Is Buying a Refurbished Laptop Worth It & Safe?

CG Director Author Petar Vukobratby Petar Vukobrat   /  Published 

Laptops are pretty expensive nowadays, and that’s especially true for those that come imbued with the latest and greatest internals money can buy.

Buying refurbished ones, therefore, is a very viable alternative.

It’s the safest and cheapest way of attaining a sufficiently powerful laptop without breaking the bank — a laptop that, most likely, won’t have any traces of use or flaws to speak of.

Buying refurbished laptops kind of feels like you’re cheating the system — assuming you end up buying your model of choice from a reputable source, that is.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people know that refurbished laptops exist, and, even worse, those that do often have a skewed perception.

They think that a refurbished laptop brings in tow a metric ton of issues, that it’s been tampered with and damaged in some sort of way, and, as such, isn’t worth the asking price.

That, however, simply isn’t the case.

Again, it all hinges on where you buy your refurbs from. If it’s from, say, Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, or — even better — the manufacturer itself, then there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever for one to worry and stress about getting a dud.

Buying a new laptop in today’s day and age isn’t always a surefire way of securing a well-functioning product.

So many OEMs these days have issues with quality control and, to make things even worse, their customer support channels are nowhere near as impressive and world-class as the amounts of money these companies seem to be charging for their top-of-the-line products.

This holds true for laptops as much as it does for other types of hardware. So, to clear up the confusion, let’s first go over the very definition of refurbished, before delving deeper into whether or not buying a laptop with such a descriptor makes sense.

What’s a Refurbished Laptop?

Refurbished is not a fancy word for faulty or subpar; moreover, just because a laptop is being sold under such a category — on, say, Amazon or Best Buy — doesn’t mean it was previously tossed around and hammered. Quite the contrary.

What are refurbished products HP

Source: HP

Most refurbished laptops have simply been returned by their initial buyers, in accordance with the retailer’s return policy. And so, in other words: someone bought a laptop, found it to be, say, a bit too large (or they found a better deal elsewhere), and decided to send it back to Amazon.

Others might have had a change of heart. Maybe they bought a laptop that’s not powerful or, say, premium enough for their needs and preferences.

Maybe its display wasn’t as good as they had hoped. Someone else might have bought, say, a silver MacBook only to realize that a space gray one would’ve been a better choice.

Retailers can’t just put that laptop back in its box and act like nothing happened — they have to test it out, make sure everything works, observe and note any potential scuff marks and signs of use, and then categorize it appropriately before putting it up for sale once more.

Laptops are very complex, layered devices. They’re comprised of many different elements, some of which often come in conflict with our own personal tastes and preferences.

Different OEMs make different keyboards, with differing trackpads, port selections, hinges, and so on and so forth.

Some laptops have astoundingly bright and color-accurate displays, whereas others come with dim, washed-out ones that can suffice only for the most basic web browsing.

In other cases, the laptop might have been damaged during transport. Or, conversely, it might have been used for display purposes at your local IT shop — be it on a stand for visitors to test out and handle in person or, conversely, in a glass showcase.

These devices, despite being perfectly functional and potentially not having any traces and signs of use, can no longer be sold as brand new. And, well, naturally so.

Additionally, consumer electronics don’t exactly have the best possible quality control.

Who’s to blame is a topic for a different time and place, but anyone who’s been buying hardware for longer than a couple of years has surely had numerous DOA components, QC issues, and everything in between.

When a flaw or defect has been discovered (either in production or by the customer), that laptop will be re-tested, repaired, and then subsequently sold as refurbished.

As you can see, there’s a wide range of refurbished products out there and, frankly, it’s far too easy to get lost in the nitty-gritty of it all.

That’s why it’s important to source your desired tech items from verified retailers and, if possible, only purchase factory refurbished devices, be it phones, tablets, laptops, PCs, or whatever else for that matter.

What Are Factory Refurbished Laptops?

Factory refurbished laptops have been reconditioned by the original manufacturer. These are essentially the best refurbs available, but they’re also a bit pricier.

Still, for that slight increase in price, you’re getting peace of mind, a warranty, and even a couple of weeks or months (depending on the source) to return your laptop if you notice a flaw or deficiency of some kind.

And, perhaps most importantly, you’re getting a device that’s been thoroughly inspected and is guaranteed to both perform as expected and look as good as new. These are no small benefits. Apple-certified refurbs, for instance, are known for being absolutely pristine.

One cannot tell the difference between a brand new Apple laptop/tablet/phone from a factory refurbished one, as Apple often ends up replacing the outer shell of the device (including the battery, if it’s an iPhone).

Manufacturers handle their refurbs differently. Some are better at it than others, but there’s really no reason to fret — factory refurbished laptops have to go through a series of rigorous tests before being shipped out to the customer.

They’re also, as already mentioned, covered with some kind of warranty, so there’s a fail-safe in place should something go awry.

“Seller refurbished” laptops, however, should be avoided.

Buying Used Makes Sense, But It’s Riskier

Buying a used laptop can, in some cases, be a wise, prudent decision. Then again, it’s not as wise as buying a certified/factory refurbished laptop.

The “second-hand” model you’re interested in might be out of warranty and, needless to say, you don’t really know how it was handled and whether or not it had any issues with, say, the display, keyboard, trackpad, thermals, or whatever else.

When buying used tech, it’s all based on trust — and we, as a species, aren’t all that trustworthy. Your mileage will vary.

You might buy a pristine laptop that was taken care of from the moment it was unpacked. Or you might end up with a device that was tortured with countless hours of Call of Duty.

Factory refurbished laptops often aren’t quite as affordable as used ones, but they do come with warranties and, needless to say, they were inspected and analyzed rigorously.

You know you’re getting a top-notch laptop, in other words, and you have a respectably long warranty for added peace of mind, too.

That, in part, is what makes (factory) refurbished laptops so darn alluring.

Are Refurbished Laptops Worth It?

One-hundred percent. Buying a (factory) refurbished laptop from a reputable source is almost like buying it new. Odds are, it won’t come with any noticeable traces and signs of use and will perform as advertised for the years to come.

And, perhaps best of all, it will not only be sold for less but will also be covered by a very similar — if not identical — warranty as if it were new (depending on the retailer/manufacturer).

There’s really nothing to complain about or point out as a negative so long as you source your refurbished laptop from a retailer like Amazon or Best Buy.

Take Amazon Renewed for instance. All products sold under the said umbrella (which contains the following categories: refurbished, pre-owned, and open-box) come with a 90-day return period.

Amazon Renewed

Image Credit: Amazon

So even if you do notice an issue of some kind, you’ll easily be able to return it to Amazon and get your money back in no time; you, the buyer, are protected in every way imaginable, and so is your wallet.

Apple’s “Certified Refurbished Products” are an even better deal. They’re all backed by a one-year warranty and they even support additional coverage through AppleCare (as if they were brand new products).

Apple Certified Refurbished

Image Credit: Apple

Millions of people across the globe have been buying refurbished Apple products straight from the company itself and, well, there’s a very good reason why.

The general sentiment is that they couldn’t discern even the slightest difference between their refurbished devices and brand-new ones.

Conclusion — Are Refurbished Laptops Worth It?

And so, with all of that in mind, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t buy a refurbished laptop — at least not if it’s covered by a warranty.

It’s obviously not as simple and straightforward as that last sentence would perhaps make it out to be, but if you take the right precautions and buy said laptop from a reputable source, the odds of you being tremendously satisfied with your purchase are immense.

So why not save a few hundred dollars?

Just make sure to buy your refurbished laptop from a verified source/retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, and eBay (just to name a few). Or, better yet, straight from OEMs like Apple, Lenovo, Dell, and others.

Their laptops are all covered with warranties (long ones, too) and can, in most instances, be returned within a pre-defined time frame.


Let’s go over a few potential questions you might have regarding refurbished laptops and all that they entail:

Is Buying a Refurbished Laptops Safe?

It is, but only if you buy it from a reputable source — i.e. a well-known and respected retailer that has a lenient return policy and a comprehensive and rigorous testing system in place; we’re talking about the Amazons and Best Buys of the world.

Alternatively, factory refurbished laptops are also a great option, and most OEMs already have a dedicated page to such devices on their official websites.

Refurbished laptops often come with long warranties and can be returned within a predefined time frame, so there’s really nothing to be worried about.

What Does Refurbished Mean?

Refurbished essentially means that the product has been restored to a “like new” condition.

That’s not always the case, though, which is why most sellers and retailers categorize their refurbished products. That way buyers can know what to expect in accordance with a set criteria.

Ebay, for instance, categorizes its refurbs as Certified, Excellent, Very Good, Good. The first one will show absolutely no signs of use, whereas the last one will have very minor cosmetic blemishes. You get the gist.

Ebay Refurbished Categories

Image Credit: eBay

Some laptops may be refurbished by the sellers themselves (or generally unknown third parties and IT shops), and those, for the most part, should be avoided.

If you’re looking to save a bit of money (or a lot of it, depending on the discount), we suggest you go with a factory refurbished device — those come with the longest warranties and are essentially as good as new.

Do Refurbished Laptops Have Warranties?

They do, but only when they’re bought straight from large OEMs like Apple or, conversely, a large retailer like Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, and such like. The duration of these warranties varies, though.

Apple gives a full one-year warranty with its refurbished devices, whereas refurbished products from Amazon come with either a 90-day warranty (or return period, rather) or a whole year if said products fall under the Renewed Premium category.

Other stores and sellers might offer three months, a month, all the way down to a single week, with no option or failsafe in place to help you out should something go awry once that period is over. That’s why their items should be avoided at all costs.

In other words: it all varies wildly from one store/source to another, so make sure to read the fine print before making any kind of purchasing decision!

Can I Return a Refurbished Laptop?

That depends on where you bought it from. If it’s, say, Amazon, then you have a fixed 90-day window to ship it back and get a full reimbursement.

With Best Buy, that time frame is 15 days — not as good as what Amazon is offering, but still sufficient to put the laptop through its paces and see if everything’s alright.

Different stores have different warranties and policies so, as already mentioned, make sure to do a bit of research before pulling out your wallet.

Buying refurbished laptops on the second-hand market is not as advisable or safe as buying from a reputable storefront, so just keep that in mind.

Independent sellers might give out warranties with their laptops, but whether or not they’d actually be willing to help should something go awry is heavily up for debate.

What Does Factory Refurbished Mean?

It means that the original manufacturer of the device (or OEM, in this case) has reconditioned (tested, verified, and potentially repaired) the item as opposed to a third-party source or retailer.

These are the refurbs most worth buying, even though they’re not always as reduced in price as one would hope.

Which Refurbished Laptop Should I Buy?

MacBooks are generally the best option, especially if you’re buying them straight from Apple.

They come with full one-year warranties and, if you’re so inclined, you can even purchase a separate AppleCare plan for your laptop/Mac device and get even more peace of mind that way.

Amazon also has a very good reputation when it comes to refurbished laptops, so they’re our second choice. Ditto for eBay as well.

Lenovo also has a refurbished section on its website and, needless to say, it has some mind-blowing deals on offer. We’re talking up to 40% discounts on even the best and most premium models.

Lenovo Refurbished Laptops

Image Credit: Lenovo

Are Refurbished Laptops Worth It?

Absolutely! One can save an incredible amount of money by buying a refurbished laptop over a new one — we’re talking two, three, or even four hundred dollars/euros in savings!

This obviously depends on the storefront/seller, but the point stands nonetheless.

That’s why refurbished laptops are so alluring: they offer the whole experience at a much lower price.

Over to You

Have you ever bought a refurbished laptop and, if so, did it ever exhibit any issues? Let us know in the comment section down below and, in case you need any help, head over to our forum and ask away!

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Petar Vukobrat

I first sat down in front of a Pentium II in 1999 and it feels like I’ve been sitting in front of a computer ever since.

And, well, until mankind comes up with something better and more entertaining, that’ll keep being the case.

If you have any questions — or just want to talk about all things PC and Apple — leave a comment down below!


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