The idea of buying a “refurbished” variant of the best gaming PC – or any other used electronics, really – sounds inherently risky, doesn’t it? And yet, the global market for cheap gaming PCs and refurbished PCs, in particular, is growing rapidly and is expected to total a staggering eight billion dollars by 2031, as consumers seek better value for money and that the world is facing an urgent need to reduce e-waste.
However, buying refurbished PCs or components is not as risky as it used to be; A decent number of reputable PC building companies offer refurbished systems at deep discounts, and major electronics retailers now sell refurbished components as well as systems. Here we’ll detail the pros and cons of getting yourself a refurbished kit, and what to look for if you decide that’s what you want to do.
What do you get?
Obviously, the main benefit of getting a refurbished gaming PC (or individual component) is the price reduction that comes with it. This is especially true for complete systems, which will generally be cheaper than buying a full set of refurbished components and assembling them yourself.
But what is a “refurbished” product? It can mean a lot of things, and there’s no real way to discern which item you’re considering buying. In some cases, it was simply a product return or canceled order that cannot be resold at full price, or it may have been slightly damaged or non-functional.
Before it is sold as refurbished, any reputable seller will conduct rigorous testing to ensure that the PC or component operates as if new, except for any minor cosmetic defects (which must be listed in the product description). Note that some sellers will use different terms to refer to the refurbished kit, such as “renewed” or “recertified”.
Things to watch out for
The first thing to look for when buying a refurbished PC is: does it have a warranty? Otherwise, avoid. A lack of warranty – even 30 or 90 days – can be a sign that you’re about to be scammed by a dodgy renovator, so be sure to read the fine print before buying.
Ideally, you’ll be able to get a full warranty, but 90 days should be enough; if a component has been badly refurbished (or not refurbished at all), chances are it will fail before the end of this time frame. However, you shouldn’t be lax; when purchasing refurbished products, be sure to test them rigorously upon receipt, ideally using benchmarking software that will push the hardware to its limits – such as Prime95 for processors, or Single engine paradise for GPUs.
With individual components, especially when browsing used markets for the best graphics cards and best processors for gaming, be sure to search for “factory refurbished” or sometimes “OEM refurbished” in the description of the product. This means that the hardware was “supplied by the original manufacturer, making it a much more reliable purchase than a 3rd party refurbished kit. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to most gaming PCs, as the components inside will come from multiple manufacturers, but will always buy from the company that originally assembled the system when possible.
Also, for any budding PC builders considering buying refurbished parts, be sure to determine which components are the safest to buy. Power supplies are a big no-no, as a dodgy PSU could burn out your other components, but factory-restored CPUs and GPUs are generally a safe bet. Readers are generally fine too. Motherboards shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but check if the original packaging is included or not; there might be accessories in the box that you won’t want to be without.
When it comes to foreign hardware like monitors and keyboards, buy with caution. Refurbished gaming monitors may have been returned by the original purchaser due to a dead pixel or other graphical issue, while other devices may be fine provided you get them from the original manufacturer. Corsair runs a solid refurbished hardware store (opens in a new tab)which includes things like keyboards, headsets, and full-featured gaming computers.
Where should I buy?
As mentioned above, the safest place to buy refurbished electronics is always from the original manufacturer. However, not all manufacturers sell refurbished kits, so you may need to look further to find a refurbished gaming PC at a good price, especially when looking for an Alienware gaming PC, for example. .
Avoid general marketplaces like Amazon and eBay; it’s a good way to end up with a system that doesn’t work, and getting a refund can be a difficult process. Specialist electronics retailers can be a good cry, like Newegg in the US and LaptopsDirect in the UK.
There are also a plethora of companies that work exclusively with refurbished electronics, such as StoneRefurb. Be careful here, though; it’s best to do a little research on the seller first, even if it’s just a quick google search, to see if they’re legit. Trustpilot is a handy tool for this, giving you an external consumer review of the company. If you can’t find the vendor there, run for the hills!
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