Everyone knows Mac computers are expensive. Whether the hardware justifies the price is an argument for another day, but one fact is clear: the high cost makes Macs unaffordable for a huge number of people.
If you want to use a Mac but don’t have the money to buy a new machine, a refurbished model is definitely worth considering. But there are a few points you need to keep in mind before you part with your cash. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Refurbished Macs vs. Used Macs
If you are thinking about buying a refurbished Mac, make sure that you don’t accidentally end up buying a used Mac instead.
There are only a limited number of places to buy official refurbished Macs. Apple itself has a store for refurbished hardware, but you can also check out sites like Mac of All Trades, Other World Computing, and PowerMax. You can even find some great deals at stores like Best Buy.
Some sites that sell refurbished Mac also sell used Macs—so pay careful attention to the product description before you hit the button to buy.
Remember, a refurbished Mac will be as good as new internally. If any of the computer’s components were not at the functional standard of a new device, Apple (or a trusted party) will have replaced them.
2. You Have Less Choice
Refurbished products can only come onto the market when newer offerings become available.
For common devices, such as old entry-level MacBook Air laptops, that’s not an issue. But if you want a fancier model, you might have to wait for a refurbished version to hit the stores. And remember, you could be competing with other people who have their eye on the same machine.
Similarly, you’re going to struggle to find the newest Mac versions. There just aren’t that many people selling Apple laptops that are less than a year old.
3. Refurbished Macs Are Cheaper
If you want to save money on buying a Mac, refurbished devices are the way to go. You can typically expect savings between 10 and 30 percent, depending on the age of the laptop and the condition it’s in. In some cases, the savings could be as much as 50 or 60 percent if the device is quite old.
Used, non-refurbished laptops are even cheaper. However, they do not have refreshed replacement parts and will not have any buyer protections, such as warranty periods.
4. Refurbished Macs Are Not in Perfect Condition
Typically, Apple will not replace a laptop’s chassis while undertaking the refurb work. As such, you cannot expect the device to be in the same condition as a new computer. Remember that someone has already used it before you, to some extent.
When you look at a store that sells refurbished Macs, each listing will let you know about the condition of the item. You can expect to see a rating system that goes something like Good > Very Good > Excellent.
The ratings are subjective, and there will naturally be a range within each band. No two refurbished Macs will ever be in the same condition.
5. Expect Shorter Warranties
If you buy a refurbished Mac from a reputable seller, it will come with a warranty period. But be warned, the warranty periods are shorter than those you’d receive if the Mac were brand-new. In many cases, the warranty can be as short as 90 days.
Some sellers will offer extended warranties for refurbished hardware, but you’ll need to pay extra if you want it.
You should avoid any seller who does not provide a warranty period. Refurbished Macs might be cheaper than their new counterparts, but they still cost a decent amount of money. Buying a refurbished computer without a warranty period puts you at risk of losing your investment.
6. All Refurbished Macs Are Fully Tested
Apple has a stringent testing process for all its refurbished Macs. Both the hardware and the software will be put through its paces.
Should a part fail the test, Apple will either replace or fix it, depending on the severity of the problem.
7. All Refurbished Mac Are Fully Cleaned
Of course, you’d expect the exterior of a second-hand Mac to receive a buffing prior to receiving it. However, what’s less-known is that the refurb process also cleans the internals.
This removes dust from fans, drives, and CPUs, and cleans dirt away from ports. Additionally, the cleaner will scrape away any gunk that accumulated under the keyboard keys.
Naturally, the machine also goes through sterilization to kills germs and other nasty bacteria.
8. The Drive Contains No Old User Data
When a company prepares a refurbished Mac, it completely wipes the storage disk. And we’re not talking about merely deleting the user accounts—they format the entire drive and reinstall the operating system.
Aside from the privacy issues, this is also important from a legal standpoint. You don’t want to find yourself on the hook because a previous, unknown owner was doing something unlawful with his or her machine.
9. Look for Factory Certification
Hey guys, I’m going into the Mac flipping business! I’m buying used Macs, upgrading them, and reselling them at low cost.
These refurbished-by-me computers would be a great option as an inexpensive Mac for college or as a secondary computer!
Let me know if you’re interested!
— Jonathan Nicholson (@JNichs56) January 19, 2019
Make sure the refurbished Mac you want to buy has official Apple certification. There are too many unscrupulous online stores and individual sellers who will claim a product has been refurbished, when in practice, they only did a quick fix-up job in their bedroom.
Only use trusted sellers or the official Apple refurbished store.
10. Check Your Credit Card Terms
Many credit cards automatically offer additional warranty periods for any purchases you make on your account.
If you rely on those offers, make sure you check with your card provider about whether refurbished items are covered under its terms. In many cases, refurbished electronics are specifically excluded.
Learn More About Using Refurbished Electronics
There’s nothing wrong with buying refurbished products. As long as you do your research and understand the pros and cons, it’s possible to find some great deals that offer better value than a new device. For lots of people, buying a refurbished Mac makes more sense than buying a new one.