Should You Buy a Refurbished Mac: Pros & Cons.
Apple computers are very fond of. They feature industry leading build quality. User-friendly software ecosystem and near-universal design. Unfortunately, they also have some of the most compelling price tags in the personal computer industry.
The good news is that you can buy a Mac directly from Apple for a significant discount. Often in the 15-20% range. The only problem is that the Mac in question was previously owned by someone else. These “refurbished” Macs can be very tempting, but is it worth buying a refurbished Mac?
New Vs. Is your Mac OS refurbished?
First, in this article, we’re referring to Apple’s own repair program. No third party repair. So how does it work?
Essentially, Apple collects used products from a variety of sources. For example, they offer discounts for shoppers who buy new products. If these Macs are good enough to be restored, Apple will include them in the program. If not, they will be recycled appropriately.
Apple cleans, tests, repairs, or replaces whatever they need. The product then looks like new. It is packaged in new packaging, includes accessories and comes with a one-year warranty. Yes, by and large the discount is pretty small, but by all accounts, Apple’s update program is pretty thorough.
So, if you decide to go this route, what are the pros and cons to consider?
Pro: Better features with the same money
Macs usually have rather modest specs, despite being quite expensive. This means that the Mac you really want may make way for a slower Mac that falls in your price range.
Since Apple often takes its time when it comes to updating its Mac models, moving from a refurbished Mac can give you a Mac one notch higher than you could possibly afford at new prices. This can mean the difference between a normal user experience and a great one.
This is especially true when it comes to storage on board. Apple only charges a significant amount of money for storage, which means that the savings you get on a refurbished model may well be enough to get you more convenient storage for the same price.
Pro: 1 year warranty
You get the same warranty on a refurbished Mac as on a new one. For all intents and purposes, Apple treats these computers the same in terms of warranty and support.
It’s certainly better than getting a shorter warranty, as some other computer manufacturers might have done, but it’s also a double-edged sword. As we will find out when we get to the cons of this solution.
Pros: It’s clean (physically)
Buying a used Mac directly from the previous owner can bring you serious savings, but it can also bring home new friends you haven’t invited. Yes, from cockroaches to germs, the average person is not going to give you a clean Mac.
It’s not even their fault. Macs are generally not user serviceable. Apple has the tools and trained technicians that can open this Mac and really clean it thoroughly. This makes things better.
Pro: It can be cheaper than buying a used Mac elsewhere in the long term
If you buy a used Mac directly from its previous owner or (for example) a pawn shop, you are likely to get it at a significantly higher discount than after a refurbishment. However, if this Mac needs any kind of professional repair, you will have to pay a huge bill for the job to be done by a certified repair technician.
If you take the risk and something goes wrong, it is often not worth spending money on repairs, which means that you will be left without a used Mac and money spent on buying one.
Because the refurbished Mac comes with a one-year warranty and is eligible for the optional AppleCare program, you have a way to access Apple repair services for a single, predictable price that you can factor into your total cost of ownership. From this point of view, it makes a lot of sense if only the trade used is really incredibly good.
Con: A one-year Warranty
What is it? Didn’t we say this is in the pros column? Well, this is a double-edged sword. Refurbished Macs can be quite old, especially since Apple updates them so rarely.
In other words, while the guarantees are the same, the new product has a wear advantage, which brings us to our next point.
Con: You usually get an older device
As mentioned above, Apple has been pretty slow in updating Macs over the years. This creates an interesting situation where a refurbished device may be the same model as the current or previous model, but is actually quite old in absolute terms. This means that fans, hinges, keyboard switches, etc. could be subject to significant wear and tear.
Mechanical hard drives and solid state drives are also more likely to fail as they age, and components such as screen backlights are also more likely to die with age. These components may not be considered a problem during the repair process, but may fail immediately after the one-year warranty, which is included in the base price.
One way to get around this is to only buy refurbished versions of Mac models that have recently been updated. This way you know that the production date cannot be earlier than the update took place.
Conclusion: Should you buy a refurbished Mac?
At the end of the day, you need to weigh whether the little discount these machines get on Apple’s build quality. If any component that Apple missed is on the brink of failure, you have to either hope it fails during the one-year warranty, or shell out extra money on AppleCare.
If you were not going to get Apple Care on a new Mac, that would offset your costs. However, if you were considering purchasing an iCare anyway, buying a refurbished model still provides the exact same savings overall. Therefore, we sincerely recommend getting a refurbished Mac along with Apple’s extended warranty under these conditions.
On the other hand, if you only plan on using the included one-year warranty, the small savings you get with a refurbished model doesn’t offset the increased risk of some components failing in the medium term.
Another factor to consider is the Apple trade-in program. If you have a suitable old Apple product, you can get a much larger discount on a new Mac compared to the small discount that refurbished Macs usually offer. Since you can’t trade your device for a repair, this is probably the best deal overall.
So, overall, buying a renovation is relatively safe. This is a better deal than buying a used Mac elsewhere and should be seriously considered if your budget is entirely dependent on the little discount they get. If you’re not going to get Apple Care, or can get by with a slightly lower spec machine, it’s generally much better to buy the best new Mac you can afford.