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Your thoughts on refurbished or "recertified" computers

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / February 22, 2008 4:52 AM PST

Hello. I am curious, what are your thoughts on purchasing a refurbished or "recertified" computer, a desktop specifically? I need a fast one but cannot afford a brand new HP (my preferred product) now or even in the near future. Any suggestions or advice on buying these types of computers? And do you think my being partial to HP (I have all HP products as well) is probably the right thing, or do similar systems accept printers and scanners etc. if the brand is different? I hear so many different opinions and "problem stories," but I would love to hear yours if it is possible. Thank you kindly.

--Submitted by Julianne R.

If you have some suggestions or personal experience to share with Julianne, click on the reply and submit away! Thanks!
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Opinions on refurbished or "recertified" PCs
by rickbsr / February 22, 2008 10:58 AM PST

Forget about those computers. For a few hundred more you can buy new. Be king of the hill for about 1 hour. Then someone will come along and best you.

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refurbished or "recertified" PCs
by NewEnglander / February 23, 2008 7:43 AM PST

But I suspect that the "for a few hundred more" is what Julianne is trying to avoid.

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New Englander
by SOPADEFADEO / March 1, 2008 3:25 AM PST

Thanks for clearing that up!!

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I Disagree
by TimDLocklear / February 29, 2008 11:17 AM PST

Even though my business and I personally are very capable of affording brand-new computers, I nearly always purchase computers used (used, not even refurbished) to save money. I have never had a problem, and I have always got excellent systems at excellent deals.

The key is buying from reputable sellers. I always buy items from, from schools and colleges... because typically they are cleaned off with a fresh install of the operating system before you get them, and often very new. Sometimes they will only use them for one semester.

Now, that's talking about DESKTOPS... which in almost all cases are easy to repair or upgrade. I would never buy a laptop/notebook used, or even refurbished.

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The AGE of the system, and WHO you but it frrom, that's it!
by dcalhoun38581 / February 29, 2008 11:59 AM PST
In reply to: I Disagree

In another post, someone wrote:
The key is buying from reputable sellers. I always buy items from, from schools and colleges... because typically they are cleaned off with a fresh install of the operating system before you get them, and often very new. Sometimes they will only use them for one semester.

I agree completely. If a used or refurbished system is no more than one year old AND is a powerful system for its type, I see no problem with buying one. It can save a LOT of money for you and still provide at least 2 or 3 years of good functionality. However, if the system is a "cheap and not-so-powerful" one, it will likely not do what you want it do and thus not be worth buying.

As for HP.... well.... try buying replacement parts for such a highly proprietory system. It will cost as much as buying a new system!

Dennis C., MCSA

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by mrguy242 / February 29, 2008 12:15 PM PST

"As for HP.... well.... try buying replacement parts for such a highly proprietory system. It will cost as much as buying a new system!"

IBM is proprietary as well, Dell too but at least you can find Dell stuff on ebay.

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IBM isn't that proprietary
by bgcbgc / March 1, 2008 10:57 AM PST
In reply to: Ditto

I've bought replacement parts for IBM notebooks on EBay several times. It has never been a problem and they are always about half what IBM wants for the parts.

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it reallly depends
by gniw / March 1, 2008 12:13 PM PST
In reply to: Ditto

Dell or IBM, it is really the same: The cheap desktops are not proprietary (I've seen some with even lower build quality than no-name store-made PC's), but high-end stuff ARE proprietary; well, at least "proprietary" enough that you may have trouble upgrading its parts yourself.

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What's wrong with store-built PCs?
by rsimanski / March 1, 2008 4:08 PM PST
In reply to: it reallly depends

Your comment about no-name, store-built PCs needs clarification. As in any other human endeavor, there are good computer stores as well as ones that sell junk. If you can find a good computer store that stocks quality, name-brand components and has knowledgeable salespeople, and you are willing to spend between $900 and $1,200 for a desktop system, you can buy a system that will run rings around systems costing the same amount of money from Dell, HP, Gateway, or any other of the mass-market builders. In addition, you are more likely to get good technical support when you have a problem, although it may require you to bring the computer back to the store.

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by sloflo / March 1, 2008 10:24 PM PST

Definitely, knowing the reputation & recommendation of others that had to deal with this particular store is very important. But 1st consideration is, what do you want it for? Exactly what software will you be using? Let look at it this way, if you buy something and 4 weeks or 6 months latter someone tell you or convince you that you should have bought better and you end up feeling sorry you didn't, it will be to late. And remember, if that will be the case, don't hesitate & get what you want NOW. If I may had, get opinions from deferent people before you make that decision, but don't organize yourself to regret that decision latter, you will be miss all the FUN.

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hp pruducts
by kdreis / March 1, 2008 2:10 PM PST
In reply to: Ditto

I beg to differ with you. HP is not a propriatory system like IBM used to be. I have an HP computer and a lightscribe dvd /cd burner I have replaced the hard drive with a western digital and the memory with PNY. SO what's propriatory about HP

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hp products
by Powerstream / March 2, 2008 1:56 AM PST
In reply to: hp pruducts

Usally the motherboard, power supply, case are.

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Proprietary HP
by anna3333 / March 2, 2008 3:32 AM PST
In reply to: hp pruducts

My HP motherboard literally burned up because HP did not put ONE SINGLE CASE FAN in it. I didn't know about all that until it happened, then I educated myself and built my own last year. One of my better decisions. I would never even consider buying another HP computer.

HP has designed their case so that you cannot put anyother mobo in it - you HAVE to buy overpriced junk from them.

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by welrdelr / March 2, 2008 3:40 AM PST
In reply to: Proprietary HP

Tyhere's something called cannibalizing parts, learn how to do this.

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Build your own
by vic46 / March 3, 2008 12:52 PM PST
In reply to: learning

If your sticking to a particular brand, you are missing out on so much more of what's avialable out there. Proprietary systems are OK, but they are not the the begin and end all of the PC world. Hardware is cheap and you can usually put together a very nice system for less than what you would pay for a brand name run of the mill computer of the shelf.
My take on used systems is they stay on the shelf, spend a few extra bucks and put togther a new one, it's not that hard and the experience is priceless.

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Recertified computers VS New
by voodoohippie / March 2, 2008 8:01 AM PST
In reply to: Proprietary HP

If you don't know how to custom build a computer and must purchase a store shelf type computer I'd recommend a computer built BEFORE the most crappy piece of junk of an OS called Windows Vista was released. Believe me it doesn't matter how great the hardware is inside your computer when you have an OS that will crash or hog the life out of the computer's resources and memory. With a custom built PC you can decide which OS to have installed inside of your PC. But many store shelf computers Today are optimized for Windows Vista. Meaning if you want to go back to XP you may have to flash the BIOS (This cam make your computer into a paperweight if your not tech savy). Ask and MAKE SURE it doesn't have Vista on it. It should not matter much unless your a business person as to if the PC has the Home version of XP or Pro. Just as long as you have XP your safe. If your an unfortunate victim of Microsoft's ploy to force everyone to use Windows Vista, simply take the computer to a qualified tech (who hates Vista) to have them reformat your computer with Windows XP instead. You'll expect to spend $200 to have your computer repaired to working condition with windows XP (drivers and all). Plus if you love music and movies I suggest you get the biggest HDD and most RAM you can afford. My custom built computer has 2 GB RAM and a 400 GB internal HDD. Plus I've purchased an additional 400 GB external HDD before I went and had this machine biult so I can copy and share Music and Movies easily with friends. Asus makes great motherboards and for the sound card I'd recommend a 5.1 channel sound card (like the Soundblaster X-Fi Elite Pro). Many people are selling Used computers with XP on it for more than they've paid for them new since Vista is junk and many people will pay any price to have XP on their computers instead. So shop around for a good deal on a recertified computer with XP.

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Windows Vista
by kraftlos / March 4, 2008 5:13 AM PST

You're making it sound like Vista is some monster that is unusable and that Microsoft is trying to force down people's throats. Windows Vista is actually a very nice operating system if your computer is built to handle it. I've been using it for about 11 months now, and I think it's easier to use that my XP computer.

Vista has some nice features, it's very user friendly, it is designed to better manage multi-thread applications and make use of multi-core processors, it also has a number of other future-oriented features that will be very useful in a couple years. Vista runs great aside from some compatibility issues with older software so long as your system is new. Please stop spewing Vista hate, XP is going away and that's a fact. Get over it.

Now I would not buy a lower-end computer running Vista. Some unscrupulous manufacturers took their old products that were running xp and installed Vista on them. These dinosaurs barely could run XP and crawl with Vista on them. Some people also make the mistake of using 5+ year old hardware and trying to run Vista... bad idea. There's a reason Microsoft gives out a free Vista readiness benchmark test.

But I have no complaints about Vista, in fact I recommend you get at least some version of Vista if you can.

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No Need To Stick With HP MoBo
by icjamdav / March 8, 2008 10:30 AM PST
In reply to: Proprietary HP

I ran into the same problem. I bought another Case, one with lots of room for expansion, and migrated to it, problem solved.

I have found that has GREAT prices if you are not in a hurry, just check it out every day until they have what you want at the price you want to pay. I have found 2 cases there, one was an ALIEN and the other a THERMALTAKE, both are TOP SHELF cases with a bunch of room, and I was sure to buy cases that included the Power Source. I paid $70.00 for one and $105.00 for the other, a bargain for sure and no more restrictions on expansion.

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everything is too far ahead of what we really need
by vincentgavin / March 5, 2008 8:51 PM PST
In reply to: hp pruducts

buying 2nd hand parts is worth your while. i have a pc that does everything i need and more, but when i look at what's now out there, it totally beats the crap out of my pc, but who cares. don't step into the hype of buying something newer and faster. i think we've come to the point where even a system used two years before can handle what you need now.

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Double Ditto
by fasteddie565 / February 29, 2008 8:44 PM PST

I agree with the reputable seller part as well. I have been buying Dell refurb's for over 10 years and have received better service from them than with new machines. They have the same warranty and are much cheaper. Also, when buying from the Dell Outlet, always call before you buy. I find the machine I want, hold it in my cart and then call to see if the salesman can find me a better box for a better price. Signing up with a dell account and waiting for a good coupon is also an additional money saver. Laptops or desktops, I get great service from both. Dells are also easy to fix yourself with OTC parts, memory etc. HP is very proprietary and their software / drivers are much more intrusive and robust than necessary. Try the Dell Outlet!

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Buying used or refurbished
by glennamontgomery / March 1, 2008 12:36 AM PST
In reply to: Double Ditto

I have had a Dell Inspiron 8500 for several years, bought refurbished from Dell Outlet as well.It was loaded with everything including software I needed. I have had zero trouble with it, great service answering questions, and have had only to add a bit more memory. I suspect their line of desktops is the same fine quality. BTW I use my laptop for business and gaming as well.

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Yes to desk top computers. No to laptops
by melking / March 2, 2008 2:47 AM PST

I agree with a previous post. I have bought a refurbished desk top computer which worked like a charm and I saved a lot of money with it.

I have also bought a refurbished lap-top that gave me nothing but trouble. I finally gave the lap-top away to a geek who thought he could save it. I hope so.

Both machines were from well-recognized companies.

Adios. melking

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ditto on intrusive
by miklb / March 1, 2008 2:54 AM PST
In reply to: Double Ditto

i retired from prgmmng hp3000s and LOVED HP !
today, i avoid hp for any personal computing needs;
(really despise hp's pcs, printers, cameras & software !:)
they load way tooo many processes ... don't need 'em, don't want 'em .
(one printer came with a irreparable firmware bug)

i've had some successes with refurbished units ... again ...
the key is reputable dealers/sellers ... Dell Outlet, even eBay .

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too many prosesses in HP
by jjm77 / March 1, 2008 11:04 PM PST
In reply to: ditto on intrusive

I just bought a dv9334us hp notebook and a sl4278n 42 " media LCD tv
is there anything I can do, to get rid of these "processes". I have a Sony vaio desktop and that takes forever just to load all the start-up processes.

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Loading of Startup Progs
by mannski / March 7, 2008 10:43 AM PST

If you don't know how to tweak it(start up progs), you can use other softwares to do it. you can try ace utilities or tuneup utilities or the likes. Not only can you stop these programs from loading at startup, you can also clean your system of junk in your hdd and registry.

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Dell is not as "non-proprietory" as one might think...
by dcalhoun38581 / March 1, 2008 11:22 AM PST
In reply to: Double Ditto

Part of what fasteddie565 replied was:

>Dells are also easy to fix yourself with OTC parts, memory etc. HP is very proprietary and their software / drivers are much more intrusive and robust than necessary.

While it is true that HP is more proprietory than Dell, it is also true that Dell is not non-proprietory. Have you ever connected an off-the-shelf power supply to a Dell motherboard? dell makes their own motherboards and power supplies. They switch two wires on the otherwise standard connector and therein lies a deadly problem. Connect an off-the-shelf power supply to a Dell motherboard and POOF, the mobo is FRIED!

This leads to one very important reason why I prefer Gateway systems: There are no such completely proprietory hardware components in them.

Dennis C.,MCSA

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Switch a wire? My thoughts
by gilligan888 / March 2, 2008 5:59 AM PST

It is NOT true that dell switches a wire around, where did you see this? I have swapped dell motherboards and power supplies all around, into hp, gateways, etc. While there not fully NON-proprietary, these brands are almost completely NON-proprietary. Almost anything can be changed in them.

That being said, I would still be hesitant to buy any big name brands, I work with computers for a living and I have had problems with all of HP, Dell, Gateway, and even Sony computers, just to name a few. This why I know you can swap their parts around, I had to swap some parts between them to make a working computer out of them.

You take a chance with any computer you buy, just like a car. So I would say to take a chance with it, if you can find a cheap refurb it?s usually worth it, even if it?s a big name brand. I wouldn't spend a lot on a refurb though, try to find one for under $400.

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RE: Switch a wire? My thoughts
by dcalhoun38581 / March 7, 2008 4:48 AM PST

There is plenty of evidence that what I said is, or at least used to be, true. This link shows one of many threads in Dell Forum about the matter.


Other examples include the following:

An adapter to make an off-the-shelf ATX power supply work with a Dell ATX board can be found at

The later ATX boards from Dell got away from this, so I hear, but I don't know if their current BTX-like boards can use off-the-shelf power supplies or not.

Dennis C.

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So much for the links that I included
by dcalhoun38581 / March 7, 2008 4:51 AM PST

Well, that didn't do much good. My links were stripped. Sorry, I didn't know they do that. Anyway, if anyone wants those links, let me know where I can email them to you.

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Old computers were more propriatary (very old)
by gilligan888 / March 7, 2008 12:02 PM PST

It seems to me that you were referring to the old AT computers. The ones that came before ATX. Those are ancient now, yes that many years ago dell may have been making them more propriatary, along with all the other brands. I've seen some old hp's, some IBM's and especially gateways that did not have interchangable parts. they were very propriatary (and very old), but that is a thing of the past now.

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