Tips for Buying Refurbished Computers

How buying refurbished computers can save you money

If buying a laptop or desktop PC is not in your budget, consider purchasing a refurbished computer. Refurbished computers generally cost about 30 to 50 percent less than the retail price of a new computer. This article covers everything you should look for in refurbished electronics and the best places to buy refurbished computers.

Information in this article applies broadly to all refurbished laptop and desktop computers.

What Is a Refurbished Computer?

If you see a computer marked as refurnished, that generally means:

  • It was a customer return, and the store can't sell it as new.
  • It failed to meet the manufacturer's quality tests, and the seller rebuilt it.
  • It came from a canceled order.
Person on a couch using a laptop
PeopleImages / Getty Images

What Comes With a Refurbished Computer?

Many refurbished PCs don't come with a monitor, an operating system (software like Windows 10), a DVD or Blu-ray player, a wireless network card, or a power cord. Get the specifics of what you're buying and figure out how much it will cost to add the necessary peripherals, hardware, and software to get your new PC running as you want.

What to Consider Before Buying a Refurbished Computer

Refurbished devices typically lack the latest features available in new computers. If you use the computer mostly for surfing the web, checking email, and word processing, you can likely settle for an older PC. However, playing online games requires a lot of memory (RAM) and processing (CPU) power, so a refurbished computer might not be adequate for gamers.

The Best Places to Buy Refurbished Computers

A refurbished computer may come directly from the manufacturer or a third party. If a third party restores the machine, you may find that they used whatever available parts were on hand. In other words, the parts may not match the original specifications.

It's helpful to compare the specifications of the refurbished product with the new product to see how it matches up. Stick with reputable retailers and manufacturers who are authorized to sell new products rather than buying from online auctions or Craigslist.

Some of the more well-known companies selling refurbished computers include:

Not All Deals Are Good Deals

Retailers sometimes list the refurbished price alongside the original suggested retail price. However, this practice can be misleading since retail prices drop over time.

To ensure that the refurbished price is a good deal, do an online search for the computer using the model number. In some cases, you can find an older budget computer for cheaper than a refurbished one, and it will come with a longer warranty.

Always check for online coupon codes before you buy. Online coupons, free shipping offers, and special discounts are often available for refurbished computers.

Warranties for Refurbished PCs

While the overall price of a refurbished computer is important for saving money, the warranty is what counts in the long run. Many refurbished PCs come with limited warranties, so take the time to understand the fine print.

The manufacturer, and not a third party, should provide the warranty. Ideally, the length of time that refurbished computers have coverage should be the same as the new models, but that's usually not the case. For example, reputable companies selling refurbished computers may offer a three-month manufacturers' warranty with extended service plans at an additional cost.

It is also important to know how quickly the company fixes refurbished computers you return under warranty. An online search for the seller's name should help you determine this information.

Was this page helpful?