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When to Buy Refurbished vs. New PCs

Businesses of all sizes typically provide employees with company-owned personal computers (PCs) to ensure the security of their proprietary data and intellectual property. No organization wants to over-invest in equipment and should aim to purchase machines for each employee that best aligns with each individual worker’s specific role.

Choosing From Desktops, Laptops and Workstations

There are three general types of PCs that companies must select from: desktops, laptops and workstations.


Desktops are typically found in tower-shaped form factors and require separate purchases of peripheral components: display, keyboard and mouse. As the name implies, they sit on (or under) a desk. They aren’t convenient to move around, so they’re effectively tethered to the office, which is a plus for companies that don’t want machines to leave the premises.


Unlike a desktop, the display, mouse, and keyboard are all baked into a laptop’s extremely portable form factor. They’re great for employees that need to take their work home with them or on business trips. Previously, desktops boasted considerably stronger performance than laptops, but that gap narrowed over the past several years. The primary differentiator between the two today, besides a laptop’s greater mobility, is how easy it is to open up a desktop to replace or upgrade parts.


Workstations, although they resemble desktops in appearance, stand apart from the other two categories. They deliver significantly better performance and can accommodate error correcting code (ECC) memory to support demanding applications that are either graphically intensive or deal with very large datasets.

Selecting Condition: New vs. Used vs. Refurbished

Besides having to choose between the three major PC categories, businesses must determine the desired condition for each PC purchase: new, used or refurbished. New machines come directly from the manufacturer and are leaving the supply chain for the very first time. Used machines were previously owned by a customer and are resold without any professional scrutiny—the quality and performance is a gamble. Refurbished PCs, on the other hand, were purchased by a customer previously, but a professional reconditions the machines to a like-new state by replacing all the components, wiping the system clean, and putting it through rigorous testing to ensure quality. But not all refurbished PCs have been previously owned. Law prohibits the sale of returned computers as new, even if they haven’t been opened, which happens to be the story for a significant portion of refurbished PCs.

Although used PCs are generally the cheapest, adding a computer to the company’s fleet with faulty components or malicious data lurking in the hard drive is not worth the risk. Therefore, when considering new PCs, companies ought to choose between new or refurbished. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.

Refurbished PCs


Refurbished PCs can save businesses over 25% in comparison to purchasing a new machine. As new generations of a given product line are released, refurbished versions of previous releases tend to see their prices reduced – a great time to buy!


Some OEM manufacturers, unfortunately, only provide firmware updates for newer PCs purchased directly from them. There is a slight security risk to not having the latest firmware installed. Therefore, businesses must consider if the perceived risk of not having the latest firmware installed is worth the aforementioned cost savings. However, when a refurbished PC is purchased from a professional reconditioner it is often possible to secure a warranty that is longer and more intensive than that offered by the OEM. So if anything does happen, you are covered.


Considering it’s typically more difficult to come by a refurbished version of a recently released model, it’s likely a reconditioned machine is at least one generation behind. This means the refurbished PCs capabilities aren’t as robust as the latest version. That being said, professional refurbishers often allow customers to configure refurbished machines with key components upgraded beyond the standard OEM offering. With the added customization you can close any performance gaps between generations. It’s also important to note that a refurbished machine could have been used and some of the components that weren’t replaced upon reconditioning could have had some of their usable life consumed. This potentially could shorten the lifespan of the entire PC. Normally, refurbishers offer warranties around these expirable components for this reason to offer peace of mind that if something fails, it will be replaced.

Use Cases

Beyond cost savings, there are additional use cases for buying refurbished PCs versus new models. New machines tend not to come with legacy media readers, such as CD/DVD drives or SD card readers. If a company is still reliant on those older storage mediums or actively converting data on them to cloud storage platforms, they would need machines that can support them, and the best chance of finding them is in older, reconditioned models. Similarly, if a business has a stock of working displays that use older display ports other than HDMI (DVI-D, Mini Display, or VGA), they are more likely to find those inputs on previous generations. The same concept applies to software—if a business does not have the budget to upgrade an application to a recent generation, they may need to maintain PCs that can support legacy operating systems. Since new PCs generally come with the latest operating system, these companies must turn to vendors that include legacy operating systems installed on refurbished PCs.

New PCs

Latest Technology

When a computer is refurbished, it’s off the market for months for repairs. By the time it hits the market, it could have become a legacy system with components that might be one or more generations behind the newest models. If an employee would greatly benefit from incremental performance gains, then purchasing a new PC may be worth the additional investment, since it comes with the latest iteration of every component, meaning more robust performance and efficiency overall.

Updates from OEM

Purchasing a new PC means the machines will receive all firmware updates for the underlying hardware for years to come from the manufacturer. This eliminates the minor security risk that comes with not getting those software updates.

Support directly from OEM

Original manufacturers generally only provide technical support, warranties, and repairs for new machines purchased directly from them. But sometimes this comes at an added cost whether it be money, or time and frustration spent dealing with overseas support staff. Businesses should definitely ensure they have support for the investments they make, but they likely could secure more intensive local support by purchasing through a value added reseller or a refurbisher.

Longer Life Span

With a new computer, every major and minor component is guaranteed new and never used. This ensures the longest lifespan out of a PC, but often OEM warranties expire long before your PCs demise.


Several OEMs offer security tools that are included with the purchase of a new PC. This could eliminate the need to purchase additional cyber security software depending on your business needs. Combine that with the end point security that some of the major PC manufacturers are now offering with new PCs and you have a solidly secure computer. These added levels of security are not included if you purchase a refurbished machine.

Use Cases

For employees working with applications that require robust performance and storage, a new PC is appropriate because they usually come with more powerful CPUs and memory, as well as denser hard drives. When a business has modern displays that require an HDMI connection, new machines are also worth the investment, as refurbished models are typically older generations that feature legacy ports. When it comes to laptops and all-in-one computers (AIOs), legacy model displays have weaker resolutions. Therefore, employees responsible for graphically intensive tasks could benefit from new machines.

One final important consideration is eco-friendliness. PCs get more energy efficient with every release. A new machine would require less power and more likely boasts Energy Star Certification. The physical designs are also more compact, meaning less e-waste when it’s time to dispose of them.


Business could save considerable costs when purchasing a refurbished PC. It may even be necessary to go the refurbished route if they are still dependent on older ancillary technology, such as legacy storage mediums and displays. New PCs will put more strain on the budget, but they are appropriate investments for employees that are dealing with a company’s most sensitive data or graphically intensive applications. The ultimate aim for any business should be to secure the ideal type of PC in the appropriate condition for each worker based on his or her specific responsibilities to ensure maximum productivity without having to pay more than necessary.

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