What’s the Difference Between Used and Refurbished Computers?

By: Will Claney

At first glance one might think that used
computers are the same as refurbished
computers, and vice-versa but one would
have missed some very important distinctions.
The most important of these differences
is quality.

Pick up any newspaper, if you can find one,
and look in the classified ad section and
you may find several used computers for sale.
Prices will range anywhere from $99.00 to
over a thousand dollars. Usually there is
some description attached highlighting the
CPU, memory (RAM) and hard drive size.

Buyer beware, these “used” computers may
not be any good, fact is most of them have
some fatal flaws like the hard drive is
dying or infected with malware, memory
errors, and the most hidden issue is a
motherboard malfunction. How the heck
would you know? Usually the flaws are
the reason the computer is being sold.
Perhaps, one could simply reformat the
hard drive to fix the issue.
Wishful thinking.

Refurbished computers must pass specific
tests that include meeting or exceeding
the original factory specifications for
performance. The tests certify the
refurbish is thoroughly up to specifications.
Worn or broken parts are replaced and the
hard drives are fully tested and must
pass spin-up, seek and continuous read
and write specifications. Motherboards
are check for minor issues that could
create a problem in the future. Lastly,
a fresh copy of Windows is loaded,
updated and tested.

Refurbished computers are really a
different approach to selling previously
own computer equipment. Not all
computers will qualify, or pass the
test to be refurbished. That’s where
a qualified tech comes in because
they know what to expect and can
provision for typical issues.
For example, let’s say the hard
drive failed. A qualified tech will
remove the old hard disk drive and
replace it with a new one. Note I
said, “new” one. Refurbishing a
computer with a repaired hard drive
is not advisable, because when hard
drives begin to die, they continue
on that path until they are deemed

When shopping for a refurbished computer,
be sure a warranty comes with it.
Typically, the warranty will cover
parts and labor to repair the computer
for 30 days. Also, very important is
the CPU’s age. CPU age isn’t about
wear and tear on the CPU but more
about the generation of the CPU.
A second generation i7 isn’t as
good as a 6th generation i5.
So question your sales rep and have
them explain what you are actually
getting vs. a new computer.

Buyer beware not all used computers
are good but a refurbished computer
with a warranty is certainly better
and offers you a very good value.