New computers are fairly inexpensive now, but refurbished computers are the cheapest of all. 

Refurbishing carries with it the idea that somehow the computer has been rebuilt because there were serious problems. In fact, this is almost never the case, not least because rebuilding would usually cost more in labor and parts than you could get for the computer.

Dell, for example, has long had a policy of taking any computer that’s been returned and marking it for sale as refurbished, even if it’s never been out of the box. Why would it have computers returned that had never been out of their shipping boxes? Well, schools and businesses and government agencies often order more computers than they actually need and so they send the extras back.

Bob ordered one of Dell’s refurbished computers a few years back; there were no problems and it still works fine. All of Dell’s refurbished computers come with a full warranty, and this is generally true with other companies as well.

We did a search around the Web and found that users were generally quite satisfied with refurbished computers from Dell ( and a less well-known seller, Public Surplus gets most of its computers from schools, and many of these have been used for only one semester. It sells tons of items, only some of which are computers, through online auctions, much like eBay.

Hewlett-Packard refurbished computers got less-than-stellar comments from blogs we looked at, not because of anything wrong with the machines, but because of H-P’s intrusive and sometimes peculiar software. If you’re technically hip, this can be removed, of course. One of the best sources is often your local newspaper; companies going out of business or changing offices will usually unload their computers for just a few dollars.

In general you can save anywhere from $100 to $1000 by buying a refurbished computer, the savings depending on how powerful a machine. The older the computer, the less you will have to pay, but very few are more than two years old and most are less than one year old.


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