When browsing the discount desktop computer section, you may have come across the term “refurbished.” Aside from noticing that refurbished computers tend to be slightly cheaper than retail priced desktop computers, it can be difficult to understand what the difference is and what you can expect in terms of quality and support. Sometimes, a refurbished computer is an excellent deal—other times, not so much so. Here are a few tips to help you recognize if a refurbished computer is a best buy or a rip off.
Refurbished means that the computer was returned to the factory or a retailer due to a defect. When a computer is refurbished, it simply means that it’s been repaired back to working order. That’s all you can really know for sure about an item labeled refurbished.
Third-party vs. Manufacturer
Just like with used engines and other auto parts, who does the refurbishing matters big time. If the manufacturer refurbishes the computer, it’s likely that they used the same factory parts that go into new machines and subjected it to the same rigorous quality standards as all the other computers that roll out of their factory. But more importantly, refurbished computers from the manufacturer often carry a warranty that guarantees it for a year or more. If the computer’s a true lemon, it’ll breakdown again long before then.
Third-party refurbished items could mean anything. It could mean that the seller went to Goodwill and got a used computer off the shelf and filled it with the junkiest junk parts they could find and are looking to turn it around for a profit. Their warranties, if they offer them, could be solid or they could be sketchy.
Late Model or Older Model
When comparing refurbished computers, it’s especially important to compare apples to apples when taking a look at prices. Most refurbished computers will be priced lower than “New” products, but there could be two reasons for this. Refurbished computers are offered at a reduced price due to the fact that they’ve been worked on and may be pre-owned, but desktop computers that are refurbished and re-stocked also tend to be older than the new computers on the shelf. In other words, you may be paying $100 less for a refurbished computer not because it’s been repaired, but more because it’s the model from two years ago. Pay close attention to the technical specifications and the model number to ensure that you’re not getting last year’s leftovers.
A quality refurbished computer should have the warranty included in the price. That is, you shouldn’t have to purchase an extended warranty to cover it. If a seller asks you to plunk down $25, $50 or $100 extra dollars for a warranty, walk away. Actually, ask them first if the refurbished computer already comes with a warranty and how long it’ll be covered if you don’t purchase an extended warranty. Then, verify that the warranty entitles you to a replacement or a repair by an authorized service shop. If everything checks out, then purchase with confidence.