Red Flags That Should Affect Price When Buying a Used Mac: A Comprehensive Guide

Back to the “Used Mac Buying Guide

Avoid the potential issue below by buying from these high quality sources:

When buying a used Mac, it’s crucial to be aware of potential red flags that could indicate problems with the device. These issues should not only caution you about the purchase but also affect the price you’re willing to pay. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to look out for:

1. Cosmetic Damage

Signs of significant wear and tear, such as deep scratches, dents, or cracks, are clear red flags. While minor cosmetic damage might not affect the Mac’s functionality, severe damage could indicate that the Mac has been mishandled or dropped, which might have affected the internal components.

2. Battery Health

A failing or poor-performing battery can significantly impact a Mac’s usability. Check the battery’s cycle count in System Information under “Power.” A high cycle count near or beyond Apple’s maximum cycle count recommendation could mean a battery replacement is imminent, which should reduce the price.

3. Software Issues

If the Mac frequently crashes, runs slowly, has apps that don’t work, or shows error messages, these could be signs of software issues or even underlying hardware problems.

4. Hardware Problems

Hardware issues like a failing hard drive, defective RAM, or malfunctioning ports can be expensive to fix. Check all ports with compatible devices, listen for unusual sounds from the hard drive, and watch for crashes or glitches that might indicate a RAM issue.

5. Outdated Specifications

If the Mac’s specs are outdated — such as an old processor, little RAM, or a small or slow hard drive — it might struggle to run the latest macOS or software effectively. A Mac with outdated specs should be cheaper than one with current, high-performance specs.

6. iCloud Lock or Firmware Password

An iCloud-locked Mac or one with a firmware password that the seller can’t remove is a major red flag. It could indicate that the Mac is stolen or the seller isn’t tech-savvy, which could lead to other undiagnosed issues.

7. No AppleCare or Warranty

If the Mac’s AppleCare or warranty period has expired, any repairs will come out of your pocket. The lack of warranty should lower the price.

8. Missing Accessories

If the Mac doesn’t come with essential accessories like the power adapter, or original accessories like the box, this should be reflected in the price.


When buying a used Mac, it’s essential to identify and consider potential red flags that could affect the price. Any issues with the Mac — whether they’re cosmetic, software-related, or hardware-related — should be factored into your negotiation. Always ensure you’re paying a fair price for the Mac’s condition and specifications, and remember: sometimes, it’s better to walk away from a bad deal.

Scroll to Top