How to get the best deal on a previous-generation MacBook

Now that Apple has taken the wraps off new MacBook Airs and Pros, you may be able to find a sweet deal on an "old" model. Here's where to look.

Today might just be the perfect day to start shopping for a new MacBook.

And by "new" I mean "old." At today's WWDC, Apple announced new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models, meaning there's soon to be a glut of previous-generation systems -- new, used, and refurbished alike.

The question is, where can you score the best deals? Yesterday's MacBooks are already gone from the Apple Store, so don't expect any bargains there (with one exception -- see below). But if you know where to look, you might just be able to score a MacBook on the cheap.

Very often the Apple Store is the best place to get a deal on previous-generation MacBooks.
Very often the Apple Store is the best place to get a deal on previous-generation MacBooks. Apple

1. Apple Store refurbs
Apple has always been arguably the best source for MacBook deals, as long as you're willing to accept refurbished hardware -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

Indeed, as I've noted in the past, refurbished is actually the smart way to go when shopping for almost any Apple product. That's because you get a like-new product backed by a same-as-new one-year warranty. There's literally no downside.

And if you can live without the latest and greatest MacBook features, there are deals to be had. For instance, the Apple Store currently has the previous-generation 11.6-inch MacBook Air for $759 shipped, a full $140 off the original price.

Meanwhile, the refurbished 15.4-inch quad-core MacBook Pro sells for $1,359, a savings of $240. That model made its debut as recently as October, so until today it was state-of-the-art.

By the way, if you're looking for a particular MacBook model that's not currently available, you can track Apple Store refurbs by way of a special RSS feed.

2. eBay
It goes without saying that eBay is home to the largest collection of used MacBooks, a collection that's sure to get larger in the coming days as people look to unload their existing systems in favor of new ones.

That's good news, because it should drive the selling prices down. But two words of warning: check the listing details carefully so you don't end up with an older-generation model than you wanted, and don't get so caught up in the bidding that you end up paying as much as you would for a refurb. A used MacBook should carry a used price, but eBay shoppers often drive them up to unrealistic levels.

3. Craigslist
One downside to using eBay is that you're buying your MacBook sight unseen. If you'd rather get the chance to inspect the system before buying, or you just prefer the expedience of a local buy, look to Craigslist.

Another big plus: you get the chance to negotiate, something you can't do when bidding on eBay. If you wait a few weeks for the inevitable flood of used MacBooks, you may find a seller who's increasingly desperate and more willing to drop the price.

Don't want to keep checking Craigslist every day for the latest MacBook listings? Head to Ifttt ("If this, then that") and set up an automated task , one that will deliver to your inbox any listings that match your search criteria.

For example, let's say you search Craigslist for "MacBook Air 13.3" and specify a maximum price of $700. Just copy the URL from that search, then paste it into Ifttt when prompted. I've used this system before with good results.

Well, those are my tips for scoring MacBook deals. If you have any other suggestions or recommendations, share them in the comments!

 

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