When it comes to buying a Mac, your budget will weigh in a lot for the final decision: should you buy a new one, a refurbished one, or a used one? The obvious choice would be a new one purchased directly from Apple (in store or online) or from an authorized Apple Reseller, but as you already know, Macs aren't cheap computers so any opportunity to save money is welcome. This is likely when a refurbished or used Mac option might be considered, so long as you don't mind using older hardware.
What Should You Expect from a Refurbished Mac?
While a refurbished product isn't a brand new one, it still undergoes a professional refurbishment process before it ends up being offered for sale. If you opt to purchase a refurbished Mac from Apple, it's worth bearing in mind that while these Macs are the ones users have returned to the company for some reason – potentially a fault – every single unit is still evaluated to ensure it meets the company's quality standards before going back on sale.
This means that refurbished products (not just those offered for sale by Apple, but those from trusted refurbished Mac sellers, too) undergo full functionality testing, and defective modules identified during the testing are replaced. It's important to note that besides cleaning your hard drive of junk the hardware also needs to be cleared from time to time, a process every refurbished Mac goes through.
Where to Buy a Refurbished Mac?
Just as the Mac hardware receives necessary fixes after being sent in to Apple, the software also gets either updated or reinstalled meaning you’ll receive a clean install of the latest macOS supported by the Mac when buying from Apple. And the best thing of all is that all refurbished Macs come with Apple's one-year limited warranty, as well as the option to purchase an AppleCare Protection Plan with your Apple Certified Refurbished Product. But to get that AppleCare plan you'll need to purchase the device direct from Apple.
This way you’ll benefit from a nice saving, especially if you have the opportunity to buy a one- or two-year-old piece of hardware.
However, when buying from Apple, you'll still need to pay extra, even for refurbished Macs. For example, the same 4K iMac with Retina display from 2015, which was sold by Apple as a refurbished product for $1,019 (that's a 21% discount from its original price of $1,299), can be picked up from Amazon for as low as $899.98. The trick is that Amazon is not an Apple–authorized seller, so you'd better take a look at the platform's return policy – especially the information in the small print.
Other reliable sources for refurbished Macs are MacSales and mac of all trades. Their pricing is close to Apple's, but still lower. When choosing any of these options you’ll have a guarantee of a working product, a one-year warranty, and at least a 14-day money back return policy.
Of course even more can be saved by buying a used Mac from eBay, but before you jump on an auction or a Buy It Now item just consider the fact that you are taking a risk by shelling out money for a device that may not be in the working condition you might expect and you won’t be protected by any warranty or the like.
Extend the Lifespan of an Old Mac With Upgrades
Before you start looking for a new(er) Mac, why not consider extending the lifespan of your computer by investing in hardware upgrades, such as maxing out its RAM and replacing your hard drive with an SSD. By doing so the device will earn a new lease of life, and it will be able to serve you for a couple more years. That's a significant saving compared to the price of a new or even refurbished Mac.
Still, if you have already made your mind up and need to sell your Mac to be able to finance the newer one, don't forget to wipe it by following our guide. That's the only way to protect your privacy and data saved on that Mac.
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