Technology Matters: What to look for when purchasing a refurbished laptop

Some refurbished laptops have more appeal than just saving money. They are also good for the environment, and buyers may find a wider selection due to persistent component shortages and shipping delays.

To ensure that you end up with a machine that meets your needs, buying a refurbished device presents its own set of challenges. We'll give you a checklist to refer to when you're looking for a used laptop.

The classifieds are the riskiest source because you are relying solely on the honesty of the seller. If you test drives the vehicle, you wouldn't know if it was stolen, and mechanical issues may not be evident until you use it for a while.

Apple, Dell, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung are just a few major manufacturers that offer refurbished units. A quick search for the manufacturer using the word "refurbished" will yield their available models.

Computers can also be purchased refurbished from the big retailers. Amazon Warehouse, Amazon Renewed, and BestBuy Outlet are all good options. Walmart is also great.

Sticking with the original manufacturer generally poses the least risk since they'll have the right packaging and parts to make the product appear as new as possible. Make sure the label says "factory-certified."

You should know the minimum specifications you need before you start comparing units across sources and even within the same outlet.

If you already have an Intel i3, you might want to upgrade to an Intel i5 or i7 processor. If you have 4 gigabytes of RAM, look for a device with at least 8GB of RAM. In case your computer is an older model, determine what you'll need by assessing how you use it.

After you have determined what you are looking for, you'll want to pay attention to the condition of the laptops you are considering. Factory refurbished is best, but if you don't mind the odd ding or scratch on the casing, that's a good way to save money.

It is important to make sure that the laptop comes with all the accessories it needs. In some cases, you will find refurbished units for sale without the charger, which will be at the very least inconvenient to you and will certainly cost you more money.

Make sure the machine has the proper Operating System installed. Microsoft will no longer support the current version of Windows if you buy a computer with Windows 11 installed.

You should check the return policy of each seller. You may not notice any problems with your laptop for a while after using it. Give your laptop at least 30 days before you notice any problems with it.

Last but not least, don't rule out buying new. Getting the specs you want at a lower price than you planned on spending on a refurbished model is possible if you find a great sale. There will be no warranty issues for you to deal with, and you'll be using technology from today.

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