New Vs Used Laptops

Should you wish to squeeze as much value out of your next laptop purchase, a refurbished or new option may appear rather enticing. While there can be some degree of risk involved with purchasing a used product, even from reputable retailers, we'll provide some helpful tips to ensure you're purchasing a laptop you'll be happy with.

Here are some things you should bear in mind when analyzing your options.

The savings

Used Acer Aspire S7

Buying a refurbished (or used) laptop can allow for some serious savings. While you're likely not going to be able to find each and every laptop model available for purchase, this option is worth considering for those seeking a system for work, studying or general use. Companies like Dell make it easy to see just what is available second-hand on their websites.

As an example, at the time of this writing, an Inspiron 5000 (5565) priced new at $700 is only $343 at Dell's Outlet, and there are scratches and dents listed on the product page. A fully working laptop with only a few physical defects is more than 50 percent less than the new asking price.

The downside to going with official outlet stores is you'll be relying on available stock. Wanting to pick up the latest XPS 13 from Dell is likely going to warrant a full purchase if there's a specific configuration you had in mind that isn't available as used. Using official channels like company stores have benefits, including warranties, less risk, and buyer protection.

Many enterprise customers hand back units, which are then sold at more consumer-friendly prices, making it possible for you to easily snag a deal.

On the other hand, we have platforms like Amazon that make it simple to find a deal before adding a laptop to the shopping cart. Just keep an eye out for "new & used" prices on product pages. Generally speaking, if you're strapped for cash or do not wish to spend more than $1,000 on a new laptop, going refurbished or used is a solid solution.

Used is NOT refurbished

Used Surface Keyboard

The terms used and refurbished can not really be used interchangeably. Refurbished laptops generally come from companies like Dell, as we covered above, and are restored by professionals to as good condition as possible. Steps may include taking units apart to check various components, including the battery, internal storage, power supply, ports, and other parts.

You'll generally need to go through manufacturers and select retailers for trustworthy refurbished laptops.

Laptops that are classified as "used" are sold by consumers after they've upgraded to a better model, decided the laptop wasn't quite what they need, or they simply need to raise some funds. Used laptops aren't checked in-depth, and as such, there could potentially be an issue with a component. Platforms like eBay and Craigslist also do not check products prior to listing.

Retailers like Amazon offer the best of both worlds. Sellers can list a used laptop, but it's also possible to locate certified refurbished laptops that come with a limited warranty. It's recommended you spend significant time doing research. Here are some handy tips to buying a refurbished or used laptop:

  • Check the laptop right away for any defects that weren't listed by the seller. This includes opening up the devices to have a quick peek inside.
  • Check for any warranties.
  • Read the fine print to see what's covered by the warranty.
  • Consider using a credit card to pay for used laptops.
  • Check return policies.

If you plan to do work, watch videos, write up email and documents, and engage in general internet usage, a refurbished or used laptop is an ideal option.

Brand new

Dell XPS 13

Buying a laptop is much like purchasing a car as it depends on personal preference. You may not have any desire to own a brand new laptop, and if you're also looking to save some money, refurbished and used options are certainly the way to go. That said, there's really nothing better than receiving original, sealed packaging, knowing you're the first person to use the laptop. That's just like a new automobile when you sit in the vehicle for the first time at the dealership.

Keep an eye out for sales, particularly on the Amazon which holds discounts across a range of laptops. Buying new can be considered the best choice for those seeking high-end hardware, notably gaming and professional laptops.

In summary, here's a quick recap:

  • New — Buying new is costly, but you'll be the first to use the laptop with full warranty.
  • Refurbished — These PCs are discounted by manufacturers and retailers with good QA. They are usually covered by at least a limited warranty.
  • Used — These are cheapest, but without QA or guarantees, relying solely on the word of the seller.

Further reading

Updated January 23, 2017: This guide has been modified to add the most up-to-date information to help you make the best decision.

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