Our comprehensive guide to buying refurbished laptops in the UK
Refurbished laptops are the way to go if you’re looking to pick up a portable PC on the cheap.
They may not be as glamorous as brand new devices, but refurbished laptops operate exactly as they did when they left the factory and typically cost a fraction of the price.
The only real differences between refurbished laptops and their factory-fresh counterparts are potential cosmetic blemishes and the length of the warranty. If there isn’t a warranty on the refurbished laptop you’re considering buying, we’d advise you to look elsewhere.
With a whole host of online retailers offering cut-priced renewed devices, it can be hard to know where to begin your search for a refurbished laptop. That’s where we come in.
We’ve put together a list of the most trustworthy outlets for buying refurbished laptops in the UK so you can save money while safe in the knowledge that your purchase is backed up by a solid guarantee. Additionally, we’ve highlighted a couple of attractive refurbished laptop deals that we deem worthy of your attention.
If you decide a refurbished laptop isn’t for you but are considering buying one secondhand, we’ve got you covered, too. Our secondhand laptop buying guide provides some handy pointers to keep in mind when making a purchase online or in person.
For those that aren’t sold on either a refurbished or secondhand laptop but want to save a few quid on a new device, our best laptop deals page is regularly updated with the best laptop bargains around.
Refurbished laptops: Our favourite offers this month
Where are the best places to buy a refurbished laptop in the UK?
Laptops Direct is one arm of the Direct conglomerate, which sells all manner of refurbished goods, including TVs, furniture and mobile phones. With an aggregate rating of four out of five stars from over 10,000 reviews on Trustpilot, it’s a site you can trust when in search of a refurbished laptop. Not only is it trustworthy, but you’ll find some great deals on there – we’ve seen Dell, Acer Predator and Apple laptops going for up to £400 less than the brand-new models on Amazon or Currys PC World.
There are plenty of other advantages to shopping with Laptops Direct; it offers a one-year warranty for all laptops, delivers free of charge to the majority of the UK and has next day delivery options. Laptops Direct also runs a trade-in scheme that could save you up to £300 off your new refurb when you hand over your old laptop. And that’s on top of the hundreds you’ll already be saving by going the refurbished route rather than buying one brand new.
There is also the option to pay monthly if you can’t afford the full cost upfront, something that sets it apart from competitors such as Amazon. Laptops Direct grades its refurbs based on quality. Grade A1 laptops are either unused (but have a broken box seal) or have been refurbished by the manufacturer and are free of cosmetic damage. As such, they will look and run just like a brand-new model. If you can afford it, A1 is definitely the way to go. A2 graded laptops might have some minor blemishes, while Grade A3 laptops will have visible marks and dents. If you don’t mind your laptop looking a little rough around the edges, though, the savings will be significantly greater than buying a higher graded model.
4. Music Magpie
Warranty: 12 months
Music Magpie began life as a business buying and reselling CDs out of founder Steve Oliver’s garage back in 2007. It’s since become the most popular seller on eBay and has expanded its product offering to include just about every product imaginable, including books, Blu-rays, smartphones and laptops.
The company buys devices from members of the public before refurbishing them and says it conducts “up to 90 tests” on some tech products to ensure they’re up to scratch before being resold. It offers a 12-month warranty on all refurbished laptops along with a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with your purchase.
With an average Trust Pilot rating of 4.7 from over 180,000 reviews, it’s a site you can trust and its laptops fall into one of three condition categories – Good, Very Good and Pristine. It primarily sells Apple laptops, though we have seen a few Windows laptops available on there, too.
When buying a laptop on Amazon, there are three categories of condition: new, pre-owned and certified refurbished (aka Amazon Renewed). New laptops are, well, new, and obviously the most expensive option. Used laptops sold by third parties can range wildly in terms of condition; a seller may describe the product as “like new”, but that’s a subjective assessment. Used laptops on Amazon may have been given a quick wipe down with a cloth and put back in their box or could be missing key components.
Because of this, you’re best off going with a laptop with the Amazon Renewed stamp. These are backed up by the Amazon Renewed Guarantee and have been returned to the manufacturer, repaired and shipped back out. Apart from the plain packaging and generic accessories, everything else about the laptop will match its brand new equivalents – and it will be significantly cheaper. It’s also extremely easy to browse for laptops on Amazon as you can filter your search by price, brand, size, and internal components.
Warranties last a full year so you can buy with confidence, and Prime members will typically benefit from the lightning-fast Amazon Prime delivery.
4. Dell Outlet
If you’re specifically looking for a refurbished Dell laptop, then your best bet is to buy one directly from the company itself. There’s a wide range of different Dell laptops to choose from and the site allows you to filter your choices by a number of categories, including memory, hard drive size, processor, screen size and screen resolution.
The laptops come in one of three categories: certified refurbished, new/unused, which are factory sealed and unopened returns or products that were cancelled, and scratch and dent, which are products with cosmetic blemishes that don’t affect performance in any way.
Dell Refurbished offers free shipping in the UK and typically ships orders within a week of their placement.
You may think that eBay is just individual sellers seeking to earn a bit of extra income, but you’ll also find that a number of big brands use the site as a way of getting rid of their refurbished goods. When searching for laptops on eBay you can filter by “Manufacturer Refurbished”, which restricts the listings to devices repaired and sold by the laptop companies. Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and HP all sell refurbished, like-new laptops with a hefty discount, and warranties range from 12 months to two years.
When buying refurbished laptops on certain eBay outlets you will find a grading system that categorises devices from “like-new” to those with cosmetic damage or missing parts. Not so with the Manufacturer Refurbished stamp, which eBay states as “an item that has been professionally restored to working order by a manufacturer-approved vendor”. This is a reliable way to get practically brand-new goods on the cheap and there are always tons of laptops to choose from.
Don’t forget to read the seller notes of a product before buying on eBay just to double-check the company that’s selling it, the length of the guarantee and any specific details about the nature of the product’s return and repairs work.
6. Stone Refurb
Warranty: 6 months (minimum)
Stone Refurb has an excellent Trust Pilot rating of 4.7 from over 3,000 reviews and sells refurbished laptops from a range of manufacturers, including HP, Dell, Acer, Toshiba and Lenovo. Its devices fall into one of four grading categories: Open Box, which are good as new, and Grades A through C. Grade A laptops are described as being in great condition, Grade B in good condition, while Grace C laptops have been well used.
The company offers a six-month warranty as standard, with that warranty covering the main technical issues you might come across, including the battery being dead on arrival, hard drive failures and the device not charging. Should you want a little extra peace of mind, you can choose to purchase an extended 12-month warranty with your laptop.
Delivery on all laptops is free with orders over £75, while express delivery is available at an additional cost of between £6.95 and £10.95. New customers can save 5% on their first purchase by subscribing to the Stone Refurb newsletter.
Apple’s range of MacBooks are among the finest laptops around but they don’t come cheap. Fortunately, the company sells refurbished models on its website at a significant discount. Select the model you’re after, be it a MacBook, MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, and filter by release year, screen size, finish, memory and storage space.
All models come with a one-year warranty, free delivery and returns and Apple guarantees that each product has been thoroughly tested and cleaned before being shipped. Additionally, your laptop will come packaged in a brand-new box with all the cables and accessories included with the original.
What about buying secondhand, non-refurbished laptops?
There are numerous issues that can crop up when buying a laptop secondhand. Besides our concerns about criminals selling on stolen laptops to unwitting customers, we should also warn you about battery life. If a laptop is a year to two years old (or more), the maximum battery life will be much shorter than it was when brand new. Across hundreds of charges, batteries run down and if you’re not getting a refurbished laptop, you may be purchasing a computer with a battery so knackered that you’ll never be able to stray far from a plug socket.
If you’ve resorted to getting a secondhand laptop over a new or refurbished device, you might want to start by looking closer to home. Friends and family may well have a laptop going spare, which they might sell to you for a discount price. Heck, if they like you enough, maybe you could get one for free!
The benefit of acquiring a laptop from a trusted source is that you know where it’s been whereas, when buying online, you really don’t. But let’s imagine nobody you know has a laptop to sell; below is a list of tips to guide you through purchasing a secondhand, non-refurbished laptop on the internet.
READ NEXT: The best UK laptop deals of the month
Buying a secondhand laptop: An essential checklist
Ask for an original receipt or proof of purchase
To make sure the item you’re buying is legitimate, ask for the physical or digital receipt. If the device is still within warranty, the receipt will come in handy for any claim you may need to make. Most sellers should offer this up without prompting – it’s usually shown among the photos in the product listing. If they don’t have one or refuse to hand it over, steer clear.
Check for a returns policy
You won’t find any casual sellers offering a returns policy, but some people sell goods on websites such as eBay professionally and have well-established eBay stores. Merchants like this sometimes offer a 30-day or even 90-day returns window in case you’re not satisfied with the product. Of course, 90 days is no match for a one year warranty on refurbished laptops, and you should also check to see how long the seller has been in business and read the customer reviews to make sure that they honor their policy.
Meet in a public space
When buying through a website like Gumtree, the buyer and seller typically meet in-person to make the exchange. If you can avoid it, try not to go to their home or any other secluded location. Agree to make the handover in the daytime in a busy area with plenty of people and CCTV around. Coffee shops are ideal.
Test it works
It’s an obvious one, but it’s important nonetheless. Turn on the laptop and play around with it for a few minutes. Examine it for external faults, and make sure all the charging components are present and correct. If anything worries you, don’t splash your cash. That slightly dodgy power socket won’t get stronger with more use.
Before you agree to meet the seller to buy it, double-check that the laptop has been factory reset. For numerous reasons, you really don’t want a device loaded with the personal login details, files and internet history of a stranger.
Avoid bringing out large sums of cash to the sale if you’re doing it in person. PayPal is a great option because the money is held by a middleman service before going to the seller. Having a digital record of the payment means that the seller is much easier to track down, should something go awry.
Which laptop should I buy, whether secondhand or refurbished?
Feeling overwhelmed by the range of laptops on the market? We don’t blame you. It will be much easier to make your purchase, whether it’s brand new or factory refurbished, once you’ve narrowed down your search to just a few laptops that suit your personal requirements and budget.
And we’re here to help with that. If you’re after a fairly low-cost option, you may want to take a look at our lists of the best cheap laptops and laptops for students; if not, you could peruse our roundup of the best laptops no matter your budget.
If esports is your thing, we’ve reviewed all the best specialist gaming laptops and if you’re after a laptop that’s suitable for your children, you’ll want to check out our list of the best laptops for kids.