram to some of them.

 

Step Three: Profit!

My goal will be to make at least $300, or $50 per unit on average, for a total of $1200 back on a $900 investment. If I can make $300 for a couple hours of laptop repair and a trip to the post office plus time spent browsing ebay all from home, I will consider that a success. 

 

 

Other thoughts:

I think by limiting this to 8th gen and above, it puts this experiment in a good position in the sense that any 8 thread laptop with an nvme drive and a 1080p screen is going to be current enough to avoid seeming out of date to any potential buyers. I don't think it will be hard to make at least some profit to avoid only breaking even, but we'll see how much and if this is something that can be a profitable side project. 

 

What's interesting is a lot of these laptops are listed with no OS even though they come with hard drives. You would think the sellers would bother to run a USB windows installer before selling them but for whatever reason, a lot of them just don't. So for most of these, the refurbishment will basically be installing the OS, cleaning them, and reselling them. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by UltraMega

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  • UltraMega changed the title to Would you buy 4 8th gen i5 laptops for $550?
3 minutes ago, Avacado said:

Im in need of a laptop. 

Yea? You want one of these? 

 

DELL LATITUDE 5491 14" FHD CORE i5-8400H 8GB 256GB SSD

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Seems like a good deal to me bud. Nice catch! You should be able to shift those at a profit.

£3000

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£3000

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If I didn't already have 3 laptops hanging around my house I don't use, I'd say count me in.  That's honestly a REALLY good price on those.  You should have no problems moving them.  I just paid that much for a 1st gen i5 laptop (mostly because I had to piece it together).

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Sooooo I made offers below the buy it now price on a few listings and 2 of them were accepted, so right now I'm looking at a total of 6 laptops, all 8th gen i5 4 core 8 thread CPUs, all comes with everything except OS and only two of them need repair to the cases. All and all with what I expect to pay for the case parts I need, I'm in it for about $900. I think if I can make $1200 back, I'll consider it a success. 

 

We'll see what happens. This will be an interesting experiment for sure. I think they all come with a single 8GB ram chip so perhaps I'll buy some extra ram for a few of them and sell a couple with 16GBs just to see what happens. 

 

Edit: 6 laptops. IDK why I said 9 before, just a moment of dyslexia I guess. I bought 4 from one guy and 2 from another guy so like $150 per unit. 

Edited by UltraMega

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14 minutes ago, pioneerisloud said:

I just paid that much for a 1st gen i5 laptop (mostly because I had to piece it together).

 

Was that just for fun? Retro project? 

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24 minutes ago, UltraMega said:

 

Was that just for fun? Retro project? 

No, needed a tougher laptop for my son's schooling last year.  It was an HP ProBook, and buying an older one was the cheapest option I could find.  I paid that much because I also put a SSD in there though, the SSD was as much as the base laptop cost lol.  Mine came with the laptop, no RAM, no HDD, no battery.  Laptop itself was $50, but you add in RAM, SSD, battery, and charger, and it adds up quickly.

 

I mean overall, it wasn't too bad.  Its a fantastic performing laptop still today for what my son needed it for. 🙂

Edited by pioneerisloud
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  • UltraMega changed the title to Laptop refurb experiment

Good luck on it. Hope you have a successful experiment.

 

Its weird, I guess aside from my work laptop (Macbook Pro that I hate), I never use a laptop personally. I always think, wait a sec, I got a way better desktop in the other room.

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2 hours ago, Sir Beregond said:

Good luck on it. Hope you have a successful experiment.

 

Its weird, I guess aside from my work laptop (Macbook Pro that I hate), I never use a laptop personally. I always think, wait a sec, I got a way better desktop in the other room.

Yea sure that's probably how most of us gamers would feel, but laptops are easier to resell, cheaper shipping. 

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13 hours ago, Sir Beregond said:

Good luck on it. Hope you have a successful experiment.

 

Its weird, I guess aside from my work laptop (Macbook Pro that I hate), I never use a laptop personally. I always think, wait a sec, I got a way better desktop in the other room.

I'm sure they will have no problems flipping them all for a small profit. Enthusiasts like us don't really see the appeal of a laptop because we value performance over portability. General consumers don't want to be tied to a desk and don't really care about specs as long as it's reasonably responsive which these 8th gens with SSDs are perfectly snappy for general web browsing. 

 

I hate my work laptop too... Mines a heavy 17" touchscreen Dell. Unfortunately most of my work involves going out on site so a desktop isn't really an option. 

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Oh I just meant at home for personal use, I'm one of those weirdos who never uses a laptop. I didn't mean anything more than that.

 

Agree, should be able to get a nice profit flipping those. Interested to hear how it turns out.

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2 hours ago, Sir Beregond said:

Oh I just meant at home for personal use, I'm one of those weirdos who never uses a laptop. I didn't mean anything more than that.

 

Agree, should be able to get a nice profit flipping those. Interested to hear how it turns out.

Same. I don't even own a laptop (other than the ones I intend to sell), even though as someone who is vastly familiar with them I could easily source myself a really good deal on one. 

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2 hours ago, UltraMega said:

Same. I don't even own a laptop (other than the ones I intend to sell), even though as someone who is vastly familiar with them I could easily source myself a really good deal on one. 

I suggest visiting Dells site and downloading all the drivers onto a usb so it's easier to install them if needed. When I put a clean Win 10 on my old Dell,I just ran all the Vista/7 drivers in Compat mode when installing and got a couple things working that windows was buggy with.Afterwards Windows installed updated drivers once they parts were recognized. About the only thing I never got working with the upgrade from Vista was my HDMI output. 🙂

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1 minute ago, schuck6566 said:

I suggest visiting Dells site and downloading all the drivers onto a usb so it's easier to install them if needed. When I put a clean Win 10 on my old Dell,I just ran all the Vista/7 drivers in Compat mode when installing and got a couple things working that windows was buggy with.Afterwards Windows installed updated drivers once they parts were recognized. About the only thing I never got working with the upgrade from Vista was my HDMI output. 🙂

I will keep that in mind, but I suspect it won't be much of an issue with win11 compatible devices. That said, I've definitely seen it on the HP printer side. Absolutely garbage software from HP lately. 

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Quick update, I got all 6 laptops and they all work, all have windows 11 installed now. One of them seems like it had the screen replaced with a screen that doesn't support touch even though it should be a touch screen, and one of the chargers may be going bad. I will contact the seller and see if he will give me a partial refund foe those two things since they were not mentioned in the listing. Other than that though, so far so good. Next step will be to test the battery life on them but so far it seems the batteries are in good shape. 

 

So far it's feeling like its on track to work out. 

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Seller gave me the partial refund I asked for. 

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4 hours ago, UltraMega said:

Seller gave me the partial refund I asked for. 

That's good.  Kind of rare on ebay I've noticed lol.  Bummer about the missing touch on the one, but really its not THAT big a deal.  Sell that one a tad bit cheaper than the touch capable ones.

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So I've listed one of the laptops on ebay and I've definitely hit a wall here and my listing isn't getting hardly any attention at all. I think what's going on is although the price is definitely good, there are soooooooooo many listing for used/refurbished laptops that it just gets lost in the sea of listing. Im getting closer and closer to just listing them at cost. 

 

If anyone here is interested,  $160 + $20 shipping. 

 

The good news for me though is that the listing I bought these from accepts returns, so worst case scenario I just have to pay return shipping. 

Edited by UltraMega

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6 hours ago, UltraMega said:

So I've listed one of the laptops on ebay and I've definitely hit a wall here and my listing isn't getting hardly any attention at all. I think what's going on is although the price is definitely good, there are soooooooooo many listing for used/refurbished laptops that it just gets lost in the sea of listing. Im getting closer and closer to just listing them at cost. 

 

If anyone here is interested,  $160 + $20 shipping. 

 

The good news for me though is that the listing I bought these from accepts returns, so worst case scenario I just have to pay return shipping. 

Honestly, I'd try local listing them.  Facebook marketplace, Craigslist, Offerup, things like that.  For starters, you won't have to pay shipping (just make sure you meet somewhere safe).  Secondly, you can generally ask a small premium locally.  Those laptops "should" sell for like $200-250 locally I'd imagine, they're quite good laptops.

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Selling my own used stuff is hard for some reason too.

 

Wonder if the economy is not worse than they says.

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I usually have the best luck selling locally or on r/hardwareswap on reddit. 

 

I've actually done this experiment before with great success. I mixed it up and was open to trade offers. Often times I received items in trade that were higher value than the laptops I was selling. Granted this means you end up with different products to sell unless you get things you would have otherwise purchased. 

 

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So it looks like this experiment has mostly failed for two main reasons. 

 

1) I think there are just way too many used/refurbished laptops out there and although this was a particularly good deal at the price I was trying to sell them at, it was just lost in the sea of listing. I tried local listing as well, no luck... like not even one reply. My ebay listing got 4 views total. 

 

2) Ebay recently changed their listing policy so that normal sellers cannot list things as refurbished anymore, only sellers enrolled in and approved of for the ebay certified refurbished seller program. I did apply to the program, but I haven't heard back yet and I don't want to sit on these laptops while I wait to find out. 

 

 

But it's not a total loss. I had two orders, one for 4 laptops and one for 2 laptops, all 6 basically identical. I'm only sending back the order of 4 and keeping the other 2. The 2 I am keeping is the order that I was already partially refunded for so that brings the total for these two laptops to about $210 if you include the cost for return shipping on the 4 I am sending back. I'm actually not sure if I will be refunded for the cost of shipping when they were sent to me, so the final total might be $30 or so higher in the end, but still two laptops for $210-$240 isn't bad at all. The partial refund I got was for one having a white spot on the screen and one bad charger so I will probably try to sell that one for $100 or so, whatever I can get for it, and just keep the last one for myself. 

 

 

What I would have done differently looking back:

I had it in my head that I'd be getting these cheaper if I bought them in bulk but I don't think that was really the case. I probably could have gotten about the same deal ordering one laptop at a time and I should have tried with one or two laptops just to see if it worked at all before jumping in with 6 laptops right away. 

I also didn't even look at macs, and I should have. I probably didn't look at them because in the past I have found it pretty hard to find good deals on them with any resale value, but they are much easier to resell when a good deal can be found. I have sold a few macs on ebay before and they sold very easily. 

 

Just a note, I never got as far as doing any repairs on any of them. First I wanted to see if any that didn't need repairs would sell, and they didn't. 

 

So maybe I will try again, maybe with a mac. 

 

And if anyone wants an 8th gen i5 laptop with a small white spot on the screen that is only noticeable when the background is dark for $100 shipped OBO, let me know. 

Edited by UltraMega
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I think it's just a bad time with money being tight right now and people still clinging to their Win 10 machines while they can. I found some listings for similar machines and cheapest was an ebay refurb from a comp store with a 1 year warranty for $279.00 with 4Gb ram & $319.00 with 8Gb. You can still get 1 on Dells Refurb site for $549 with HDD or $599 with SSD and Walmart had a listing for a used 1 for $349 but were out of stock.  When the hassle of being forced to upgrade to be able to use Win 11 becomes immediate,machines meeting the requirements are gonna be more in demand. 🙂

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