Refurbished laptops: 4 reasons to buy one | PCWorld – PCWorld

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If the phrase refurbished laptop sets off alarms bells inside your head, don’t worry, you’re not the only one. Many folks see refurbished and used as the same thing, but they’re actually quite different. That used laptop you see at a garage sale hasn’t been quality-tested, and may be pretty dinged up. But a laptop refurbished by a reputable retailer has been repaired, upgraded and generally spiffed up.
Picking up a refurbished laptop may save you hundreds of dollars. They’re also good for the environment, as they reduce the amount of e-waste created. If you’re still not convinced, fear not, as I’m not done yet. Read on to learn more about the benefits of buying a refurbished laptop. I’ve also included a FAQ section that addresses any lingering questions.
IDG / Matthew Smith
I’m going to be real with you. When it comes to refurbished laptops, you’re not going to get the latest and greatest hardware. That said, you can still pick up a perfectly functional laptop that meets your needs for a reasonable price. eBay is the perfect place to scope out refurbished laptops and solid deals. Most of these machines have been professionally restored by the manufacturer and are expected to work like new. Let’s check out the price of a refurbished unit, just so you know how much you’re saving.
Say you’re looking to get a relatively new, premium-quality machine. Dell’s XPS line, for example, is known for its high-end hardware and luxurious, lightweight builds. The Dell XPS 9520 (refurbished) is currently on sale for $1,059 at eBay. That’s a savings of $540, which is 34 percent off of the original $1,599 price. It comes with an Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD storage. That’s enough power for casual gaming as well as office work.
So long as you’re fine with last generation hardware, you can get a pretty good deal on luxurious laptops like the Dell XPS line. My colleague Mark Hachman sums it up nicely:
“A refurb offers the opportunity to buy a competent laptop at a more convenient price. You won’t get stuck with a ‘latest and greatest’ price premium, but you will get the assurance that it still works. That’s what separates it from something you’d find at a flea market.”
eBay has a great certified refurbished warranty that lasts one or two years depending on the condition of the laptop, and covers product breakdowns as well as malfunctions. Not only is there no additional cost for the warranty, but the laptops are repaired by either vetted sellers or the manufacturer. The condition should be clearly listed, too (“certified” means it’s pristine and like new). I’d recommend getting a warranty that offers full coverage for at least a year. My colleague Alaina Yee, who used an affordable refurbished laptop during her college years, shared some sound advice:
“Whenever someone asks me about refurbs, I usually recommend models direct from the vendor (e.g., Dell’s outlet store). I also tell folks to see how long the warranty period is. Sometimes it’s shorter than with a new laptop, so it can be worth weighing that as a risk against the cost savings.”
Refurbished laptops help reduce e-waste by extending the life of older hardware. As you may already know, discarded laptops typically end up in landfills, which wreaks absolute havoc on the environment. Laptops contain harmful chemicals, which then seep into the soil and groundwater. It’s a major problem. So, if taking care of the environment is important to you, refurbished laptops are the way to go.
The thing that sets a refurbished laptop apart from “used” ones is the testing and quality checks. If a refurbished laptop is returned with a faulty part, it will more than likely get replaced with a brand new one. The parts that are in good working order, however, will typically receive a thorough cleaning. These machines are usually tested by either the manufacturers themselves or by a third party. Used laptops don’t receive the same sort of care, making them a bigger gamble as far as a working laptop goes.
Simply put, refurbished laptops are used machines that have been repaired, upgraded, and cleaned for the purpose of reselling. They’re usually open-box returns, overstock, or laptops with cosmetic damage (scratches, scuffs, etc).
This question really gets me going, so let’s dive right in. A refurbished laptop is a used laptop that has gone through rigorous quality checks. Whether it’s a faulty keyboard or touchpad, some of the parts will get replaced as needed. A used laptop, however, is often sold by a private seller. Usually, there are no quality checks with used laptops, so they are pretty darn risky. Always spring for a refurbished unit, as it’s more reliable.
Refurbished laptops should be mostly free of cosmetic damage like scratches and scuffs. The inside of the machine should also be cleaned, repaired (when necessary), and tested. I’d recommend making sure you’re getting the right specifications, too. If you’re not sure how to do this, check out our comprehensive guide on how to check your specifications in Windows 10.
A refurbished laptop should last you anywhere from two to five years, so long as you treat it gently and keep up with any maintenance (both physical and software-related).
Of course there are. In addition to cosmetic blemishes from the previous owner, the battery may have a shorter lifespan. This is because batteries degrade over a period of time. That’s why it’s always important to check your laptop’s battery health.
Personally, I’d pick eBay because of the one-year warranty. That said, you can also scope out the manufacturers retail storefronts like Dell’s Outlet Store and Apple’s Refurbished Store. Just be mindful of the terms of the warranty or lack thereof.
Still not sold on refurbished units? Then you may be interested in PCWorld’s top picks for laptops under $500, our recommendations for best gaming laptops under $1,000, or our master list of best PC laptops in every category.
Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku,, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.
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