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  • Buying a refurbished computer can save you money

    Home Forums AskWoody blog Buying a refurbished computer can save you money

    • This topic has 14 replies, 13 voices, and was last updated 1 month ago.
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      • #2277942 Reply

        HARDWARE What to look for in a new-but-old computer You have to look closely at the offerings, and they aren’t ideal for every use case, but refurbish
        [See the full post at: Buying a refurbished computer can save you money]

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      • #2277966 Reply

        From the article:

        “In my case, you can see that the vendor that refurbished the PC had removed the old-fashioned IDE hard drive and replaced it with an SSD that contains Windows 10 Pro edition. ”

        A PC that came with an IDE drive is really, really old at this point.  IDE (as ATA drives were sometimes known, now retroactively known as PATA) is from the single-core CPU era, as the switch to multicore CPUs coincided roughly with the switch to SATA, around 15 or so years ago.  Anything Athlon x2 or Core 2 Duo or newer would be SATA.

        Group "L" (KDE Neon User Edition 5.19.4).

      • #2277969 Reply

        At my local independent tech shop, I had a decent chip spec Windows Vista reblown to Windows 7 Pro, then and currently to Windows 10 Pro. Continuity, good-to-go. Each time, £50, $62.48. A veritable bargain !

      • #2277986 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        Trouble with refurbs, off lease, or returns. Is how well were they inspected and repurposed for resale. You can save a lot of scratch and dent, or returns but older off lease models might have issues that never were addressed and buying too old of a notebook could be a bad experience if battery is old, hardware becomes outdated or fails.

        • #2278022 Reply
          AskWoody Plus

          Refurbished sticker mean that the device operates both in hardware and software just it was new (or better) and that it has been thoroughly tested. So no used/old batteries, scratched display, clogged fans….
          Some refurbs are even better than new.

        • #2278067 Reply
          Still Anonymous
          AskWoody Lounger

          I got burned on an off-lease refurb a couple of years ago.  I think the only work that had been done beyond physical cleaning of the outer case (I never saw the inside), was re-imaging the hard drive with a fresh copy of Windows.  We got about 9 months out of it before a batch of Patch Tuesday updates somehow made it impossible to get to Office 365.

          Since then, my rule for refurbs is that anything that typically wears out through use, must be replaced.  In particular, that would be a hard drive, cooling fan and battery.  If those are not brand new, then you’re probably not saving money, just buying pending problems from the previous user.

          Conversely, I do have a refurb that was done mostly correctly, especially with a new hard drive.  The battery and fan are original, but in decent shape, and it’s been a sturdy machine.

      • #2278016 Reply

        I recently bought a refurb desktop. I made sure that ALL the USB ports were usb3, so I know it can’t be too old! Also checked the processor version. The HDD was replaced with a SSD. So far, so good!

      • #2278057 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve done quite a bit of this over the past fifteen years for people who needed a quality system, but didn’t have the budget for a new one.

        I either find a reputable refurbisher who cleans up off-lease business systems, or I go to the Dell Outlet for Business.  The key is -business systems-. They’re built more sturdy, last longer, have better parts (e.g., wireless adapters), and they’re easy to find parts for.

        I bought two Dell Latitude E5470 laptops last week for $280 each. Quad-core Skylake i5 processors, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSDs, webcams, and batteries in excellent shape. They’ll be good for almost anyone for years to come, and have all of the important features for what I need.


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      • #2278077 Reply
        Still Anonymous
        AskWoody Lounger

        There’s two different kinds of refurbished. One is “nearly new” stuff, including open-box returns, cosmetic flaws, etc.  The other is stuff that is truly used, often off-lease machines that have 3 or 4 years of accumulated use in them.

        Terminology varies widely, and it’s essential to get a precise description of what you get (or not), from “refurbished”, “reconditioned”, “remanufactured”, etc. For stuff that’s “nearly new”, that generally going to be coming from the outlet channels of the manufacturer or from one of the major retail vendors.  A key consideration is in availability of full capacity of manufacturer’s warranty (and not a retailer’s warranty).  For business-grade machines, that’s at least 3 years.  If the warranty offered is only a year, then it’s coming from the retailer or whoever  is doing reconditioning.

        I’ve done well with a reconditioned machine that I got through one of the big retail vendors, and I did a 4-year manufacturer warranty on it. The only thing I was missing on this particular machine is that it was missing the paper setup guide.

        One other consideration is that with the Outlet channels, you’re limited to stock on hand.  It’s not uncommon to find odd configurations (especially ones that are under-provisioned on memory or storage), and if you want a specific configuration (e.g., more RAM), you may have a hard time finding all the specs you want, without making some sort of trade-offs.  Thus, if you’re watching an Outlet channel and you find something that’s suitable, be prepared to buy immediately.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, keep checking back, because you never know what will turn up.

        I have a couple of friends that routinely buy Macs from Apple’s Outlet channel — that’s definitely a good way of saving some money.

        Off-lease reconditioning can be workable, but there’s much more “caveat emptor” on that. I noted in a separate post that it’s essential to replace parts that wear out (especially hard drives), and I wouldn’t consider doing a reconditioning of a home-grade machine.


      • #2278498 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        I buy some PCs from the “second hand” too. Some eshops offer very nice computers, that are repaired. Sometimes you can get Dell Precision T1650 for $250 🙂 I always go to eshop, where they offer some type of warranty – it has 24 months warranty for example.

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

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      • #2278546 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Get peripherals at thrift shops: $4.00 for a spare monitor. If it works, you have a spare; if it doesn’t it makes a return journey to the thrift shop.

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      • #2278550 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        There’s two different kinds of refurbished. One is “nearly new” stuff, including open-box returns, cosmetic flaws, etc. The other is stuff that is truly used, often off-lease machines that have 3 or 4 years of accumulated use in them.

        But with the latter kind you may get real bargains IF you know what to look for.

        Off-lease CAD laptops are often excellent – more power at less price than new “gaming” laptops, more design lifetime left (really now, many of those gaming things overheat to
        death pretty quickly… BTDT, currently have another one of those waiting disposal where the hinges came off after heat damage to the chassis), and since we run Linux a lot the OpenGL-optimized CAD GPUs are a plus too. (Run a Windows game on Linux, the DirectX calls traditionally would get converted to OpenGL… until Vulkan)

        Off-lease CAD deskside towers also make good gaming rigs. My oldest regularly has fun about his friends needing new gaming PCs… he uses a now umpteen-year-old CAD rig still and apparently it even works better than the new models. (Had to replace the coolant pump around the 10-year mark though.)

        I’ve had less success with “standard” used desktops/laptops though. My media center setup (a very quiet mini-desktop PC straight from the military surplus store, sans storage that they kept) apparently developed a motherboard fault after only 6 years with me.

      • #2278572 Reply

        If you buy a used computer, buy it from a place that will refund your money if there are problems with it. The fact that it is used means that it is more likely to fail than a new computer. I’m not saying that it will fail, but that the likelihood is higher.

        I bought a used computer a few years ago from There was a problem with it, and I was able to return it for a refund at my local Walmart.

        Very important to this story: was listed as the vendor in the listing at If someone else is listed as the vendor, you can’t return it to your local Walmart for a refund.

        Many years back, I bought a computer from It had problems. The warranty I got required me to send the computer back to them for evaluation (shipping was paid by me, as I recall). I knew what the problem was, because I was a computer tech by trade; but it didn’t matter, I had to ship it to them if I wanted any warranty coverage. This warranty was worthless, but I didn’t know that until I needed to make a claim on it.

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      • #2278731 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Probably buying a refurbished computer is not a bad idea for someone who knows how to repair computers, has the necessary tools and does not mind getting their hands dirty, metaphorically speaking. Or has friends that can repair computers and, or can recommend someone who does, is good at it and is not too expensive.

        For the rest of us, the time spent trying to get one of those refurbished things fixed might be more valuable than what one has saved by no buying a new machine. Or may be not. You’ll be the judge of your own situation. So: no general rule applies.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

      • #2278742 Reply

        I’ve bought nothing but refurbished Dells (from Dell) for the last few years, all were like new, original packaging and wrapping.  Seems they all were new; returns or business overpurchases.

        Inspiron laptop, Inspiron desktop and the real gem, a Power Edge T30 server.

        The T30 cost less than $400 with a Xeon processor.  For a home server, the cost of it plus two big Iron Wolf drives and 8 GB more memory blows any NAS for twice the price out of the water.  Plus, it works perfectly as a plain old desktop when needed.  It’s running Ububtu since MS doesn’t sell Home Server any more, I categorically do not trust Win 10 to not destroy itself with updates and don’t want to administer the machine like I do other computers.  It just runs, haven’t gone near it in six months even though it updates automatically daily.  Ubuntu’s interface is basically the same as Windows, easy to learn, works well.  Works well. 🙂

        Since they’ll eventually disappear, I’m tempted to get another T30 but don’t need it.  They pop up periodically, most are Celerons, the few Xeons that appear sell fast.

      • #2278749 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Apple sells refurbished Macs, so they might be reliable. They are not exactly cheap, but what is cheap and comes from Apple? Do I want to know?–slid—product-

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS + Linux (Mint)

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