Should you buy a refurbished Surface Pro?

Microsoft will sell you a refurbished Surface Pro 3 (opens in new tab) or Surface Pro 4 (opens in new tab) in various configurations, and as you'd expect the starting prices are lower than if you went and bought a brand new one.

But refurbished isn't new, by definition. It's a used product made good again. So what do you actually get, and is it worth the investment?

The cost

Surface Pro 3

Surface-Pro-3-windows-10 (Image credit: Dan Rubino / Windows Central)

Based on current Microsoft Store pricing, here's what you're looking at for a certified refurbished Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 3

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ProcessorStorageRAMPrice
Core i364GB4GB$429
Core i5128GB4GB$499
Core i7512GB8GB$989

Surface Pro 4

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ProcessorStorageRAMPrice
Core m3128GB4GB$639
Core i5128GB4GB$729
Core i5256GB8GB$979
Core i7256GB8GB$1,279
Core i7256GB16GB$1,449
Core i7512GB16GB$1,789

The Surface Pro 3 is a last-gen product so there's no current pricing to compare to, but $499 for the 128GB Core i5 model is the best value you can currently get.

The Surface Pro 4 has recently had some price cuts and starts right now at $699 for the 128GB Core m3 model, so refurbed versions offer less savings. You have to go up to the Core i7 256GB with 8GB of RAM to see a savings of $220, which might make a bit more sense. At the lower end, you save less than $100, and frankly, you'd be better off stumping for the brand new ones.

What does certified refurbished mean?

Surface Pro 4

Each refurbished product is a pre-owned device that Microsoft puts through a rigorous course of love and care, with new parts and repairs when necessary.

As part of the refurb process, each Microsoft-Certified Refurbished Product:

  • is screened and tested to be fully functional.
  • is reloaded with the Windows OS and software updates.
  • is put through a thorough cleaning process and cosmetic inspection.
  • is repackaged with appropriate manuals, cables and power cord in a new box.

When you receive your product it should be indistinguishable from a brand new one. You also get a 12-month limited warranty from Microsoft with all refurbished products should anything go wrong.

Should you buy one?

Surface Pro 3

There's no reason not to buy a refurbed device from Microsoft, because you're getting a professionally-refurbished Surface Pro at a discount price directly from the source. If you want an older, cheaper Surface Pro 3 (opens in new tab) this is probably a better idea than buying a used model from a third-party.

However, if you're looking at the Surface Pro 4 it only really makes sense at the higher-end, so you get substantial savings. Sure, savings are savings, but at the lower end you won't save enough with recent price drops to justify taking the plunge.

See at Microsoft (opens in new tab)

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

63 Comments
  • It's not a should , but its , Why not . For both sides will be good deal .
  • However, the most important thing about buying a refurb product was left out. Warranty. Usually a refurbished laptop comes with a 90 warranty while new will have 1-3 year warranty. Does MS provide a better warranty than most? I have been buying refurb laptops because I can fix them if something goes wrong. But Surface...???
  • They mentioned a 12month warranty in the article, which is pretty typical of a factory refurbished product.
  • LOL, "professionally refurbished". Weren't they supposed to have been "professisonally built" in the first place?   Anyhow, was in the market for a new HE washer/dryer. The model I liked was $1200 each, but found an open-box return for $600 each at a local store. As the SO and I were talking with the saleslady about the condition of the units and the warranty/return policy on these, she was all like, "Oh yeah. Full warranty. And these things get sent back for a full inspection before going back out on the floor." As she was saying this, she was opening the dryer door and pulled out the lint filter. It looked as if 20 loads were run through the dryer without the filter being cleaned once. So we bought them anyhow and the next day they were delivered. After they installed the dryer, they turned it on to make sure it worked- it sounded as if it had 50 pounds of gravel in it! They took it back and the next day they brought us a brand-new, never-sold, never-opened dryer.   So yeah, while it worked out pretty well for us, always take that "refurbished" label to heart- it was returned for a reason. Maybe it was fixed, maybe it wasn't. And as a tax tip: Sales taxes are deductible. There is a standard deduction of like $2600 or so, but if you keep track of your receipts, you'll probably exceed that (we usually average about $7000-$8000). So while you may pay a little more now, it could add-up at the end of the year when filling out your taxes. I think you have to be eligible to itemize in the first place, but it's something to think about.
  • Relax and take kit Kat
  • Learn English.
  • There's no need to be rude.
  • But, there is need to say that I absolutely love my Surface 3.. The least powerful of the lineup, but the most portable, and longest lasting battery.. And, it's capable enough to run my debugging software... With that said, Im extremely sold on the Surface brand, and I can't wait to upgrade to a "better" Surface someday... #SurfaceFoLife
  • It's a while I read from this brudah. Almost thought Trump has deported his #whitegurllovingas* back to Zamunda.😂
  • First of all, an open-box return in a store is not the same as refurbished from the factory. Open-box goes back to the store and the sales people are not always wise on defects and damage, so they may perceive it to be still good and resell it. The article describes tablets that were refurbished from the factory. Typically, they either had defects and were repaired, or were damaged and repaired, and in some cases returned without damage. What you experienced was not a refurbished washer/dryer, it was merely resold as is.  Secondly, no product is perfect and some percentage will end up with defects, no matter how well they're built. Others may be damaged and sent back to be replaced under an extra damage coverage warranty. Those damaged units usually get repaired if it's not too severe, and sent back to the customer, or replaced. Either way the manufacturer ends up with extra repaired units and parts. This is how they recover some of their loses or even turn profit, by reselling them once they are repaired/refurbished. And still others may simply be returned because the consumer didn't like the product. These are all viable reasons to refurbish a unit.  
  • Weren't the Note 7's "refurbished" with new batteries?
  • You're describing a battery defect for a specific product that affected both new and refurbished Galaxy Note 7 units, because of a bad battry design that caused it to catch fire. 1 bad product or batch of products doesn't allow you generalize over all products.  I don't recall seeing any exploding Surface units.
  • That's because MS has a better team to hide the evidence. Saw it on HuffPo, so it must be true, lol.
  • No, there were no refurbished Note 7's ever sold. They were all new, with a revised battery in later models which was also defective. If the phone hadn't been canceled then I'm sure they would have replaced the batteries in the returned units and sold them as refurbished ones a few months after they were returned but that never happened. 
  • There's a big difference between a refurbushed device, and an open-box one.  I'm very wary about an open-box sale, as it hasn't been tested like refurbished systems typically are.  It's simply examined to see that it's still in the box. Cool story, though.  You should have checked to see if that gravel was actually diamonds.  Anything's possible!
  • Now that would've been nice.
  • Are you comparing the refurbished of the manufacturer of your dryer ( if they even had anything to do and wasn't a scum to begin with ) with what refurbished means to MS and any other company? I could agree with you in a couple tiny bits of your point, but that's just crazy.
  • I'm just saying that though a manufacturer can have a similar program, it's no guarantee that they refurbished it correctly. Not saying that refurbished isn't a good option if money is tight, just saying buyers should be aware of potential issues.
  • That, I can agree more with. Still I would expect a refurbished item from MS to be worth it but I am on the same boat as you mostly and even worse. I never trust refurbs in general. I can't stand getting something that isn't brand new..
  • That's why they give you a 12 month warranty... If your refurbished product fails in no less than 12 months there's a good chance that it wasn't because of it being a refurbished product. If it last for twelve months, with no issues, there's really no reason to suspect it won't be fine......... It comes with a twelve month warranty. Nothing to see hear.
  • I know. O tend to buy my stuff new and never see them break down though most the times ( I am lucky like that tbh ). A refurbished doesn't give me that confidence. Yet I never said it isn't a good option. Just not for me apparently.
  • I wish I could give you -100, you are one of those people that buy used stuff then ***** and moan over it to get a new one on delivery day!
  • Big difference between store refurb certified and manufacturer refurb.... And as long as you have a warranty for at least month you should be fine.... And professionally built... Sure I don't know a single full proof production line.... Defective units are always possible... Doubt you do 100% of the time a perfect job either... And if you do props for you but doubt your company as whole does....
  • Isn't the Pro 5 coming out soon anyway?
  • Yup. Meaning price decline in the Pro 4
  • So, it's Pro 5 coming in may? Not Surface Phone?
  • I'm not sure, my guess would be Surface Pro 5 Spring 2017, and Surface phone Spring 2018. My hope is Surface phone Fall 2017.
  • The down votes for wanting a Surface Pro 5 are real!
  • When it works, buying refurbished is also eco-friendly. Really there's so much wasted tech in the world.
  • My issue would be the following... My touch screen stopped working one month outside GT and MS said it was a hardware fault. A few days surfing on forums placed the fault with the Sony touchscreen calibration. One bit of software download later and it was fine. If MS can figure that one out then I really don't trust them on these. John Lewis give us a 5 year GT, shipping with them next.
  • I think there's a difference between getting help from an idiot IT guy who probably had minimal training and getting a product refurbished by the same factory that makes them new
  • I got my surface book as a refurbished model. Bought the $1900 256GB i5 8GB dGPU model for $1350. What a steal. At first it crashed on me a lot when removing the clipboard and all that but when I installed all the latest updates and drivers it stopped doing that and hasn't been a problem since. I love my surface book. So happy with my purchase.
  • Can you update the article with the non-refurbished prices?
  • Currently, I'd rather get a new Surface Pro 3 i5 8GB RAM 256GB storage for $589.99 at newegg. Sale ends tomorrow. Decisions decisions...
  • No issue with refurbished or open box tech, so far I've bought a refurbished surface, a dell pro11, and an open box Lenovo no issues with any of them and the dell was less than half price. full warranty with all of the above
  • Yeah Dell Outlet is excellent. Got an Inspiron 15 7559 for hundreds below retail price and as far as I can see it just came in a brown box. Otherwise looks brand new.
  • I've purchased plenty of Refurbished devices over the years, and in general, have been very happy about it.  I find there are at least two levels of refurbishement; class A and class B.  Class A goes back to the manufacturer, sometimes to an external group, and then is taken apart and every part is properly tested and replaced if necessary, to make it as good as new.  They just can't sell it as "new" anymore.  These are a good deal, especially if they come with a full manufacturer warranty. (looking at you, Dell! <3 my Inspiron) Class B feels more like a used device.  It still goes back to the manufacturer, and then to a group, who tests it to make sure it turns on, fixing it if necessary.  It typically isn't fixed up to a new standard, and goes out with possible visual blemishes.  I find these are troublesome, as they don't come with a full warranty, and run a risk of failing.  (looking at you, Groupon. </3 there) My only complaint is the pricing on a refurbished device. The deals I've gotten with Dell are quite nice, but to see a discount of less than a new device on sale can get, doesn't seem to match the value.
  • DO NOT BUY REFURBISHED SURFACE PRO 3. (Buy Pro 2 or Pro 4 only). Surface pro 3 has "not well" designed the fan cooler. After time it will skew and it will make so horrible buzzy sound. Pro 2&4 has NOT that problem. Internet is full of this... I have second shipment and after 2 years its making same horrible sound.
  • I have gotten 2 Pro 3 refurbished units as warranty replacements direct from MS and both failed with in weeks and now sit here on my shelf as paper weights. Both have the same issue, they wont charge unless you power them completely off before connecting them and neither work correctly with their dock stations. To be honest they are great looking and feel nice in the hand but beyond that I am not overly impressed with them or the surface Pro 4 I have. 
  • This will be helpfull in controlling the e-waste...
  • What about the battery? Do they put in a new one?
  • I agree I think it is a good investment in a refurbished device. The surface are of high quality build and performance. Even non refurbished secondhand devices are worth looking at and fan be even cheaper to buy. Bought a second secindhand surface pro first gen 3 years old. In reasonable condition and a third of the original price. Both still work fine today. I disagree that with refurbished surface pro devices the highest specced is perse the one to go for. Yes if you need the horsepower to the max every single moment. But I think the sweet spot lies with the core i5 model with best balanced choice between durability, performance and battery life. I've heard from several i7 buyers that battery consumption is generally higher in real world use despite power manamwnt settings. Battery life will also be a bigger concern with refurbished devices as their halflives will be shorter than newer devices. I did not read that battery replacement was part of the refurbishment program. Maybe then the i7 choice would be a different story.
  • I want a Surface Pro or Book but with the keyboard in spanish :/
  • Absolutely
  • I would buy one. In a NY minute.
  • Not if you're smart. Microsoft seems to have a bad track record with these things, go look them up. The batteries die witing 13 months.....just out of warranty.
  • I know that but this was MS business, a paid for option that failed. My point was the GT, if they will have silly issues like calibration, that dodgy power cable that needed replacing and other things the GT is worth it. So imo I am buying from John Lewis who just replace or refund if it breaks. Nothing against the refurbished option, just need more peace of mind.
  • Well, I got a Surface Pro 3 refurbished ('recertified as MS calls them') and was super happy. The device was pristine and I had no problems with it what so ever. Just in case bought MS Complete warrranty as well. Fast forward 13 months and phantom touch happend forcing me to send it in for replacement. The device which I got back looks like someone took sanding paper to it and seasoned it with adhesive. Yes it works and as per warranty "it's functionally sound having cosmetic defects". The refurbished devices have lower acceptance thresholds when it comes to everything other than screen while undergoing warranty reparirs. It's a bit dissappointing to say the least. Plus since the purchase was done in PL and I couldn't get refurb here it was a huge PITA to deal with said warranty (round trip to the US took about 2.5 months thanks to the holiday season). The savings were great, but looking back I wouldn't do it again.
  • My first surface pro 3 developed the yellow screen problem after a few months. Got a refurb under warranty. That one did not work after a week so I sent it back and got a third one under warranty. That one had a fan that sounded like a plane taking off so it went back. I sold the fourth one straight away. I would never buy another and if you gave me a new one I'd sell it without taking it out of the box. I lost a bunch of work through downttime but to microsofts credit they are really efficient with their replace,meant systems. Must be all the practice     
  • I've had good luck buying refurbished electronics; however, if the savings isn't there then you might as well buy new.  I'd certainly buy one for the right price.
  • Yea no...Working in IT Support, I've seen enough of these with bad batteries that die within a year, RIGHT AFTER the warranty runs out, and then you are stuck tethered to a power cord whenever you want to use it. Go look it up, its ridiculous, and Microsoft said they would honor the repairs for them, but no, they backed out, and only offer refurb swaps for about these prices, which are these reconditioned POS. Do you really want to have to pay for something that only lasts a year, and then its battery fails and you are stuck with no recourse but to pay another $400+?? Yea....I dont think so. No thanks.
  • As a business owner who has dealt with likes of Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Razer, etc – and has owned well over 20 Surface Pros - I have no understanding of what you are talking about.  There is not a single OEM in existence that gives you a NEW replacement computer!  The fact that the replacement is only $400, is incredible - because it is extremely cheap; damage protection plans from other OEMs are at times more expensive.  I am not aware of any Wintel OEM that gives you a replacement unit for such a low cost – if at all!  Even WITH their damage protection it takes several MONTHS to receive a replacement unit!!  As for battery issue – I am not discounting your experience.  Everyone’s issues and experiences are different and just because I have never had an issue does not mean you did not.  However, with any device OEM, how you are treated when you have an issue is VERY important.  At MS, whenever I have had an issue they have laid out my options and costs have been very reasonable.  When I compare what I spend at MS Store and what I spent at Dell, I am spending a lot less and getting far more.  More importantly I do not have to spend countless hours fighting some guy explaining to him that a 1TB HHD is not an acceptable replacement for 512GB SSD – it does not matter that 1TB is bigger than 512GB – it’s still not an SSD!!  My advice to anyone reading – every computer will have issues and they are gonna be annoying and at the most inopportune time.  MS Store’s service is by far the best I have experienced and I have dealt with a lot of OEMs.  Buy MS Complete and you will be in good hands for two years. 
  • Any one of these with MS Complete would be a great buy.   But, there are NEW units for sale on ebay for much less. I bought a NEW SP3 512GB for only $850 last november.  That is $140 savings over the MS refurbished. Heck, WITH 2yr MS Complete @ $150 it is ONLY $10 more (for a total of $1k).   Look, these devices are great - especially for students and professionals.  If you want one, you can get one.  Starting at $500 is reasonable for even a High School student.  
  • Maybe they are sold as new but are actually refurbished. I assume they are not listed by Microsoft.
  • I was kinda afraid that it might be a trick, but eBay is pretty good at these kinds of things when the seller misrepresents the product...so, I took a chance.  But, it was new and still sealed in the factory box.  I went over to an MS Store and got a 4yr Business MS Complete.  So, either way it's not my problem for next 4 years.
  • Having used both, and equivalents from Lenovo, I recommend holding out for the Surface Book (referb or otherwise). You might think you only want Surface Pro... but you're probably wrong.
  • hello. i would definitely buy a refurbished item but my concern is battery life compared to a brand new product. has anyone experienced bad battery life when buying a refurbished item?
  • There is no way to know if something is gonna crap out.  Of all the Surface Pros I have owned thru my business and personal life – I have only had one crap out on battery.  But, it happened right away and was obvious there was a problem.  However, things can go wrong over time - follow the simple instructions from the article below.  You should be monitoring your battery health regardless of PC or OEM - so, it is a good idea to do this every 6-12 months.  If you find the health is poor or deteriorating fast you can show the reports to the MS Store tech and have them give you a replacement.  A piece of advice – go to a physical MS Store.  Do NOT try to get support over the phone or chat.  Those are hit and miss – there are times I love it and others when I wanna kill someone.  Mostly, that is just trying to convey a problem over the phone when a person next to you would just get it.  However, I have never been disappointed at a brick and mortar MS store.    http://www.howtogeek.com/217010/how-to-generate-a-battery-health-report-...
  • I know Dell has refurb Surface Pro 3's with a Core i5 / 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for $600. https://www.dellrefurbished.com/tablets?filter_operating_system=209 I sort of wish Microsoft had that configuration available.  
  • Who give a crap, they are not selling it anyway.
  • Amazon still has new SP3's for under $900
  • In the last year Ive had 7 sp4's 2 DOA from retailer then 5 swap outs , previous sp3 user and bit of a MS fanboy - but no more , go get an ipad pro or air instead - isnt worth the hastle - although the Surface support guys are really good - but the constant issues with screens are a real problem, havent had a battery problem yet though
  • Got a surface pro 3 off swappa a month ago. Pretty good, 256gb storage and i5 for $350. So much better than my Intel atom surface 3 which I've wanted to throw across the room.