Buying a Refurbished Laptop Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

Refurbished LaptopsWhether it’s the allure of squeezing as much value as you can from every dollar. Or getting the latest laptop at a deeply discounted price. Buying a refurbished laptop is enticing.

If you’re not as concerned about having the latest and greatest product. You could still get a high-quality laptop with a bit more functionality. And save some money.

Fortunately, refurbished laptops have followed the trend of the average price of new laptops. And many of them can net you some serious bargains.

While there is a degree of risk you assume with purchasing a refurbished product, even from a reputable company. You can obtain a system that’s not fresh off the factory, without getting burned.

Here are guidelines to help you analyze your options, and weigh the risks to ensure you walk away with a refurbished laptop you’ll be happy with.

Buying a Refurbished Laptop

You already know that with a limited budget. You can find a good brand-new laptop for under $200. But you may not know that for the same price. A refurbished laptop might even be a better system.

The downside of buying a refurbished laptop is you likely won’t be able to find every laptop model available marked at serious savings. You’ll be relying on available stock. Which means the specific configuration you had in mind may not be available as a refurbished option.

General Tips for Buying a Refurbished Laptop

  1. Go into the shopping process with a list of features you need. And a list of features you want. Start with parts you won’t be able to upgrade after the purchase like the display size, screen resolution, matte or glossy screen, ports you need, keyboard feel and trackpad configurations.
  1. To make sure you don’t miss out on bargains just outside your limit. Decide how much you want to spend on a buying a refurbished laptop. Then add a 10% margin to that.
  1. Then, check existing reviews to make sure you know everything about the way the laptop should perform. It’s wise to see if the battery is easily accessible or locked away in the system in case you need to change it.
  1. Finally, when buying a refurbished laptop. Paying with a credit goes a long way in making it easier to claim your money should there be any issues by making your credit provider jointly responsible for the transaction.


Where Do Refurbished Laptops Come From?

Refurbished laptops usually come from laptop vendors like Asus, Dell and Lenovo. It’s possible to find the latest-generation laptops as a refurbished unit as early as six months after its release.

We recommend going through well-known brands and select retailers for trustworthy refurbished laptops. Big OEMs are not shy about putting their names behind their refurbished laptops. You can also try authorized third-party refurbishers as a source for obtaining a purchase.

A refurbished laptop can be

  • a returned brand-new device that just didn’t meet the needs of the original user
  • one that’s been in service for many years before the hard drive died
  • sourced from businesses that trade in their old laptops
  • or because it had a serious defect.


The Refurbishing Process

Professionals restore refurbished laptops to look as close to new as possible. They sanitize, sort and grade the units based on physical condition and functionality.

Once received, they disassemble the laptops. Check for damaged components, including screen quality and loose connections. Check the battery’s utility. As well as the power supply. And give the hard drive and optical drive a once over.

They then replace missing or defective components. Repair cosmetic defects. And the laptop undergoes a complete data wipe. Afterward, they test it. And install a new operating system (OS) before packaging it for new user.

If a seller doesn’t follow a similar process. The laptop isn’t really refurbished. (More about this in a moment.)

Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers (MAR) have agreements with Microsoft to copy properly licensed operating systems onto refurbished laptops. Therefore, you should never receive a refurbished laptop without an OS installed. Some sellers try to reinstall the original OS and pass it on to new users, which is a big no-no since this is not a legal license.

After cleaning, repairing and restoring a used laptop to factory settings. It’s certified to be in good working order. And returned to the retailer or manufacturer for sale at a discount.


The Difference Between Refurbished, Certified, and Used

Used laptops are sold by consumers after they’ve decided that perhaps the model they purchased doesn’t quite suit their needs. These laptops don’t go through the same process as refurbished laptops.

As a result, there could potentially be issues with components and software. Refurbished laptops purchased from online market places like eBay and Craigslist are the ones you’ll have to watch for.

Also worth noting is the differences between refurbished and certified. Online market places don’t always check the condition of their laptops. And online trade-in services aren’t always transparent-they offer varying degrees of certification.

Amazon’s Certified Refurbished laptops are tested by qualified manufacturers or third-party refurbishers. They come with a minimum 90-day limited warranty. You can research a laptop by many criteria to ensure you’re getting the best model on the site.


What the Laptop Should Look Like After Refurbishing

Cosmetic standards vary. A refurbished laptop won’t have a fresh factory look. And it may not come in its original packaging and accessories.

But it should be professionally restored by a vendor. Refurbishers usually have grades for laptops going from new to used. Yours may or may not show signs of use. Examine your refurbished laptop once you receive it.

  • It should have an undamaged exterior free of scratches and dings.
  • The display should be clear and bright with no dead pixels.
  • The whole keyboard should look shiny and new.
  • It should have no loose, squeaky hinges.
  • And the hard drive shouldn’t be noisy.
Note: Laptop batteries lose their ability to hold a full charge over time. If the refurbished model you’re considering was in active use for a year or two. It could have much shorter batter life than brand new system.

When buying a refurbished laptop. Keep in mind that rechargeable batteries are considered consumables and have a natural lifespan. Make sure the laptop can hold a charge.

Look for a Condition Statement on the refurbished product page. Amazon includes a general condition linked to a pop-up page of general condition guidelines.


Warranties to Consider When Buying a Refurbished Laptop

Some refurbished laptop warranties are much shorter than warranties for new laptops. A one-year warranty is pretty standard these days when buying a refurbished laptop. But this isn’t universal since each vendor is different.

A refurbished laptop should come with some assurance that the seller guarantees the product. It’s important to read the fine print when buying a refurbished laptop.

  • It typically won’t cover the battery.
  • The warranty should cover the laptop 30-days to a year.
  • Look for generous return policies so you get enough time to really test drive the system.

Consider extended warranties which can be purchased at the same time as the laptop. It will give you additional protection should the laptop fail.

Amazon says that new, used, and refurbished products from marketplace vendors are subject to the return policy of the individual vendor. Which could mean you’ll pay a restocking fee for returns. Some 14-day money-back return policies involve a restocking fee.


Avenues for Buying a Refurbished Laptop

Platforms like Amazon make finding a deal on a refurbished laptop simple. There you’ll see certified refurbished laptops with limited warranties. Used laptops listed by previous users. And open-box laptops from its Amazon Warehouse Deals site.

Although grades are given after the functional and physical condition of the laptops are tested. The only warranty available is the optional extended warranties you can purchase.

Using official channels like company stores has benefits like warranties, less risk, and more buyer’s protection. Many enterprise customers hand back used units, which are then sold at consumer-friendly prices. Making it easy to snag that perfect deal for a well optioned system when buying a refurbished laptop.

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