Purchasing a new laptop isn't cheap. Online stores often sell laptops for cheaper prices than retail stores because they have less overhead than your local electronics store. Buying online is convenient, but even though a laptop may be labeled as new, it may actually be used or refurbished. It's not always easy to tell if a laptop has been used, but there are a few reliable ways to determine if your laptop is new or used.
Look for signs of use. According to Bios Notebook, laptops that have been used usually extensively have trouble booting, and may have dead pixels on the screen. Dead pixels should automatically warrant a return to the seller, and excessively long boot times require an investigation into your laptop.
Check the hard drive for use. If the previous owner has deleted files on or even reformatted the hard drive, it leaves behind a trail that certain software programs can pick up. Use a program like Disk Editor from Norton or Disk Investigator to check if your hard drive has been used.
Take the product key from the bottom of the laptop and write it down; the serial/model number is usually located on a sticker with the laptop brand name. Type the product key into the manufacturer's website to see details for when the computer was built and sold.
Check the battery power. Battery power is an easy way to check if your laptop is used. New and with a full charge, your laptop battery should last several hours. According to Wayne Computing, a new battery should last at least two years. If your battery dies sooner, chances are high your laptop, or at least the battery, was used.
Check the inside of the computer for dust and signs of use. A new computer may have some dust buildup, but won't have nearly the amount of dust as a computer that's been used for a month or two. Pop off the plastic covering over your computer fan, and use a cue-tip to swab for dust. If the laptop has more than a little bit of dust, it has probably been used or stored improperly.