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"As Is" Retail PCs
Some retail stores and online vendors occasionally sell machines that are marked for sale "as is". These are not really a distinct PC type but most often retail pre-packaged PCs, usually priced down from their original cost. They sometimes appear to have been used, and may not be in their normal retail packaging.
As always, I let cynicism be my guide when considering anything out of the ordinary. :^) I ask myself: why would a store sell a particular machine "as is" for a lower price than the model normally commands? They are clearly trying to move the machine to someone who is price-conscious, but what is the reason? This is in fact the first question with these units: finding out why they are being sold "as is". Usually, it is for one of the following three reasons: the unit was returned after being sold to another customer; it was a floor model; or there is something missing from the retail package.
The other important question to determine is what the "as is" status of the PC means. Usually the manufacturer will still honor a full warranty on the PC, but the vendor may not allow returns on such a unit. However, sometimes a system is marked "as is" simply to make it clear that the unit is not "brand spanking new", or that it doesn't have a box, or something is wrong with it. You need to find out what the situation is with that particular PC, and how the vendor handles sales of such merchandise.
By knowing the answer to these two key questions, you can decide if the system is one you would feel comfortable considering. In general, my advice with these units, especially if you aren't 100% sure of "what's wrong with them" is simply to stay away. However, there can be some good deals here, if you know what you are doing and get lucky.
For example, sometimes an "as is" machine will be identical to a new retail-boxed unit except for a minor blemish on the case, or a missing user manual, or something else that's relatively minor. For many people, saving $50 or more on a system for a minor inconvenience of this sort is worthwhile. Nobody likes to buy a product with a scratch or scuff on it, yet within a few weeks most people will have put their own scratches and scuffs on the device anyway. :^)
On the other hand, buying floor models can be very risky: do you want a PC that has been sitting in a retail store for months with hundreds of people banging on the keyboard and mussing with the Windows setup? If a machine was returned after being previously sold, did the original owner "do" anything to it, and would you be able to tell before you got the machine home? Be especially careful if that store marks as is units "final sale".