I've been feeling as though I spend way too much money on tech nonsense, and I don't actually use a laptop that much. So when my old one died I didn't really want to spend a few grand on a new one. I ended up buying a refurbished lenovo x230. Without a doubt it's the best value for money purchase I've made in a long time.
The x230 is an i5 and was released 4 or 5 years ago, and would have set you back maybe $2,300 at that time. The x230 isn't as thin as most "ultrabooks" but most other specs are ultrabook level.
I didn't specifically want an x230, but I knew I wanted something to run debian, and Lenovo has a really good reputation for linux machines. Looking around on gumtree there were several x230s for sale, all of them around $350.
I've never bought a refurbished laptop or whatever before, so I expected to get a laptop with 5 years use. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the unit I bought looks and feels like something "hardly used". There's some light "wear" (not scratches.. just not new) on the top, but other than that it's brand spanking. The keyboard is crisp and clean, and the screen lamp looks new too.
I switched out the hitachi HDD with a samsung SSD I had lying around, it's only 120GB but that's loads for my needs.
Installing debian was a snap.. I downloaded one of the non-free images because you need iwlwifi, but that aside there was absolutely no hardware configuration at all. I did change the touchpad sync-rate to make it less jerky, but it was usable without that change.
The result is absolutely superb. It's super fast, great for typing, and looks great with the stock gnome shell desktop. I get the weird feeling of actually wanting to use the laptop instead of me daily drive desktop.