How To Buy A Refurbished Laptop for Cheap

Laptops are certainly getting better, faster, and more powerful. But that also means that they are getting more expensive. Top of the line laptops like the Macbook or the Chromebook can set you back several thousand dollars. I don’t know about you, but I’m no good at splurging significant chunks of my savings on new tech. Especially since the tech will likely be replaced in a few months by even better and more expensive tech. So unless you absolutely need a brand new laptop, a refurbished laptop might offer you better value for money.

What Is a Refurbished Laptop?

Laptops are a convenient tool to have. More portable than a PC, more powerful than a smartphone or tablet, and more convenient to use. I know I use my eat away at the data limits that come with my Earthlink Internet plans. You likely do something similar to yours. Most people tend to sell off their old laptops when the time comes for an upgrade. Sometimes, a number of these laptops will end up refurbished and resold.  

It is important to note the distinction between a second-hand laptop and ‘a refurbished one. A second-hand laptop is likely something that the previous owner used every day. The owner will most probably sell it as is, and its condition can be variable. It all depends on how careful a user the previous owner was. These laptops often have common issues like spotty battery life, dead pixels, etc.

On the other hand, a refurbished laptop is a used laptop that has been restored to as close as new as possible. Typically this is done by experts working for a manufacturer or retailer. These experts will often get rid of damaged parts and install things like a replacement battery.

Understanding Refurbished Laptop Grades   

Most refurbished laptops fall into one of three grades. The grade determines the condition the laptop is in, so you can figure out if the price is right. Grade A laptops are almost as good as new. Typically “open box”, they are returned to the retailer with almost no use because they were unwanted. These laptops are typically in great shape, with no scuff marks, dents, or scratches since they haven’t been used. Grade A laptops usually include the original box and accessories. Grade A laptops will typically cost just slightly less than new ones.

Grade B laptops have visible signs of wear, but in most cases, the damage is only cosmetic. Other than a few dings and scratches, the laptop should be in perfect working condition. It may not include the original box and accessories, but most retailers will include a new charger, or sometimes a new AC adapter because the old ones are likely to be unreliable depending on the age of the laptop. Most refurbished laptops also come with a warranty. Grade B laptops can be around 20% cheaper than new ones.

Grade C laptops usually have more visible signs of wear than a grade B laptop. However, it will still work well enough to get the job done. Usually, grade C laptops don’t come with a box or accessories. Depending on your retailer, you may get a compatible charger along with it. Grade C laptops can be typically more than 30% cheaper than new ones.   

What About Refurbished Apple Machines?

Apple typically refurbishes its own laptops and resells them directly to customers. If you’re opting to go for an Apple refurb, you will most likely get it in the best condition possible. Unlike other manufacturers, Apple does not have a grading system. However, it puts all refurbished laptops through rigorous diagnostics and testing similar to its new laptops. So while the price might be higher, you can rest assured you’re getting a laptop in good working order.

Always Find Out the Age of the Laptop

The very first thing you need to check when buying a refurbished laptop is the age of the model. Typically first-generation models will cost a lot less than the later ones. A first-generation Core i5 can easily be as old as 9 to 10 years. Of course, it will come with a great price tag that will make you want to consider buying it. But if you examine it more closely, there may be damage to hard drives, battery health, etc. In most cases, if a laptop is more than 5 years old, you should give it a hard pass.

Always Choose High-Quality Listings

In almost every case, you would be better off buying a refurbished laptop either from a retailer or directly from the manufacturer. Sites like eBay are flooded with thousands of laptop listings. But how many of those can you actually trust? Even the best of listings from a random person cannot let you assess any internal damage. If you’re ordering it from another city or state, you probably won’t even have a chance to examine it before it arrives. A retailer/manufacturer refurb, on the other hand, comes with a warranty, so you know everything is working.

Pay Close Attention to Specs

Laptop hardware specs make all the difference between a good deal and a bad one. An early Core i5 may sound like a good deal, but it may have performance equivalent to a newer i3. Older processors also tend to be less power efficient as new ones, meaning battery life will be a concern. You should also pay attention to other specs. A laptop with a solid-state drive or SSD is bound to be more responsive than one with a mechanical hard disk drive. Full HD displays will always come out on top against lower resolutions. All of these specs should factor into your buying decision.

Do Your Research     

Informed buyers rarely make a decision without doing a little research into what they’re buying. This is true whether you’re subscribing to Cox internet plans or buying a refurbished laptop. You should always shop around for options to get a better feel of what specs and performance to expect within certain price ranges. Your research will help you figure out if one refurb deal is better than the other, helping you land a great bargain in the process.  

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