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Essential Considerations Before Investing in a Refurbished Laptop


When the need arises for an additional laptop in our office, we occasionally opt for a used one that has undergone a thorough cleaning and repair process prior to purchase.

These laptops are commonly referred to as ‘refurbished.’

Refurbished laptops, whether sourced from the original manufacturer or third parties, offer a more economical alternative to brand new devices.

A high-quality refurbished laptop tends to exhibit no noticeable difference in appearance or performance compared to a factory-new machine.

However, distinguishing between used, factory refurbished, third-party refurbished, and renewed laptops can be challenging, making it crucial to understand what you’re getting.

To assist you in navigating the realm of refurbished laptops and making an informed choice, we have compiled this guide to outline what refurbished laptops entail and what factors to consider in your search for a device that mirrors the quality and functionality of a new one.

What Are Refurbished Laptops?

Refurbished laptops are previously used or open-box devices that have undergone inspection, cleaning, repair, and preparation for resale to a new owner.

The refurbishment process may be carried out by the original manufacturer of the laptop or third-party entities.

Refurbished laptops typically come with a substantial price discount compared to their new counterparts with similar specifications.

The question often raised is whether refurbished laptops are reliable. The answer is nuanced, but certain key considerations can guide your decision-making process.

Things to Consider When Buying a Refurbished Laptop

The most crucial factor to weigh when purchasing a refurbished laptop is its source, as not all refurbishment processes are equal.

Given the variety of sources for refurbished laptops, it is imperative to ascertain who refurbished the laptop and the extent of their restoration efforts.

Here are the five most critical aspects to consider when buying a refurbished laptop:

  1. Are refurbished laptops just used laptops?
  2. How do you source a refurbished laptop?
  3. What warranty should a refurbished laptop have?
  4. What condition should a refurbished laptop have?
  5. How old should a refurbished laptop be?

Are Refurbished Laptops Just Used Laptops?

While refurbished and used laptops differ, some refurbished laptops have had previous usage. In certain cases, a laptop might have been removed from its box and returned, making it eligible for refurbishment.

Before being sold as refurbished, a laptop undergoes inspection for cosmetic wear, functional testing, necessary repairs, and cleaning.

Internal components may be replaced or upgraded, even if still functional, and the laptop is usually factory reset to ensure a fresh operating system installation.

How Do You Source a Refurbished Laptop?

The source of a refurbished laptop is a crucial consideration. Factory-refurbished laptops are refurbished by the original manufacturer, providing detailed information about the refurbishing process and often offering the best warranties.

Some retailers have refurbishing or renewal programs, while third-party refurbishes may participate in programs such as Amazon Renewed.

Understanding the refurbishment process is essential in such programs, as they often have stringent requirements.

What Warranty Should a Refurbished Laptop Have?

Warranty periods for refurbished laptops can vary, and some may have no warranty at all. Ideally, a refurbished laptop should come with a warranty similar to that of new laptops, which is typically one year.

At a minimum, aim for a three to six-month warranty and never settle for a refurbished laptop without any warranty or guarantee.

If a shorter warranty period is provided, it is advisable to thoroughly inspect and test the laptop upon receipt.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when buying a refurbished laptop, ensuring that it meets your expectations for both performance and reliability.

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What Condition Should a Refurbished Laptop Have?

The condition of a refurbished laptop is contingent upon its previous ownership and usage.

Top-tier refurbishing processes aim to restore a used laptop to a like-new state, although there might be some unavoidable cosmetic imperfections like unrepairable scratches or dents.

It is essential for a refurbished laptop to be externally clean, exhibiting minimal physical blemishes.

Internally, refurbished laptops should undergo thorough cleaning, testing, and repair. Any malfunctioning components must be replaced, while functioning parts should be cleaned.

Ultimately, a refurbished laptop should both look and function similarly to its state when new.

While it might have components and performance slightly outdated compared to new models, it should operate as effectively as when initially built.

Certain refurbishers utilize grading systems, assigning letter or number grades or using descriptors like excellent, great, or satisfactory to denote the condition.

It is crucial to pay attention to these specifics, especially when purchasing a laptop labeled as “excellent-quality,” ensuring that it genuinely lacks cosmetic flaws as promised.

How Old Should a Refurbished Laptop Be?

The ideal age of a refurbished laptop depends on budget constraints and the intended use of the machine.

Generally, it is advisable to avoid refurbished laptops more than five years old, as their components may be outdated, potentially limiting their capability to run necessary programs.

For basic tasks like word processing and internet surfing, older refurbished laptops can suffice.

However, for demanding applications such as gaming, it is recommended to seek refurbished laptops released within the last one or two years.

While Apple laptops tend to have a longer lifespan, exceeding five or six years may lead to performance issues, particularly with the limitations imposed by the latest macOS versions on older Macs.

Who Should Buy a Refurbished Laptop?

Refurbished laptops present a cost-effective option with commendable performance compared to their original price, making them suitable for various individuals:

  • Students: Those on a tight budget can extend their funds by opting for a refurbished laptop.
  • Parents: For schoolwork and other tasks, there’s no need to overspend on a brand-new laptop for kids.
  • Deal Hunters: Individuals seeking great deals can target recently released open-box refurbished laptops for substantial discounts on modern hardware.
  • Budget Gamers: Refurbished gaming laptops, equipped with actual video cards, offer a cost-effective solution for gaming, especially for those on a budget.

What Should I Do After I Buy a Refurbished Laptop?

Upon purchasing a refurbished laptop, similar tasks to those with a new device are required. In addition, unique considerations apply:

  • Inspect the laptop for apparent damage or wear.
  • Ensure no files from the previous owner remain; perform a clean install of the operating system if necessary.
  • Scan for viruses and malware.
  • Check for potential upgrades to enhance performance, such as adding more RAM or an SSD.
  • Verify the overall functionality of the laptop, including boot-up, app or game performance, fan operation, and functionality of devices like the optical drive and webcam.

More Tips for Buying a Refurbished Laptop

While purchasing a refurbished laptop can offer significant savings, careful vetting of the seller is crucial.

Stick to factory-refurbished laptops, established retailer programs, or refurbishing companies providing references and detailed information on their processes.

Customer reviews serve as valuable tools, offering insights into both positive and negative experiences.

Pay attention to hardware-related complaints, and consider them red flags when assessing potential purchases.




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