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Buying refurbished PC's

Has anyone here ever purchased a refurbished PC?  I was looking around and came across these ones offered at Costco:

The price and software bundle looked attractive, since I wanted something in the ~$1500 price range.  But I'm wary of the whole refurbished thing.

I once had a HP Pavilion that I had to send in for maintenance several times, but it still always caused me hardware-related problems.  So, now I have this perception that bad PC's stay bad - no matter how many times they've been repaired or refurbished.  Is this just a myth I've created in my head?

Anyone had good / bad experiences with refurbished PC's?

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I have had good luck with Dell Refurbished.  Often, they have not even left the building.  I also have a friend who buys Gateway refurbished and is also happy. 

I am not sure about going through a third party.  If you have a problem, then who is responsible? 

Try taking a look and see if they match up.  Here is Dell's link:

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I bought a refurb Apple PowerBook Duo. Bad idea. Every part was scarce, expensive, and not really available to you since you didn't bundled them in the first place. Replacement parts were non-existent and the refurb agreement makes you a non-existent customer of Apple after the 90 days was over. It was pure hell, but it was a fun machine to play with. If you are buying a brand name highly recommend getting real warantees, don't go overboard with 3 years or 4 years or business onsite, but at least 3 years parts and labor.

Refurbs aren't usually as cheap as buying a clone, so seriously consider that option too.

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, March 25, 2004

i bought a refurbished HP Pavilion a265c, 2.8ghz, 512mb 2700 ram, 160gb hdd, 17" lcd, wireless mouse/keyboard, 7 in 1 media reader, dvd drive, dvd+rw burner....have had it for about 6 months, no problems  $750

Thursday, March 25, 2004

My current notebook and desktop computers are both 'refurbished' HP machines. Never had a problem with either.

Although I can't prove it, I think that several of the computer manufacturers sell their stock of discontinued machines as 'refurbished'. That way the warranty is shorter and their newer machines don't have to compete with *new* but lower cost machines.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I have a refurbished Dell Inpisron 500m. No problem whatsoever. I am very happy with it. Also saved about $300 by buying refurbished.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I bought a refurbished Micron many years ago. Complex software like games, compilers, and raytracing would usually crash or have errors.

I was never able to get the Micron tech support reps to fix it because their diagnostic tools couldn't reproduce the problem. But a friend more knowledgeable with hardware was able to track it down to a problem with the CPU.

Since then I've had a dim view of refurbished. You get a slim discount for something that another person decided wasn't good enough in new condition.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I'd only buy something that was a standard configuration. Refurbished or otherwise.

That way, if you have a problem that's systemic to the model/configuratio, then LOTS of people are having that problem... and it's more likely to be solved (for you and everyone else).

Mr. Analogy
Thursday, March 25, 2004

I buy "refurbished" Dells from Dell Finance on Ebay.  They are former lease machines that are still in good shape and have been cleaned up.

You get some good deals.  You have to install the OS and software yourself.  Also, in some cases, you have to upgrade more RAM (if it ships 128).  So far, so good.  Instead of ponying up 1K or more for a notebook, you can get away with $500 bucks.

Ditto for Dell optiplex and dimension desktops.  Under $400 bucks, no monitor and no OS.  But I made one mistake, bought one with RDram (Rambus?), I think it's called, and the upgrade was a little pricey (like 100 bucks for 256k).  But it already had 256 and probably would have been fine.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

There's various levels of refurbishing.

'Factory refurbished' computers have generally not left the factory. For whatever reason, they've been restocked, and haven't been taken out of the box. You're getting exactly what you would have if bought new.

Other levels indicate that the item has left the factory but has been restocked without opening, or it has actually been delivered to a customer, opened, and returned.

There's a huge market out there for refurbs; the majority are in exactly the same condition as original non-refurb computers.

Generally speaking, factory refurbs come with the full manufacturers warranty, and are as risk-free as new items.  I'd avoid the 60-90 day warrantied items.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I am writing this on a HP Vectra that I bought used at  This is a local store that sells PCs they get off lease.  They aren't really refurbished, just checked out.  You get a 90 day warranty.  I have only had this one for about a month, but no problems so far.

I have also bought a couple of laptops off eBay, with no problems so far, but they don't get a lot of heavy use.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

I had one bad experience with (almost) buying a refurbished notebook seven years ago.  I found a good deal for a "factory refurbished" name-brand notebook in the back of a Computer Shopper magazine.  (From a small New York City dealer.)

I was about to complete the order when they aked, "do you want a full-sized battery with that?"  Apparently, this "factory refurbished" model only came with cheap knock-off battery that was rated for 30 minutes.  A "regular" battery was an extra $200.  (I cancelled the order before they could ask "do you want a CPU with that?")

After that experience, I might buy a refurbished notebook directly from the manufacturer, but never from any third party -- you don't know exactly what you're getting or who's going to fix it if it breaks.

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, March 25, 2004

Thanks for all the feedback.  It got me over my fear of "refurbished".

I went ahead and bought one from Costco.  I feel pretty safe with that (despite it being a 3rd party).  They have a 6 month return policy and it came with a 2-year warranty with 2-year in-home service.  Add to that the $400 savings over the same laptop/configuration for a new one from Dell, and it looks like a pretty good bargain.

Friday, March 26, 2004

apw, want to share your source?? That was a steal

Friday, March 26, 2004 has it now for $629 no monitor or keyboard though.  The box mine came in lists the model number as a265c-b. eCost lists a265c.  I guess the -b is the monitor/keyboard bundle.

Friday, March 26, 2004

There is a good point about batteries above.  For used or refurbished laptops the machine might be fine, but you can't be sure how much life is left in the battery.  For "refurbished" you might think they would put a new one in, but "used" probably not.  In any case, check on what you're getting and figure a new battery in to the price if that is what you need.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I hope your experience with the a265c HP Pavalion is better than the new one I bought from Costco last fall.  The hard drive went bad in less than six months, and so after a long chat with India I sent it back in the Fedex box that HP provided.  I got it back 10 days later, only to discover now the computer won't even turn on. (at least I have my old Mac)  So here I sit with a dissertation due and no PC to run the Windows progams that I need.  The guys in India suggested that I take it to COMP USA to get it fixed, but I would have to pay for the repairs myself.  I used to have really high opinion of HP products, but after this I'd be very cautious to buy HP or refurbished.  I'm taking this as a sign that a company that once strived for, and obtained, excellence is now sadly starting to settle for mediocre.

jim clark
Thursday, June 10, 2004

I've been buying refurbs for years.  Mostly positive. Try to stick with Factory Refurbs if possible, they cost a few bucks more but are well  worth it.

Allan Rose
Saturday, August 7, 2004

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