Should I Buy a Refurbished Laptop or a New One?

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Should I Buy a Refurbished Laptop

Whether it’s the allure of squeezing as much value as possible from every dollar. Or getting the latest laptop at a deeply discounted price. Buying a refurbished laptop is enticing. If you’re not concerned about having the latest and greatest product, you can get a high-quality laptop with a bit more functionality while saving money. Refurbished laptops follow 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 refurbished system without getting burned.

What’s a Refurbished Laptop?

Refurbished laptops are computers that have been returned either to the retailer or manufacturer primarily due to minor defects or various other reasons.

These defects are usually cosmetic, often the result of shipping damage like light scratches. Or it may not have met the expectations of the previous user. Or it failed to meet the quality test of the manufacturer. Refurbished laptops can also come from:

  • store models
  • cancelled orders
  • open-box models
  • overstocked laptops
  • laptops with damaged packaging
  • and older models traded-in for new ones by corporations.

When to Buy a Refurbished Laptop

A major reason why buying a refurbished laptop is worth considering is if saving money is a priority. Many refurbished laptops come with as much as a 25% – 40% discount off the original price.

Buying a new laptop can be an intimidating experience. They can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Whereas for nearly half the price a refurbished model gets you near identical performance.

If you’re looking for a strong, durable laptop a refurbished unit could make sense. Many them undergo simple but effective reinforcement repairs to make the chassis sometimes stronger than new ones; you can even get them with warranties (more about this later).

Purchasing a refurbished laptop can be eco-friendly too! The refurbishing process sometimes takes working parts from otherwise totaled laptops and repurposes them for refurbished units – consider one with an EPEAT rating.

Tips for Buying a Refurbished Laptop (Things to Consider)

A refurbished laptop can be a safe buy so long as it’s reconditioned by an established computer manufacturer, like Dell, HP and Lenovo. Since their name is behind these products, they use the most experienced refurbishers to recondition these laptops.

Still, there are a few things you need to consider. 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.

General Tips for Buying a Refurbished Laptop:

  1. Never buy from a vendor that’s not authorized or certified. Look for seller ratings. Scrutinize their reputation through customer feedback and ratings.
  2. 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, expansion ports, and a keyboard with the right configuration.
  3. To make sure you don’t miss out on bargains just outside your limit. Decide how much you want to spend. Then add a 10% margin to that to ensure you get the best device.
  4. You rarely have to worry about software issues when it comes to refurbished laptops. But you’ll want to go with a device with a preinstalled operating system. This will ensure that there are no technical glitches.
  5. Check existing reviews to make sure you know everything about the way your prospective laptop should perform.
  6. Many companies replace old laptop batteries during the refurbishing process. Some don’t. It’s wise to see if the battery is easily accessible or locked away in the system in case it needs an upgrade.
  7. Finally, 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.


Some refurbished laptop warranties are much shorter than warranties for new laptops. A one-year warranty is pretty standard these days for refurbished laptops. 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 on the warranty before finalizing your purchase.

  • It typically won’t cover the battery.
  • But 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 unexpectedly fail.

NOTE: 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.

What the Laptop Should Look Like After a Refurbish

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 take delivery:

  • 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.

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 battery life than a brand-new system.

Also Keep in mind that rechargeable batteries are considered consumables and have a natural lifespan, but it should be able to 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.

Difference Between Refurbished, Certified and Used

A high-quality refurbished laptop can be as good as a new one. Refurbished laptops undergo a series of reconditioning and testing to ensure you end up with a machine that’s free of hardware and software issues. As such refurbished laptops can give you an average service life of three to five years.

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 marketplaces like eBay and Craigslist are the ones you’ll have to watch for.

Also worth noting is the differences between refurbished and certified. Online marketplaces 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 the criteria listed above to ensure you’re getting the best model on the site.

Buying Brand New Might Be a Better Option

If you want the latest and greatest tech, buying a brand-new laptop might be a better option for you. Components like RAM and storage are perfect examples of laptop hardware worth purchasing new as they almost always offer more capacity verses an older model.

Specifically, if you’re a gamer you might benefit more from a newer laptop than an older rig. Not only is on-board storage bigger. But newer gaming laptops have way better cooling technology to keep up with the performance output of modern titles.

Wrapping Up

Looking to snag the perfect deal for a well optioned system? While they’re maybe not fresh off the factory, there are precautions you can take to ensure you end up with a refurbished laptop you’ll enjoy for years. Platforms like Amazon make finding a deal on a refurbished laptop simple. There you’ll see certified refurbished laptops with limited warranties. Such devices are best suited for basic computer work, like surfing the Web and writing emails. For more intense tasks like video editing and gaming, we recommend going with a new system. But if you know what you’re doing, there’s really no good reason to avoid buying a refurbished laptop.