Tips for Buying Refurbished Computers

If buying a brand new computer is not in your budget, you might consider purchasing a refurbished PC. Refurbished computers generally cost about 30-50% less than the retail price of a new machine; however, before you go computer shopping, you should know what to look for in refurbished electronics.

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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 original manufacturer’s quality tests, and the seller rebuilt it.
  • It came from a canceled order.

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 even 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.

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, then you can likely settle for an older PC. However, playing online games requires a lot of memory and processing power, so a refurbished machine 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 rebuilds it later. If a third party restores the machine, you may find that they used whatever available parts were on hand; they may not necessarily 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. It's best to stick with reputable retailers and manufacturers who are also authorized to sell new products rather than buying from online auctions or off of Craigslist

Not All Deals Are Good Deals

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

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

Always check for online coupons 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 really counts in the long run. Many refurbished PCs come with limited warranties, so shoppers should 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 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.

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