I fully agree with you about the new laptop thing. I also bought a x230 quite some time ago, and it is now sitting at my father-in-law desk with elementary os on it, and it is doing quite well. Actually all he needs is E-Mail and a browser, but for that the machine is more than enough.
We connected an external monitor and a keyboard and mouse and I told him, you don't need to shut it down. Just turn of the monitor, and it will be enough. When you come back, turn on monitor and press a key, click on login and your good to go
So, yes. It is not always needed, to buy a brand-new laptop.