The Top Three Places To Buy Refurbished Mac Laptops [Mac]

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refurbished mac laptopMac computers are generally regarded as stable machines that will last a long time if properly used and maintained. I have owned eight different Macs over the last twenty years. One was a refurbished eMac and another one, a PowerBook G4, was a used model. Only the PowerBook ended up needing significant repairs after four years of use. So in my view, Macs are pretty stable.

When I need to get another laptop, I will definitely look into a refurbished mac laptop. There are several reasons why I would do this.


Namely, of course, to save money. The 10-30% savings from purchasing a refurbished Mac could be applied to one or two computer peripherals that most of us computer users end up buying.

Thus, the following are suggestions for buying a used or refurbished Mac laptop.

Do Some Research

Before you go looking for a refurbished or used Mac, find out about the latest hardware models on the market. Apple seems to release new models of desktops and laptops every six months or so, and sometimes the upgrades to those models are significant enough to make a real difference in the speed and performance of the computer.

So I would suggest visiting a nearby retail Apple Store and checking out the latest models on display. Ask important questions about the speed, RAM and internal storage space. A large size screen may also be an important factor for how you plan to use the machine. And of course make a note of and compare prices. A visit to the online Apple Store also gives you a side-by-side comparisons of the latest models.

After you have narrowed down the type of Mac you’re looking for (MacBook Pro, MacBook, iMac, MacBook Air, etc), most definitely read several reviews for the type of Mac you’re interested in. The more you know about the latest models, the better you can evaluate what is missing in a similar used or refurbished Mac.

Apple Store: Refurbished Macs

The first and best place to look for refurbished Macs is the mothership – the Apple Refurbished Store. Most of the refurbished Macs listed on Apple”˜s site are recently returned or canceled orders – Macs that have hardly been used. Apple says all of its refurbished hardware is tested and certified with a standard 1-year warranty. With the money you save, you also have the option of purchasing a AppleCare Protection Plan.

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refurbished mac laptop

So far example this 21.5″ iMac, 3.06GHz Intel Core i3 cost at the time of this writing, $1,199.00 (excluding taxes). A refurbished model with the same processing speed cost $1,019.00. The $180 difference is about the amount of sales tax you would pay on the non-refurbished model.

refurbished macs

Refurbished Macs in the Apple Store tend to run 10-25% of the original price. I have been told you can hardly tell the difference between a brand new and refurbished model when ordered from Apple. However, if you’re looking for a specific refurbished or used model with specific specs that is not found in Apple’s refurbished store, the following are a few good retailers to check out.

PowerMax

PowerMax, an authorized Apple dealer, has received high ratings (PriceGrabber source and reviews) for its used and refurbished Macs. It provides a 90-day used Mac warranty and some conditional return options. It also has a trade-in program for all models of Macs.

At the time of this writing, PowerMax didn’t carry the same model described above. However, upon checking and comparing a few of their used models with Apple”˜s refurbished offerings, I found for example that PowerMax listed a used MacBook Air/1.6 GHz for $849.00.

refurbished mac computers

But Apple listed a similar refurbished MacBook Air at the same price as PowerMax’s used model. Apple’s refurbished model also included an additional 40 gigs of internal memory. So it’s important to do price comparisons and read the fine print. No doubt, PowerMax would be willing to lower the price of their used models to match Apple”˜s prices.

refurbished macs

Mac Of All Trades

Mac Of All Trades also has a pretty wide selection of used and refurbished Mac laptops and computers, with many of them including AppleCare Warranty for a specified expiration date. Though I found the prices of some models sold on Mac of All Trades to be higher than similar models in Apple”˜s refurbished store, All Trades is worth checking for specific models that Apple may not be selling at the time you’re looking to buy.

refurbished macs

This company claims that all its Macs are in excellent cosmetic condition based on their age.

Other Sellers

Amazon.com also seems to be a good place to look for used Macs. When you do a search on the site for a particular Mac model, individual sellers of used models will be listed. Some used Mac sellers are consumer users, while others are retail stores with used items to sell.

refurbished mac laptop

And finally, GainSaver also sells used Macs, but mainly older, pre-owned models. If you’re needing to save more than half the price for a new Mac, GainSaver.com seems to be a pretty good option.

Have you ever purchased a used or refurbished Mac? Let us know about it.

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Comments (13)
  • JP Hare

    The prospect of paying a premium price for any used laptop is not for the faint of heart. It was only the continued development of unserviceable, non-upgradeable, new MacBook Pros that got me to thinking about replacing my aging 17 with a late model, used unit. After noticing refurbished machines for sale on the Amazon site, I followed up on one offered by a vendor, Experimac, in W. Palm Beach Florida. At least it was in my home state so I decided to make contact.

    A family business, the people at the store were friendly and encouraging and in a short while had informed me of an early 2011 machine – second to the last 17 model produced and top of the line in its day – they had available. After hearing about the condition, specifications, ram and new 1TB hard drive it had, we negotiated a price and I committed to the purchase.

    Of course this was not my first Mac. In fact, it would be my third MacBook Pro 17. I returned the unopened Retina 15 machine I had purchased from the Apple store just days before and sent in payment for the used machine from Experimac. For just a few hundred dollars less than the new MacBook Pro Retina 15, I was purchasing a fully repairable and upgradeable 17 with no AppleCare warranty – I was now in uncharted territory as a used mac buyer after purchasing many new machines over more years than I like to quote. Think original Mac Plus buyer; that was a one piece desktop model with an amazing full Megabyte of storage and a cute, built in handle in the top… Like I said, I’m a LONG time, new Mac buyer.

    Long story short, the happy ending didn’t happen right away and nearly turned into a cautionary tale about buying used v. new. I received the machine and was delighted for 6 months. Then, one fateful Sunday morning, my new/used/collector edition MacBook Pro 17 would not start up. Dead. I decided to try Apple Support (I know, it was a used machine with no Apple Care coverage – but it was Sunday, Experimac was closed, and my memory was chanting – “call Apple, Call Apple, Try Apple Support…”). The wonderful customer support helper took me through an over the phone diagnostic and could only come up with “Internal Hardware Failure” at every turn.

    Dejected and beginning to see my expensive gamble being raked in by the Experimac house, I at least found a sympathetic but encouraging response from the seller. “Most likely a graphics card problem. Probably looking at $250 or so to put in a new one. Send it and we’ll have it back to you in a few days it that’s all it needs.” Graphics Card – that seemed reasonable for a 4 year old machine, I thought. At least it’s repairable! Ok, so let’s get it fixed and back home. Things went as planned and, though not as fast and smooth as previous repairs had under AppleCare support (sigh). Also, the graphics card hypothesis was ruled inadequate leading to replacement of the entire logic board with a clean, low-mileage used one for a negotiated $650 (Ouch!) There was a reasonably quick turn around and I had my machine back… but not fixed. The keyboard no longer lit up (“Alright, so it isn’t perfect. It’s working!” I thought.) And, sadly, I had to call and send it back because there were new, very unMac-like problems with flickering screen images and other obvious defects in the video performance.

    Finally, after a series of conversations (all of them perfectly civil with concern being voiced by both parties) I got my machine back. Experimac had reached out to Apple and the brand new logic board replacement- at no additional cost – has been an overwhelming success (two months and counting). Today, I am a sold and resold Experimac customer and will do business with them again. More than anything, the used option, it seems to me, has inherent risks of which the new buyer remains blissfully ignorant. Still, many find, especially without AppleCare, they are out in the cold if something expensive goes bad after warranty coverage expires. As for me, until Apple starts selling 17″, repairable and upgradable desktop replacement laptops, I’ll stick with Experimac – and no one else.

  • Melly Mel

    This was helpful. Thanks, Bakari!

  • Amber

    Do not get a iMac at Powermax they send out DOA(dead on arrival) . I asked powermax to rectify the situations. I was told to send back on my own dime. To buy another iMac while I was waiting for them to go trough the process of verification. All I did was a hardware test that was on the iMac. But then I found out they get a 10% restocking fee on my transaction .

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.