Used vs Refurbished Computers: What’s the Difference?

In 2017, more than 400 million laptops, tablets, and PCs shipped worldwide.

Advances in technology mean that newer, more powerful computers are being launched every year. But that doesn’t mean that slightly older laptops and PCs can’t still do a serious job.

If you’re looking for a powerful computer at a reasonable price, then you might consider buying used. You may also be looking at refurbished models. But what exactly is the difference?

Read on as we compare used vs refurbished computers to help you make your choice.

Used vs Refurbished: What Do They Mean?

A used computer is exactly what it sounds like.

It is a computer purchased and used by someone else. They no longer want or need it, and are willing to sell it on to recoup some of their costs. The owner is selling it in the condition that it has reached during their ownership.

A refurbished computer is one that the customer returns to the manufacturer or computer store for any number of reasons.

This might be because the owner changed their minds, or because they felt there was a problem and wanted a refund. The computer is then tested, repaired, and worked on to ensure it is in good condition.

What’s the Difference?

Both used and refurbished computers have been previously owned and are now being resold. So why are they different?


The condition of a used computer completely depends on how well the previous owner looked after it.

They may have mistakenly downloaded malware, they may have dropped or scratched it, they may have worn down the keys or mousepad with overuse. When you buy a used computer, you are very likely to find signs of wear and tear, and there is always the chance there may be serious hardware issues.

A refurbished computer will have been thoroughly tested to find any potential problems. If there are any issues then technicians will make repairs, and it will undergo cleaning and repackaging. The condition of a refurbished computer is likely to be much better than the average used one.


If you’re buying a used computer, you are very unlikely to receive any kind of warranty. If it breaks down the moment you turn it on, you’re bang out of luck.

With a refurbished computer, the manufacturer or computer store will usually offer a warranty which means that if anything goes wrong, you’re covered. This is because they are confident that they have returned the refurbished computer to good working condition.


Unless you buy a used computer from friends or family, you are likely to know very little about the seller. You have no idea whether they are a genuine seller, or someone trying to make some money from a pile of junk. 

Most refurbished computers sell either directly from the manufacturer, or via reputable computer stores. You can feel much more confident that you are buying a good-quality product, and that you will be able to contact someone if anything goes wrong.


The older a product is, the less likely it is to be supported by the manufacturer or recent software.

When you’re buying refurbished computers, it is very unlikely that they are more than a few years old. Computers older than this would not really be worth refurbishing and selling. So if you’re looking for a fairly new model, then you’re more likely to have luck when looking for refurbished models.

Stock Levels

If you’re buying a used computer, the only limit is the models that other people are willing to put up for sale. But if you have a specific model in mind, you may struggle to find that exact computer for sale. You may have to compromise on what is available to choose from at a price that you like.

When you’re buying refurbished, you’re limited to the stock that is returned, and the models that are new enough to be worth refurbishing. Although your overall pool is likely to be smaller than with used items, the refurbished stock is more likely to be made up of recent models. 


When you buy a used computer, the seller’s part of the deal is over. You can’t ring them up and ask for help with a computer problem.

When you buy from a manufacturer or computer store, you should be to access support if you have any problems. This is especially true if there are any hardware problems, which are covered by your warranty. It means you have more peace of mind when making your purchase.


Refurbished computers are more likely to look newer, work better, and offer warranties and support. So it’s not surprising that you’re likely to pay a little more for a refurbished computer than you are for a used one.

But when you factor in the additional benefits of buying refurbished, in the long term you may actually be saving money. You are far more likely to be buying a computer that will serve you well for longer if you buy refurbished.

Looking for New or Refurbished PC or Laptop?

Now you’ve compared the pros and cons of used vs refurbished, you may be looking to buy.

We’re here to help. We buy, sell, trade, and service new and refurbished laptops, PCs, monitors, and printers. We offer a fast and friendly service on all computers whether new or old. All of our refurbished computers go through an extensive battery of tests before we sell them, so you can be certain of their quality.

Take a look around. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us