Author Topic: Laptop Repairs  (Read 565 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 97
Laptop Repairs
« on: November 18, 2016, 11:05:55 AM »
Full disclosure: I'm a nerd.  I like technology and also trying to fix things.  Sometimes against my better judgement.  I've built 3* computers and tinkered with many.

I've been keeping my eyes open for people giving away broken computers, selling broken ones, or selling working ones that are very inexpensive.  I have some minimum specs I look for, but overall if I can get my $$ back in parts then it's usually a decent prospect.  I have a few sitting around that have become parts sources because they're not worth trying to fix or too outdated.

A few weeks ago, I bought 3 broken laptops for $40.  The person had them sitting around, covered in bumper stickers and other stickers.  One was in rough shape, but the other two looked fine.  2/3 of them had chargers.

I got them home, plugged them into my universal laptop charger ($25 investment), and tried to boot linux from a thumb drive.  ALL 3 of them booted right into it!

I had to do a bit of legwork though... I spent an hour with Goo Gone and an old gift card scraping stickers off that wouldn't just peel.  One was missing a hard drive and caddy, so I pulled a drive from another machine and got a caddy/cover on eBay for $5.  Replacement touchpad sticker (the texture of the touchpad on this machine) $3...

I used the original Windows licenses that were on the computers, reinstalled fresh copies of windows on each, and let windows update run up to current.

Total time invested: 2-3 hours if that, if you include grabbing them on my lunch break.
Total money invested: $40 for the laptops, $8 in parts, and I'm allocating $30 of cost from my parts laptops to this endeavor for taking one of the power cords and one hard drive from my lot.

Based on trade in values at a local retailer, I could get ~$220-$230 for the 3 laptops.  I'm going to sell them myself, and expect $140 for the one that needed parts, and $80 for each of the others.  I'll net ~$220 on the conservative side of profit.

Note:  It is not always like this.  The parts laptops I have were $20-$30 each, and if not for the chargers and hard drives, are essentially worthless.  Sometimes you get a dud where the specs say it should be decent, but in reality it takes 3 minutes to boot into a barely usable linux.  Others may have decent specs but a cracked screen and lack a charger.  This is always at your own risk.
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  • Bristles
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Re: Laptop Repairs
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2016, 02:30:47 PM »
Yes, that can work as most buyers are looking for fully working items, so part damaged machines are under priced, so you can make money flipping them.

Personally I've found a workable model in buying broken laptops and selling off the parts. Works particularly well for ThinkPad machines where you can sell off the screen, keyboard, palmrest, WiFi card in addition to the normal battery, charger, HDD, RAM, DVD drive. Works best for the ~5 year old ones, and ideal is good condition and all parts present but DOA (dead motherboard or similar). Though ones with smashed screens can also be worth it. Newer ones sell for too much and demand for parts on even older ones is lower. I've bought machines for around 40 and made around 60 net profit on that (so over 100 in part sales). Personally I decided it was easier to test the individual parts than try to test all functions on a whole machine (as a buyer might want to return it if e.g. one port not working or a cosmetic issue on case), and have to spend the time reinstalling Windows and jumping through all the hoops of software validation and updates.

Of course YMMV, I've not lost money on any individual machine but have had problems with some (issues not described by seller when selling machine as "for parts") and only made small profits on those. On the other hand my new main machine is one that was sold as not working, but after a bit of a clean the only issue is one non-working USB port, and with the bits I sold off it I effectively got paid to take it!

Having done that for about 15 machines I've had enough of it now (well, have some packaging left so would ideally buy another one or two to use that up). My new venture is buying RAM cheaply (either badly described/incomplete details in listing, in bulk lots or sellers having no idea what the right price is) and reselling for profit (with the profits going to charity but that's a personal choice).

All of this is on eBay.