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How to buy a Refurbished computer

The Difference Between Used and Refurbished

Manufacturers or third-party authorized refurbishers typically sanitize, sort and grade the units based on physical look and functionality. They disassemble each one, checking for damaged components, battery function, screen quality, power supply, loose connections, hard drive and optical drive. If a seller does not follow a process like this, the product isn't really refurbished; it's used. Missing or defective components — RAM, graphic cards, capacitors, ICs, hard disks — are replaced and the machine undergoes a complete data wipe. The laptop is then tested, cosmetic defects repaired, and a new OS is installed before being packaged for its new home. That last software bit is critical, Cade said, as sometimes people buy refurbished without the OS installed — and that is a no-no. Some sellers may try to install the original OS and pass it on to buyers, but that would not be a legal license. MARs have agreements with Microsoft to copy properly licensed operating systems (primarily Windows 10) onto refurbished units. After a refurbisher inspects, cleans, repairs and restores a used or returned laptop to factory settings, the unit is certified to be in good working order and returned to the retailer or manufacturer for sale at a discount.

Make sure you actually want a Refurbished laptop

Make sure you understand what a refurbished laptop means. Refurbished laptops can be anything from a brand new device that has been returned because it was an unwanted gift to a thoroughly used one that has been in service for years before being professionally refurbished by one of the many companies that recycle electronic products in the UK after the hard drive dies. The typical boilerplate that applies to most refurbished laptops is that they:

  • usually come with some warranty (typically 30-days, often up to a year, sometimes up to three years) but not on the battery life.
  • usually come with a flexible returns policy (at the buyer's cost).
  • have been professionally restored to working order by a vendor. That means that the item has been inspected, cleaned, possibly repaired and restored to factory settings.
  • may not come in original packaging or with original accessories.
  • may or may not show signs of use; refurbishers usually have grades for their products going from like new to used; make sure you know which one yours is.
  • should come with an operating system.
  • may have some minor scruffs, pressure marks, chips or cracks (refer to the aforementioned grades).
So if you want a brand new laptop that smells like it's just come off the factory line, complete with shrink wrap packaging, then refurbished laptops are probably not for you.

How much money do you want to spend?

Decide how much money you want to spend on your refurbished laptop; go for your absolute limit and add an additional 10% margin (that will make sure you don't miss out on bargains that are just outside your limit). Do consider extended warranties which can sometimes be bought at the same time as the laptop; they offer additional protection should the laptop suddenly fail.

List the features you want and need

That applies to all laptop purchases regardless of whether they are new or not. Make a list of what you need and what you want. Start with the bits you won't be able to upgrade like the screen size, the screen resolution, the processor and the graphics card.

List the features you want and need

That applies to all laptop purchases regardless of whether they are new or not. Make a list of what you need and what you want. Start with the bits you won't be able to upgrade like the screen size, the screen resolution, the processor and the graphics card. Then follow on with system memory and the hard disk drive since these can probably be upgraded. Do you have any brand preferences? Or specific features you need to have (optical drive, wired connectivity etc)? It is always worth double checking existing reviews to make sure that you've covered all grounds. Check out whether the laptop comes with a new battery or a removable one at least, otherwise you may be left with one that have to be permanently tethered in order to work.

Buy your laptop

After having compiled a list of potential buys, buy the one you think is the best for you at the time of the evaluation. Do so using a credit card because the credit card provider will be jointly responsible if something goes wrong, making it easier to claim your cash should there be any issues.



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