If buying a brand new computer is not in your budget, you might consider purchasing a refurbished PC. Refurbished computers generally cost about 30-50 percent less than the retail price of a new machine; however, before you go computer shopping, you should know what to look for in refurbished electronics.

What Is a Refurbished Computer?

If you see a computer marked as refurnished, that generally means:

  • It was returned by a customer and cannot be resold as new.
  • It failed to meet the original manufacturer’s quality tests and was rebuilt.
  • It came from a canceled order.

What Comes With a Refurbished Computer?

Many refurbished PCs do not come with a monitor, an operating system (software like Windows 10), a DVD or Blu-ray player, a wireless network card, or even a power cord. 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.

What to Consider Before Buying a Refurbished Computer

Refurbished devices typically lack the latest bells and whistles available in new computers. If you use the computer mostly for surfing the web, checking email, and word processing, then you can likely settle for an older PC. However, playing online games requires a lot of memory and processing power, so a refurbished machine might not be adequate for gamers.

The Best Places to Buy Refurbished Computers

A refurbished computer may be rebuilt by a manufacturer or by a third party. If 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. It’s best to stick with reputable retailers and manufacturers who are also authorized to sell new products rather than buying from online auctions or off of Craigslist

Some of the more well-known companies selling refurbished computers include:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Dell Factory Outlet
  • Newegg
  • TigerDirect
  • PCConnection

Not All Deals Are Good Deals

Not all refurbished computers are good bargains. Retailers sometimes list the refurbished price alongside the original suggested retail price, but this practice can be misleading since retail prices drop over time.

To ensure that the refurb price is a good deal, do an online search for the computer using the model number. In some cases, you can find an older out-of-the-box computer for even cheaper than a refurbished one, and it will come with a longer warranty.

Warranties for Refurbished PCs

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, so shoppers should take the time to understand the fine print.

The warranty should be provided by the manufacturer and not a third party. Ideally, the length of time that refurbished computers are warranted should be the same as the new models, but that’s usually not the case. For example, reputable companies selling refurbished computers may offer a three-month manufacturers’ warranty with extended service plans at an additional cost.

It is also important to know how quickly the company fixes refurbished computers returned under warranty. An online search for the seller’s name should help you determine this information.