The upside to knowing the 10 things to check before buying a refurbished laptop is that it saves you a lot of frustration and headaches.
Refurbished laptops are highly desirable because you can get a healthy functional laptop for about 25% off the original price.
Hence, anyone on a budget can easily afford them. A tight budget can get you a bigger refurbished laptop that has more advanced features than a new one at the same cost.
Additionally, it has become extremely easy to find refurbished devices, including laptops; you may find them online from manufacturers or retailers.
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But, as it is with buying a refurbished car, neglecting to carry out proper checks and balances before buying it can do you more harm than good.
For instance, depending on the things you fail to check, you may get a refurbished laptop with terrible battery health or one with broken and non-functional ports.
Neither is good, and in most cases, these issues cannot be fixed or cost too much in cases where they can be fixed.
To prevent you from making this mistake, we have compiled a list of 10 things to check before buying a refurbished laptop.
10 Things to Check Before Buying A Refurbished Laptop
Check 1: Confirm that there is no physical damage.
You may not correctly judge a book by the covers, but you can correctly guess that a laptop has some issues if it contains physical damage.
Most damage to a laptop’s body occurs when dropped accidentally against a hard surface. If a fall is significant enough to damage the body, there is a chance it may have damaged something on the inside as well.
Aside from that, you don’t want to purchase a laptop that you cannot confidently flaunt because the body is terrible to look at.
So check the casing and screen to ensure there are no scratches or cracks. Then open and close the laptop a few times to ensure the hinges work smoothly.
Next, test the keypad and trackpad to ensure all is in order. While you might not know which key works and which doesn’t or whether or not the trackpad responds until you turn the laptop on, you can still check the health of this two hardware by properly inspecting them at this stage.
Check 2: Give the hard drive a good listen.
Once you are satisfied with what the outside looks like, it is time to check the insides. The first thing to do is to turn the laptop on.
While at it, confirm that the power button works without getting stuck or requiring too much pressure.
As the laptop turns on, carefully listen to the sound the hard drive makes. A good hard drive should turn on without making any unusual sounds.
Hearing a clucking or grinding noise is a sign of a bad hard drive that may need instant replacement. And before you overlook this fact, remember that a 2TB hard drive may cost as low as $80 and as high as $120.
And the last thing you want is to spend extra money fixing a laptop when all you wanted in the first place was to save some money.
Check 3: Confirm the OS
Unlike used laptops, refurbished laptops often get their OS updated to the latest version before getting shipped out. Hence, you will want to confirm that this is the case with your potential unit.
Once the laptop is fully turned on, confirm that the OS is activated, then ask the seller what OS they have installed and use that information to confirm what is available on the laptop.
Then be sure it is authentic and licensed. This will help you later down the line when your laptop gets exposed to viruses and bugs or even data leakage.
The right OS will help protect you against the above, while the fake ones will allow any malware through.
Check 4: Check for speed and performance.
Speed helps a laptop perform tasks swiftly and quickly, and performance ensures it can handle the tasks without crashing.
Both features depend on the size of the random access memory (RAM); hence you will need first to check to see that your RAM is in great condition and that it is big enough to handle most of the things you will be using on the laptop for.
Some refurbished laptops come with about 2GB RAM, while others may have as high as 4GB. 2GB may suffice for many basic operations, while anything less may be considered a bad investment.
Check 5: Test the CPU and GPU
The CPU and GPU are just as important as the RAM size as they also affect the speed and performance of your refurbished laptop, so you will want to check with those as well.
Start with the CPU by opening the burner and pressing “Start” to see how smoothly that operation runs. If the laptop hangs, flickers briefly, or shuts down completely, then the hardware may be faulty, and the laptop should be left alone.
Next, test the GPU by opening some applications or playing some games. A good GPU will allow those tasks to run smoothly, while a faulty GPU will cause the screen to flicker or become distorted once the operations are initiated.
Some older models of laptops don’t even come with a dedicated GPU, and this in itself should be a red flag if you intend to use that for even basic activities like gaming or creating videos.
Check 6: Check the speakers and camera.
Just because it is a refurbished unit doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy music and videos on your laptop. So you will want to confirm that the speakers are working great.
Start by playing a song and listening to how it sounds. If you hear titers or cracking sounds, it could be an indication that the speakers are ruined.
Then check to see if the laptop has a functional camera application for a webcam. The last thing you need is a refurbished laptop that requires you to purchase extra hardware for the webcam.
Check 7: See if it has dead pixels on the laptop screen
Once you are satisfied with the working conditions of the speakers and cameras, you want to make sure nothing interferes with the screen display.
Dead pixels are these tiny parts of the screen that no longer works. When a laptop has a dead pixel or a few, it will not have a full display on the screen.
To test for this, play a video and make sure every part of the screen is displaying as it should.
Check 8: Test the ports and input units.
Once you are satisfied with the insides of your refurbished laptop, you want to come back to the outside to finish the inspection.
The next checks are the ports. Check the charging port to ensure it is working correctly; otherwise, you will have to spend extra money fixing it later as that is a must-have for any laptop.
Then check to see that all the USB ports are working correctly. You can do this using a clean Flash drive or a USB cord.
Other inputs that need testing include the microphone port, the earpiece jack, and the HDMI port.
Check 9: Check the cooling fan.
Still, lift the laptop to check the cooling fan on the outside. You cannot ignore this area as a faulty cooling fan will cause the laptop to heat up too quickly, crash it, and damage it in no time.
The laptop should not be making too much noise from the cooling fan and should not emit too much heat. A little spinning noise and mild heat are normal, but anything out of the ordinary implies you need to check another laptop.
Check 10: Check the battery.
The battery is most likely the most important part of the 10 things to check before buying a refurbished laptop.
This is because a laptop is only as good as its battery. The healthier the battery and the longer it lasts, the more productive you can be with that gadget.
Bad batteries die too quickly or go off without warning. So first, you need to confirm the battery’s health, and once you see that that it is near 100% (if not 100%), you can check how long it lasts without a charger.
To do this, charge until full, disconnect the charger and allow the laptop to work until the battery runs low.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to go to YouTube, search for a video, and play it on full screen for 5 minutes before checking the battery percentage again.
Regardless of what the battery health reads on the laptop screen, a bad battery would drop by a few percentages within that 5 minutes.
What’s A Refurbished Laptop?
Now that we know the 10 things to check before buying a refurbished laptop let us understand what a refurbished laptop is.
Most people confuse refurbished laptops for used laptops as the term is often used interchangeably. But these are not the same terms.
A refurbished laptop can be defined as one that has been disassembled, extensively reconditioned, and tested before being pushed back into the market.
They are not “fresh from the manufacturing plants,” but they haven’t been used for extended periods either.
They are computers that have been returned to the retailers or manufacturers by the first owners sometimes after a brief use or no use at all.
The reason for returning them may differ according to the owner, but the most common ones include shipping accidents or failure to meet the buyer’s expectations.
Once returned, the laptops are torn apart by refurbishers, and each part is tested for damages before being coupled together. The faulty parts are then removed, and the OS is updated to the newest versions.
The refurbishers also completely wipe the data if need be before repackaging and sending it to stores and retailers.
Major manufacturers like Dell and HP often back the entire process, and a warranty is usually issued.
Is It A Good Idea To Buy Refurbished Laptops?
Yes, buying a refurbished laptop is a great idea for two reasons; cost and quality delivery.
Compared to a brand new laptop of the same model, a refurbished laptop is way less and can save you almost 25% off when you buy them.
Therefore a user can get a fantastic offer while on a tight budget. Refurbished laptops allow you to obtain the same device but at a cheaper and more affordable rate.
Secondly, as a matter of principle, refurbished laptops have to pass through intense inspection and testing. Trained factory personnel have to properly inspect and vet a refurbished unit before repackaging and resold.
This translates to better quality and ensures that you do not purchase something less than the optimal unit.
It can be argued that some brand new computers do not enjoy the type of thorough inspections that refurbished units have to pass through.
In addition, a refurbished laptop often comes with updated software and the latest operating system at no extra cost for the buyer.
How Can You Tell If A Laptop Is Refurbished?
The best way to tell if a laptop is refurbished or not is to confirm the serial number; if it letters and numbers on the left end with an “R,” then that laptop is refurbished, and if it doesn’t, then it is not refurbished.
Serial numbers are usually divided into two parts with a “#” in-between. For instance, CN127BA#CDA could be the serial number of a laptop that hasn’t been refurbished. At the same time, the refurbished one would have the serial number CN127BAR#CDA to indicate to buyers that it has been reworked and repackaged.
Turn the laptop on its back and read the serial number as inscribed at the back or behind the battery compartment to check for this.
Another way of checking for refurbishment involves opening the command prompt and typing c:>wmic bios get the serial number to obtain the BIOS serial number and then comparing that with the serial number you find at the back of the laptop. If the two serial numbers vary, then the laptop has been refurbished.
Some refurbishers may even leave a label at the back of the laptop that reads, “This is a refurbished laptop and contains used parts.”
Cost is on top of the most common reasons most people buy a refurbished laptop. They are cheaper to obtain compared to newer ones.
However, no one wants to buy a used laptop passed off as a refurbished unit, or a hand refurbished laptop as they often bring more pains than gains.
Hence, we have put together the 10 things to check before buying a refurbished laptop to avoid making a bad investment.