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Your Guide to Buying Refurbished Computer Hardware

Refurbished computers

Stepping into the realm of buying refurbished computer hardware can be a daunting undertaking. You have conflicting anecdotal evidence: a friend of yours bought a refurbished desktop computer and it stopped working about a week later (and there was no warranty), while your aunt purchased a refurbished laptop and it’s been steadily trucking along for years. The horror stories outweigh any possible savings, you think, and so you settle on buying new and spending way too much money.

There is good news, however. Countless people all over the world buy refurbished hardware and have great experiences, and you can too. You just have to know what to watch out for. If you’re on the fence about buying refurbished, read on. Below is a quick and easy guide to buying that will give you the confidence to seek out deals everywhere.

The Cost Effective Approach

The biggest reason for buying refurbished computer hardware is that you’ll save money. Merchants aren’t allowed to sell refurbished hardware for as high a price as new, so you’ll see instant savings on these items that are identical to their brand new counterparts.

How much savings? That depends on the product and the store. Some refurbished items can be significantly less. According to a Consumer Reports article, in late 2015 you could purchase a refurbished 64GB iPad Air 2 on Apple’s website for almost a hundred dollars less than retail value—$509 instead of $600!

Be careful to compare refurbished prices to retail prices, however. Not all products marked “refurbished” are really that great of a deal. Tech writer Adam Lovinus warns, “Some items—especially current generation, high-demand tech gadgets and some models of LED and plasma televisions—are discounted as little as 5-10 percent.” For computer hardware, current generation tech is likely to be the same way; it pays to do your homework in this instance.

The Personal Touch

But are refurbished products reliable? While “refurbished” may sound like you’re getting second-rate hardware, usually this is not the case. According to a survey by the technology consulting firm Accenture, 95% of returned electronics are typically not defective. This is great news for refurbished buyers—chances are, your product wasn’t ever broken to begin with!

Refurbished products are in one of several categories. The product could be a display item, it could have received cosmetic damage in the shipping process, in could be an overstocked item, or it could have been returned by the buyer. In the latter’s case, this could be for a myriad of reasons: buyer’s remorse, finding a better deal somewhere else, or simply cancelling the order.

Even if your refurbished hardware was at one time defective, certified technicians personally test the products to make sure they’re working correctly.

The Importance of the Warranty

The biggest factor to take into consideration with buying refurbished computer hardware is the warranty. If your refurbished tech offers no warranty, chances are you should keep shopping. Not that this piece of tech is faulty, but you’ll have no recourse should you happen to get a lemon. Some stores offer better warranties than others, while some offer an extended warranty if you’re willing to pay for it.

For individual consumers shopping for themselves, the best places to buy refurbished computer hardware—with good warranties—are sometimes the OEMs themselves. Here are four of the most popular options for them, as reported by PC Magazine:

  • Dell Outlet. The Dell Outlet has a vast array of refurbished models available, and their warranty boasts “Same as New Warranty and Support.” In addition, there is a 21-day return policy for all refurbished hardware.
  • Lenovo Outlet Store. Lenovo refurbished products have a limited 1-year warranty and 21-day return policy.
  • HP Outlet. HP refurbished computer hardware comes with a 1-year warranty.
  • Apple Store. Refurbished Apple products have a limited 1-year warranty and 14-day return policy. In addition, you can purchase Apple Care protection to beef up your insurance.

But when it comes to a B2B transaction, resellers and their customers need machines that fit within their existing infrastructure, so often come to organizations that carry machines from the secondary market at even lower prices, which holds either the manufacturer warranty or their own extended warranty. This will equate to extended savings and stretching the IT budget of yours or your customers’ company even further.

Other Considerations

Two things to consider when buying refurbished computer hardware:

  • If you’re buying a PC (particularly from a third party), make sure it meets the Windows licensing requirements so you’re not guilty of software piracy. The PC will need to have the original Certificate of Authenticity and the computer’s original recovery media.
  • Know exactly what you’re looking for before going into the buying process. Since refurbished hardware is prepackaged, you cannot customize refurbished items like you can new ones. If you still want to build your computer piece by piece, consider buying refurbished individual parts.

By following the tips in this guide, you should be able to find quality refurbished computer hardware that suits all of your computing needs.