Refurbished Mac vs. Used Mac: Which Is Better?


The first instinct when buying a device is to get a new one. However, with Macs, you might find that the prices are above your budget for the specs you desire. In this case, you can explore other options like used or refurbished Macs.

Buying a second-hand laptop, regardless of the term used to describe it, is a great idea since you get to save money and still get quality. Understanding the differences between refurbished and used Macs allows you to make an informed choice when buying a Mac that suits your desired specs and budget.

Refurbished vs. Used Macs: How Do They Differ?

A refurbished Mac is a preowned Mac that has been returned to Apple to be tested, cleaned, and fixed by qualified technicians. You can find these Macs in Apple’s Certified Refurbished store or at other certified third-party retailers, and they usually come with a warranty.

On the other hand, anyone can sell a used Mac—and it usually doesn’t go through the same refurbishing process. Even though it might still be significantly cheaper than a refurbished Mac, it could come without a warranty. This puts you at risk of losing money if something goes wrong after the purchase.

To better understand how they all differ, you can read our comparison between refurbished, used, and certified pre-owned electronics.

The Pros of Refurbished Macs

Refurbished Macs are the next best thing you can get your hands on, especially if you don’t want to splurge on a new Mac. Here’s why we think buying a refurbished Mac is a good idea.

1. It’s Just as Good as a New Mac

Woman standing and holding MacBook open on a table beside MacBook box

Your refurbished Mac will look new, clean, and clear with no scratches. You’ll hardly find a hint that it was preowned.

However, if you’re looking for the experience of unboxing a Mac from its original box, you may miss out on it when buying a refurbished one. Refurbished MacBooks are packaged in brand-new white boxes.

The Apple Certified Refurbished promise guarantees that every refurbished product will come with all accessories, cables, and operating systems. It also guarantees new batteries for iPhones and iPads but not for Macs. So, make sure you check the condition of the refurbished Mac’s battery.

To do this, go to the Apple Menu, hold down the Option key, and choose System Information from the dropdown. Under the Hardware section in the left pane, select Power to see the battery information, including the cycle count, condition, and capacity.

2. You Can Get the Latest Models

MacBook Pro and iPhone on a table

Take a look at Apple’s Refurbished Mac shop, and you can see some of the latest Mac models that have been refurbished and are ready for resale. This addresses the concern of buying an unsupported Mac model. Older models of any Mac will not be refurbished for resale if Apple no longer supports them.

3. You Get a Warranty

Every refurbished Mac bought from Apple’s Refurbished Mac shop has a standard one-year limited warranty for its software and hardware. If anything goes wrong with your refurbished Mac the first year after purchase, Apple will repair the issues at no additional charges or offer you a free replacement.

You can also get AppleCare for your refurbished Mac. If you plan to use it for multiple years, you should purchase AppleCare+ for your Mac for extra support and coverage, among many others.

Certified third-party refurbished retailers also offer a warranty, but the duration and coverage of the warranty vary for each retailer. With these, you can get some safety in case of any issues in the future with the refurbished product you’ve purchased.

4. Quality Assurance

Magnifying glass on a MacBook

Every refurbished Mac goes through quality checks through testing and fixes by certified technicians. They are so well taken care of that a non-specialist may not identify the differences between a refurbished Mac and a brand-new Mac.

Refurbished Macs are polished from the inside out to keep them looking clean and neat. The drives, fans, screen, and keyboard are all cleaned and polished to look as good as new. Worn-out or damaged parts are fixed or replaced. This is the quality assurance that Apple promises for refurbished Macs and the standard warranty backs it up.

The Pros of Used Macs

Sometimes, buying a used Mac might be the better or only option for you. Fortunately, opting for used Macs has its own advantages.

1. You Can Get Macs for Cheaper Prices

The most significant advantage of buying used Macs is getting almost the same value for a significantly lower price. You can get a good one with little to no underlying issues depending on where you purchase a used Mac. You can start using your used Mac after a few minor repairs, if necessary.

Since Apple built Macs to last for years with strong hardware, they tend to hold their value even after being previously used. Even an older model that Apple no longer supports can still be a great choice, depending on your needs.

You can have a used Mac and enjoy the same features as a new one for a much lower price. If your budget is tight and you need an efficient Mac, consider buying a used Mac.

2. It’s the Only Way to Get Some Older Macs

iBook G3 in blue colorway

The newer Mac models are great, but regardless, some people like to collect older models. Some of these models are no longer produced or supported by Apple, so the only way to get these older models is to buy a used one.

Also, some people prefer older Mac models because they are user-upgradeable. For Macs between 2008 and 2011, you can simply upgrade the RAM and storage to an SSD, and it works just as fine as a new Mac. You can read our guide on adding or upgrading the RAM on your Mac.

If you only need your Mac to open applications like Office 365, an older Mac model that you can upgrade down the line is a great option. You can only get this by buying a used Mac.

3. Environmentally Friendly

In today’s green world, ensuring that our activities are environmentally friendly is an excellent way to contribute to the environment. Buying a used Mac reduces the carbon footprint left by producing a new or refurbished one. It also keeps old Macs out of landfills, minimizing e-waste; therefore, it’s an eco-friendly choice.

Choose the Right Preowned Mac

If you want to play it safe, then buy a refurbished Mac. At least you can be sure of its quality and condition since it is certified and has some coverage.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for the cheapest option, consider a used Mac. Either way, the preowned Mac you choose will depend on your budget, needs, and specifications.


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