“Oh, great!” you lament as your hard drive crashes. With little to no advanced warning, you’re suddenly faced with the cold hard fact that it’s time to buy a new computer. But new computers are expensive. What about refurbished computers? Is that a viable option for you?

Right now, you might be feeling both relief and frustration. You’re happy that you’ve been backing up your files. However, you feel sick to your stomach because spending money on a new computer right now was the last thing on your mind. Luckily, you remember you recently read this great blog about buying refurbished computers. You got lots of tips on how they can be a smart, cost-effective way to go.

The Advantages of Buying Refurbished Computers

Refurbishing a computer system is a detailed and thorough process. The computer is cleaned and reset to back factory settings. Faulty components are repaired or replaced. Then, the unit is tested to ensure everything is fully functional, both from a hardware and software standpoint. 

Although some “new” components may have been added to make the unit operate properly, the overall computer system has been rebuilt. Therefore it cannot legally be sold as a new unit. These computers are then sold as ‘refurbished’ and offered at a discounted price, which is below that of a brand new computer. 

Before You Buy, Consider This:

1) Warranty

Reputable retailers offer warranties to show they believe in the quality of their work, and they stand behind their refurbished computers. They want to make sure that once a computer is sold, it never comes back. They lose money if customers are always bringing their computers back for repairs.

2) Return Policy

Another benefit of buying from a reputable retailer is they will offer some sort of return policy for refurbished computers. In general, customers can return the product within 30 days of purchase. 

3) Technical Requirements

How do you intend to use the computer? Are you using it for business? If so, what type of business? Will you use the computer mostly for personal use, like surfing the web? Or, are you a gamer? 

Depending on how you plan to use it, you might need lots of horsepower. Similar to buying a new computer, be sure to let the retailer know how you will be using the computer so they can offer you the best options. They may even be able to add a few more ponies under the hood for you, just in case. 


4) Physical Condition 

As mentioned earlier, when buying refurbished computers, reputable retailers sell high functioning systems and will provide a warranty. However, what about aesthetics? There are three categories of refurbishing, depending on the retailer.

  • Like New – These are units that have minimal scuffs to the body of the computer. There aren’t any significant dents are scratches. Overall the body is ‘like new.’
  • Moderately Used – This grade may have mild scratches, dents, and other signs of wear. The keyboard might be worn more so than a ‘like new’ unit. Also, the screen may have reasonable scuffs along the sides and back of the casing. 
  • Used – Units in this category will likely have scratches, dents, chips, and scrapes. The keyboard may be worn down, and the monitor might have signs of excessive wear. 

5) Operating System 

Without an OS, your computer is a useless box of wires, cards, and a motherboard. Look for refurbished computers that provide you the OS on CDs, pre-loaded, or downloadable.

6) Neither New or Refurbished

There is one last category of computers that you might consider also. While they’re not regarded as new, they’re also technically not considered refurbished either. Depending on availability, these units might be an option for you as well.

  • Custom Returns – A product returned to the manufacturer with no issues after a trial period by a customer.
  • Shipping Damage – Returned product due to damage done to the box in shipping.
  • Demos – A product that was opened for demonstration purposes, but was never sold as ‘new.’
  • Open Box – An item that was returned by a customer who decided not to keep it.
  • Cosmetically flawed items – Received directly from the manufacturer
  • Overstocks – An item that has been returned by the retailer to make necessary room for new and upcoming products.

Updated on April 16th, 2020 (Originally published on April 10th, 2017)