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Refurbished or Remanufactured PCs
Description: These systems are very similar to regular retail PCs, except that they are not brand-new machines being sold as new to the customer. They are generally created by a manufacturer from parts salvaged from older machines, systems returned for repair, floor models that could not be sold "as is", and so on. You can think of these systems as being a "cross" of sorts between new retail PCs and used PCs (though they are much closer to retail PCs than used ones.)
Advantages: These machines have most of the advantages of retail PCs; see that section for more. Relative to a new retail unit, the only advantage of a refurbished unit is cost--they can be from one to several hundred dollars cheaper than a comparable new unit. Of course, that's a pretty big advantage.
Disadvantages: All of the disadvantages of new retail PCs, with one or two important "extras". :^) The main issue with these units is risk: you are not buying a new retail unit but rather one that has been "remade". In some cases there are potential quality issues compared to a new unit. If you are careful, though, you can get a good deal on a good system. These systems also often have inferior warranty coverage to new units, and may have other drawbacks as well.
Notebook Availability: High. Remanufactured notebooks are popular, especially amongst the budget-conscious, due to the very high cost of new notebooks.
Most Common Sources: These systems are found at almost every source type. They are probably most commonly sold by retail stores and catalog mail-order houses.
Recommended Uses: Any situation where a system is needed while keeping to a budget, and where the buyer doesn't absolutely require a new PC. Not well-suited to an application where reliability is of paramount concern.
Cost: Usually around $1,000 to $2,000.
Special Considerations: Personally, I'm not a big fan of remanufactured merchandise in general: I am generally suspicious of anything that isn't being sold "brand new". At the same time, I recognize that this is largely due to a bias on my part, one that is shared by many others. Some items I wouldn't even consider buying refurbished. When it comes to PCs though, remanufactured PCs can be just as good as a fully brand new unit, because of the modular nature of PC systems.
By far the most important tip when looking at a system of this sort, is to be absolutely, positively sure of exactly what you are buying. Check the system out in person: if it is "re"-manufactured by a big-name company, and it looks and behaves just like a new unit, it may not be much different from one. Ask the salesperson what the differences are, and insist on specifics. Watch out for vendors that just repackage used items and call them "refurbished"--they aren't, they are just used.
Warning: I would be very
cautious about ordering a remanufactured system by mail order or over the Internet. Also,
watch out for remanufactured units that are sold with a very short (or even no) warranty.
Find out exactly what the terms are for service and support.
Next: Used PCs