Splashing out on a new laptop isn’t always economically advisable. Save yourself some cash with a refurbished alternative
Laptops are among the most portable and flexible pieces of technology around. They provide the option to take work with you wherever you go but are also multimedia hubs that can facilitate watching Netflix in bed or gaming in the garden.
The finest laptops on the market will set you back a pretty penny. Our current favourite, the Dell XPS 13 (2020), starts at around £1,200 and some of the best laptops Apple has to offer cost closer to the £2,000 mark. If you have money to burn, you’ll want to check out our list of the best laptops regardless of your budget. If you have your heart set on a brand new laptop but don’t want to break the bank, there are some great budget options out there, such as those featured on our best cheap laptops list, and if you shop around you can find some cracking deals on newer laptops.
But if you really want to nab yourself a bargain, refurbished laptops are a great way to get well-specced products for a fraction of their original price.
After a quality refurb job, a laptop will look and operate exactly like its factory-fresh counterpart, either because it’s been opened but unused or because it’s been sent back to the original manufacturer for professional repair work before being sold on for hundreds of pounds less than a “new” laptop. The only real difference may be the length of the warranty. If there isn’t one on offer, we’d advise you to look elsewhere.
In this article, we’ll highlight the best and most trustworthy outlets for buying a refurbished laptop. This way, you can save money and stay worry-free, safe in the knowledge that your purchase is backed up by a solid guarantee.
Where are the best places to buy a refurbished laptop in the UK?
Laptops Direct is one arm of the Direct conglomerate, which sells all manner of refurbished goods, including TVs, furniture and mobile phones. With an aggregate rating of four out of five stars from over 10,000 reviews on Trustpilot, it’s a site you can trust when in search of a refurbished laptop. Not only is it trustworthy, but you’ll find some great deals on there – we’ve seen Dell, Acer Predator and Apple laptops going for up to £400 less than the brand-new models on Amazon or Currys PC World.
There are plenty of other advantages to shopping with Laptops Direct; it offers a one-year warranty for all laptops, delivers free of charge to the majority of the UK and has next day delivery options. Laptops Direct also runs a trade-in scheme that could save you up to £300 off your new refurb when you hand over your old laptop. And that’s on top of the hundreds you’ll already be saving by going the refurbished route rather than buying one brand new.
There is also the option to pay monthly if you can’t afford the full cost upfront, something that sets it apart from competitors such as Amazon. Laptops Direct grades its refurbs based on quality. Grade A1 laptops are either unused (but have a broken box seal) or have been refurbished by the manufacturer and are free of cosmetic damage. As such, they will look and run just like a brand-new model. If you can afford it, A1 is definitely the way to go. A2 graded laptops might have some minor blemishes, while Grade A3 laptops will have visible marks and dents. If you don’t mind your laptop looking a little rough around the edges, though, the savings will be significantly greater than buying a higher graded model.
When buying a laptop on Amazon, there are three categories of condition: new, pre-owned and certified refurbished (aka renewed). New laptops are, well, new, and obviously the most expensive option. Used laptops sold by third parties can range wildly in terms of condition; a seller may describe the product as “like new”, but that’s a subjective assessment. Used laptops on Amazon may have been given a quick wipe down with a cloth and put back in their box or could be missing key components.
Because of this, you’re best off going with a laptop with the Amazon renewed stamp. These are backed up by the Amazon Renewed Guarantee and have been returned to the manufacturer, repaired and shipped back out. Apart from the plain packaging and generic accessories, everything else about the laptop will match its brand new equivalents – and it will be significantly cheaper. It’s also extremely easy to browse for laptops on Amazon as you can filter your search by price, brand, size, and internal components.
Warranties last a full year so you can buy with confidence, and Prime members will typically benefit from the lightning-fast Amazon Prime delivery.
You may think that eBay is just individual sellers seeking to earn a bit of extra income, but you’ll also find that a number of big brands use the site as a way of getting rid of their refurbished goods. When searching for laptops on eBay you can filter by “Manufacturer Refurbished”, which restricts the listings to devices repaired and sold by the laptop companies. Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and HP all sell refurbished, like-new laptops with a hefty discount, and warranties range from 12 months to two years.
When buying refurbished laptops on certain eBay outlets you will find a grading system that categorises devices from “like-new” to those with cosmetic damage or missing parts. Not so with the Manufacturer Refurbished stamp, which eBay states as “an item that has been professionally restored to working order by a manufacturer-approved vendor”. This is a reliable way to get practically brand-new goods on the cheap and there are always tons of laptops to choose from.
Don’t forget to read the seller notes of a product before buying on eBay just to double-check the company that’s selling it, the length of the guarantee and any specific details about the nature of the product’s return and repairs work.
4. Dell Outlet
If you’re specifically looking for a refurbished Dell laptop, then your best bet is to buy one directly from the company itself. There’s a wide range of different Dell laptops to choose from and the site allows you to filter your choices by a number of categories, including memory, hard drive size, processor, screen size and screen resolution.
The laptops come in one of three categories: certified refurbished, new/unused, which are factory sealed and unopened returns or products that were cancelled, and scratch and dent, which are products with cosmetic blemishes that don’t affect performance in any way.
Dell Refurbished offers free shipping in the UK and typically ships orders within a week of their placement.
Apple’s range of MacBooks are among the finest laptops around but they don’t come cheap. Fortunately, the company sells refurbished models on its website at a significant discount. Select the model you’re after, be it a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, and filter by release year, screen size, finish, memory and storage space.
All models come with a one-year warranty, free delivery and returns and Apple guarantees that each product has been thoroughly tested and cleaned before being shipped. Additionally, your laptop will come packaged in a brand-new box with all the cables and accessories included with the original.
EuroPC specialises in refurbished Dell and HP laptops and you can search their extensive range by model number, RAM, GPU, hard drive, processor and a number of other specifications. Laptops are split up into the following conditions: New, New Opened Box, Manufacturer Refurbished or Renew (Certified Refurbished), Factory Refurbished and Second User Refurbished.
Manufacturer refurbished laptops have been returned to the manufacturer at some stage and restored to new in terms of function, while factory refurbished laptops may contain used or replaced parts. Second user refurbished relates to laptops that have been refurbished by a third-party before being acquired by EuroPC. Further details about the appearance of each laptop are provided under a separate heading Grading, which highlights any superficial blemishes the product may have.
EuroPC offers next-day delivery if you order before 3pm during the week, while warranties differ depending on which laptop you buy. The warranties vary from on-site manufacturer warranties of up to three years to limited warranties with EuroPC. Should you be unhappy with your purchase, EuroPC offers a 14-day money-back guarantee.
What about buying secondhand, non-refurbished laptops?
There are numerous issues that can crop up when buying a laptop secondhand. Besides our concerns about criminals selling on stolen laptops to unwitting customers, we should also warn you about battery life. If a laptop is a year to two years old (or more), the maximum battery life will be much shorter than it was when brand new. Across hundreds of charges, batteries run down and if you’re not getting a refurbished laptop, you may be purchasing a computer with a battery so knackered that you’ll never be able to stray far from a plug socket.
If you’ve resorted to getting a secondhand laptop over a new or refurbished device, you might want to start by looking closer to home. Friends and family may well have a laptop going spare, which they might sell to you for a discount price. Heck, if they like you enough, maybe you could get one for free!
The benefit of acquiring a laptop from a trusted source is that you know where it’s been whereas, when buying online, you really don’t. But let’s imagine nobody you know has a laptop to sell; below is a list of tips to guide you through purchasing a secondhand, non-refurbished laptop on the internet.
Buying a secondhand laptop: An essential checklist
Ask for an original receipt or proof of purchase
To make sure the item you’re buying is legitimate, ask for the physical or digital receipt. If the device is still within warranty, the receipt will come in handy for any claim you may need to make. Most sellers should offer this up without prompting – it’s usually shown among the photos in the product listing. If they don’t have one or refuse to hand it over, steer clear.
Check for a returns policy
You won’t find any casual sellers offering a returns policy, but some people sell goods on websites such as eBay professionally and have well-established eBay stores. Merchants like this sometimes offer a 30-day or even 90-day returns window in case you’re not satisfied with the product. Of course, 90 days is no match for a one year warranty on refurbished laptops, and you should also check to see how long the seller has been in business and read the customer reviews to make sure that they honor their policy.
Meet in a public space
When buying through a website like Gumtree, the buyer and seller typically meet in-person to make the exchange. If you can avoid it, try not to go to their home or any other secluded location. Agree to make the handover in the daytime in a busy area with plenty of people and CCTV around. Coffee shops are ideal.
Test it works
It’s an obvious one, but it’s important nonetheless. Turn on the laptop and play around with it for a few minutes. Examine it for external faults, and make sure all the charging components are present and correct. If anything worries you, don’t splash your cash. That slightly dodgy power socket won’t get stronger with more use.
Before you agree to meet the seller to buy it, double-check that the laptop has been factory reset. For numerous reasons, you really don’t want a device loaded with the personal login details, files and internet history of a stranger.
Avoid bringing out large sums of cash to the sale if you’re doing it in person. PayPal is a great option because the money is held by a middleman service before going to the seller. Having a digital record of the payment means that the seller is much easier to track down, should something go awry.
Which laptop should I buy, whether secondhand or refurbished?
Feeling overwhelmed by the range of laptops on the market? We can’t blame you. It will be much easier to make your purchase, whether it’s brand spanking new or factory refurbished, once you’ve narrowed down your search to just a few laptops really suit your personal requirements and budget.
And we’re here to help with that. If you’re after a fairly low-cost option, you may want to take a look at our lists of the best cheap laptops and laptops for students; if not, you could peruse our roundup of the best laptops for general use.
Finally, if esports is your thing, we’ve reviewed all the best specialist gaming laptops.