Skip to content

Tips for Buying Refurbished Computers

How buying refurbished computers can save you money

If buying a brand new computer is not in the budget, then buying a refurbished PC may be the answer. Not only is it budget-friendly to buy a “refurb,” but it is also environmentally friendly. When talking about price, refurbished computers generally cost anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less than the retail price of a new computer. However, the significant price difference should not be your only consideration.

What Does Refurbished Mean?

A refurbished computer generally means the system was:

  • Returned by a customer and cannot be resold as new
  • Failed to meet the original manufacturer’s quality test and was rebuilt
  • Came from a canceled order

What to Consider Before Buying a Refurbished Computer

If you use the computer mostly for surfing the net, updating your Twitter page, reading your email, and working with the word processor, then you can likely settle for an older PC without a lot of bells and whistles. However, more memory and an increased processing speed would be necessary for playing video games and downloading music and images.

Figuring out what you will need before you go computer shopping will help ensure your satisfaction once you make your purchase.

Unless you have a lot of experience with the inner workings of a computer, it is best to stick to retailers and manufacturers who are qualified refurbishers. Generally, it is best to buy refurbs from a retailer that is also authorized to sell new products. 

Buying from online auctions, off of Craigslist, or from a listing in your local paper could become problematic later on and add to the expense of costly repair bills.

A refurbished computer may be rebuilt by a manufacturer or by a third party. When refurbished by a third party you may find that the machine was fixed with whatever available parts were on hand and do not necessarily match the original specifications. It is helpful to compare the specifications of the refurbished product with the new product to see how it matches up. Ideally, it should be the same.

Not All Deals are Good Deals

Not all refurbished computers are good bargains so doing some research will pay off. Most computer PCs are older models. To entice shoppers retailers will display the refurb price and original or suggested retail price. Since the computer might be older, it likely received several price reductions that are close to the refurb price. 

To ensure that the refurb price is a good deal, do a search for the computer using the model number. If the computer is still selling as a new system in stores, this will give you a good comparison for determining if the refurb price is a good deal. If new systems are not selling in the stores, search for new products with the same systems. Many times shoppers will find new systems at the same price with longer warranties.


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 are sold with limited warranties which is why it is important that shoppers take the time to read and understand all of the small print.

Ideally, the warranty should be provided by the manufacturer and not a third party. Third-party warranties can be problematic and should be avoided. 

The length of time that refurbished computers are warranted should be the same as the new models, however many times this is not the case. Reputable companies selling refurbished computers may offer a three-month manufacturers’ warranty. While this helps cover any immediate issues, it offers no support 90 days after the purchase date.

It is important to know how quickly the company fixes refurbished computers returned under warranty for repair. You can try asking the salesman, but an online search for the seller’s name may turn up quality reviews by current customers.

You may or may not be interested in purchasing an extended service plan for your new refurbished computer, but a company which offers you the option shows how much they support their refurbished products.

Know What You Are Getting

Most refurbished PCs do not come with a monitor, an operating system (software like Windows 10), CD or DVD player, wireless network cards, sound cards and believe it or not, power cords. Get the specifics of what you are buying and figure out how much it will cost to add the necessary peripherals, hardware, and software to get your new PC running like you want.

Before You Buy: Checklist

  • Determine what your computer needs are now and in the future.
  • Make your purchase Through a reliable retailer.
  • Match up parts when possible
  • Compare the warranty and return policy
  • What about an extended warranty?
  • Any extras?